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Dec 18, 201812:43 PMOpen Mic

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Is it okay to say ‘Bah! Humbug!’ to Tiny Tim’s fundraiser?

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Imagine if Scrooge had been constantly bombarded with fundraising order forms from Bob Cratchit on behalf of all the little Cratchits.

The old guy had nightmares after Bob merely requested a warmer workplace and one day off to celebrate Christmas. Constant requests to purchase wrapping paper or popcorn to fund music and athletic programs at Tiny Tim’s school may have pushed the old miser even further over the edge.

When done respectfully, with no harassment or intimidation, selling fundraiser items or soliciting charitable donations in the workplace usually causes minimal disruption. If, however, out-of-control fundraising and high-pressure sales tactics are causing your employees to become Scrooge-like, maybe it’s time to create — or enforce — a solicitation policy.

Determine what will be allowed

For a company leader to create an enforceable policy on fundraising in the workplace, the first step is to determine what will and will not be allowed.

One scenario to consider is whether “passing the hat” to collect money for an employee who has suffered a personal tragedy (e.g., seriously ill child, house fire, storm damage, etc.) will be acceptable. If so, what is the proper procedure for such a fundraiser? Does the effort need to be approved by your human resources department? Will soliciting via email or company intranet be allowed?

Another scenario to consider: Will employees be allowed to conduct a fundraising drive in the workplace to support victims of a national disaster (such as a hurricane, flood, or wildfire)? Again, determine the proper procedure and the limits of such an effort. Setting up a table during break periods in the lunch room may be fine, but going workstation to workstation pressuring people to contribute may not.

Finally, the big question: Will employees be allowed to solicit sales from their co-workers for their personal causes and/or their children’s activities? You might allow employees to solicit from their desks, or request that they put the order forms in a central location like a break room or coffee station. You might also declare that soliciting anything, even for children, is against company policy.

Sample policy language

Here is some suggested wording for a fairly restrictive solicitation policy:

Scrooge and Marley, hereby referred to as the Company, prohibit the solicitation, distribution, and posting of materials on company property by any employee or nonemployee, except as may be permitted by this policy. The sole exceptions to this policy are charitable and community activities supported by the Company management and company-sponsored programs related to Company products and services.

Employees may not solicit other employees during work times, except in connection with a Company-approved or sponsored event.

Employees may not distribute literature of any kind during work times, or in any work area at any time, except in connection with a Company-sponsored event.

The posting of materials or electronic announcements are permitted only with approval from Human Resources. Violation of this policy should be reported to Human Resources.

The “permitted only with approval from human resources” clause in this policy means every individual who wants to pin a fundraiser order form to the lunchroom bulletin board must seek permission from HR. This could become burdensome for an already busy HR department.

If you prefer a less rigid policy, perhaps requiring permission from a manager or supervisor would suffice. This option, however, would likely require training supervisors on how to evaluate requests and when to deny them. Another option is to have a policy that allows fundraising for employees’ children’s schools, sports teams, scouts, etc., and have a designated spot where all such materials can be posted for a specified number of days, but also include language saying materials are subject to the discretion of HR or company management.

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