First of all, for the record, let me state that I believe, for the most part, that the United Way does good work, but......
I completely and totally resent the strong arm tactics that are employed in corporations year after year to "encourage" employees to donate.
The kick-off luncheons - where it is frowned upon if you don't attend and eat your hotdog - is billed as "social" time for you to come together as one big happy corporate family. It is anything but - the luncheon is served in the smallest possible break room which pretty much forces everyone to carry the food back to their desk - which inevitably means you end up working through your lunch. The one hour a day that you are allowed to be away from your desk and co-workers. Strike one.
Then, they have a film that you are strongly encouraged by the corporate "representative" to watch. If you don't respond to the first "personal" email blast invitation to come watch the film you will then continue to receive an email invitation on a daily basis until you either capitulate and respond or until the kick-off season is over (and, I'm sure, a black mark is noted next to your name on a list somewhere-to complement the other black mark from when you didn't "attend" the luncheon). Strike two.
If the film isn't enough to "guilt" you into contributing the highest amount you can possibly give (thereby eating up your charitable donation budget for the year) - then they send around a corporate "representative" (who by now is beginning to remind you of a mobster) to hand out the contribution sheets which so thoughtfully gives you the option of making your contribution by a payroll deduction (so you won't even miss it!). While handing you the sheet, and reminding you of the film that you "really" need to see, you are subtly reminded that "our department always has a 100% contribution rate" and that if you contribute you will be entered into a drawing for a "prize!" (what might that be, Mr. Mobster? To not have my knees broken?) Strike three.
As I stated earlier, I do believe that they do good work and would contribute anyway; but I truly resent the pressure that is exerted. I'm not kidding when I say I feel like I'm the little shopkeeper in the 'hood who has to "make his payments" so that I don't have any "trouble."
I resent that other worthy causes are given absolutely no corporate support at all. I do realize that companies can't possibly endorse every worthwhile project that comes along - but just how did the United Way worm their way into corporate America in such a way that feels so wrong? That feels so much like extortion?
I mentioned awhile back that I am involved in the school supply drive for the needy schools in our area. The company has given us the okay to work on this project. But that's it. We are allowed to put up a small tripod, with a small poster and a small box in each break room. We are not allowed to use the inter-company website to post an announcement or a reminder. We aren't allowed to use company email to promote it. Presumably, so as not to "guilt" people into giving or to give the impression that the company "endorses" this venture (but, you can bet they don't mind any publicity they may receive for being such a good corporate citizen....).
But to then turn around and create the atmosphere of "give or else....." seems hypocritical to me. And every year as I make my contribution - which I always direct to helping women and children in our county - I resent it just a bit more. Not the giving, mind you. But the tactics used to "ask" me to give.