On average, I am asked to donate time to projects and causes about 4 times a week.
I usually accept at least one request, which usually takes at least 3 hours out of my week.
Some weeks, I’ve donated entirely, because I too have pet causes, ones that I have donated hundreds, probably thousands of hours to over the years.
My mother gets an automatic yes. Everyone else not named “my mother” falls into the “maybe” camp.
Here’s how I decide whether or not you move your way up and over into the camp of yes.
1. Have you given me a powerful why?
a. Is there something compelling and transcendent about the project you want my help with? What are the stakes involved?
b. Why me?
c. Are you just reaching out to me because I’m the only person you know in my industry?
d. Have you thought through why I am a particular fit for this particular ask?
2. If we know each other, how engaged have you been in my life of late?
a. Are we connected on social channels?
b. If so, when something meaningful has happened in my life, did you engage with me?
c. When I had a significant death in my family, did you reach out?
d. When we won a very big award, did you reach out to let us know how happy you were for us?
e. Do you at least like, share and comment on my posts or offer thoughtful commentary on them with some consistency?
3. If we don’t know each other, are you connected to someone I do know and care about?
a. If so, how engaged are THEY in my life and how thoughtful are they in their interactions with me?
4. Is there any upside for us or our company?
People I love (including friends – those who are engaged in my life), I will always try and help. But for everyone else, you might have to work a little harder.
a. Mike and I own this business. That means every hour I put into your cause is an hour I’m taking away from developing my own business, or being with my family, or just taking some all too illusive down time.
b. Is there something down the line that makes this worthwhile for us from a business standpoint?
You can’t possibly know how much I wish I could help everyone who asks for it. And even if you completely nail your ask, there’s still a pretty darned good chance we’d have to turn you down just because we can’t do it all.
But do yourself a favour and at least make it hard for me. Because if you make it hard for me to say no, at the very worst, if I have ot say no, you’ll make it easy for someone else to say yes.