Q: What’s the proper etiquette for office donations such as chipping in on a baby gift or wedding gift for a co-worker? Should a dollar amount be set for contributions, or should it be left to each individual to decide how much to give? We just took up a collection for a co-worker whose house was lost in a fire. The office manager refused to accept checks, insisting on cash so the gifts would remain anonymous. Some people gave hundreds of dollars, others tens of dollars. Can you help with some guidelines here?
A: Office giving is one of the most vexing problems we hear about. People want the opportunity to give, but they don’t want to feel they have to give. While small offices might have just a few donation requests a year, people working in a large office may get hit up multiple times in a single week. In this case, saying “no” is difficult, but shelling out for every request could break your bank. People should never “make the rounds” of all the desks, asking each co-worker for a donation. Besides being a time waster, this creates stress for people who don’t want to give, a consequence managers should want to avoid. The better solution is to have a bulletin board where employees can post information about solicitations. People interested in contributing can then visit the solicitor to make a donation. Since this is a donation, givers should offer whatever they feel they can afford, and the solicitor should be appreciative of all gifts, regardless of the amount. It was a kind gesture to take up a collection for your co-worker whose home was lost. However, your office manager should not have refused to accept checks. Instead, he or she should have welcomed all donations, then taken the funds to a bank and had the bank issue a single check to your colleague.