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  • How many people have you spoken to about this one?

  • How much capital have you already raised?

  • Where's the paperwork and a record of patrons?

  • Who are the beneficiaries and what's their financial background?

  • What else have you tried aside from asking random strangers like myself?

  • How will I get the assurance that the money I donate — if at all I decide to do so — will only be used for the purpose you ask it for?

  • How many people have you spoken to about this one?

  • How much capital have you already raised?

  • Where's the paperwork and a record of patrons?

  • Who are the beneficiaries and what's their financial background?

  • What else have you tried aside from asking random strangers like myself?

  • How will I get the assurance that the money I donate — if at all I decide to do so — will only be used for the purpose you ask it for?

  • How many people have you spoken to about this one?

  • How much capital have you already raised?

  • Where's the paperwork and a record of patrons?

  • Who are the beneficiaries and what's their financial background?

  • What else have you tried aside from asking random strangers like myself?

  • How will I get the assurance that the money I donate — if at all I decide to do so — will only be used for the purpose you ask it for?

  • How many people have you spoken to about this one?

  • How much capital have you already raised?

  • Where's the paperwork and a record of patrons?

  • Who are the beneficiaries and what's their financial background?

  • What else have you tried aside from asking random strangers like myself?

  • How will I get the assurance that the money I donate — if at all I decide to do so — will only be used for the purpose you ask it for?

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When it comes to strangers, I really don't believe in making excuses (for example, "I don't carry cash"; "I'm snowed under debt", etc...). And, unlike few other suggestions, I'd personally strongly advise against showing your wallet to them. Not only are you not liable to help someone unless you feel moved to do so, you're also not bound to prove why you don't want to (or can't) help. If anything, you'd be doing them a favor. So, a short, polite but firm reply could be:

"Look mate, please, I have my own set of problems to deal with too. I appreciate you sharing your story / idea with me, however, I'm really sorry, I'm not in a position to offer any monetary help at the moment."

You also ask:

But I wonder, and that's also why I ask that question, how to react in case they go on trying.

It really depends on how long you're willing to hold your spot and engage with the said person (if they don't leave). Also, these should work better when you've already declined at least once:

  • For the least engagement, turn your head away and stop paying attention to them. Stop listening, stop responding, stop acknowledging. Do not utter any words and when their monologue / question comes to money, simply nod your head as if you're saying NO, while still looking away.

  • If they proceed to touch you to draw your attention, you have the opportunity to express your displeasure and disapproval and ask them to leave with a gentle reminder that you've already said NO a few times.

  • If you're willing to engage with them, or want to burst their bubble, you could ask them counter questions:

  • How many people have you spoken to about this one?

  • How much capital have you already raised?

  • Where's the paperwork and a record of patrons?

  • Who are the beneficiaries and what's their financial background?

  • What else have you tried aside from asking random strangers like myself?

  • How will I get the assurance that the money I donate — if at all I decide to do so — will only be used for the purpose you ask it for?

Hopefully, if they aren't prepared to face such questions, the scrutinisation should at least throw them off-guard and they would perhaps want to seek a closure themselves.

There's a lot that can be reasonably guessed about someone who's not shy of asking for financial assistance from the strangers, especially without:

  • Genuinely looking troubled, or
  • Having a consolidated paperwork

However, for the time being, it might suffice to safely assume that, in the absence of the signs above that would establish their genuineness, these people are — more often than not — deceitful at best and scamsters at worst. So, in my humble opinion, you don't necessary have to carry the baggage of being polite with them at all possible costs.