May 25, 2018
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Seeking charitable donations shouldn’t be a negative experience for those who ask or those who answer

Renee Ordway
By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN

This week found me hunting for hot dogs — free hot dogs that is — and lunches — free lunches of course — and well, pretty much anything else our generous business community would slide my way.

I did pretty well.

I have 10 cases of water in my car, about 300 hot dogs in the fridge and an equal number of rolls on my dining room table. I have gift cards to some restaurants with generous owners.

And there is more, much more, secured by others involved in Bangor Humane Society’s annual fundraiser Paws on Parade being held Saturday on the Bangor Waterfront.

It is the agency’s largest fundraiser and goes a long way toward helping it care for and find homes for the 5,000 pets that come through the facility each year.

I’m on the board of BHS and so therefore this week I was begging for hot dogs to feed our dedicated supporters.

There is a rumor I also may be among those grilling them.

Last weekend we attended the annual YMCA auction which found hundreds of people bidding crazily on items all donated by businesses or individuals.

Autumn is big for auctions and walks in our neck of the woods and each event involves people knocking on doors of our local businesses and asking for something.

It could be a pearl necklace to offer up for bid at the Bangor Y auction or it may be cases of bottled water to hydrate the walkers.

It could be a $5,000 sponsorship check or a $25 gift card to offer as a prize but it all matters and ultimately allows the nonprofit agencies in our community to do the work they do.

I suspect, however, that being asked so often by so many gets tiresome and costly and of course the most generous business owners among us are the ones who get asked again and again.

There are few things I hate to do more than ask anyone for money.

Sign me up for portable potty duty any day but please, please don’t make me ask people for money — or hot dogs.

But when you believe so truly in the mission of an organization, as I do with BHS, you do what needs to be done to support it. This week that involved me asking for stuff to help ensure PAWS on Parade is a successful event.

Though I’d rather have my teeth drilled, it wasn’t so bad.

Even business owners or managers who either had to or chose to say no didn’t make me feel badly for asking and some thanked me for doing the work.

It is a good thing to remember. Whether we are reluctantly doing the asking or the one being asked, it’s OK to ask and it’s OK to say no.

Business owners who may be suffering from a bit of charity fatigue this time of year need to remember the person doing the asking is not doing so for selfish reasons or self gain and I can guarantee they probably hate asking nearly as much as you hate being asked.

The person asking is the one willing to put their sneakers to pavement to help out a nonprofit with a mission of serving a needy part of our population.

A polite no and “thank you for doing the work” goes a long way toward taking the sting out of a refusal.

That being said, I fully expect your support should I knock on your door next year around this time in search of hot dogs, unless I can convince BHS to let me clean the bathrooms instead.

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