Do you have kids who are dying to sell something and think your workplace is the answer to their Trump-ian dreams?
Or are you the one constantly feeling like someone else is hitting you up to buy their dear darling’s magazines and cookie dough?
If there’s no clear policy in your workplace — and believe me, most people wish there were! — following are some ways to diplomatically handle fundraisers at work.
If You Are the Seller
- Think hard before you solicit your coworkers at all. Shouldn’t Little Mickey be out selling his own wares? This could easily be classified as one more way that parents do their kids a disservice by doing the work for them. (For example, I got about a dozen Facebook notices that Girl Scout cookie season was underway but I only bought from those who came to my door.)
- Think about your position. Are you the boss? Then it’s bad form to ask your employees to support your kids’ fundraising. Chances are good that they’ll buy out of obligation and be totally annoyed about it. And they might make comments about your kid, “Lazy Larry” or “Spoiled Susan,” behind your back.
- Send out one email to whomever you think you should (be judicious) with a simple announcement that Little Katie’s school is selling bulbs and to contact you for more information. You don’t have to go in to a hard sell in the email. The gardeners will find you.
- Put a catalog in the break room or other gathering area with a clear note on instructions and then don’t.say.a.word. The Thin Mint lovers will jump into action.
- Realize that some items are just more popular and are going to sell better. It’s not a reflection on the seller or organization. Those cookies I keep talking about — which come at a reasonable price point I might add — ARE going to sell better than an overpriced scone mix you have to make yourself.
- Really want to make sales? If it’s an edible product, include a sample!
If You Are the Sellee
- Don’t feel pressured. Hopefully your seller has followed a game plan like that above and isn’t in your face. You’re on a diet and don’t want cookie dough or live in an apartment that doesn’t need plants? You are not obligated to buy.
- Well, unless it’s the kid of your boss, your assistant, or someone else you work with closely. Nah, I’m only kidding (sort of). But it might not hurt to consider the relationship and make a token purchase. Who couldn’t use a box of Thin Mints in their freezer or an extra roll of wrapping paper?
- Turnaround is fair play. If they bought from you, you buy from them. No exceptions.
- If they are overzealous (reason enough not to buy from them!) deflect with a simple explanation that you already bought from your neighbor or niece. If you start debating the quality of the merchandise or that it’s something you don’t need, you are just inviting them to say “Oh, you can just make a donation!” and then you look bad if you don’t.
- If you do receive an email I would advise nipping it in the bud with the statement above and a cheery “Good luck!” It’s tempting to delete, but it only takes two seconds to respond and is much more courteous.
One extra piece of advice: if YOU’RE the one peddling candles, makeup or jewelry (not your kid)…don’t. We might buy from a kid, but when a colleague is asking to support his or her “side job,” it just looks unprofessional.
Think there has to be a more meaningful way to raise money for a cause than by buying overpriced junk food? Me too.
by Cathie Ericson