Ask The Swag Gal (September 9, 2009)

The 3-day weekend is over, school is back in session, and there won’t be another holiday till Thanksgiving. But the news isn’t all bad: it’s time for another installment of Ask The Swag Gal!

Today’s question (although technically it was submitted weeks ago) comes from ravenswood in Chicago, Illinois. She asked:

I work in an office with several hundred people; and of those, about 80% have school age children. Nearly every day (and definitely every holiday) someone brings in a catalog of items that their child is selling to raise money for their school, their team, their church, etc. Over the course of a year, it adds up to a lot of $20 donations. How can I politely tell people that I am not able or not interested in contributing to these causes any longer? I’ve purchased my share of giftwrap and Girl Scout cookies. It’s just overwhelming. Help.

Fundraisers are approaching earlier and more frequent each year. Just when you think you have a break you see your co-workers juggling the different catalogs. They eye you from across the office as you frantically search for the exit, measure the width of the space under your desk and pray for your phone to ring before they reach you!

This year, you wont have to worry about your escape plan! Here are a few pointers to help you get through the trenches:

– It is important to be prepared for the encounter with your co-workers. It is inevitable they will ask you to buy some over-priced wrapping paper or girl scout cookies that will add to your waistline.

– Know what you will say before they approach you! Be honest and the guilt will stay at bay. (i.e. “I have already made my donations for the year.” or “It isn’t in my budget at the this time.”)

– Stay consistent! You can’t give to one and not the other. Word will get around the office and a territory war will begin. Trust me, you want to avoid this at all costs!

– Make sure you credit your co-worker for their efforts in helping their children. You don’t want to come off rude or stingy. A simple, “I think it’s great you are helping your kids out.” will go along way.

If these tips don’t help ease the interaction with your co-workers, let your supervisor know. At the end of the day, this is a place of work!

Have a question for The Swag Gal? Send it to and be sure to keep your eye on the blog.