Can you be required to donate to your company’s favorite charity?

Most people have had a boss who brings a sign-up list to work for Girl Scout cookies, gift wrap, candy bars or whatever their child is selling. Even if you feel a bit of pressure to buy something, it probably won’t set you back more than a few dollars.

But what about those managers who pressure everyone to donate to United Way or some other charity so that they can get 100% participation from the company. What if your company participates in a charity event every year, and everyone is expected to show up and/or donate?

Know your rights

Managers can often make it seem as though employee charitable giving is mandatory. It’s not. Legally, an employer cannot require that you donate to charity. If they are requiring that you attend a fundraiser or charity event and you’re a non-exempt employee, you need to be paid for your time.

It’s important to know your rights, but it’s also important to be smart. If you can afford to donate and it’s a worthy cause, give what you can. Simply explain to whomever is soliciting donations that this is the best you can do right now.

Why donating what you can may be best in the long run

It’s probably not good for your career or your relationship with your boss and co-workers if you’re the one who never donates (not even to the department birthday party fund). Being a team player can go a long way.

Unfortunately, while some managers understand that their employees don’t have as much disposable income as they do, some don’t. That can be especially true if they’re getting pressure to have full participation from their staff.

If you feel like you’re being retaliated against because of your lack of participation, talk to your boss or your human resources department before things go too far. You can always get some legal guidance if you need to.

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