Dear Someone Else’s Dad,
I’m a year out of college and work at a big company. Over the past year I’ve been asked to donate to several of my co-workers’ charities, political campaigns and fundraisers for their kids’ schools. I try to be nice by giving what I can, but I find it a bit presumptuous of them to put me on the spot and assume that I’ll automatically open my wallet. How would it look if I told people either that I don’t want to support a specific charity (or political campaign) or that I just don’t have a lot of money? Also, how would it look if I gave to one or two charities that I actually do want to support yet not give to others?
Ah yes, I think I still have a closet full of unwrapped wrapping paper that we had to buy to support kids’ schools.
You are under no obligation to give to anyone’s charity or fundraiser, nor do you have to explain your rationale for giving to one over another. It is unfair of people to put you on the spot and ask for money. If people do hover over you, I’d recommend asking them for a link to their fundraising page so that you can check it out on your own time and decide whether to give or not.
Asking for money at work for political campaigns gets very tricky. Companies have workplace rules that can allow for solicitation, so make sure you know what’s allowed and what’s not. In addition, states have certain restrictions on politics in the workplace. Here is a good article about what’s allowed from a law firm's white paper : Politics in the Workplace: How Employers Can Stay Out of Hot Water.
Remember if you feel coerced in any way, you should talk to someone in HR.
Someone Else’s Dad
PS. Need any wrapping paper?