In workplaces around the world, employees are coming together to help the Ukrainian people, especially the refugees. It’s a beautiful thing to see amidst the horrors of war.
Before money and necessary items can be collected and shipped to the front lines, someone at work needs to ask for donations. And this is where it gets tricky. Who can ask, and how the requests should be made, is often regulated.
It’s regulated for two reasons. First, companies want to avoid abuse-of-power situations. When senior leaders, or even first-line supervisors, ask employees to donate to a cause, many feel obliged to donate amounts they can’t afford, to causes they don’t believe in, for fear of embarrassment or retaliation. Second, some companies block all forms of solicitation, even for charitable causes, because it opens the door to union-forming activities (we won’t get into that here).
Therefore, many employers prohibit all types of solicitation in the workplace. No Girl Scout cookie sales, no toy drives during the holidays, no blankets for refugees.
Is that the right answer? Do we need such drastic measures to prevent the posting of a union flyer in the cafeteria? Here are some guidelines that can help you do good in the world without giving angst to your employer or putting undue pressure on your colleagues:
- Ask a front-line employee to make the donation request, not a manager or leader.
- Avoid face-to-face or email requests. Put a flyer up in a common room inviting people drop items off in a box or to donate anonymously to a GoFundMe page.
- Clearly state that all contributions are voluntary, and make it credible. Use language that acknowledge the fact that many employees have already donated to the same cause outside of the office. Mention that some employees may not be able to give at this time.
- Run your campaign by your HR professional and ask for feedback. Do the same with your ethics professional if you have one.