How many times have you been solicited for donations at work for a co-workers sick child or parent? How many birthday showers, wedding showers, and engagement parties has your office participated in within the past year? How many employment anniversary’s, or death notifications caused you to scrimp up funds you didn’t really have to spare simply to show team-spirit?
At times, having a job can be as costly as not having one! The pressure to participate financially can be one of the most overwhelming forms of office peer pressures you will ever have to face. If you participate by giving, then you must also take into account how much you give; you don’t want to be the cheap one. If you don’t give, then it sends a message that perhaps you don’t like the person being sponsored. And what if you don’t like them? Should you feel obligated to spend your hard earned income on someone that you know doesn’t like you anymore than you like them just to fit in?
Delicate office politics such as this can run havoc with employee morale. How do you combat this impact while at the same time indulging those that have a sense of charity? This mission is somewhat difficult; but not necessarily impossible. Here are few tips to successfully negotiate charity giving in the workplace:
Don’t make it mandatory – nothing screams mandatory more than you asking an employee for a donation in front of their peers and/or supervisor. If the policy is really voluntarily, then discreetly notify employees that are interested that funds will be collected for anyone interested
Make it anonymous – allow employees to give donations in unmarked, plain envelopes or to put donations in a centralized canister that does not show visibly what is being placed it in during collection
Create a centralized employee fund – regardless of purpose, donations will be taken from the centralized fund to support charitable contributions to co-workers; when funds run out; that is it; no additional solicitations will be made on behalf of the fund; stipulate up front the amount necessary to keep the fund a float and make it clear how the funds will be utilized (i.e., non participants should not expect to receive birthday cards, cakes and sympathy bouquets if they don’t register and participate in the contributions.
One of the main reasons employees often feel compelled to respond to charity requests is because it comes from within the companies own email software. Create a charity pool that lists everyone’s home/personal email contact information so that the company is removed from any litigation surrounding solicitations. Send notifications and responses during break, lunch or after work hours. Reframe for using business equipment to solicit for events, funds or activities that would needlessly impose upon others. Charity and gifts are about caring from a spirit of free-will. Once the feeling of obligation is connected to the act, the giver is no more blessed than the receiver.
Check your sources. You don’t have to conduct much research to know that some individuals are predatory charity cases that plot, plan, and routinely scheme to take advantage of any situation that will afford them freebies. There is nothing wrong with asking to see a marriage license, obituary, or driver’s license before committing to securing monies for life events.
Finally, it is important to respect cultural and religious differences. Not everyone will want to support civil unions, birthdays, or notify anyone in the office of their family illnesses or deaths. No one should be made to feel pressured to celebrate life by any one person’s standard. The work place is simply that; a place of employment. Everything else that happens is what life and eventual chemistry make it. Forcing affection from anyone is unethical, impractical and damaging. It does not work in one-on-one relationships and it won’t fly in the work place. Let real empathy, support, concern, care, and joy develop, dare I say it, the old fashioned way; one relationship at a time.