How do I raise money for charity without getting my husband upset?
July 11, 2013 10:12 AM   Subscribe

I am running a fall marathon with a charity bib. I am about 50% of the way to my goal, but my husband is upset that I've been using social media to raise money. My partner is in a position of power at a large corporation, and some of his colleagues are personal friends of mine. He thinks that it comes off as tacky if I try to raise money as a general ask to my (more than a thousand) Facebook friends because he thinks it reflects badly on him.

How do I address this? I've already told him that raising money for charity via social media is pretty standard operating procedure, but he is worried that people will think badly of HIM because I'm asking for money.

And no, he isn't willing to give me the remaining money. If I have to stop raising money I will be on the hook for a lot of money, which will affect my ability to participate as an equal partner in our relationship.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (49 answers total)
 
It is possible to explicitly block your husband's colleagues from seeing the post on Facebook: when making the post, click the drop-down menu for who can see it, choose "Custom", and add their names. You can also add them to a list and then block them all at once.
posted by katrielalex at 10:15 AM on July 11, 2013 [16 favorites]


My partner is in a position of power at a large corporation

he isn't willing to give me the remaining money

I will be on the hook for a lot of money


There's not enough info here to be sure, but it sounds like you and your husband have a lot more issues when it comes to money than just this one incident.

How much money are we talking about, here?
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:16 AM on July 11, 2013 [14 favorites]


I see his point, I see your point. Find a compromise. Perhaps you can agree to abstain from any further posts directed towards his work colleagues. Are you sure you would actually be "on the hook" for the money if you fail to raise it? I doubt it's that unusual to fall short of fundraising goals.
posted by deadweightloss at 10:17 AM on July 11, 2013


Answers might depend on how you're asking for the money - via posts on your wall or by PM'ing all your Friends? And how often - once or twice, or repeatedly? Can you ask a mod to update?

That aside, if there are specific contacts that your husband is worried about, can't you just exclude them from the posts/emails? Sounds like you'll still have loads of people left to ask.
posted by penguin pie at 10:18 AM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't know anything about facebook, but if you do a general ask, will the recipients realize that you are asking everyone you know? If so, you can let your husband know that all of us in the corporate world know that we can say "no" or just ignore requests that are made generally.

Also, I don't think it reflects badly on anyone when someone is raising money for charity. Not to mention the fact that charitable giving is tax deductible, so his colleagues want and need to make charitable donations, and why not to the one you are devoting a lot of time and energy to?

If you get Runner's World, the current issue has a lovely and touching piece by Peter Sagal (you may know him from "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me") about raising money in a run. It might help your husband frame the issue a little better.
posted by janey47 at 10:19 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


deadweightloss: "I see his point, I see your point. Find a compromise. Perhaps you can agree to abstain from any further posts directed towards his work colleagues. Are you sure you would actually be "on the hook" for the money if you fail to raise it? I doubt it's that unusual to fall short of fundraising goals."

I agreed to raise $3000 for a charity for my bib for the NYC marathon. Had I not been able to raise it all, I would've had to cover the difference. So this is not unheard of.
posted by Grither at 10:20 AM on July 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I agreed to raise $3000 for a charity for my bib for the NYC marathon. Had I not been able to raise it all, I would've had to cover the difference. So this is not unheard of.

How binding is the pledge or goal? The idea that charities can enforce a donation goal through some legal means beyond removing the incentive (such as the bib in the marathon they promised you) weirds me out. Surely the worst that can happen is that everyone's a little sad the charity only got, say, $5,000 instead of $10,000, and you don't actually get invited to the dinner or whatever?
posted by jsturgill at 10:26 AM on July 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


You can tailor who sees your wall posts. It takes some time, but you can set up groups, and then choose which groups see which posts. Or you can exclude specific people from seeing the posts.

Would that be a compromise acceptable to you both?
posted by bilabial at 10:28 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pretty much half my friends seem to be raising money for various causes and charity run/walks on Facebook. Some of them do kind of annoy me because I just am not going to fund someone's multiple charity walks a year plus all the others. I give here and there and then ignore. Social media is a very low-threshold medium. It's easy to ignore without offending and that's what happens a lot. Have his coworkers already seen your general announcement? If so, you may want to cool it with the fundraising to them on Facebook. People are on their own with Twitter. Just know that if you're announcing it every day or more than once a day, you'll be irritating a lot more than just his coworkers. He may be reacting to that and hiding behind the "propriety" issue.

If you feel the only way to make the charity threshold is to get his employees to open their wallets, you may need to take another tack or figure out a way to back out of this obligation.
posted by amanda at 10:29 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


As long as you are not specifically targeting his colleagues by sending them messages rather than generally posting on your wall, I think it should be fine. Isn't this a done deal already—you already made the post—or are you periodically reposting your charity plea? You might want to stop doing that.
posted by grouse at 10:31 AM on July 11, 2013


What does he object to exactly? Is it perhaps the specific charity that he is upset about? If, for example, his colleagues are very conservative and the charity would be considered liberal by them, he might be afraid that they would associate him with a cause that is not in line with their values. He might, realistically, be worried about future business relationships.
posted by Beti at 10:32 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


The idea that charities can enforce a donation goal through some legal means beyond removing the incentive (such as the bib in the marathon they promised you)

The bib is the whole point. Maybe OP wants to raise money just to raise the money, but generally speaking these events with the huge mandatory fundraising goals are actually serious events that the fundraiser wants to participate in. Being barred from actually running the marathon, or walking for 3 days, or whatever the event is pretty catastrophic.

OP, I'd echo the suggestions about excluding your husband's colleagues from your facebook ask. Another thing I'd consider would be showing your husband posts from his colleagues and their families making the same asks, and find out if he thinks they they are "tacky" as well.

But, TBH, your husband sounds like kind of a dick
posted by sparklemotion at 10:33 AM on July 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think the whole thing depends on how pushy you are about it.

If you mention it on Facebook, and direct people to your website, that's fine. If you Private Message all of your friends about it, and hock them mercilessly to contribute, that's annoying.

My cousin's kid is doing a fundraiser, only my cousin sent individual emails to each family member specifically asking for a donation. Annoying.

If she had done the same thing on Facebook, as a status, no biggie.

It's one thing if your husband doesn't want his direct reports to feel obligated to donate to your charity, it's another if he's just being a tyrannical tight-ass.

Also, wouldn't you BOTH have to cover the difference? I mean, you're a married couple and presumably you're mingling finances to a certain extent, nu?

There's some subtext here that's disturbing. Your husband dictating to you, your "use of social media" to 1000 Facebook friends, the fact that your husband would stick it to you such that you'd feel taken advantage of financially, the fact that you're struggling to participate equally in your marriage.

Did you run this 'running for charity' thing past your husband before you obligated your family to the amount? I'd be pretty miffed about it if you hadn't and then were relying on MY business contacts as a key source of funding.

This sounds really fucked up in an MC Escher angles kind of way.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:35 AM on July 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think you can continue to use social media to fundraise and keep your partner happy by focusing your Facebook posts. So every time you get a new donation, just do a quick status update thanking that person and just saying "Thank you so much Sally for your generous support" and include a link to your fundraiser in the post. Thanking people publicly for being generous isn't tacky - its good manners (just don’t mention the amount they gave) and on the plus it reminds your friends your still fundraising and where they can go. Just don't post 5 times a day, and it should be a really subtle way of asking.

You could also see if your husband would be willing to match the donations you receive and then you could publicly say "Mr. Anon says he'll match dollar for dollar anything I raise for my charity. Help me spend Mr. Anon’s money." It could be that he's worried his peers think he's cheap, so this may be a way to help boost his public image. Also the sooner you meet your goal the sooner the "please donate" post end and the marathon training post can begin. :) Best of luck!
posted by zamdaba at 10:39 AM on July 11, 2013


I agree that the best compromise may be to create a List of the husband's coworkers and exclude them from the FB posts.

Also, unless you regularly engage with your husband's coworkers on Facebook, chances are they aren't seeing your posts anyway. Facebook filters/limits what posts show up on a person's news feed based on who they interact most with, what kind of posts they are (photos/videos being more likely to be served than text posts), etc.
posted by misskaz at 10:42 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think there are good solutions in this thread that will allow you to proceed without contacting people your husband does not wish you to contact.

If part of your hope was to get some normative context, here are my feelings:
  1. It's an aggressive thing to ask people for money. I never appreciate it, no matter how worthy the cause. "Tacky" might well be an accurate shorthand for this feeling.
  2. I dislike the way social media encourages, normalizes, and gamifies turning the people in our lives into exploitable resources for our charities, interests, small business, etc.
  3. As a person in a position of power, your husband is absolutely correct to consider how his subordinates and peers might feel pressure to donate. There are prohibitions on supervisors soliciting from anyone lower than them in the hierarchy of my workplace, and I think those prohibitions are sound. The same reasoning and implicit pressures apply here, even though it might feel to you like a solicitation that has nothing to do with your husband or his work.
  4. It's not the end of the world if you don't get to run. There are plenty of marathons. The money you raised is more important. And you may very well be able to run without an official bib (this may be a practical option even if it is theoretically verboten). Donating a few thousand dollars for a good cause and then running in a marathon without official recognition, just because you want to run, is not only punk as fuck, it's a much better story to tell at parties unless your friends are very, very proper and fancy people.

posted by jsturgill at 10:46 AM on July 11, 2013 [32 favorites]


But, TBH, your husband sounds like kind of a dick

Really? I was assuming the husband, who is in a "position of power," doesn't want anyone to feel he is indirectly wielding that power through his wife's request for donations. Actually, he sounds more considerate than most people, as he's taking aims to protect those people by asking his wife not to solicit them.
posted by MoxieProxy at 10:48 AM on July 11, 2013 [31 favorites]


I think I get where he is coming from. I didn't at first, but then imagined myself in his shoes, explaining that it wasn't me, but my spouse, who was soliciting my colleagues.

Just omit his co-workers from your list of fundraising possibilities.

I did this, by the way, and found that the most powerful way to raise funds was to craft a letter about my training and the reasons I was running a marathon, and send it via snail mail with a handwritten personal note at the bottom to my potential donors.

You can also do this via businesses you patronize. Many will contribute themselves or let you put up a table to solicit donations.

When I ran, my super supportive husband was there to cheer me on, get me ice (bless him!) at the 10th mile, and get me with all the ice available in the hotel machine on our floor as I recovered in an ice bath in our room, etc. but he too did not contribute money or ask his co-workers to do so.
posted by bearwife at 10:49 AM on July 11, 2013


Actually, he sounds more considerate than most people, as he's taking aims to protect those people by asking his wife not to solicit them.

The reasonable thing for a person in "a position of power at a large corporation" who doesn't want to be seen as asking for charity through his wife to do would be to just front her the money.

The fact that being out this money could affect the way that OP feels as an equal in the relationship implies to me that OP's husband is controlling about money in a way that even people who (as I do) keep their finances separate from their spouses would say is unhealthy.

Obviously, we are only getting OP's side of the story. Maybe he's not really a dick, but the way OP has written it, he certainly sounds like it.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:56 AM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Climbing on board with the suggestion to break your Facebook friends into groups and target or exclude groups from certain posts (such as fundraising requests) based on who they are and their relationship to you. I'm somewhat surprised you don't already do this, with a friend group of 1,000+. I completely understand your husband's concerns, and I would also suggest you speak with him specifically about those concerns, and ask him if restricting your requests to people he doesn't work with will address them.

I have Facebook set up with actual, close friends in one group that sees everything, and distant acquaintances, co-workers I'm not actually friends with, and family I'm uncomfortable sharing everything with in another group that sees almost nothing. If I was going to do a fundraising effort, I'd pick carefully from both groups and set up a separate group to send that information to, once. You might want to consider a similar arrangement. Good luck, both with resolving this issue with your husband so that you're both content, and with the marathon!
posted by jennaratrix at 10:56 AM on July 11, 2013


(And, um, maybe we could stick with answering the question posed rather than speculating on the OP's marriage? Just a thought.)
posted by jennaratrix at 10:57 AM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


OP, I hope you update to let us know exactly how you are attempting to solicit donations through facebook, and whether your husband's concerns are that his colleagues will feel pressured to contribute because of his work relationship with them.

A friend of mine was raising money for a particular cause, and part of his strategy was to post daily to facebook with requests for money, and posting things like "Well, you can do anything to prevent [horrible natural disaster] but you can do something about [cause I am raising money for]!" I found that to be horribly tacky, insensitive and tasteless.

I would just omit these people from your fundraising posts, it's very simple to do. I don't see why this is such a problem. Were you counting on receiving donations from these people, and are unsure if you will make your fundraising requirements without them? If so, that's an entirely separate issue.

Maybe you and your husband need to have a conversation about what you both feel is appropriate/inappropriate to share with each other's colleagues/coworkers/other random facebook people, so you can both filter your facebook feeds accordingly.
posted by inertia at 11:05 AM on July 11, 2013


I find it tacky when people post about raising money for charity but really they want me to give money so that they can participate in an event. It's a weird mix of self-righteous (they're raising money for charity!) and disingenuous (the benefit to the charity is secondary to their desire to participate in the event and it's not even their money so I feel like they want me to do the good deed so they can take the credit plus do something fun that they would have done anyway).

You can ask people for money without sounding tacky as long as it's clear that you know it's something they're doing for you (and the charity) and not something that you're doing for the charity (and for them!). The tone of your title makes me wonder about the tone of your Facebook posts.
posted by 4bulafia at 11:08 AM on July 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


Mod note: From the OP:
I am using FB to solicit simply by posting the link, stating reasons I am running the race and mentioning reasons I support this particular, non-controversial charity. My spouse feels that if people feel pressured to donate to my efforts, that looks bad on him, as the person in charge at work.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:11 AM on July 11, 2013


I find FB or Twitter posts asking for donations a pretty annoying (I can't afford to donate and if 10 of your friends are doing charity events your feed gets full of people asking for money pretty easily), so I see your husband's point, however this:

It is possible to explicitly block your husband's colleagues from seeing the post on Facebook: when making the post, click the drop-down menu for who can see it, choose "Custom", and add their names. You can also add them to a list and then block them all at once.

Is a perfect compromise I think.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:18 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


My partner is in a position of power at a large corporation, and some of his colleagues are personal friends of mine.

Unless you were friends with your husband's colleagues before they were his colleagues - and I presume his "large corporation" didn't cobble its entire workforce from a group of buddies - there is no way they are your "personal" friends. Whether you socialize with them outside of work is irrelevant. Frankly, to me, your fundraising is one step removed from sexual harassment. There is simply too much of a power imbalance to solicit from people whose livelihood depends on your husband's good graces.

I say that as someone who was (a) unlucky enough to have suffered through several incidents of colleagues and superiors mistaking my desire to be minimally friendly so that I can advance at work with being actual friends, and (b) lucky enough to have had several conversations with male friends in positions of power who chose not to act on some perceived mutual attraction because they didn't want to be a giant bag of dicks, so personally, I find your husband's stance admirable.

I also want to comment that a lot of the conversation here focuses on how invasive your facebook communication is but I think it's a red herring. Your husband's colleagues either read your posts or they don't. If they read them even once, then you are soliciting them, and if they don't, then it's this whole thing is moot.

TLDR: I think the ethical thing to do is to exclude your husband's colleagues and their families.
posted by rada at 11:29 AM on July 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


My spouse feels that if people feel pressured to donate to my efforts, that looks bad on him, as the person in charge at work.

He's absolutely right about that -- if I were friends with an exec's wife on Facebook and she repeatedly posted asking for money (so that she could do a fun thing, probably with free support and training, that she wouldn't otherwise be able to do, paid for with my money that I then wouldn't have to spend on causes important to me), I would feel pressured to donate and I would resent my boss and his wife for it. This is absolutely happening, if you are Facebook friends with several of these people.

The obvious easy solution is what several people have suggested here -- remove them from the list of people who see your posts, and continue posting it to the rest of your Facebook friends, knowing that some of them think you are tacky and respect you less for doing so, but that is your choice to make for yourself instead of for your husband.
posted by brainmouse at 11:30 AM on July 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


It is possible to explicitly block your husband's colleagues from seeing the post on Facebook: when making the post, click the drop-down menu for who can see it, choose "Custom", and add their names. You can also add them to a list and then block them all at once.

Unquestionably this. You are fine asking your Facebook friends to donate, and you have roughly a thousand of them. Your husband is fine asking that you not ask the subset of your Facebook friends with whom he has a professional relationship, precisely because he is in a position of power within the organization and it could raise eyebrows. The mechanism above is a straightforward way of doing this.

And:

If I have to stop raising money I will be on the hook for a lot of money...

This is an endeavor you entered into voluntarily, so if you fail to raise the money it will be your responsibility, not his. He is not asking you to stop raising money, he is asking you to avoid raising money from people who he has a professional relationship with. Those are two very different things. If you feel that your only option for achieving your goal is to leverage those people he has a professional relationship with, then you've learned a lesson about talking with your partner about plans that (directly or indirectly) involve them before committing to those plans. If you feel that your inability to achieve your goal will have a direct impact on your ability to "participate as an equal partner" in the relationship, then you gambled money that you could not stand to lose, and you have learned another lesson.
posted by davejay at 11:31 AM on July 11, 2013 [13 favorites]


For what it's worth, I love donating to colleagues in particular. It's a clear way for me to express my interest in and support of their personal lives.

I'm also a little cagey about what information I share with the whole world so I understand your husband's concern. Make sure that the messages you send do not appear to be specifically directed to anyone (no mass-messaging, but simply posting), and explain this to your husband (he might need some 'how facebook works' education), and you should be in the clear.
posted by cacao at 11:32 AM on July 11, 2013


Another way of looking at it that might help: my ex had provocative cause-related bumper stickers on her car, but I was not comfortable putting them on my car. We both cared strongly about the cause. She never asked me to put them on my car, and I never asked her to stop putting them on her car. That's how people co-exist in a relationship; through shared interests but also mutual respect of each other's boundaries.
posted by davejay at 11:36 AM on July 11, 2013


Mod note: From the OP:
His colleagues make up maybe 50 people of my list. I have never done a direct ask of any of them. I have until November, so the goal is completely realistic. I didn't mean to slant my question in one way or the other. I see his point, am very committed to spending my life with him, am not going to DTMFA over such a stupid thing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:46 AM on July 11, 2013


Were they your personal friends before they were his colleagues or are they your personal friends because they are his colleagues? Is your Facebook page generally personal errata or more of a PR page for you?

I would say that anyone who is your husband's colleague and not your actual friend should be blocked from the appeals.
posted by rocketpup at 11:47 AM on July 11, 2013


I work for a large corporation and it's actually against our ethics rules for those higher up in the food chain to request donations to charity from those directly in their reporting line, unless it's a company sponsored fundraising drive.

OK: MegaCorp is raising money for X, if you are so inclined, please feel free to put money in the bucket in the kitchen. (A good example is United Way, but it's something set up through our HR and legal departments, and I still hate it, because it feels coercive).

Not OK: My wife is running in the XYZ charity marathon, would you mind donating? Or, worse yet, in your case, "My husband is your boss and I'm running in XYZ charity marathon, can you donate to my cause?"

We don't even allow Girl Scout cookie brochures in the kitchen, for this reason.

Yeah, it might be kinda crappy if you're the one trying to raise money for a charity, and why does United Way get more leeway when others don't? The standard answer is because that's who MegaCorp has chosen to sponsor as a corporation.

He's got a point. You may even be crossing some of the ethics thresholds he's agreed to, in spirit if not in letter. He's uncomfortable with it. If you have 1000 friends on Facebook, excluding the small number of his coworkers should not impede your fundraising all that much. Just exclude them and move on.
posted by RogueTech at 11:49 AM on July 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


His colleagues make up maybe 50 people of my list.

Awesome. Block those 50 people from your list of 1000. Your problem is solved, nobody was wrong, and you can move on. And you should.
posted by davejay at 11:52 AM on July 11, 2013 [16 favorites]


My spouse feels that if people feel pressured to donate to my efforts, that looks bad on him, as the person in charge at work.

It will look bad on him, and it sucks to feel obligated to donate to your boss's spouse's charities/projects at the expense of your own. Just put his coworkers in their own FB group and exclude them from your appeal.
posted by kimberussell at 11:57 AM on July 11, 2013


All this is over 50 people out of a 1000?

This sounds to me like you see those 50 as lucrative sources of donation $ - except they're your husband's contacts and he's not offering access. Don't play the "victim" to get him to change his mind. Work on the 950 contacts you have on your own list.
posted by Kruger5 at 12:09 PM on July 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't see how they're purely your husband's contacts, as Kruger5 says, if they are also your friends. I also don't think you did anything wrong by asking your whole list of friends to donate--it's not like you made your husband ask at work, or used his account. (My assumption is that you sent a facebook message or posted about it on your wall, not that you specifically solicited donations from them individually--I do think that would be a problem, since they would then feel obligated to respond.)

I do think that since it's caused a problem with your husband, it would be best to go along with the commenters upthread who suggest excluding the people in question from your fundraising efforts going forward.
posted by mlle valentine at 12:18 PM on July 11, 2013


Instead could you selectively reach out to a few key friends (not on Facebook) privately who you think would be receptive to your cause? That feels more personal and therefore might get a better response rate, plus it avoids the problem your husband is concerned about. I do kind of agree that broadcasting a fundraising solicitation to a ton of people all at once is a little tacky in the sense that you are asking people to help you but you are not in any way treating them as individual people, instead they are sort of just like numbers to you. I find such solicitations to me somewhat uncomfortable, whereas if they same person called me or sent me a personal email I might feel and respond differently.
posted by Dansaman at 12:24 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


How binding is the pledge or goal? The idea that charities can enforce a donation goal through some legal means beyond removing the incentive (such as the bib in the marathon they promised you) weirds me out.

A pledge is certainly binding. It is a contract just like any other, subject to the same claims and defenses. Whenever I get a call begging for a pledge, I tell them I will not make a pledge over the phone because I know it is binding and they always end the call immediately. Courts tend to favor the charities in such cases, too.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:23 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would say, "good thing it's my Facebook and not yours," but I'm confrontational like that.

This isn't a big deal. It takes literally 1 second to scroll by your post if they aren't interested/don't like it. I see posts I don't like everyday, and I scroll on by. And how else are you supposed to get the information out there? It's not like you put up a post saying, "donate to this charity or you're fired, suckers."

Tell your husband that you understand his side and respect his opinion, but you still reserve the right to post about events in your life on your personal Facebook.
posted by fireandthud at 1:26 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eh, in general, I don't think it's overly tacky to solicit donations via social media. But your husband has concerns about you soliciting donations from his colleagues. It's his job that he has to go to every day, his corporate ethics policy, and his professional relationships. Defer to his judgment here.

You have 950 other people who will see your message on Facebook. Sheesh.
posted by stowaway at 1:58 PM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Block the ~50 people out of your ~1000 friends and then post away. Easy solution: you get the benefit of social media for your cause/run/whatever, and your husband's (entirely legitimate!) concern about the appearance of impropriety w/r/t his employees is alleviated.

Another thing you can do is make a list of your husband's work colleagues and then exclude them as a list from seeing your post. This is the best way to segment things, IMO, and it's a feature that FB added pretty recently and I think is severely underutilized.

I use it for posting things to "everyone except Family" all the time... it prevents so many awkward conversations, you have no idea.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:17 PM on July 11, 2013


It's not like you put up a post saying, "donate to this charity or you're fired, suckers."

The boss's wife asking for money could easily be interpreted as just that by someone. Or worse, someone could decide that because John Q. Employee donated money (and got a public thank you from Boss Wifey on FB!) and then John got promoted / got a raise / got a better office / whatever, that John got promoted because of the donation. Then Boss is in a very awkward position because he has to prove a negative, potentially in the context of an HR complaint. If you manage people, that is really, really not a situation you want to expose yourself to. (And if you're married to someone who manages people, it's really, really not something you want to expose them to, if you can avoid it, unless you have a very strange relationship.)

And even if it doesn't escalate to HR-complaint territory, it might cause a lack of confidence from various employees or generally degrade working relationships with them. There are people upthread who said unambiguously that they'd feel awkward and obligated if their wife solicited funds from them via social media; it only takes a few people who feel that way to cause a problem.

At some workplaces it might be just fine, at others it definitely wouldn't. OP's husband, who is the one who actually works there, thinks it might be a problem. There is no point in second-guessing this decision given that none of us could possibly know better.

There's very little to gain from soliciting those 50 people and a lot of awkwardness that could result; it's just not worth it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:27 PM on July 11, 2013


Asking for money only reflects badly if you seem to be just asking for money.

No. If OP's partner is "is in a position of power at a large corporation", it absolutely could and usually does reflect badly on him. I'll n-th the suggestion to just block those 50 people when you spam your friends in the future.

If you're someone who is in any position to retaliate against or reward an employee who does or does not give to any particular cause or campaign, you can not ethically ask your reports to contribute to a cause or campaign -- even indirectly, via your partner or your girl scout.

Imagine this: Dave is an important person in a company with a team of 40 that reports to him. Dave's wife Ellen is fundraising for the Keep a Breast foundation, and she puts a fundraising message in front of most of Dave's employees.

Alice gives $100, in honor of her recently deceased mother.
Bob gives $5, because he doesn't want the boss to think he's a skinflint.
Charlie gives nothing, and complains to Bob within earshot of Dave.
Dave ignores it, because Charlie just got dumped and has been kind of a dick lately.

Six months later, it's performance-review time. Alice is a star employee who has been underpaid a bit, and she receives an 8% raise. Bob is a decent employee and receives a 2.5% raise. Charlie has been sub-par and difficult for others to work with. He receives a 0.2% cost of living adjustment and a warning to shape up and work more collaboratively with the team.

Bob is pissed, because he was expecting more. He is convinced that he deserves as much as Alice. He complains about it to Charlie, and they compare notes -- both of them become more pissed. They are convinced (wrongly, but that's not the point) that Dave is playing favorites because of Alice's $100 and the "I ❤ Boobies" bracelet that she wears every day.

And thus, Dave finds himself in a terrible position (that's not unlike what would happen if he were sleeping with Alice, and it looked like he was playing favorites for that reason).

If Charlie and Bob file a HR/ethics complaint about it, Dave could find himself in real trouble (by having to prove that no, his wife's charity drive has nothing to do with his team's performance reviews). Even if they don't complain officially, the mere appearance of impropriety disrupts the dynamic that Dave, as a manager, has with his reports. Nothing good can come of this.

Most companies prohibit fundraising by anyone who has people reporting to them, and that prohibition extends to that manager's extended family. This is frequently reiterated quite strongly during Girl Scout Cookie season.
posted by toxic at 3:55 PM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


To put my own perspective in some context, I work in an office in which the office manager regularly promotes the (for-profit) business of his wife, which is a jewelry business with a slightly suggestive name.

I find that offensive.

There, someone in a position of power is strongly suggesting (and at times making office space available for) that we (identifiable people in a medium-sized office) patronize his wife's business. She's not making the plea. He is. That does carry a whiff of coercion, imo.

I do not find it offensive when I am asked to donate to charity, or when anyone in the office makes it known that they are raising money for a particular cause.

There are causes that I support and causes that I do not support, but I think that a principled line can be drawn between (a) the office manager promoting something vs. his wife promoting it, (b) for-profit vs. charitable cause, and (c) use of firm resources (email) to promote vs. use of personal resources (social media) to do so.
posted by janey47 at 4:06 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Asking for money only reflects badly if you seem to be just asking for money. Raising money for a marathon is not just about money, it is about promoting healthy outdoors activities and possibly supporting other nonprofits.

Raising money for a marathon is even worse than normal soliciting donations for a charity -- it is asking for someone else to subsidize your fun activities -- as pointed out above, if you fail to reach your goal, the only downside is that you don't get to do the fun thing that you're asking people to pay for you to do -- the charity still gets the money raised so far (which is the point, right?). If your husband is an executive, for his employees it is asking someone poorer than you and for whom -- whether you would use it or not -- you seem to hold a position of power over -- to subsidize your fun activities. Will some people not care? Of course, but some people might, a lot, and you're asking your husband to bet his professional reputation on that. Stop it.
posted by brainmouse at 4:42 PM on July 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


I would resent it enormously if my boss' spouse were shilling for a leisure activity and I was included in the audience. It doesn't matter what the boss says, no one is going to avoid donating if it might impact their work.

Your spouse is right. Don't ask for money from his coworkers.
posted by winna at 5:30 PM on July 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


My husband and I met running a marathon for charity and we've raised maybe 25K for that charity over the last few years. In that time, we've never asked anyone in my company (above, below or lateral to me). He certainly didn't ask anyone who works for him, but his partners did make a donation. Other people do solicit at work, but we don't do that.

Your husband is asking you to not solicit his contacts and you should respect that. I know it's hard to raise funds, but you need to honor your husband's request.
posted by 26.2 at 11:25 PM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think that charity fundraisers are already awkward for people who are supervisors and I think your husband's position that he doesn't want to have any hint of pressuring his employees to contribute is a reasonable position. I also think that this particular form of fundraising is especially problematic. The largest runner's charity organization is Team in Training and it is their model that I am most familiar with, but I believe that the other charity orgs are similar. In their case, your fundraising is set to be four times the cost of the event that you are partipating in. In other words, if you are asked to raise $4,000 that means that they will be spending $1,000 to provide your training, hotel and entry fee and will donate $3,000 to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of America. This makes the entire transaction even more awkward, because in part you are asking people to donate money to cover something that will personally benefit you in providing hotel, food and training to you. It is also misleading to people who donate because when they contribute $100 they might have the expectation that they are giving $100 to LLS, when in reality they are only giving LLS $75. Worse still, this doesn't even include LLS overhead costs. Of every dollar contributed to a runner, about $0.25 goes to directly support the runner and $0.19 goes to LLS administrative costs and only $0.56 goes to program services (the actual charity part). This is about as poor a performance as you can get without being an outright fraud. Some of the material they provide their runners is very misleading as it says things like 76% of your donation goes to research (when they either mean 76% of your money goes to LLS or 76% of LLS's money goes to research).

On the other hand, LLS really does do excellent research into Leukemia treatment and TNT has been an enormous boon to their fundraising. They were a very small player in the research world before TNT came around. I also know some runners who commit to paying 25% of the fundraising target out of pocket since that is the amount that goes to benefit them and that way every dollar that they raise goes to benefit LLS without generating any personal benefit to themselves, which I think allieviates the potential ethical concerns.
posted by Lame_username at 8:58 AM on July 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


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