— S.D., Halifax
A: Many of us set aside a portion of our annual income to give to causes we’ve personally researched. So if your budget is tapped out, just politely explain the situation, suggests Toronto charity lawyer Mark Blumberg. The donation seekers should respect your response, and they will appreciate the courtesy you’ve shown by not simply ignoring their request. But if you can afford to honour a request from a close peer, it’s probably worth opening your wallet. Rightly or wrongly, you’ll avoid any hurt feelings. After all, the amount being asked of you is typically quite small—say, $5 or $10. Chances are you’ve asked friends to donate to one of your causes in a similar manner. “It’s all very quid pro quo,” says Blumberg—in the end, it will likely come out even.
Got a delicate money question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.