The Etiquette of Holiday Giving: How to Ask and How to Decline

Holiday Giving: How to Ask and How to Decline.



It is the season of giving! And aren’t we blessed to live in a nation where people are so generous with their money? But there are so many great causes out there, we certainly can’t give to all of them. So I’m sharing some tips today about how to properly ask for donations and gifts, as well as how to graciously decline.

Last year a mom with three children emailed me with a list of all the things she was asked to donate to and purchase during the holiday season. There were the multiple request to donate to group teacher and coach gifts, the school email asking to bring new socks for the homeless, the missionary friends who were raising money to go overbroad, and the requests for gift cards for various charities and causes. Not to mention all the fundraisers selling wrapping paper, popcorn, candles, etc. All these things are well and good, but sometimes it can make our heads spin, am I right?

If you are on the requesting end, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Ask early. If you want to get your “group” to do something charitable this season, plan in advance. Sending an email the day before requesting a donation or a gift card for your “cause” is not very considerate (and may not get you very many donations!). Decide what the cause will be and send out an email at least a few weeks before (like now!) with how much you would like people to donate and when. Then send out a reminder email a few days before.
  2. Never make it mandatory or put pressure on people when organizing a group effort. You may only be asking for people to donate or buy something worth $10, but if someone is being asked to do something similar for 15 causes – particularly if she has multiple school-age children involved in various things- that could really make a dent in her budget. On that note, If you decide to organize a group gift from the class, squad, team, etc. in your email to parents state that is not mandatory. And when you give the gift, sign the card from the entire class, not from just the children whose parents donated. (It happens!).
  3. Always say thank you. Things get so busy but always remember to send an email after the fact (a group email is fine) or a note to say thank you.

When begin asked to donate or buy something:

  1. Budget now. So many holiday budget planners don’t include these little causes that quickly add up. So when you are budgeting the amount you plan to give this season – church, charities, etc, make sure to budget for the unexpected requests. Even though these things add up, it is hard to decline a request for a $10 donation or gift purchase!
  2. Have cash, cans, and gift cards on hand. Whatever you budget, take that amount out in cash for easy access. Having $10 bills handy is nice when Girl Scouts knock on the door or your 9 year old forgets to tell you that he’s supposed to bring money to practice for the coach’s gift. Also, it can never hurt to buy a 4-pack of Starbucks gift cards and extra canned goods before the season starts. Having these things on hand this season might save you some 9 pm trips to CVS on a school night!
  3. Always give a response. I’ve totally felt bad about not donating to something so I just ignored the email altogether. That is not the right thing to do! Trust me, people would much rather have a firm no, than radio silence, wondering if you go received their email or letter. You don’t have to give a lengthy answer. “We are so sorry that we cannot donate this year; we have already committed to contributing to other causes, but please reach out to us next year.” Even a simple, “Oh I wish you would have come by sooner, I already bought from another Boy Scout and I don’t need any more popcorn this year!” or  “We have already bought a gift for Coach Smith so I’m sorry that we cannot participate in the group gift this year.”

What are your thoughts on the matter? Any advice or tips? Please share below!






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