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    How do we handle all the requests for donations from groups in our city?

    Q: "Our pet specialty store, is in a small town. Each week we receive two or three donation requests. Everybody in every town gets two or three, that's pretty low actually, for money or items for charity, for a loved one who's diagnosed with cancer, etc. We contribute heavily to pet-related causes. Are we wrong to be passing on making donations to these individual causes?”

    A: Come up with a budget, what you're comfortable with for the year. Is it $2,000, is it $500? You decide whatever it is and then log all of those requests and when people approach you, you say, 'You know, we do this until we run out of the budget,' and if you run out of budget in July, then you run out of budget in July. But as long as you've got a standard and you can just say, 'You know we've done this,' great.

    A lot of times we take donation requests from people who've never shopped with us and they're not customers and they don't know anyone that's a customer. Why are you going ahead and doing that, you know?

    A customer who brings me a request is much more likely for me to fill it than for someone I don't know. I know there are plenty of people who say donate to anyone who asks and say, "Well anything that gets my word out."

    Not really, because you don't know what happens with that gift certificate.

    You don't know if the organizer just uses it themselves, or they pay somebody else with it.

    There's a million things that can go wrong if you don't have control over that. That's also why I suggest you have a donation request form they have to fill out before you consider their request so you can track all of them at the end of the year.

    Oh and what should you say when you have to turn someone down for a donation? 'Thanks for thinking of us, unfortunately we have a limited donation budget and we aren’t in a position to donate at this time.'"

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