How to Respectfully Turn Down a Donation Request


As a professional, you might get requests from time to time for donations or sponsorship. “We’re having a charity auction. Would you like to donate an item?” or “I’d love for you to support my Kickstarter and share with your fans!” Sometimes, the request is simply for a blog post to bring more attention to a need or campaign.

This post is not meant to throw cold water on charitable giving or discourage you from being generous. However, no one can do it all when it comes to requests for help, no matter how worthy the cause. Your time, your values and your finances can help you gauge which opportunities to take, and which to decline. Having a plan for your giving will help you feel confident and convicted whether you say yes or no.

But when you decline, how do you do it without coming off as uncaring or rude? Here are a few things to keep in mind as you craft your response:

Acknowledge and appreciate. Chances are, this person has been working hard to raise awareness and funds. Recognize their efforts in your response.

  • “I think it’s great that you’re bringing this issue to the attention of the public and applaud your efforts.”
  • “The loss of their home in a fire is really tragic, and it’s wonderful that the Parkers have such a caring friend as you!”
  • “I’ve been watching your campaign with great admiration for some time.”
  • “This is truly a worthy cause and I admire your initiative.”
  • “Battling cancer has got to be one of the toughest things someone can face, and my heart goes out to your friend.”

Explain your denial, but briefly. It’s certainly not required, but still nice to briefly say why you’re not able to say yes.

  • “Right now I’m focusing my efforts on ___ (insert issue or cause here).”
  • “I’m unable to commit my time and resources right now, but will let you know if that changes in the future.”
  • “We have reached our corporate giving limit for the fiscal year.”
  • “My personal/business situation at this time precludes me from contributing right now.”

Close on a positive note. Use encouraging phrases to close out your reply.

  • “I wish you the best with your campaign!”
  • “I will pass along your request to others in my blogging group.”
  • “I’ll be sure to keep you in my thoughts and prayers.”
  • “Thanks for thinking of me, and for considering my blog as a potential sponsor for your event.”
  • “Although I am not able to contribute at this time, please know that I truly admire the work you’re doing.”

Note: If you feel guilty after saying “no” over and over again, this might be a tip-off to you that giving is not a priority for you right now. That’s something you can change. Again, this doesn’t mean say “yes” to everything from now on, but it does mean looking for causes that are important to you and helping out where you can.

Do you have ideas to share about how to turn someone down gracefully?


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