Who's Your Vinny?


by Paul Cassetti

Recently, I went to my auto mechanic, Vinny, to get my car inspected.

I’ve known Vinny for over 20 years; he’s a small business owner with only about six mechanics on staff. Vinny knows what I do for a living—that I’m an accountant for a charitable organization.

That day, as usual, I was standing in the small waiting room, looking through the sliding window and making small talk with Vinny. He held up a stack of envelopes at least two inches thick and raised his eyebrows.

“Guess what this is?”

“Looks like a bunch of unpaid invoices,” I said.

He shook his head, setting the envelopes aside.

“They are requests for donations—my assistant said it was about $2,000 worth for this month alone. Half of them I don’t even know who is sending it to me. I get these every month—some people I know, some just show up in the mail and I have no idea if I even know anybody associated with the charity that is asking for money.”

He started to get a little worked up, talking about how a well-known charitable organization was caught spending money on useless stuff rather than going to the people that really need it.

“Makes me think about the money I give and where it is really going—you know?”

Vinny said he talks to a lot of his friends who donate, and they won’t send in a check, even if it is for a charity they know. They will give the check directly to the person asking for the charity instead of mailing it in.

“They have a connection—they’re hoping that the money will have a better chance of going to the right place.”

He told me that a small business owner like himself—someone who believes in giving back and has the means to do it— most certainly would pick a personal relationship over a request in the mail every time. Most business owners are charitable and their accountant will tell them about how much they can donate per year on their taxes. Now I am quite sure that Vinny does not give $2,000 to charities every month, but if I or any other of his good loyal customers would request, he would find some funds to help out.

Vinny was really intrigued by Cross-Cultural Solutions’ programs—especially since the donations that we receive go directly toward sponsoring a volunteer and not just a “general pot” where funds can go to anything or anybody, charitable or not. Knowing that we can show where our funds are directed goes a long way to establishing trust between a donor and a charitable organization.

So keep Vinny in mind as you are planning to raise money for your program fee. Who is a business owner in your community that you could talk to about donating? You never know where one conversation might take you.

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