“May your charity increase as much as your wealth.” – Proverb

Office collectionWay back when, I wrote a post about what to do when friends or co-workers ask repeatedly if you’ll sponsor them in their charity walk, ride or run. It shouldn’t seem that hard to wish someone well, and in the same breathe explain that you unfortunately can’t give this time. This is harder than you might think for most people. Just take a look at the comments if you need help.

In the same post, I mention a column at Money magazine where the writers advise that people shouldn’t be soliciting others for donations. Period. Don’t ask!

That seems a bit harsh… doesn’t it? Or not? I’ve worked remotely from home for a decade, but when I did work in an office, I remember the constant stream of requests from co-workers and their children. Girl Scout cookies, gift wrap, you name it. People were always peddling something for a cause.

In the virtual world, the request is now often sent by mass email which presents its own set of complexities. The Shifting Careers column offered a creative spin on the fund-raising email. The “office collection” of the old-fashioned variety was handled beautifully by MyOpenWallet last week:

Over the years, I have contributed to many a collection in the office. Whenever the hat is passed for a baby shower, bridal shower, going-away party, charity walk sponsorship, etc., I always pitch in. But until now, I have never been the one responsible for doing the collecting, and I found the experience quite fascinating!

It’s worth clicking over to read the post and learn why she was surprised at the amounts and reasons given. The 30+ comments are fascinating too. Her conclusion:

I think the factor that correlated most to the donation amount was age, but contrary to what you’d think, the younger people were the ones who tended to chip in more… the younger people in the office have perhaps grown up in a culture that is more inclined to over-spend. They are used to excessiveness in weddings, parties, home sizes, cars, etc. They are used to the idea that everyone spends beyond their means and has credit card debt. They like to live large– not just in selfish ways, but in generous ways. The older generations are perhaps not quite caught up with inflation, and still remember the days when $5 was a very generous contribution, because most people only gave $1! But also, the older people in the office may just tend to have slightly different values or norms about how money is spent.

Hmmm… the age factor is an interesting observation and makes sense about why there is a shift in the giving habits of Gen Y. Funny too, the point about older generations. I guess I’m considered “older” now. This was apparent, when I recently realized I hadn’t increased the tip for the valet or car wash guy in twenty years… two bucks is not enough these days. I guess I’d be the one still giving 5 bucks for the office collection.

So what about you? How much do you give for a co-worker’s gift? Have you ever been the collector and if so, what were your observations? And does the occasion, rank or popularity of the co-worker play a factor? Please feel free to comment below.

Photo credit: stock.xchng.