Is it Unethical for HR to ask you the employee to donate to the “cause”?

It seems everywhere I’ve worked, this always comes up. What are your thoughts? Should Human Resources approach employees for “donations”, or to “volunteer” money for company/agency events? Does it resemble coersion? Do you feel that when HR asks, you’ve gotta give?

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Terrence (Terry) Hill

I’m thinking that if the purpose of these events is to show appreciation, it is management that should volunteer to foot the bill. If the purpose is just general morale-building, everybody should pitch in. Maybe HR doesn’t need to be the one asking. Perhaps you can have a planning committee asking. Some government organizations have recreation offices that sponsor events and charge admission. Your employees should not be shirking you because you are constantly harassing them for money.

Almost forgot, if it is for charity, don’t bother. That’s why we have the Combined Federal Campaign (Feds) and I’m sure you have something similar at the state/local levels.

Bottom line, try to delegate to managers or a committee and stay out of the solicitation business.

Marsha Toler

Our agency has Jeans Week once a month. For $5, an employee can wear jeans the whole week. The $5 donation is designated to a different charity every month. It works out well for both the charity and the employee.

Rod Gallant

I work in a larger office so we have a social committee that organizes company events. There are reps from a variety of departments in the group so it isn’t HR asking. They also organize a weekly 50/50 where 1/2 goes to the charity of choice of the winner. When we have additional charity campaigns there is normally a management rep as the lead so HR isn’t always the driver.

Teresa Hughes

Requests for monetary contributions must always be voluntary whether they are for charitable causes, office luncheons, etc. It must always be the employee’s option to contribute or not without any repercussions.

We have a large organization that is always having food events, showers for employees with life events (baby showers, bridal showers, etc.), sending condolence gifts, holiday parties, etc. When they ask for employee contributions, it is always voluntary. They use the org chart on the outside of a folder and you can cross your name off as the folder circulates. There is an envelope inside for those who wish to contribute.

Stephen Peteritas

I don’t think it’s wrong to present the opportunity but doing so opens up a huge bag of worms so in the end I’m not sure it’s worth it.

Also this is random but this convo has me thinking on the Seinfeld episode where George creates a fake charity and gives out fake donations as gifts.


I’ve always thought there should be a morale officer of committee whose job it was to make employees happy. It doesn’t look like that’s too common unfortunately even though there is research that indicates happy employees are more productive…