Charity solicitation, especially those requests by the typically endless roster of local organizations, is troublesome for many growth-company CEOs. You want to be generous (you may even fear your business's reputation will be harmed if you're not), but you can't afford to give to everybody.

Until two years ago, that was the case at Mona, Meyer & McGrath (MMM), a Minneapolis public-relations firm. Then, says CEO David Mona, the company found what it thinks is a solution: a well-planned, well-stated program for giving.

MMM gives specified portions of pretax earnings to a few selected organizations, and makes its largest single contribution by taking on one major pro bono account each year.

Now, when MMM's managers are pitched by other programs, they can politely say no -- citing their policy of committing themselves heavily to one account per year. "It cuts out all the hemming and hawing," says Mona. "We are spending our dollars more wisely and can decline more kindly. We can say, 'Sorry, we've made a decision and we're fully committed in that area.' Not simply, 'We aren't interested,' or, 'We don't care.' They can see we are generous.'