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After receiving repeated donation requests from friends, relatives and organizations, it can be difficult to know how to respond.

Maybe you were happy to help the first couple times, but you no longer feel like you have the means to continue donating. When you receive a request for a donation, how do you respectfully decline? How do you decline a donation request without severing the relationship with the requester? How can you help the cause, even if it is not with a monetary donation?

Check out these tips to help you respond to a donation request in a way that is straightforward, yet respectful and may even result in an alternative way to help.

It’s all about the tone.

Whether it’s in a letter to an organization or face-to-face with a relative, the tone you use in responding to a donation request says a lot about you. Your tone should be straightforward, but you need to be respectful and appreciative of the request. Whether accepting or denying a donation request, be humble in your response. By coming to you with a request for a donation, the requester probably thinks highly of you, so it is important to give the same respect in return.

By using a tone that is straightforward and respectful, you are setting the ground for being able to work with the individual/organization in the future.

Be clear and concise.

In your response to a donation request, start by being clear in stating the specific donation request you are responding to. Tell the requester that you appreciate their request and know their cause is worthy, but give a sensible, well-considered answer.

Do you mean not this time? Not in this way? Not that much? Only on certain terms? Be specific in answering what your current “no” specifically means. For example, rather than just saying “I’m sorry, I can’t donate to your cause right now,” be specific. Say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t financially afford to donate to your cause right now.”

Humbly tell the requester that although you would like to, you cannot support all worthy causes. Finish by wishing the requester/organization success in their goals and future endeavors.

While you should give the requester a response that fully satisfies their question, do not go into more detail than you need to in order to adequately answer. Especially in the case of friends and relatives, you need to keep healthy boundaries in place. Giving too much explanation may start to be a violation of those boundaries.

Be concise. Trying to give too much reasoning for your decision can make you sound less professional and not as straightforward. In the worst case, giving too much reasoning may even start to sound like you’re making an excuse or not being truthful.

Offer an alternative.

If it is a monetary donation the request was initially seeking but you are not able to help in that way, offer an alternative way of helping. If you can’t donate financially, you may be able to donate some time to help the person or organization. Maybe it’s an event that you can offer to donate your services at. You may also be able to refer the requester to another potential donor who may be interested in the cause.

Another easy way to help other than a monetary donation can simply be to raise awareness. Social media is an easy way to give the individual or organization a shout-out that can raise awareness and bring in other potential donations.

Offering an alternative may also help you stay involved in the organization, so in the future you may be able to help with a monetary donation. Staying involved with the organization can help you build and maintain long-term relationships that are beneficial far past a one-time monetary donation.

When it comes to donation requests and other difficult monetary situations, it can be difficult to know the most appropriate way to respond. If you’re interested in learning more, check out how to fundraise for a family or friend in need or what to do if you’ve borrowed money from a friend and can’t give it back.