Tired of boss' hard-sell fund drives

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Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: My supervisor frequently asks staff for monetary contributions for his fundraisers and walkathons for various causes -- including his church. I think this is an inappropriate use of his power. He is very persistent. It is one thing to put up a flier in the break room so people could participate (as desired) to a cause, but he confronts everyone individually and repeatedly. Some people understandably have a hard time declining. I know he means well, but supporting a church or charity really should be each person's choice. He makes more than everyone in the company, except the owner, and does not seem to have any understanding of financial hardship. When someone tried to opt out with the reason of having an expensive car repair, he suggested buying a new car. He doesn't get that if fixing the car is taxing on the finances, buying a new one is simply not an option. I don't know how to handle this. He would not respond well to being told it is inappropriate, and it is too small a company to have an HR department. This happens at least once a month, and it's hard to keep coming up with excuses. What else can my co-workers and I do?

--Sick of Forced Funding

DEAR SICK: Forcing employees to support a religious institution or cause is wrong -- and may be illegal (certainly if there are negative consequences if you don't donate). I certainly agree that this is inappropriate and an abuse of power.

You need not advocate for your co-workers, but you should arrive at a strategy that works for you.

You needn't tell this supervisor that his efforts are inappropriate. What you can say is, "I'm sorry, but I can't contribute. I do my donating outside of work."

Do not offer specific explanations or excuses. (This will only inspire him to challenge you.) Be firm and friendly: "Gosh, I'm sorry, but that's the way it is."