Workplace skits - no thanks, I'll take the hot steel pokers in my eyes, please

I feel the need to warn America about a combination nearly as deadly as drinking and driving, but not nearly as much fun – live theater, the American workplace, and the United Way Fundraising Kickoff event.

Imagine 5 senior managers in a parody of an election debate - two candidates, an emcee, and two “commentators” on the progress of the debate. The commentators blended their fake commentary on debated budget issues with real statistics about United Way spending. The candidates had fake ears and noses. And tails! There were “live” feeds from some of our remote locations (actually cheesy video shot days before).

It was just the most ill-conceived, badly performed piece of dreck I’ve ever seen, let alone been a part of. Unfortunately I had to set up a public address system to blare the performance into more innocent eardrums. Between the planning and execution I wasted about a day and a half on this oinker. The video guy blew 2 or 3 days total for the video inserts, and afterward we’re both just kind of keeping our heads down and denying all responsibility.

Next year I’ll pay 'em $200 if they agree NOT to perform another skit.

I vowed never to donate to United Way after a presentation at work some years ago.

The United Way rep told this horrible story about this sexually abused boy who was removed from his family and put with a foster family, and then sexually abused by his foster brothers.

This latest abuse, however, was a good thing, because it brought him to the attention of United Way, who were able to help him with donations from caring, compassionate individuals such as ourselves.

The boss man stood up and named the amount he was personally donating, and the UW rep clapped and cheered liked the Buckeyes just scored the winning touchdown against the Wolverines. The rest of us sat there, stone dumb, tired after a long day of work, wanting to go home.

. . . and then The United Way found him an even more caring home at the We Love Boys Town run by Catholic priests. . .

If I had to list the Top 5 reasons I am glad I went to work for myself, this would easily make the list.



My husband had to run the combined charitable campaign for United Way and other charities for two years at his workplace. He avoided “goofy” antics, but he still was a firm believer that every one of his employees should give something. If they donated time to help with one of the events, that was cool. If they gave money, that was cool.

He encouraged everyone to contribute in some way (he even instituted hot dog sales, for example, and then when employees bought them, he stood at the end of the line thanking them for the donation. The looks on their faces, he said, were priceless, as if they wanted to say, I did not donate). There was a lot of outright hatred at his workplace for these charities (why I still do not understand) but it did not stop him, and many others on his team, from trying their best.

Nonetheless, he always made big speeches about how it is the duty of all employees to give at least something. He was tired of seeing very good people burn themselves out trying to get donations, being derided and mocked by other employees. Although he works in the public sector (and maybe some think public servants owe more), his efforts for two years raised the bar for those to come. He raised more money than anybody previous to him because he was not afraid to look someone in the eye and ask them to evaluate their life in comparison to a more needy person. His goal was two dollars a pay from each person (minimum salary where he works, among all employees, is 13.00 an hour).

He reached that goal by bake sales, basket raffles, taco salad sales, payroll donations, parking spot raffles, pie throwing contests (his biggest mistake- he made more money by people throwing pies at him than ever before) and other unique ways. Still, to this day, he credits the team he worked with and the vigor, love and compassion of those around him.

I guess what I am saying is that at least these people tried to raise money for the good of others. IMHO, a little respect is warranted.

*** Now, if those people did not give their share, then screw em… all the costumes and pageantry don’t matter unless they ante up and kick in for real. Each year we have to increase our giving because although my husband is not in charge of the overall campaign anymore, he refuses to ever let his departmental per capita fall below two dollars, so he makes it up every year himself.***

You work for Phillip Services Corp huh??? If not, you work for a company that sounds and acts and AWFUL lot like their idiotic “eye wash” type mentality.

I feel for you.

You’ve got a good man as a husband Lissa. The world would be better off with more like him.
I don’t give to the UW because of some of the tactics used in trying to collect. Sure, it’s better than leaving a box out for collection but I automatically refuse a “high pressure” sales pitch (which is what it seems like to me). I remember being bitched at while I used to do high school co-op at Merril Lynch. I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL! I told these freaks I don’t make any money in co-op yet they still wanted me to give. Sheesh.

Lissa, in all of the United Way Pit threads I’ve ever read, nobody was pitting the idea of charitable giving. What was being pitted was the idea that every employee has a duty to give to the United Way, regardless of whether or not they give to other charities. Personally, I would rather give whatever charitable donations I give directly to the charities I wish to give them to, rather than eat up an even higher percentage of overhead by giving to a clearinghouse organization first. The fact that 99% of these corporate United Way drives have absolutely nothing to do with helping people, at heart, does not make it any better. United Way drives are corporate dick-measuring. The reason that management makes it such a big deal is that it LOOKS GOOD when the CEO goes out golfing with his other CEO buddies for the company to have close to 100% participation.

Fuck that. My charitable giving is better spent going directly to charities that I personally consider deserving. I refuse to donate to a relatively inefficient donation clearinghouse just to make my boss’s boss’s boss look good.

I wouldn’t be afraid to look your husband in the eye and tell him to leave me the fuck alone and cram his bullshit guilt trip up his ass. I have given plenty of money, donations other than money and time to charity in my life. This is a private thing with me and I will be god damned before I will take part in this in the workplace.

I have no problem with others giving money to the UW. That is their business. Aside from the charity in the workplace issue, I do not like a few of the local charities that our UW supports. Don’t even think of coming back with the “directed giving” lie either. A child could see though that.

At my last place of work they really pushed the UW thing. I refused to fill out the little blue card and I was harrassed with emails, phone calls and visits to my cube from the drones. I finally had to go to HR to get them to leave me alone (I wasn’t the only one) and they were told to modify their tactics for next year. I don’t work there anymore so I don’t know if it worked.


Actually, the duty of all employees is to turn up for work on time and do a fair day’s work for their paycheck. It is not their duty to be browbeaten into forking over their hard-earned money by self-righteous guilt-trippers.

Well, maybe the employees were tired of seeing good people harrassed for money when they were already giving to charities of their own choosing, and when they were already working hard at their jobs.

And, by the sound of it, he was also unwilling to accept that the employees in question might already have made such an evaluation and chosen to give their money elsewhere, or not at all, as is their right.

I have much respect for people who give money to worthy causes, and despite my rather parlous financial situation i try to make occasional donations to a couple of charities. And i have much respect for your husband’s willingness to give so much of his own time and money to what he believes to be a worthy cause. But if he started trying to browbeat or guilt-trip me into donating to a charity of his choice, i’m afraid he’d get a big “fuck you” from me.

In my husband’s line of work, public perception is key. The reason why the bosses push so hard is not that they get kudos for what they collect, but because it looks bad if the charitable collection only gets a measly few bucks.

There are over six thousand charities that you can contribute to under this program-- everything from Jane Goodall to the local battered women’s shelter is included. The United Way is not the only “umbrella federation” involved. It’s just the most popular. There are a dozen others.

The employee can pick whichever cause suits them, and can split funds between multiple different organizations if he/she wishes. Each charity has their information listed, a breakdown of how much of each dollar goes directly to the cause, so the employee can chose the most effective.

It’s my opinion that in the case of my husband’s workplace, the employees should donate. These are state employees, whom I believe have a duty to give something back to the community. Just showing up is only part of their work-- a good portion of it is community relations.

These people are well-compensated for what they do, and all my husband was asking for in the cash contribution option was a lousy two bucks per pay-period.

If they couldn’t afford it (though I’d be hard pressed to believe that for most of them, a dollar a week would break the bank) they could also contribute time. They could do various charitable activities, such as reading to children, while on the clock. By donating their time, they wouldn’t have lost a cent from their own paychecks.There were dozens of ways in which the employees could contribute-- even just selling hotdogs at work or helping to set up the fundraising events would have done it.

And if they prefer to give privately directly to organizations of their choice? Why is the automatic assumption that if they’re not giving publicly so their organization looks good, they’re not giving at all?

As far as my own situation goes, who I give to and what I give is a private decision, to be kept private. I don’t WANT anyone to know what charities I give to (other than the IRS) because I’m not doing it to make myself look good. The whole concept of United Way fund drives goes against my personal philosophy of charity. It’s MY decision who to give to and how much to give. Harrassing employees to give a certain amount publicly is just wrong. Period.

I’m sure your husband does good work. I’m sure that he does this out of altruism rather than out of a desire for positive publicity for his employer. But the thing is, I don’t care. I’m under no obligation, just because I draw a paycheck from my employer, to contribute to the charities they wish me to contribute to. The United Way fund drives just rub me completely the wrong way, even without going into the enormous amount of wasted time and energy that the launches and continuing events and announcements and promotions cause.

Googling on local United Way overhead costs, I see figures between 10% and 17% as averages for various local units. While this is admirably low, it’s an extra 10-17% that can be cut out by giving directly to the charity you choose. If I donate $100/year to various charities, that’s between $10 and $17 that can offset the specific charity’s overhead that they would have to discount if they received the funds through United Way. In other words, giving through United Way adds a layer of overhead that wouldn’t be there if the money were given directly.

Or they could do any of these things on their own, without their employers getting involved. I’m sorry, but if I want to give to charity, that’s between me and the charity. It’s none of my employers’ business.

My bolding.

So this ‘duty’ was presumably in the terms and conditions of their job. If not, I respectfully suggest that it wasn’t a duty at all - it’s their decision entirely if and what they donate to and if they decide to dedicate their time. Unless it is a requirement then I’m afraid it’s their decision, whether you or your husband like it or not!

I happen to think it’s very worthy to donate money and time to animal rescue. Some people don’t see the point. Such is life in the free world.

What an utter bunch of fucking bullshit. As I said before you wrote this and as others have said since then. My charitible donations are my own fucking business and I give a lot more than a few measly bucks a year. Not a one of us said a thing about affordability. What is your difficulty in understanding this?

Every hour I have to spend on UW crap at work is another hour I have to stay at work getting my work done. That’s one less hour to spend with my wife or my friends or, get this, spend on the charities of my choosing. It’s not like I can save the time by working through the UW meeting because all of my support staff is guilted into attending and they’re not getting work done. It’s a lot more than an hour wasted each because they have to bring down and then after bring up equipment not to mention grousing about having to attend a lame ass meeting.

I don’t know you husband and I am not about to guess at his motivations but the bit that I quoted is telling. You say it looks bad if the collection doesn’t get much money. He has to work hard so it won’t look bad. It then follows that a high participation rate looks good and would generate kudos.


If a workplace, or a boss, presses for 100% UW participation only because it makes them look good, then it’s not charity at all, it’s the purchasing of a good public image. You do the work of collecting and you get a plaque, and your name or picture in the paper, or on TV, as being a “public spirited citizen”. You pay, you get.

Honest charity doesn’t give for the sake of getting public honor. What’s that Biblical verse about "not letting the right hand know what the left is doing. Folks that give for the sake of what they will get are merely purchasing a commodity.

I once worked for a place that pushed for 100% participation. I wouldn’t participate. My department head even asked if I would let him put in the minimum amount for me, if I would fill the card out. I didn’t, but later I heard our section had 100%, so they must have forged my name. That isn’t charity.

Damn, Boyo Jim! And I thought this was bad! I’m with you, pay’em to not perform! :slight_smile:

So, Lissa- when was the last time your husband gave a homeless person some coffee and a sandwhich or knitted up a scarf for him/her in the winter? Oh I see- he gets all his giving done by a direct decuction from his paycheck. Well, if that’s what makes him feel like he’s done his duty to give back to the community, so be it- some of us get more involved and resent people like that implying that we won’t give a “few measly bucks”. Pull your head out and look around- not everyone does things the same way.

From a purely selfish viewpoint, I have to ask…

Let’s say I want to give $X to a charity. $X is one of those big deal donations that gets your name up on the wall outside the fund raiser.

Why would I want to have my employer’s name up there rather than mine?

Why would I rather have my employer’s name in the newsletter for that $100 donation rather than mine?

If it’s so damned important to the company, why don’t they just sign a big check and hand it over? Why don’t they donate $2 for every $1 any employee donates?

-Joe, doesn’t have that kind of money, never will, purely hypothetical