Ask and you shall receive.

Ask and you shall receive. That’s our new motto anways. Two years ago Girl Ninja and I had to do one of the hardest things we’ve ever done; Ask our friends/family for money. We volunteer for a high school ministry here in San Diego called Young Life. Most of the kids we’ve gotten to know over the last few years, come from low income (I’m talking like REALLY poor) families. Every winter, we try and take a group of kids to camp in Utah for a five day snowboard/ski trip. Can you believe the majority of these kids have never seen snow!

Most of the kids that come to Young Life want to go on the trip, the only problem is they can’t afford it. Throughout the year we’ll host fund raising events like car washes, selling raffle tickets, auctions, etc hoping to raise enough funds to reduce the cost of camp to a more reasonable level, like $100.

Two years ago, after some pretty unsuccessful fund raising campaigns, us leaders decided to reach out to family and friends and try and raise a little more. Here’s how a typical phone conversation went…

Me: Hey mom.

Mom: Hey Ninja, my most favorite child of all time, what’s going on?

Me: Well I’m calling to see if you think you and Dad Ninja could sponsor a kid to Young Life camp.

Mom: We would love to sponsor a kid.

Me: Thanks

Mom: No problem son. Dad Ninja and I think you are the most wonderful son in the world. We are honored to be called your parents.

Asking my parents for money was easy. It’s my parents, I knew that I could pretty much guilt them in to supporting me. It was having to reach out to my friends that freaked me out a little bit. How was I suppose to ask my friends to donate money to kids they’ve never even met? Thankfully, I have some pretty awesome friends, and just about every one of them was able to provide at least some financial support to our area.

Girl Ninja and I learned a lot that day and are glad we went through the experience of asking people for money (although we hope we don’t have to do it again anytime soon). We now know what it’s like, and we feel better prepared to help those that ask us for help.

It’s for this reason, we’ve decided to ALWAYS give money to friends and family when asked for charitable contributions. We know it isn’t easy for them to ask us, so the least we could do is help them out.

– Friend raising money for a breast cancer walk? Give ’em money.

– Friend’s kid selling candy bars to raise money for a school trip? We’ll buy a box.

– Friend trying to provide clean water to people in another country? Count us in!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we’ll donate to every solicitation we receive (especially any annoying mailers). But what we will do is SUPPORT those that are close to us. We see this “rule” as a friendly (pun intended) reminder to be generous with the income we’ve been given.

Have you ever been asked (by a friend or family member) to donate/sponsor/give to an organization or charity? Did you do it? Do you buy lemonade from the local neighborhood kids that set up their stands in the summer? What giving/donating guidelines do you operate by?

22 thoughts on “Ask and you shall receive.

  1. I have money auto withdrawn from my paycheck every week, but it’s a lot less than what I give annually. I’d say about 1/2 of it I leave for spontaneous giving. I generally say no to the “would you like to donate $1 to x, y, z” at the checkout line, but I almost always give to people who are doing fundraising events for a cause they are passionate about. They are passionate because they usually have a friend or family member who’ve benefited from said charity so it works for me.

    I draw the line for sports teams though. I don’t like people collecting for little leagues and stuff. If your kid can’t afford to be in a sport that costs a lot of money to play, then please don’t expect me to subsidize it for you. There are other ways to be active that are free or mostly free.

    I’d even go so far as saying a trip to Utah to hike around in the snow might be just as effective as paying for lift tickets and equipment rentals for a week. I think what you’re doing is great, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to give kids exposure to other ways of life.

  2. I’ve donated many times to cancer walks/rides (my Dad’s a prostate cancer survivor). My husband participated in last year’s Breast Cancer walk; we set a goal of raising $100, and we came in a little over $300 (I raised about $250 of it, mostly from donations at my office). I participate in several United Way raffles at my work throughout the year, but not in every single one (if can get expensive). We also donate some money/towels/blankets/food every year to our local “no kill” animal shelter. Rather than exchange Christmas gifts with my Dad and sister, we give $50 each, and my Dad buys food/toys for his church’s Christmas Drive.

    We don’t donate to sports team; when I see them canvassing at the grocery store, I will avoid them at all cost, especially when the Moms with them are sporting Lululemon gear head to toe (they can afford the expensive clothes, they can pay for their kids’ sports). But, if I had a close friend that approached me for money to sponsor a program like you and GN are so passionate about (ie: your volunteer program), if we had the funds, I would certainly donate.

    • MoD- I know there are other ways to be active, but sports teams are not just to insure that children stay active. It teaches teamwork, to work hard, and many other valuable skills. I find fundraising acitivities for sports just as important as other school fundraisers or even something like Young Life (I went to Young Life camp a few times in high school). It can give these children a place to go after school to stay out of trouble and show that there are people that care about them.

      • PR, I get what you’re saying, and I totally agree with your comment on sports teaching kids the value of teamwork, working hard, etc., but I would rather hand my dollars over to a program such as the one Ninja and GN volunteer for (working with kids from very low-income families) then to an organization where the parents are clearly able to afford to subdize the total cost of their child(ren)’s sports activities. By “clearly”, I mean the Moms that are wearing the expensive clothes, sipping designer coffee, and driving the brand-new SUV’s.

        • Please keep in mind that when kids are on a team they come from all walks of life. In other words, on the same team you might have some kids from families who can afford to pay for whatever costs are involved and some kids from families that cannot afford anything. So the team raises money for everybody to make it fair for all. Instead of picking it apart … “Hayden your parents can afford to pay for you, but Peyton, you need to go raise some money since your parents can’t afford it.” The reason you are seeing the women in front of the store who look like they can afford to pay… is that they are the ones who are putting in the time for fundraising. Maybe the moms who can’t afford it are too busy working to put food on the table to spare the time to sit in front of the store?

          I learned this when my kids were in sports, I HATED the fundraisers and asked can’t we just pay money and not do this. Then I was humbled to be told that quite a few of the kids on the team can’t afford to pay the cost, so to make it possible for all kids to participate regardless of ability to pay, they don’t ask anyone to pay a fee, but all need to participate in the fundraising.

  3. Any kid who has the guts to come to my door and ask me to buy popcorn or cookies I’m happy to support. I especially like the groups that ask for our empty pop cans (worth 10 cents each) for a donation. However, I’m not so happy to buy from people at work who are selling for their kids – that just seems wrong on so many levels (the kids are not learning a darn thing when their parents do their fund raising work for them and the peer pressure to buy is uncomfortable).

    We also like to give to friends and family who are fund raising for charity, mission trips, scouting, school activities, etc – we love to encourage young kids to be involved and give back to their community.

  4. I have two rules:

    1. Buy anything (no matter what it is) a kid is selling as long as he is doing the work. If his mom is doing the work and he’s just standing there, I’m not interested.

    2. Donate only to causes that help people who can’t help themselves. Have cancer? I’ll donate. You’re an orphan? How can I help. You’re an alcoholic? Good luck with that, but you’re not getting any help from me.

    • Lo siento, friend, but I have to point out: alcoholism is a disease, and those who suffer from it are unable to help themselves.

  5. I’m not going to donate to silly things. For instance, there’s a mom in our office who is CONSTANTLY bringing in those food/junk catalogs. Her sons’ schools do the fundraisers, and whoever sells the most stuff usually gets a prize. I don’t know if any of the money even goes to an organization, but I’m not donating to you or buying something I don’t need just because your son wants to win a prize.

    Like Kevin said, it’s a little different if it’s the kid coming up to me and asking me to donate. Kids get me every time! Plus, I guess I don’t expect the same knowledge from a kid as I do a parent. A kid might not remember or even know why they’re raising money, but the parent should.

    Or if it’s a good cause, I’m going to donate. But no matter what my relationship is to the person, I’m not going to give money so an already well-to-do kid can win a scooter. That’s just not a good use of my money. Or maybe I’m cold… I don’t know. :-p

  6. I try to donate to everything my friends/family ask me to, whether via my money or my time (e.g. we volunteered for the Relay for Life my boyfriend’s mom organizes for 5 years in a row, but then we moved). There’s only one friend who I haven’t always given to, but that’s just because her work gets her involved in basically a new walk or fundraiser every other month, and so it just gets ridiculous at some point. And at my last job, there were so many coworkers with kids that there literally was at least one fundraiser going on at all times, and generally it was for stuff you don’t even want. So I try not to buy stuff from fundraisers that I won’t use (such as a recent one for those braid breads; don’t need to buy a $12 loaf of sugar bread when only $3 of that goes to the school). But if it’s something I care about, or if it’s something my friends/family are very passionate about (such as your passion for these kids), then I’ll definitely help out. I recently walked in a fundraiser for the American Heart Association, in memory of several family members that we’ve lost to heart-related conditions, and my family coughed up almost $500 to support me in that, which was really appreciated. But am I going to join in every heart-related fundraiser and keep asking them numerous times a year? NOPE! Once per year seems sincere enough for me. But my friend who raises funds for psoriasis, heart attacks, foot fungus, children missing their pinky finger, and/or the fund for elderly people who have a walker already, but one of the walker’s legs is kind of bent, and it makes it hard to walk smoothly – yea all that is too much. 😛

  7. I usually don’t give money to anyone who just comes up an asks for it. They may support charities that I don’t typically agree with (for one reason or another, but the main one would be I feel like the charity wastes money on overhead). Usually I support by giving my time or money to worthy causes, and one of my favorites is the animal shelter in town. I got my dog from there and I try to give them a little every year.

  8. I usually will support whatever charity or new job a friend or family member gets. That usually means I end up with 10 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies a year and a few candles from Scentsy and stuff like that.

    Here’s my question for you Ninja: You know your parents are kind enough to help support the charity you are involved in to the point of actually sponsoring a kid (something they have little connection to), but you don’t understand how they could pay thousands to help out their own dog? They are super nice people! You are very lucky! 🙂

  9. I totally buy lemonade from kids at their stands (I live in SD too!) and it just makes me happy. I let them keep the change although a cup is only 25 cents. One time a kid was so happy that his parents came running out trying to give us a whole bag of lemons since I gave them $5. It made my heart melt.

    I always try to help family and friends as well!

  10. I always try to support people’s charities as long as they show some passion. In the past couple weeks I have donated to my FDNY-brother’s run (bad ass run half marathon with random obstcle courses in the middle) for wounded FDNY, another random indoor cycle thing for a cancer research for a buddy whose father in law is inflicted, Hell I think I even donated to Girl with Red Balloon because her post got me!

    $50 or $100 makes them and me feel great!

  11. If I’m passionate about it, I’ll give. As a teacher, I’m constantly bombarded by kids asking me to support this club or that club. Typically I buy from the first child who asks me, and then I don’t buy any more from anyone else. I have had to turn a child away before because we didn’t have the cash flow.
    As for other things, I give to the church on the regular, my alma mater, and I just started giving some to the local Christian radio station.

  12. My boyfriend has a list of charities and those are pretty much the only ones he will donate to. I am not donating anywhere until I have at least paid off my credit card debt (so hopefully by April).

    • Also, we will not donate to any cause that benefits people. We have promised each other to only donate to animal rights’ organizations.

  13. My wife and I have been very fortunate this year. We both had work and were able to pay off nearly half of our debts. When we started our lives together, we agreed to tithe 10% of our income to the local church and charities. I am glad to report that we have been able to support our church, the Samaritan’s Purse, the Starfish Organization, a few angel tree children, and the American Cancer Society. These are all great causes and I feel blessed that we were able to help.

  14. I take advantage of my company when it comes to donating. My company will match donations made 100% up to $1000. So when friends are raising money for a 5k race I can donate $25 and they get $50. My company also pays out $750 to an organization after 50 hours of volunteer work is done for that organization. I encourage everyone to see if their company does the same, the money is set aside why not use it? Money is tight for me right now so using this avenue allows me to really contribute.

    I stopped buying all the junk my coworkers sell, if I have the funds I just give them the money and tell them to give it to the school. The schools only get 10-20% of the sales, I would rather they have the whole amount. My daughters school started just asking each family for $50 at the beginning of the school year, the past 2 years they raised all funds needed without any fundrasing.

    I agree with comments regarding fundraisers for kids where the parents do all the work. Lately I keep seeing car washes where the kids are on the corner and the parents are doing all the washing.

  15. I think I would have a really hard time donating money to send some kids on a skiing/snowboarding trip. That seems like the kind of thing that the kids should be raising money for themselves, via part time jobs or car washes or bake sales or something. I’m 29, making $60k/year, and I’m just now at the point where I feel like I can truly afford a super awesome snowboarding trip. Something about donating money so a teenager can do that rubs me the wrong way. I know these are kids who’ve had a tough life, and if you were trying the raise the same amount of money for a scholarship fund, I would gladly donate, but I guess I don’t see why that should entitle them to awesome experiences on other people’s dimes. There’s teaching a man to fish, there’s giving a man a fish, and there’s giving a man a shiny toy fish because his life is hard.

    • No one said these kids were entitled to go on a snowboard trip. I also indicated we held various fund raisers throughout the year (teaching a man to fish) like car washes, selling raffle tickets, etc. These kids KNOW they aren’t ENTITLED to go snowboarding, but I don’t get why you get all fussy about helping underprivileged kids out.

      You said it yourself “There’s teaching a MAN to fish, there’s giving a MAN a fish, and there’s giving a MAN a shiny toy fish because his life is hard”…. we are talking about kids here not grown adults, there are very few things 14 year olds (that live in low income neighborhoods) can do to raise money. They’re too young to work, and you can only hold so many car washes. I’d much rather ask some friends to donate a buck or two on their behalf than them resort to what most of their friends do to make money (steal or sell drugs). If you don’t want to donate, that’s your choice, but there is NOTHING wrong with letting kids experience fun things 🙂

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