April 18, 2012
This question came via an entrepreneur who posted it on the Small Food Business Facebook page. In a nutshell, what is a small entrepreneur supposed to do in the face of the literal hundreds – if not thousands – of requests for product donation that come in from charities?
Since the question came in via Facebook I sent it back out to the Facebook crowd to see what ideas other entrepreneurs used to deal with all of these asks. As much as each of us would love to help make the world a better place, the truth of the matter is that if you don’t say no you’ll quickly go broke since each charitable request takes actual time and money to produce the products needed. So, here’s what the Facebook readers suggested:
- “I learned early on that I need to work with one – and only one – charity that is important to me. That way I can tell other charities that while I’d love to help them I am already committed to one specific organization. In most cases the charities are understanding.”
- “I tell charities that I make monetary contributions once a year based on the sales my business has over that calendar year and I’ll be happy to keep their name on file but that I don’t do product donations because it’s simply too labor intensive.”
- “I evaluate each charitable request as it comes in. In some cases the charitable request is something that makes strategic sales and marketing sense for my business so I will do it and in others I simply say no thank you.”
- “I hate saying no so while I don’t give away product I do have coupons for a % off future orders which I offer to the charities so that I atleast have something to offer them for their gift bags. For those who take me up on it, I create a specific coupon code for that charity so I can track and see how many people actually redeem their coupons. This gives me insight into how many people from that charitable event are buying my products and helps me determine if in future years I should offer up product or simply say no.”
- “I don’t do product donations at all – I simply can’t afford it. I do however take the time to respond to each and every donation request that comes in and tell them that I am such a small company that I can’t afford to give them product donations at this time. I think so often the people who send those requests out never hear anything back that I’ve gotten some great feedback simply from resonding even though it’s with a no. I think in this hyper-connected world that’s an important piece of customer service that’s often overlooked.”
What do you think? Do you say no to charities? Any recommendations on how to deal with the numerous calls and emails you receive asking for product donations?