Be The Anti-Scrooge: How to Afford Philanthropy with Every Co-Worker

Be The Anti-Scrooge: How to Afford Philanthropy with Every Co-Worker

Dear Farnoosh,

My officemates are constantly soliciting contributions for various fundraising projects. They’re almost always for a good cause, but I already donate to the charities that are meaningful to me. How do I turn down a request to sponsor a breast cancer run/walk without sounding like a heartless cheapo?

Sincerely, Charitable Chelsea

Dear CC,

How we can all relate! You’re not a heartless cheapo. You’ve got financial responsibilities from rent to car payments to your student loans. How you allocate your hard-earned money is completely up to you. Don’t let anyone (no matter how sweet her cause) pressure you or make you feel obligated to part with money you can’t spare.

Be Considerate and Complimentary

Don’t despair—there is a way to gently turn down your officemates in a respectful manner. The key is to refrain from saying no too abruptly or from brushing them off.  Start off your reply by complimenting their cause and how much you respect their involvement, followed by the truth. Say, “I wish I could, but I’ve already used up my charity budget this year,” or “Darn, I’ve already finished giving to my top organizations this year.”

Offer Support Other Than Money

Finish the letdown by promising to consider your coworker’s charity next year. Offer to help spread the word on Facebook, Twitter or via email. Ask, “Does the charity have a link?” Let’s face it; most people just ignore donation requests, so your officemate will be really appreciative of your thoughtfulness, even though you didn’t exactly give her a check. If it’s a close coworker and you really want to support her and her cause, consider stopping by to cheer her on during the race, as well. Or, if you usually exchange gifts for birthdays or holidays, make a donation to her charity as your gift to her later in the year.

Don’t Feel Guilty

Remember—you’re not the only one who feels trapped by coworker charity solicitations. That same officemate asking you to give to her breast cancer run walk probably just got cornered to fork over money to her boss’ sickle cell dance marathon. She knows the feeling and shouldn’t hold a grudge.

Consider Alternate Ways to Give

If ever you want to give to a charity but don’t have enough in your budget to do so, keep the following two websites in mind: is an online shopping mall through which you can automatically donate a percentage of every purchase at more than 700 stores to your favorite charity. The amount you spend on the actual items are the same as they would be if you went directly to Amazon (or Sephora or any of the other stores that are included). Its sister site is a Yahoo-powered search engine that donates a penny per search to your favorite cause. The pennies add up—just 500 people searching four times a day raises about $7,000 a year, says founder J.J. Ramberg.


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