Katie, Please Donate to My Cause!

Soapbox alert!
It’s the time of year when many people start thinking about year end donations. Like most authors, I get a lot of requests for me to donate to a cause. What always amazes me is when a school, individual, or organization asks me for books, art, or my time and energy and they don’t even know what they are asking for. They just want something. I understand schools are strapped. I know budgets have plummeted – mine has too. I’ve gotten letters from people asking me for a donation but they don’t even know what books I’ve written – or that I even write books! (As in “Could you donate something from your business?”) Is it too much to ask for my name in the salutation?
Wouldn’t it be lovely to get a request that starts out like this one I received recently:
“Dear Katie,
We love your books in our house, especially I Hate to Go to Bed! because our daughter is just like that character! (Were you spying on us trying to get her to go to sleep?!)
I’m the head of the PTA at _____ Elementary School and every year we have a fundraiser. This year we each chose our favorite authors to request a donation…”
Maybe most people don’t realize what goes into the author’s end of it? It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but add up 10 or 20, or 30+ of these and it adds up. Here is a basic list of what I have to do to donate a book:

  1. Call the publisher to order the book.
  2. Buy the book.
  3. Pay for shipping.
  4. Sign the book.
  5. Buy a padded envelope.
  6. Drive to the post office, stand in line.
  7. Pay for shipping.

Don’t get me wrong. I donate a lot of widely varying things, and I love to do that. In fact, I have my own pet charities and causes I am involved in (and that is often a reason I am unable to donate to someone else’s cause). But if someone wants an author (not just me!) to donate something, please at least know what you are asking for and make it personal.

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