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Fundraising at work: a question of appropriateness


Joy asked:

This morning, the boss asked all of the employees to chip in for a going away party for one of the "higher ups." We all felt a little uncomfortable. It happens quite often for different things. I chipped in about an hours worth of pay ($10)--all that I had in my wallet--and some of the other employees tried to "weasel" out of it. I know for a fact most of the other employees really couldn't afford it as they're all poverty level. My question: Is it appropriate to fundraise for something like that at work? It would seem different to me if it were a charitable fundraiser or if the person asking wasn't in a position of power over the others. If this isn't appropriate, how can I let the boss know without completely pissing him/her off and making him/her hate me? I know if I hadn't given all I had or said anything that he/she would've held it against me. Thank you very much!


This is a tough one. It depends on the culture of the organization.

If it is a family-type environment with an open door policy on communication, then it would be easy to go up to the 'boss' and let him/her know that you felt uncomfortable with this. However, it seems that this environment may not be so open. It would have been more appropriate for the 'boss' to send an e-mail or voicemail to all staff informing them that this farewell was taking place, and if people wanted to contribute, they were welcome to do so, but to stress that it was completely voluntary.

I believe he/she put the staff in an awkward position, perhaps unknowingly. If you are not comfortable speaking to him/her directly, I would suggest putting a note in the company suggestion box or bringing it up at a communications committee meeting.

If your organization has neither of these, you could always put an anonymous note in his/her mailbox. The note, would of course, be structured professionally and not be a personal attack ... it would simply state that many employees felt uncomfortable with the 'request' and perhaps this needs to be looked at in the future. You may offer suggestions for improving the process, or perhaps making it a company policy that 'solicitation' will be for charitable fundraisers only.

At our organization, we always ensure that employees don't feel obliged to participate or contribute to social events. It is strictly on a voluntary basis.

Hope this helps! Good luck.

About the author

Farah Kotadia is a Human Resources consultant with her own company Action HR Consulting ( She has recently joined Surrey Delta Immigrant Services Society as their Human Resources Director. Contact her at

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