Soliciting Donations at Work

In the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, many people are eager to help, including raising money at work to support the relief efforts.  The following are some tips to consider before soliciting donations at work:

Check your company’s policies on solicitations for charities.  Some employers prohibit solicitations using company equipment or computers; some only allow solicitations at certain times and places (on employee bulletin boards, only during breaks, etc.); others ban workplace solicitations entirely. 

Check your company’s policies on conflicts of interest.  Some policies prohibit soliciting if the person doing the soliciting would benefit from it, such as if the person doing the soliciting is paid by the charitable organization or has family members who would benefit from the charity’s activities.

Check to see if the organization seeking funds is legitimate.  For example, what is its tax status?  Is it registered in your state as a charitable organization?  How long has it been in existence?

Check with your employer first before making in-kind donations.  Raiding the supply room without permission may be considered stealing, even if it is for a good cause.  The same holds true for engaging in fundraising activities on work time without permission of your employer.

An employer should not show bias in the workplace towards or against church-sponsored groups that are seeking donations based on their religious affiliation, or treat different causes differently based on national origin, religion, race, sex, or other protected status (there are exceptions, such as if the employer is a church group).  Other factors that are not based on protected status could be used to decide which cause to support, such as the percentage of donations that go to administrative expenses, the speed with which donations can be directed to the group needing help, the group’s experience in the types of disasters for which the donation is sought, etc. 

Employees should not be pressured to donate to a specific cause or organization that goes against their creed, religious beliefs, or, in jurisdictions where political beliefs are protected, their political beliefs.

Employees should not be forced to donate or their employers could run afoul of the anti-wage-kickback statutes.

If the employer is a governmental entity, there may be additional restrictions under state and federal law on solicitations. 

This list not all-inclusive, but is intended as a starting point.  Above all, use common sense and work together with your employer to see what is possible in your workplace. 

 This posting is not legal advice, and should not be relied on for any purpose.  Also, keep in mind that any changes to laws, rules or regulations after January 18, 2010 are not included in this posting.   

Explore posts in the same categories: Charitable Donations, Employment Policies

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