When is In-office Fundraising Out of Bounds?

Everyholiday season request for donations go up. That’s expected for the Season of Giving, but what if your supervisor asks you to support his kids’ PeeWee endeavors all year long? Giving back some of your mind.     — BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GWBW — I have a supervisor who always sells crap for his kids’ school. Where’s the line of obligation and suckerdom? — Diabetic Soon


Dear Diabetic Soon,

Ah!, office politics. Nice. Goes well with pie but little else. If you’re like most people you want to give a token of support to your supervisor, but don’t let this arrangement make you feel like you’ve been taken for a ride personally. Here’s my gently-used donation to you: be straight up with your supervisor. I would gently remind her/him of your salary’s limitations (especially in times like these when everyone’s (including school) budgets have been hard hit) by pointing out that if you supported every good cause you actually wanted to, there’s going to be a car wash to support you that s/he better show up to! Then I would state the annual cap on your willing support – whatever number you want to give and doesn’t impede your budget. If it feels easier for you to break that annual number out to quarterly giving (pre-chat, tally up your last year’s in-office donations and I think you’ll be shocked how much those “small contributions” added up to) then do so, not exceeding your own annual limit. Decide. Commit. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty or ashamed that this amount that you worked so hard for, to give away to support someone else out of your sense of sharing, is too low or “not enough” – remember: zero is a viable option.

If, as you say, this supervisor feels so constantly free to cross the donation line at work, then s/he is either a very gung-ho but tunnel visioned parent, or s/he is A-ok with and willfully leveraging her/his power over you. Water seeks its depth and a supervisor who shows such little common sense or respect tends to languish at her/his own level (except at a company that mirrors such values; another subject).

If all that’s too much for you, then check your employee handbook or ask HR (you don’t have to mention names) what, if any, company policy there is governing in-office solicitations. Then helpfully share this newfound information with your supervisor as a supportive ‘I just found this out, too’-gift. Who knows, maybe s/he actually didn’t know.

All good things within limits,



Dear Diabetic Soon,

Well, I must state the obvious. Just because your supervisor is selling doesn’t mean you have to buy. Your boss’ fundraising for his kids school is much needed these days. School budgets have been cut to the bone. I know in my children’s school the amount of volunteer hours has gone up across the board, because the school does not have the resources they did, even last year.

That being said, your donation to the cause is not a requirement of employment. Don’t let guilt—or some misguided attempt to impress your boss—put a whole in your wallet or increase your sugar intake. I’m not suggesting you be a Scrooge, because, as I said, the school’s extra fundraising helps buy books, fund computers and, in some cases, keep sports and arts programs going. However, buy what works for you, not everything.

In donations, like living expenses, create a budget. Know how much you can afford to contribute to worthy causes. Then, decide how much of that you would like to forward to your supervisor’s fundraising activities. Spread out those buys over the year, choosing the one’s that intrigue you. You figure, chocolate can go in a gift basket at the holidays. I remember once we sold holiday candles, which works well for stocking stuffers or funny gifts for co-workers. Believe me, it’s an inside joke they’ll all get.

In others words, the little you do can help a lot. But give from a place of wanting to help, not wanting to suck up. The truth is, we can all tell when someone offers us something in some disingenuous bid to up their ranking. It’s called brown nosing and it’s not attractive. On the other hand, donating from the heart, caring about how the dollars are spent and how they help…that will give you big props with your boss—and karma points too. So, make your budget, then dig a little deeper and give from the heart.

Good luck,



Image, Universal Studios Home Distribution

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2 responses to “When is In-office Fundraising Out of Bounds?

  1. I do grapple with guilt. I need to stop doing that to myself but it can be scary. I’m making an early resolution to give only what I really can and stick to it. This is good advice I think I can stick to because its good for me and makes sense at the same time.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention When is In-office Fundraising Out of Bounds? « Good Witch / Bad Witch -- Topsy.com

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