I am very happy in my current job however I have one annoyance:

Every week there seems to be at least 2 or 3 different charity causes that we are asked to give to. This usually comes in the form of a jiffy bag and paper being passed around.

The problem is not the charities, invariably they are great and worthwhile, and ordinarily I would have no qualms about putting a couple of pounds in the bag.

However over recent months this has got (IMO) excessive and to give to them all would require something in the region of 5 to 10 pounds a week.

This is money that I simply don't have.

This is not a "company thing" (although the company does occasionally run fundraisers) but these are usually sponsorships and charities that colleagues are involved with. (although it often seems to be the same people doing the events). Donations are solicited publicly so everybody knows who did or didn't contribute, which is uncomfortable for those who don't.

To a lesser extent this also occurs with birthdays, and other events where we are often asked to have a whip round.

I am convinced that I am not the only one who feels this way, but I don't know how to broach the topic without damaging my reputation.

My question is, how can I broach this subject without being treated as miserly and uncharitable in the workplace?


today is Red Nose Day and I have so far (12:30) had no fewer than six requests for a grand total of around £14

I have decided to take the advice offered and I am going to HR this afternoon as I have decided that enough is enough

Thanks to you all for responding

  • 3
  • Have you tried to politely decline ? What happens then ?
    – ereOn
    Mar 12, 2015 at 16:34
  • 9
    Donations are solicited publicly so everybody knows who did or didn't contribute <-- this right here is the problem. IMO proper donation etiquitte is an envelope that gets passed around. You pass it around rooms, cubicles etc and each person has time to look at it and optionally donate. Person in charge of collections verifies that nothing disappears from the envelope, but does not monitor specifically who placed what amount
    – Brandin
    Mar 13, 2015 at 20:47
  • Have you considered starting your own charity?
    – user8365
    Mar 19, 2015 at 4:01
  • 1
    Proper etiquette is also that you put money in, and no money out. Can be problematic if all you have is a 20 pound note. That's where I personally grab a witness who sees that I put 20 pound in and take 19 pound out of the bag.
    – gnasher729
    Jul 19, 2017 at 8:41

5 Answers 5


"But its only a pound, surely you can afford a pound"

When I was a teen, I used that same reasoning to a teacher, and she pointed out that she supported a lot of other causes too, and that money added up. That is a completely rational argument, and if someone pushes back on that, it is them being rude.

So, simply point out that you support other causes already, and can only afford to give x pounds per year to work causes, which you will dole out. This cause might get 1 pound, but several others during the next weeks you will simply not be able to support, even though you agree they are good causes. Turn them down pleasantly, and don't worry about them trying to shame you.

The number of worthy causes would take more than all of the money of Bill Gates, which is why even he only supports some of them. You have a right to choose which ones you support and for how much. You HAVE to choose which you support and for how much.

If you wish to push back harder, you might point out that while you can afford a pound, others may have financial obligations that make it even harder for them. And this pushing can be making the workplace unpleasant for people who don't want to admit they can't afford it. Perhaps they should tone it down, to spare embarrassing people or pushing them to bad financial decisions.

  • 1
    The people working for those charities are really good at setting up the premise that you are greedy if you do not donate a small sum to xyz every other week or month. It's important to not entertain that premise and this answer does that really well.
    – Squary94
    May 24, 2022 at 13:54

A previous place I worked actually banned this sort of thing because of the combinatoric explosion -- each individual thinks "I'm only doing this once" but a hundred people asking a hundred people each adds up. I'm assuming you don't want to go that far.

The best approach to your problem is to look for a win-win solution -- something that makes it easier on reluctant donors and also easier on the people doing the soliciting. Right now you have somebody walking around and asking people and taking names. That's kind of a hassle. If the important part is to support the cause, and nobody's kicking in enough to generate tax records, then why not make it easier for all involved? Designate a place, perhaps in the lunch room, where people can put out collection jars clearly labelled with the charity being supported, which employee is organizing it, and the date the money will be collected. (You don't want the jars to just sit around forever, so tell people when they'll be taken away.) People who want to donate can donate.

Some might argue that passive collection jars will reduce the "take" because people aren't being pushed. (One could ask them why they think being pushy with coworkers is ok.) On the other hand, the jars will catch people who didn't happen to be at their desks when you came 'round collecting, so that should count for something.

  • The jars may also reduce the take if people steal from them. Mar 13, 2015 at 3:09
  • @NateEldredge possible, but (a) if you've got theft happening in the workplace you have problems bigger than the nuisance of solicitations, and (b) you can make it at least a little harder by making it a container with a slot as opposed to just an open basket, like you sometimes see in more-public places. Mainly, though, I hope that a few pounds won't lead people to steal. (The people collecting the money can always empty the jar each day if they like.) Mar 13, 2015 at 3:47

No matter how you broach the topic you run the risk of looking miserly and uncharitable. A couple of points to mitigate this are making sure this conversation is a private one with your boss and approach it from the angle of there is uncomfortable peer pressure created which is hurting the workplace atmosphere and perhaps the company can replace this activity with a company fund that employees can apply to.

Not a direct answer to your question but another option would be to decline to contribute or contribute less than you have been. Depending on the circumstances of how this hat passing is executed this may not even be noticed and in most offices it would be very bad form for anyone to call you on this.


Another spin on this: don't give to anyone. My policy is that I do not donate to anyone's charity/cause at work. I donate on my own to causes of my own choosing.

This policy is consistent. And over time, people stop asking because they know you won't give. Which means I quickly stopped getting asked to buy Girl Scout Cookies by a teammate. By being consistent in my policy, nobody is hurt and I don't have to worry about "you gave to X, but not Y".

I do give for "life events" (baby, marriage, death of a family member) or parties.


Similar to Monica's answer but with a different twist: I would talk to HR and management. While well intended it can create tension and anxiety in the work place. The asked feel pressured and miffed and, if denied, the askers feel unappreciated and get the sense that they work with insensitive and cheap clods. That's actually a lose-lose if it gets out of hand so it is in management's best interested to but a policy in place.

I have worked in a few companies where this was specifically outlawed by HR. This can be done very nicely and augmented with something really nice the company does. Say a once-a-year fundraiser for a broad charity with full company match, undisclosed individual donation amounts and an employee raffle.

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