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Ask Dan
It seems like everyone at work is raising money for a cause – their kids' summer camp, a band trip, or some kind of philanthropic effort. How do I turn down their donation requests without coming across like the office Scrooge?

Most businesses today employ a no-solicitation policy, because soliciting in the workplace, whether for cookies or causes, has legally been considered no different than unions soliciting for representation. But what if your company doesn't have such a policy, or has one but just ignores it? If it's the former, the best approach is to tell those drumming up contributions that, while you appreciate the cause they're collecting for, the company can find itself in hot water by ignoring the law that forbids soliciting on company property during work hours. They may be unaware of this violation, and appreciate you calling it to their attention.

If it's the latter, you have to take a different, more delicate, approach because they already know they're not supposed to canvas co-workers for contributions. Thank them for the opportunity to take part in their particular cause, but tell them you manage all your charitable giving from home. Explain that your stance allows you to avoid accidentally igniting workplace tensions by supporting John's cause but not Mary's, for example. They may or may not welcome your explanation, but from now on they will probably give it a rest when it comes to asking you to donate to their causes.

Dan Lumpkin, organizational psychologist, is the president of management-consulting company Lumpkin & Associates in Fairhope, AL. Need answers? Email your career-related questions to askdan@exhibitormagazine.com.
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