DEAR HARRIETTE: I am the head of a school organization that is fairly successful. We put on many events and almost always have 200 people in attendance. I hate getting cold emails from restaurants, apparel companies and school clubs about collaborating, especially when the workload is placed primarily onto me for their benefit. I have been ignoring these emails (I am busy!), but I am almost always greeted by follow-up emails. I don't have the time or desire to work with these groups. How can I respond to these emails? -- Cold Shoulder, St. Louis
DEAR COLD SHOULDER: When bombarded with solicitous emails, you do not have to feel obligated to respond. If you choose, you can take a few minutes each week to look at what has come to your inbox and unsubscribe whenever possible, or otherwise delete. I will say that it is often worth it to do a quick perusal of the email content. While 90 percent may be solicitations that do not interest you at all, there is a small chance that the perfect product or service will come your way to match your school's needs.
For example, if you have a silent auction, the many restaurants, shops, theaters and other businesses in your neighborhood may be willing to give the school a handsome gift certificate in exchange for the exposure that the gift brings them. This can be a win-win for your fundraising needs. Many schools send parents out combing neighborhoods to request such things. It sounds like your neighbors are knocking on your door. Don't slam the door shut before you take notice of what is being offered.