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Ask Brian- Parents Fundraising In The Office

December 20th, 2007 · 4 Comments

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Reader Sarah from Buffalo writes:

Don’t you just hate when parents bring their kids fundraising drive into the office?

A co-worker brought in the dreaded list-o-magazine-subscriptions today and went one by one to everyone’s desk. She wouldn’t leave until you bought something. I didn’t want to turn her down and feel like a heel… but I don’t even know her kids, or their school. And I don’t want any new magazines. And at $20 a pop, if everyone in the office broke down and ordered, that’s like $300!”

Brian answers after the break:

Brian says:

To answer your question, yes, that always drives me nuts too.

Forget about the imposition on you and the unprofessional begging at the workplace. What about the kids? It always bothers me when parents do the work for the kids. Shouldn’t a fundraiser be a learning experience, teaching networking, organizational skills, etc? What do they learn if mom and dad magically produce 3 dozen donors by extorting their co-workers?

I don’t know that this is a question that demands “expert opinion” so let me just give you my policy:

  • I don’t fundraise at work. That’s a family and friends thing. It’s simply not professional.
  • If I absolutely broke down and took a fundraiser into work, I wouldn’t accost people individually. I’d post the thing above my desk or in the break room and people could sign up if the spirit moved them.
  • There are only two ways to handle the fundraising of others. First, have a blanket policy that you don’t contribute. If you initiate this policy, you have to stick to it. Sure, feelings might be hurt, but in the end, all comers will be disappointed, so it will even out. Second, have a blanket policy that you only contribute the same amount to everyone. Say, $10. If that’s not enough, tough (girl scout) cookies. Its a question of fairness.

Readers, do you have other strategies or policies you can add? How do you handle parents fund raising at work? Tell us in the comments.

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Tags: Ask Brian · Working Parents

  • Megan

    I don’t get many of the fund raising for children pleas, but in my office it seems like someone’s always “going away.” Either retiring or going to another department. For every going away party, an envelope goes around for donations for that person’s going away gift. Half the time, I don’t even know the person!

    I just always say I don’t have any cash, which is almost always true.

  • Brian

    I definitely see your point. There can be a lot of hands out in the office. Still, I’m more likely to contribute to a gift for a co-worker than I am to pony up for her kid’s fundraiser. At least I know the co-worker!

  • Mike

    I don’t mind it to a limited extent, and it depends which form it takes. The last time I saw anything like that was a company sponsored toy drive, they were hawking cheap popcorn for 50 cents and the money went for charities. I didn’t mind that. Gave them a buck, keep the change. Munched for half an hour. My last job had an “employee activities committee”; They somehow managed to talk the company into buying morning snacks (usually bagels), and leave a jar there in a not-terribly-subtle manner that basically said, “take a bagel, leave a donation”. Didn’t bother me.

    In general, I think I agree with the consensus. Fundraising at the workplace doesn’t necessarily bother me, it’s all in the technique. Picking people off one at a time is not cool. Particularly not at 20 bucks a pop.

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