GPI 090 – Do not pressure vendors to make donations to your chosen charities – it is not your business!

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Do not use your leverage as a customer to try to force your vendors to make donations to your personal causes.  Companies do business with many vendors.  There are very small incidences of each paying the other in order to do business.  Small inexpensive occasional business meals are acceptable and normal for transacting business.  Gifts of sports tickets and events are also given out although not as often.  Hunting trips and golf outings are offered and accepted between willing participants and business is discussed during those events.  The one action that is tried by some but should be avoided is trying to solicit donations for a cause or charity from the pockets of your vendors.

Pushing donations and causes is unethical and causes animosity.  This practice may leave a bad feeling with your vendors and may tend to ruin any good existing working relationship.  As a vendor, you want to please your customer, but the customer asking you to make donations to their cause crosses the line.  This is not done often, but when it is, it is not forgotten.  It is tacky and ruins the business relationship between vendor and client.  This forever taints your relationship.  Do not do it.

Donations come from the internal decisions of the company giving.  Donations have typically been personal choices of each company’s management and not dictated by outsiders.  Those decisions are normally made internally and not affected by outside influences, especially from a customer.  The organizations to which the company will give tax deductible donations are very private decisions for each company so when a customer intervenes and attempts to control the vendor’s donation monies, it does not enhance that existing customer/vendor relationship.

Forced donations may cost the requesting firm with hidden higher prices.  This uncomfortable request is more likely to be reflected in the increased price that the customer will eventually quote to recapture that forced donation so it is not worth ruining the business interaction with such a request.

Stay away from dictating others’ donation policies.  Stay safe; honor your business relationship and do not put a vendor in this position.  Stick with common business practices and do not cross this line between businesses.  If you are ‘held up’ for a donation by a customer, decide if you will relent to it and if you decide you must, make that decision.  You can decide for your own company and within your purchasing department that your employees will not ‘hold up’ a vendor for a donation that they want to have made.  Put this in writing and hang the policy on the wall for all vendors to see.  State emphatically neither this company or its employees solicit donations in any manner.

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