Many employers choose to designate a particular nonprofit organization as the beneficiary for employee charitable giving programs, and often ramp up their campaigns in December to meet year-end goals. While these efforts are generally begun with good intentions, employee morale can suffer if these campaigns are run insensitively.
Some things to keep in mind if you have influence over such a program:
- Do not assume that employees share your values. This point is especially important when it comes to political or religious organizations, but applies to all situations. Some people just don’t agree with certain missions or values.
- You never know others’ personal finances. Even if you know someone’s salary, you can’t possibly know what kind of disposable income they have. People who seem well-off may be living paycheck to paycheck and keeping up appearances. You may be asking a food-insecure individual to donate to the food bank, for instance.
- Advancement and retention should never be linked to giving. I often hear employees say that it’s “the unwritten rule” to give to the boss’s pet charity or the corporate-designated cause. Create a firewall between the person in charge of collecting money and the people in supervisory roles to avoid even the appearance of bias.
- Take “No” for an answer. Do not engage in high-pressure tactics to force employees to give. Pushing them will only foster resentment or highlight pay disparities if upper-level employees are overseeing the campaign. “It’s just five dollars,” to the person making the request, but for the employee, that five dollars may make the difference between paying for bus fare to and from work that day.
Again, people working on these campaigns typically mean well and just want to help what they see as worthy causes. Nonetheless, overzealous efforts or mismanagement can lead to some serious problems in the workplace, so proceed with sensitivity.
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Please note: This blog is intended as general educational information only, and should not be considered legal advice or a substitute for consulting a lawyer.