Dear Hobie & Monk,
I have a policy against contributing to what seems like endless fundraising at work by colleagues who are parents (and who are doing the fundraising on behalf of their children). But now I have a couple of friends who are work colleagues but also personal friends outside of work, and they seem insulted that I don’t want to contribute.
– Shaking off the shakedown blues
Monk: Your decision to give — or not — at the office (or at the grocery store, mall, airport, bank, front door, place of worship, neighborhood park, school, nearest interesection or during your interupted dinner hour) is entirely up to you.
Whether, when, where, to whom and how much to give are personal matters. You owe no one — except possibly the IRS — an explanation.
Your fundraising colleagues may choose to feel insulted when you stick to your office-giving guns. Too bad. If you can endure the constant workplace shakedown, they can certainly respect your choice to decline.
Hobie: I feel your pain. I just might lose it if I get one more request to buy shiny, awful wrapping paper or boxes of delightful peppermint bark, including those coming from my kids. Clearly, there are a lot of people out in the world wrapping infinitely more gifts (maybe stacks of peppermint bark boxes?) than we are capable of generating in our house.
In the office, as Monk so perfectly explains, you are, of course, free to decline your colleagues’ shakedowns (excuse me, I mean generous offers to support their favorite causes) and to raise an inquisitive eyebrow if they aren’t immediately gracious. If those colleagues also are good friends, you probably just need to have an additional word or two with them to either smooth things over or give them a hard time right back.
And if what bothers you isn’t the fundraising but the parents doing the asking, by all means share that and have your colleagues’ kids practice their sales pitches on you.
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Hobie and Monk are two Alexandria women with husbands, children, dogs, jobs, mortgages, unmet New Year’s resolutions, obsessions with impractical shoes, English novels … and Ph.D.s in clinical psychology. Their advice, while fabulous, should not be construed as therapeutic within a doctor-patient context or substituted for the advice of readers’ personal advisors.