Management 3.0 Workout

No Discount for Charity

Sorry, I offer no discounts for charity.

This week I was asked if I offer a discount for charity organizations for my new one-day workshops.

I said, “No”.

I don’t believe in discounts for charity for various reasons. But I’m also sure some people will hate me for saying “No” when I don’t offer a good explanation. “Jurgen is such a bad selfish person! Boo!” Well, yes that’s true. But let me offer you my thoughts:

Who decides what is charity, and what isn’t?

Are NGO’s also charity? Are not-for-profit companies also charity? For example, Wikispeed doesn’t work for profit. Does that count as charity? What about businesses with a clear purpose to “make the world a better place?” Once you start offering discounts for an ambiguous status, you risk wasting your time on endless discussions about terminology and definitions, which is better used creating value for everyone.

Who gives discounts, and who doesn’t?

Do charity organizations get discounts for their office supplies? Do they get discounts on flight tickets? Do they get discounts for books, cars, computers, or food? The answer is probably “no” in most cases. Pricing of products and services is always about value. The value of something is not reduced just because the customer happens to be a charity organization.

Together we already give discounts to charity.

In many countries charity organizations enjoy significant tax benefits that regular businesses don’t have. This is a way for the people of a country to say, “You’re doing a good thing! We will support you collectively.” I pay plenty of tax, privately and through my business, and I gladly leave it to our representatives in government to decide which organizations count as charity, and which don’t. And they use my tax contributions to do that. (And they reserve a good portion of it for the charity called “government”.)

OK, you may dismiss these reasons as cynicism, egoism, or any other -ism. But wait! I kept the best reason for last:

I prefer to decide for myself.

A discount of EUR 100 on a workshop ticket for charity is effectively the same as charging the regular price and then donating EUR 100 to their cause. But why should I become their donor? Because they pick me? There are some charity organizations that I very much disagree with, either because I find them immoral or because I believe they achieve absolutely nothing. For my donations I prefer to pick organizations that I strongly believe in, and that I empathize with. As a donor I want to pick them, and not wait for them to pick me.

Coincidence or not, I had decided last month that I want to be a donor for organizations that help to make the world of work a happier place. I already have a card for it on our Happy Melly backlog!

If you have a suggestion for a great charity organization, let me know. And no, I won’t require that they attend my new workshop to get my donation. 🙂


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  • Paul Dolman-Darrall

    Have always also been impressed with Warren Buffett’s views on charity within organisations. Berkshire Hathaway sees corporate donations made by management on behalf of shareholders as ego lead.

  • http://www.tomlaforce.com/ Tom LaForce

    This is a tough question for me. I prefer to pick the charities I support with my cash. I also know that many charities aren’t going to pay the “usual rate.” For me to drop my price, I usually have to decide that I like these folks and would be willing to write them a check.

  • Andy Brice

    There is a hard-nosed reason to offer discounts to charities – pricing differentiation. I think it is safe to say that most charities are more price sensitive than most businesses. If so, offering discounts is likely to increase the chances of closing a sale.

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