The Grapevine

Handling Donation and Sponsorship Requests in Your Wine Shop

October 15th, 2013

Here’s a business tip we’ve adapted from the fine folks at on how to best handle the seemingly endless stream of charitable donation requests to your wine shop. [level-members]

Being a strong contributor to your community isn’t just a feel-good proposition. It’s good business. But it can also be a crippling drain on your bottom line if you’re not careful. Here are some tips on handling those requests fairly, with both doing good and doing well in mind.

First, establish a budget for what you’re willing to give each year or each month. You may want to maintain some flexibility since there are, in most areas, fundraising “seasons.”

Second there’s nothing wrong with playing favorites. If there are causes near and dear to your heart, feel free to donate more heavily to those causes. Be prepared, though, to defend your choices. Even in not-so-small communities, word has a way of getting out, especially if a group feels shortchanged.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to a well-defined set of donations you’ll make. (Discount coupons, special offers, buy one/get one offers, etc.) These keep you from bearing the full brunt of the donation, and can make it easier to defend smaller gifts if you feel you need to offer something to each group who approaches you.

If you have to say no, do so gently, leaving open the possibility that you will consider a request next time around. Then really do keep a file so you know who’s approached you repeatedly.

Finally, if the volume of requests becomes overwhelming, there’s nothing wrong with requiring that they be submitted in writing – and requiring whatever you feel is necessary – background information on the organization, what the donation will be used for, how you’ll be acknowledged, etc. The effort will weed out some of the less serious requests.

Managed properly, you’ll be able to support causes and events you believe in, generate good will for your business, and stay on firm financial footing.