The holidays are a time for giving. Many charities have already staked out areas near brick-and-mortar shops to ask customers to donate a few dollars to their cause, and it’s common to be asked at the register to show some financial love to those in need.
But these asks can be a little overwhelming. And in a recent video, one woman asked viewers how to turn down a request for charity and walk away without feeling guilty.
Ashley Esper (@ashleyesper) posed the question to viewers in a recent TikTok. As of Thursday morning, her video had amassed over 229,500 views.
Text overlay on the screen read: “What is the best way to tell the cashier you don’t want to donate a dollar to charity? I usually say, ‘Not today, thanks’ but what are the alternatives that won’t make me feel awkward and guilty? Is everyone saying yes? What is the protocol?”
The responses to Esper’s video indicated that “no” is perfectly acceptable response. In fact, many viewers who claimed to be cashiers said that they are not invested in customers’ response at all.
“Don’t feel bad for saying no. The cashier honestly doesn’t care one way or another anyway,” one worker said.
“It’s more awkward when people make up whole paragraphs for why they aren’t. Just say no so I can hit the button,” another agreed.
“As a former cashier, I literally didn’t care. Some people would hit no and say hell I need my own donations. We’d laugh and go on about our days,” a third person wrote.
What is the protocol?♬ where is my mind (piano version) – your movie soundtrack
Some viewers even expressed doubt that the donations actually help people.
“So the company already donated the money, then wrote it off on taxes. So you aren’t paying charity, you’re paying the company,” one viewer said.
According to click2houston.com, Laurie Styron of CharityWatch said that stores are “just taking your money and at some point in the future passing it on to the charity if they’re filing their taxes correctly.”
“If everything’s above board that store really just acting like an agent,” she added.
She said that customers can request their receipt in order to use their donation as a tax write off, but that it’s rarely worth the effort.
“It’s typically such a small amount you’re talking… and most people aren’t going to go through the hassle of writing that off on their taxes,” Styron said.
If you’re still feeling guilty about the donation ask, though, it’s also possible to say “I gave at the office” and actually mean it. (Many businesses allow employees to give regularly through payroll deduction.) And you can always donate to charity at your own time.
“I always say no thank you I donate on my own,” one user admitted.
Best advice? Give while and if you can—and allow your dollar to go where you best see fit.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Esper via the contact form on her website for comment.