Wednesday, November 30, 2005

United Way Rant

It's that time of year when many large employers try to get their employees to donate to charities through the United Way. Aside from some degree of altruism, there is of course the PR aspect of this as well.

What happens is that employees get inundated with requests from management brass cajoling them to donate. "Even $5 would make a difference. Be a team player." Etc., etc. In reality, what the company is looking for is a certain percentage of its employees to participate, so that for PR purposes it can say, "Seventy percent of BigAssCorp's employees donated to the United Way. Aren't we good people?"

What bullshit. It's a way for companies to boost their public reputations by guilt-tripping their employees into participating. I'll have no truck with it.

Aside from the fact that I contribute to charity on my own, there's also the factor that because the United Way distributes funds to so many different charities, that at least one of them is bound to support something I oppose. And while a donator can specify which end recipient is to get his money, the list is so long that searching for the best designated recipient is an exercise in frustration.

I donate to charity and it's none of my employer's business to know when, how much, and to whom I donate. I am not a public corporation with books open to anyone who's interested in looking at them.

The political aspect of this whole thing stinks. Employees who don't contribute are stigmatized, for declining to participate in what should be a wholly voluntary activity. In some companies failure to participate can adversely affect opportunities for advancement or getting good projects.

This is a perfect example of how good intentions -- get people to engage in philanthropy -- get morphed into an oppressive tool.

Damn this pisses me off.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'll have to agree with you on this one. When I was in the USAF stationed in the DC area we were "strongly" encouraged to participate. I really resented their tactics for fund raising. Since I got out of the Air Force, I haven't given a cent to United Way and have no intention of ever donating to them again. Other charities that I choose, yes, I'll donate as I see fit but not a cent to United Way.