Many workplaces engage in the collection of monies for various charities as part of  “community involvement” or “social consciousness” initiatives.  This can range from “Dressing Down for the United Way”, where employees can wear jeans to work on a designated day if the contribute a couple of dollars to the company’s United Way campaign, to higher dollar requests for donations to support specific causes.  However, what is, in its intent, meant to do good, can also cause unintentional angst as the result of peer pressure.

We sometimes don’t take into consideration that those we ask to contribute may not have the economic means to contribute or that their beliefs may not support this type of cause. In many cases people like to do their own thing when it comes to something as personal as supporting a charity.

In these cases, one possible course of action is to go to your boss or some co-workers and test the waters with this idea:

“I know from time to time that we take up a collection for this cause or that, but I have to say that I am not comfortable with how this is managed. I believe that those of us who would like to or already do something personal are hit doubly and sometimes that can be costly. Can we change the policy slightly, by putting an envelope in a central place and those who choose to participate either individually or as a group can and those who choose to support our community in another manner can do as they wish without peer pressure.”

By suggesting this, you and your co-workers have the option to do as they wish.

People have many different ways of expressing their generosity. Some contribute money, some participate in special events such such as walks, while others volunteer their time and expertise to various not-for-profit groups. And even some choose to do nothing. That is their right and we shouldn’t create an environment that would create undue stress.

A tip for the manager

If an employee approaches you regarding this, remember that this took a lot of courage and don’t take this as being someone who is not sensitive to the situation or cause. As already stated, people have different ways of supporting community and charitable causes and even though you may have inherited this donation collection process, maybe now is the time to look at something more individualistic.

You may not think of this, but what if the charity selected was not held in high esteem by some co-workers. Think of the pressure you are putting them under. It is better to allow your staff to choose their own way of showing their community support and even those who choose to do nothing should not feel pressured to step up.


THE 2% FACTOR is a conflict resolution program designed with the needs of today’s busy, cost-conscious organization in mind.  THE 2% FACTOR is a leading catalyst for improving organizational effectiveness through the creation of positive cultural change in corporate, public sector, and not-for-profit workplaces all over the world.


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