my staff took offense to my Facebook post, private dinner ahead of a holiday party, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My employees took offense to my Facebook post

I am the manager at a food service establishment. I am Facebook friends with just a few of my current employees (from back before I was a manager), but do not make it a practice to continue to add my employees on Facebook.

The other day, I was frustrated that I couldn’t find anyone to cover a shift, and had a conversation like this:
Employee: I really need more hours.
Me: I’ll do my best! I need someone on Saturday, want to come in two hours early?
Employee: Nah, I don’t want to.

It struck me as kind of funny, as well as frustrating, and I posted it on Facebook, with no identifying details and some details obscured to make it as nonspecific as possible. Two days later, two employees who I’m not friends with on FB are taking offense to it and gossiping about it behind my back. How do I resolve this? I feel bad that I offended someone and shouldn’t post work-related frustrations on Facebook in the future, but also feel like they are being overly sensitive and inappropriately spreading negativity in the workplace.

I don’t think they’re overreacting — while you might not have intended to, you basically mocked an employee publicly. You can’t blame them for spreading negativity when all they’re doing is talking about something you did (which is the original source of the negativity, if you think about it!). I agree with you that that was a ridiculous exchange, but you’ve got to have some discretion as a manager and making fun of an employee destroys the trust people need to have in you.

The best way to resolve this now is to apologize to the employee, and to others who saw or heard about it. Say that you thought you could joke about it good-humoredly without any ill will, but you regret doing it and you’re sorry for causing people discomfort, and you’re not going to use Facebook to talk about work in the future. And then stick to that. If you otherwise have good relations with the people you manage, this should blow over.

2. My company has a Salvation Army angel tree, and I don’t want to support a religious, anti-LGBTQ organization

For the holidays, my company (large, multinational corporation) put up a Salvation Army angel tree in the cafeteria. For readers who don’t know, an angel tree has tags on it with an underprivileged kid’s name, and a list of items they’d like for Christmas they wouldn’t otherwise get. People take the tags, buy what’s on them, and bring the items back to be given to the child. To my company’s credit, they implemented it well. No pressure to donate, just a single office-wide email making us aware of the tree and its location. It seems to have proven popular, as a second email went out stating the first tree’s tags had all been taken, and a second was now available.

So what’s the problem? I personally don’t feel comfortable supporting the Salvation Army for a couple reasons. First, they’re a religious-based organization and I’m an atheist. Secondly, and most importantly, they have a history of anti-LGBTQ views and discrimination, including backing out of care agreements that would have required them to help LGBTQ individuals. An angel tree is normally something I’d want to take part in, but I can’t in good conscious support such an organization with my money. If there were other, secular and non-discriminatory charitable options available through my employer, I would happily support one of those. However, the Salvation Army angel tree is the only holiday charitable outreach my company’s location (North America HQ) is doing (that I’m aware of).

I don’t think my employer would want to appear anti-LGBTQ, and I want to think they care about one of their employees wanting to participate in charity, but not being able to due to ethical reasons. How would you suggest I address this?

Speak up! Talk to whoever has the authority to ensure this is done differently next year (or potentially even to add other charity options this year) and approach as if you’re assuming they didn’t realize and will want to be more inclusive. Say something like, “I’m concerned that we picked a charity with a history of anti-LGBTQ views. I’m not sure if you realize, but the Salvation Army LGBTQ discriminates and has even backed out of care agreements that would have required them to help LGBTQ people. I don’t think that’s something the company would want to be associated with — and I think there are people here, myself included, who would love to participate in charitable outreach if we instead were working with a secular and more inclusive organization. Is it possible to get some more inclusive options for this year, or make sure that we switch this next year?”

3. Private dinner ahead of a holiday party

My husband works for one location of a larger, national organization with several other locations in our city (it’s a network of charter schools). The national organization throws a Christmas party for all the school staff in our city on a Friday night and spouses are invited. The principal at my husband’s school is taking his staff out for a nice dinner before the actual party and my husband was just informed today (two weeks after the initial invite) that spouses are not invited to the dinner but may meet up with everyone after.

While the party wasn’t especially appealing to me in the first place, I really don’t want to show up after he’s been to the dinner. (For context, I won’t know anyone and work for a competing charter network.) How can I bow out without looking like a prima donna? Should I suck it up and go?

If you don’t want to go, you don’t have to go. You can simply have a schedule conflict; no one from his office is going to to think you’re a prima donna for not going; it’s very normal to have conflicting plans, especially at this time of year.

That said, this doesn’t sound particularly outrageous. Holidays parties are, at some level, team-buiding events, and your husband’s principal wants to have time where their whole team gets together ahead of the party. That’s not really a big deal or worth being offended over, or skipping a party that you were otherwise happy to go to.

4. Taking on long-term projects when I know I’ll be quitting soon

I moved out to my current city (across the country with no friends or family in the area) nearly three years ago and am finding that I really don’t like it here. After a lot of wrestling with this, I’ve finally decided to leave and will be relocating to be closer to family and friends. I plan to quit my job in a few months when my lease ends (February). This was a tough choice because I love my job and the company I work for, but this is the best choice for me.

I haven’t told my supervisor yet because I feel that giving this much notice is inappropriate and could just make things awkward, but I am concerned because I am being asked to start working on long-term projects that I know I won’t be around for. Should I start them knowing I won’t be around to finish them or is there a way to get out of these projects without letting my boss know why? Or should I just tell him now?

Nope, you shouldn’t tell your manager before you’re ready to give notice. (And there’s advice here on figuring out whether that should be two weeks or longer.)

It’s very, very normal for people to take on long-term projects but then end up leaving midway through them. In fact, it’s rare for anyone in a job that has long-term projects not to do this. It’s just part of doing business. Otherwise no one could ever take on any long-term projects because there’s never a guarantee that they’d be around to finish them. Keep doing your job just as you’d always do it until you’re ready to give notice.

5. My coworker is always late and always explaining it to me

I work in academia and I have been at my current job about four months. My officemate and coworker and I started at the same time and basically have the same job, just working under different people. We work in an office very separate from the rest of our department and faculty, like essentially a different (but interconnected) building. We both commute in, her on transit and I drive. Regularly (as in every day) she is 20-50 minutes late for work, but still leaves at the same time as me at the end of the day.

Now, I know this behavior is annoying but realistically doesn’t impact my work or my life, so I try and not let it bug me. The problem is that every day she’s late, she makes a point to say something about it, most often “Omg, I really need to start catching the earlier bus! I miss it by five minutes and then I have to wait for the next bus and that one isn’t the express.” I don’t know how to respond anymore! I find it awkward that she tries to justify her lateness to me, as I’m not her boss, just a coworker. The thing about our office is that literally no one would ever know she was late unless I said something, which I don’t think I would ever do. I do like her, as far as I can tell she’s very good at her job, so I don’t want this to become a problem. But I almost get the vibe she’s explaining herself just in case I “tattle” or am judging her or something? Gah, I just feel like I’m put into an awkward position every morning!

That’s annoying. I think you’re probably better off just internally rolling your eyes and ignoring it, but if you do want to say something, you could say, “You’ve said that a bunch. Do you think you need to start leaving earlier?” Say that once or twice, and she’ll probably stop with the comments every morning. Be aware, though, that that approach risks souring the relationship between you. (Not that it should, and not that it definitely will — but it’s possible.)

{ 894 comments… read them below }

    1. Fake old Converse shoes*

      UNICEF, Doctora Without Borders, The Foundation to Decrease Worldsuck, among others

      1. Emi.*

        I and many others would not give to Doctors Without Borders or any other organization that promotes abortion. If you want a health-related charity, I think Nothing But Nets (bednets) is uncontroversial (although please sing out if I’m wrong about that).

        1. Supermanscape*

          DWB. They don’t promote abortion, they offer it as one of the choices to women who may want or need this medical service. But they are not promoting it any more than they promote insulin or appendectomies.

          1. Emi.*

            Ah, I didn’t mean promoting it to women–I meant something more like “repeatedly putting out public statements advocating for greater availability of abortion” ie promoting it in a political sense. I also don’t give to organizations that silently provide abortions, though.

        2. Phoenix Programmer*

          I find the term “promote abortion” to be an odd choice for DWB. It’s not like they are evangelizing abortion as the best choice – they are providing it as a tool for women who frequently are kept enslaved in houses through lack of education and impregnation. At the risk of derailing I urge you to reconsider your stance on DWB and to take into context the circumstances these women are in (often raped, children brides, and simar horror stories). It’s far from the typical US abortion story.

        3. Phoenix Programmer*

          Typically i am with you but there is a huge difference between promotes and offers. It changes the meaning of the service and to say DWB promotes abortions is simply untrue.

        4. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Agreed with the people pointing out that there’s a huge difference between “promotes” and “offers.” That said, it’s been called out and is now leading to a massive derail about abortion itself, so I’m removing the rest of the comments on this.

            1. PCBushi*

              Your website, of course free to moderate the comments as you see fit. But sure – abortion as a nonstarter for charities is off-limits but Christian affiliation/views are a legit concern. Word.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Why wouldn’t the topic of religiously affiliated charities at work — in the comments on a post about exactly that — be on topic? Abortion politics aren’t relevant to the question the letter writer asked. (That said, little of the conversation here is about religious affiliation; it’s about discrimination.)

      2. Artemesia*

        There are tons of great charities; I give to several, but I don’t know of another that actually provides poor children with the gifts they want for Christmas. I wanted to give bikes to kids; did it for years through the Angel Tree program.

        1. Megabeth*

          Hello! Long-time lurker here. Just wanted to suggest a charity that provides gifts for underprivileged children: Toys for Tots. It is run by the US Marine Corps, and my company participates by having a large drop-off box in our lobby. I’m not sure how you feel about charities that are connected with the US military, but I was happy to find this alternative to the Angel Tree.

        2. Gaia*

          Also, if you are in the US, the US Post Office sponsors families for Christmas through Operation Santa. My family received their goodwill one year and I’ll never forget it. Not just gifts but food and household goods. It was really, really needed and so wonderful to know that our community was helping when we were in a bad place.

        3. Soon to be former fed*

          The angel tree is not supporting the SA but is supporting those who will receive the gifts.

          1. fposte*

            It’s a donation to the SA; *they* receive the gift. It goes on their books; it gets used in their promotions. They then distribute it to a kid. That’s how charity donations work.

          2. Aisling*

            I agree. I feel bad for the kids whose tags won’t be filled because people have issues with the charity. I get that SA may not be a great charity, and really like offering new charities next year, but right now… if those tags aren’t filled, there are some kids who won’t get gifts. And they won’t understand why.

            1. Arjay*

              Insider secret: they have some tags on the giving trees that are duplicates or extras so they can still provide gifts to those whose tags weren’t selected. They also use private donations as necessary to supplement any angel gifts that come back light on the items requested. A private donor supplied a number of Kindle Fires that were added for kids who requested tablets.

        4. Teapot Tester*

          There are several that do that. My company has an angel tree through a local organization, each tag has 3 suggested gifts for a child, along with their age and clothing sizes. You buy one of the suggested gifts, and then they are wrapped and given to the child who made the list.

          1. Puffyshirt*

            I guess I’m a little naive here… if the company offers a no-pressure charity opportunity that doesn’t align with someone’s personal values, then why can’t that person opt out and perhaps donate to a charity they identify with? There’s no pleasing everybody…

            1. Perse's Mom*

              The OP lays it out pretty clearly in her letter.

              I don’t think my employer would want to appear anti-LGBTQ, and I want to think they care about one of their employees wanting to participate in charity, but not being able to due to ethical reasons.

              1. Puffyshirt*

                I suppose that gets into question that would veer off topic. Personally, I have not had any experience with friends or associates who have found these types of charities to be polarizing or stigmatized. I am surprised to hear “my employer would be viewed anti LGBTQ” for participation in a popular angel tree activity. No judgments on any opinions here, just never occurred to me and was surprised by Alison’s advice.

                1. Perse's Mom*

                  What question?
                  Why it’s polarizing? The SA’s anti-LGBTQ history.
                  Why the employer might be viewed as anti-LGBTQ for holding the event? Because it’s tacit support for an organization with a history of anti-LGBTQ behavior and policy.

                  I would guess your friends and associates have never had cause to look into these things. There are a number of commenters here who were surprised (I’m one of them – I had vaguely known religion was involved and that’s about it). But now you know.

                2. Norémon*

                  A lot of it is probably that the Salvation Army is the only charity this organisation had something for. Thus possibly looking like favouritism.

            2. SS Express*

              In this case, the OP thinks that the charity’s values don’t align with the company’s values either.

        5. chi type*

          Not to be internet stalk-y but I think you’ve mentioned you’re in Chicagoland. If so, I recommend the Heartland Alliance. They have an adopt-a-family program for families who use their domestic violence services. I’m shopping for one right now!

        6. Hey Nonnie*

          There’s also Operation Santa run by the US Postal Service:

          My (very small) office did this one year as our pre-holiday-party festivities — we were driven to the central post office, we each picked a letter, then were driven to a department store to buy the gifts (staff did the shopping, company paid for it). This was honestly more fun than any other company holiday party I’ve had since.

          OP could even do it this year on their own, if nothing else is available through work.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*


        My stepmom’s Rotary group did an angel tree, but instead of working with the Salvation Army they worked with a local children’s home.

        1. zora*

          Yes, there might be local shelters or afterschool programs or community centers that would do an angel tree with you. In the DC area, my parents’ church always did one through Beacon House.

      2. rosiebyanyothername*

        Starting off local is a good call. Women’s and family shelters are always looking for toy and clothing donations if they want to keep the process similar to the Salvation Army activity.

      3. Red 5*

        Yes, this is very true. I remember my hometown had trees organized by a local group, though I can’t remember the details now.

        There’s actually several major national charities that do holiday related work that is very popular, but that are not all that great behind the scenes. Not just because of discriminatory views of the organization as a whole, but also how they run that particular charity drive. I highly suggest checking out Charity Navigator and similar sites before donating to anybody, including toy drives, unless you know the people running it locally and can vouch for them and the way they do their own particular drive.

        Actually, I usually suggest people look for local charities or locally run charities in general because that’s where your money often can do the most good for a lot of reasons. There are a few national charities that are structured in a way that the local offices have enough autonomy that it’s functionally the same, but generally, local charities and organizations are a great way to give that is often ignored.

        1. Mabel*

          I appreciate that my company puts out a bin for new school supplies in August and for holiday gifts for children in November/December. It makes it easy for me to bring something to work and drop it off. They all go to local children.

        2. Indoor Cat*

          Seconded. I work with my county’s Family and Community Services department, and it helps if different donating groups are coordinating rather than working at cross-purposes. So, for example, during the holidays our county has “Shop With a Cop,” where police officers fill the back of cruisers with toys and goods for low-income families, and we also have angel trees coordinated with three different family shelters, *and* we have a Santa Drive program for all the kids in foster care. Coordinating means there aren’t any kids left out and aren’t any kids with double presents.

    2. idi01*

      His question was whether he should bring this up with his company.

      I would highly recommend that he not bring this up, but just go ahead and donate to whatever charity he feels is a worthier cause.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        I think being it up is a great thing to do.

        Hopefully the company has just being thoughtless and inconsiderate and will welcome the chance to be more inclusive.

        1. LBK*

          Yeah, I think many people don’t realize that the Salvation Army has anti-LGBTQ policies, and the more awareness is spread the more pressure there will hopefully be on them to reconsider that stance.

          1. Q*

            I don’t think they’ll ever reconsider their stance on it…and the Salvo Army has a lot of other strange and harmful policies they abide by (for instance, the women who work for them do not get paid. Only their husbands do).

            But supporting other organizations who aren’t them can lead to more visibility for organizations who don’t leave trans people on the street to die in the cold, which means they’ll get more support.

              1. Q*

                They may have changed that since I heard about it, but since it’s got so much less attention than the LGBTQIAP stuff, I doubt it.

            1. paul*

              OK, no, women that work for the Salvation Army get paid. And have as long as I’ve interacted with them so for 7 or 8 years now? All the employees at our local one get paid crap (several have applied for jobs with us, and we do ask salary history so I’ve seen that), but they get paid.

              1. Q*

                I’ve heard that their salaries get added to their husband’s paycheck and that they don’t get their own. So they get paid, but it’s this weiiiird system.

                Again, they may have changed that since, which I admitted already.

                1. Pomona Sprout*

                  Wow, that Mother Jones story was quite read. Thanks for the link and for further cementing my decision to not give the SA any support.

              2. fposte*

                I’m posting a link to a stackexchange discussion about this. It looks like that at least fairly recently married couples wouldn’t get separate paychecks–the pay for both would be issued to the husband.

            2. Susanne*

              “Salvo Army has a lot of other strange and harmful policies they abide by (for instance, the women who work for them do not get paid. Only their husbands do).”

              That’s simply untrue. There’s enough fake news around these days with our completely un-fact-based administration; we don’t need to create more fake news. I am neither here nor there on the SA, but let’s not lie about them.

              1. Specialk9*

                “Lie” is certainly inflammatory. There have been several links posted supporting their statements. You may critique the validity of their supporting documentation… But since you didn’t provide any evidence for your claim, nor actual counterargument beyond generalized outrage, right now you’re not making your case.

              2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Given that there’s evidence that SA does utilize this practice (with respect to married female pastors), do you have information showing it’s fake news or a lie? Because there seems to be pretty thorough journalism to the contrary.

                1. Church lady*

                  I know people who work for them very well.

                  Up until very recently, women, ordained officers (pastors) who were married (to other ordained pastors, a SA requirement) did not get paid directly – in the United States only. There was a tax arrangement in the US that basically allowed the SA to keep tax costs low by paying one income over two. A lot of the women pastors I know were really upset about this (it affected their social security incomes in a big way, not to mention the morale of it all), and they agitated and got it changed.

                  Non-ordained employees are and have always been paid directly, and in the case where a spouse worked for them too, separately.

              3. Supermanscape*

                Because the husband and wife are employed as clergy, The checks are issued in the mans name only, and it is up to the couple to report how the payment is split to social security. It is not unusual for a woman to have worked 10-20 years, yet have no history of performing paid work.

            3. Gaia*


              I’ve always disliked them for their LGBTQ polices but women do not get paid their HUSBAND gets paid?


            4. nonymous*

              That’s the first I’ve heard of it. I have a family friend that used to bell ring for them every year – she and her adult daughter both worked for SA seasonally. Separate checks, and really good hourly pay (~$20/hr in early 2000s). And paychecks came to them directly.

              I know that it’s not unheard of in religious employment to hire on as a husband and wife team – it makes sense for homeschooling families or as couples are transitioning to retirement. There can also be goal of having married couples take on duties that require travel in general (like which reps go to convention), because that saves money on hotels, but that happens more on the volunteer side.

          2. Indoor Cat*

            Yeah, I definitely wasn’t aware that there was anything bad about them; I mean, they’re everywhere.

          3. Church lady*

            As a progressive religious person who knows people who work within the Army who are also progressive:

            The Army does officially condemn maltreatment of LGBTQIA populations.
            The Army has had a lot of really bad incidents, especially when you look globally. Those deserve condemnation too. The Army’s structure can be very decentralized, and you get joe-schmoes suddenly running large operations, with either their bumbling or outright hateful views. If you encounter this, and especially if you’re in the US or Europe, run the complaints up a ladder as hard as you can.

            But around this issue, there needs to be some acceptance of the idea that there are many trying to do right. In my liberal corner of the PNW I haven’t met a single one of them who is discriminatory in any way, and who routinely serve (and hire! and worship with!) LGBTQIA persons in full knowledge. There are a large swath of Army folks (ordained and not) up here who would love nothing more than to allow for full marriage and ordination of non-cishet persons – but that denominational change would literally have to have global consensus, including from Army representatives in far more repressive environments than ours. (Also, you can be out LGBTQIA and ordained, if you stay single, which in a church context is a pretty good first step.) And they want people to call out the shitty stuff when it happens so it can’t fester.

            And, lastly, that changes to the Army around social issues and their clergy (like ordination of pastors) are going to come up against the more traditional beliefs of it’s followers (local and global) hard, but there needs to be some tolerance of the decision making process being slow and deliberate around that. What the Army as I have ever seen it is not okay with is discrimination of service – and most places are doing the best they can, and frequently, they’re the only people in town doing it.

            Basically, what I’m saying as somebody who works with them frequently – if you’re worried about the Army discriminating against LGBTQIA persons in your area, the best thing to do is to figure out what the local guys believe. If they’re hateful, run it up the chain, the media, the neighborhood, because on a inter/national level, discrimination of service is not tolerated. If Nancy Anybody from Kansas isn’t sure what to do with the trans-person who shows up at her shelter, and it’s literally the first trans person she’s ever met, the opportunity to screw up is large. Get in there and ask that they work with you on sensitivity trainings and discussions.

            (Also, I wrote this below about women’s pay in the army – until recently ordained married women did not receive a salary, but the husband received basically double pay, as a tax arrangement, in the United States only. But women pastors were upset and agitated to change that (one part wrecking social security income, one part morale), and were successful this past year. This arrangement never affected lay employees, even if they were married to another employee.)

        2. Jesmlet*

          As a member of the LGBTQ acronym, I don’t think I’d have any issues donating toys to kids that the Salvation Army supports. To me, there’s a difference between giving them money to do with as they please, and donating specific items to children who are in need through them. Personally, I’d save the conversation for next year in the fall when they’re looking into it again because it’s not like something like this can realistically be cancelled.

          1. Liz T*

            Agreed that it feels off to try to change what they’re doing this year, but it’s definitely worth mentioning it for next year. (Probably earlier than the fall. I’d say January.)

            1. Jesmlet*

              Yes, the only reason I suggested the fall is because I’d hate to have this conversation twice and there’s always the chance that when the season rolls around next year, they won’t have it in the forefront of their mind to find a different charity.

              1. Detective Amy Santiago*

                I think mentioning it in January and asking when they generally make those decisions so you can follow up in September/October would be the best course of action.

          2. Red 5*

            Thanks for this, I’ve been puzzling this out myself as somebody who’s not in the LGBTQ acronym. I wouldn’t donate a cent to the Salvation Army or their shelters, because I’d rather donate to places that give with an open heart (because that’s what I’m trying to do). But I also don’t want to hurt the Angel Tree kids when in a lot of places there are no other charities attempting to do that specific kind of work. While I wouldn’t fault anybody for making the decision that even that amount of support is more than they’re willing to give, I think it’s less cut and dry than just giving to the organization as a whole.

            But no matter what, I agree that this is a conversation that would ideally be had after the holiday season this year when it’s not actively going on. Emotions run high during the holidays, and emotions on charitable giving run high too. Bringing it up next year (or even offering to help with the committee/people who organize the charitable giving and holiday events) could help make it an easier conversation that would yield better results. Assuming that offering alternative giving options and/or a different organizations “angel tree” is the desired result, that’s likely the best way to get there.

            1. PlainJane*

              I was also puzzled – and am still puzzled – at how buying a gift for a child is supporting the SA. I won’t give them money anymore for their anti-LGBT stance and sexism as described above, but when you buy a gift for a child, the SA isn’t profiting by that in any way that I can see. I’m open to being corrected, however.

              1. fposte*

                Well, they’re a nonprofit–they’re not profiting if you give them money, either. But you’re not buying a gift for a child. You’re buying a gift to give the Salvation Army, which they will then give to a child, along with other donated or purchased items that they’re handing out. And Whether you give the SA a donation of cash or non-cash, it increases their assets on the books and expands the value of their PR.

              2. Perse's Mom*

                Given this…

                …they have a history of anti-LGBTQ views and discrimination, including backing out of care agreements that would have required them to help LGBTQ individuals.

                I suspect that these donations would bypass LGBTQ children or families, who are just as in need of these things – arguably more-so, given the stats surrounding LGBTQ kids who end up homeless or bullied or otherwise troubled.

                1. Pomona Sprout*

                  Good point, Perse’s Mom. I am sure they would not knowingly provide toys for children of ltbq families,, since they wouldn’t provide any other services to those families.

              3. Mookie*

                Because in order for needy to children to benefit from the donation, they and their families (who themselves may or may not be LBGTQ) have to interact with an organization that is decidedly bigoted, among other objections to the SA worldview and common practices. Accepting charity from people who wish you didn’t exist is a very humiliating experience, speaking from firsthand knowledge.

          3. Hills to Die on*

            I think that’s a good idea. I understand where the OP is coming from, but that poor little kid who isn’t getting anything for Christmas doesn’t understand or care about which organization have him a toy or clothes. At a minimum, please do support some other organization if you don’t feel comfortable donating to the Angel Tree.

    3. DCGirl*

      Understand that Toys for Tots is run by the Marines, and there are people who have issues with that.

      1. EmilyAnn*

        What are those issues? The toys go to the kids, the overhead is likely lower since the workers are paid by the taxpayer. What’s the problem?

        1. Nox*

          We use Toys for Tots and got push back from a few anti military people for it but we continue to use them because they do not exclude groups of people the way S.A. does.

          Also, I personally have received TFT donations as a kid and I gotta say they are a wonderful group.

          1. Backroads*

            We can’t please everyone. I’m religious and fairly conservative and love Toys for Tots while taking lots of issues with Salvation Army.

            I would rather the company just run the angel tree privately.

        2. Lynca*

          The only huge issue I’ve ever heard is about how it isn’t universally available in all places. I know when I was a kid it wasn’t available in my county. They had donation bins everywhere, but no local pick up point. You had to go two counties over to do pick up. There are several counties in my state that still don’t have coordination and often the parents that need it can’t get to another county for pick up.

          Not that they aren’t a good group, just the availability issue.

          1. paul*

            I’ve never seen any similar program that’s available everywhere. In our region, Toys for Tots doesnt’ do direct distribution either; they coordinate with other groups like the Salvation Army and two or three others and supply toys for their efforts. It’s pretty variable regionally.

        3. Nonnon*

          Well wirh that criteria, the anywhere shouldn’t be a problem either as the toys go directly to a specific child. I think the LW is more concerned about the organization itself.

        4. DCGirl*

          There’s a number of reasons. The Marines don’t necessarily have the greatest track record of treating LGBTQ people well either. The Marine Corps has the highest rate of sexual assault against women.

        5. Yvette*

          “The toys go to the kids, the overhead is likely lower since the workers are paid by the taxpayer. What’s the problem?” Almost the same agrument could be made with the Salvation Army, the toys go to the kids and the workers are volunteers.

          Not that I am knocking Toys for Tots (I love it and donate every year) and supporting the Salvation Army choice but there will almost be an issue with any group. I am fuzzy on the details ( I was very young at the time) but as a kid in my town for years we collected pennies for UNICEF at Halloween and then one year we stopped, something to do with the UN stance on Isreal at the time.

          1. mcr-red*

            “The toys go to the kids, the overhead is likely lower since the workers are paid by the taxpayer. What’s the problem?” Almost the same agrument could be made with the Salvation Army, the toys go to the kids and the workers are volunteers.

            I’m having the same thought. Especially if you are doing the Angel Tree, and not just making a cash donation to the group, you are buying the toys for the kid, they are giving the toys you purchased to the kid. You are technically not giving the organization a thing, you are giving a needy kid something.

            1. Bossy Magoo*

              Same. I dislike the Salvation Army for the same reasons, but are you really supporting the Salvation Army when you give a gift that goes directly to a person in need and not giving money to the organization itself? I mean…why punish the kid?

              1. Q*

                I can very easily see how a LGBTQIAP coworker could come in and see something for the Salvo Army and be uncomfortable, though.

            2. fposte*

              You absolutely are technically donating to the Salvation Army, not to the kid. Same as if you bring food to your food bank, you are technically donating to the food bank, not to the family that gets your canned soup. That’s who counts the good as an asset; that’s who your tax forms say you made the donation to.

              I think whether you want to participate or not is a personal decision and I don’t condemn people who do, but on a strict and legal basis, yes, you’re donating to the Salvation Army in participating.

              1. Rachael Love*

                Yes, this. If you donate through an event like this you are absolutely supporting the Salvation Army. They benefit.

                I am sorry for the kids involved if they miss out, but I can certainly find other ways to donate to kids in need that don’t involve supporting a hateful agenda.

                1. Gaia*

                  I’m more sorry for the kids that have to be subjected to a “charity” group that actively opposes the LGBTQ community. It is quite likely that some of these children belong to that community and don’t deserve to be subjected to such bigotry even in the name of charity.

              2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Thank you! I’m frustrated by all the “it’s not really donating” statements. It’s just not true.

                I get that this might make people feel better about their decisions re: the SA, but don’t fool yourself into thinking donations to/through the SA aren’t donations to/through the SA.

            3. Red 5*

              Disclaimer up front: I am not in any way making this statement as a statement about the Salvation Army angel trees or any specific group.

              However, I would say that it’s not a bad idea to do your due diligence on the toy drive that you’re donating to. When I was younger, my family used to do one of those angel tree type things every year, where you got a specific tag and put together a gift for that child, then dropped it off in a central location. Then my mom discovered that the group (again, I cannot remember which one, though I do know it wasn’t a locally run group) actually unboxed all the donations and would distribute them how THEY wanted to. So you could end up buying a really thoughtful two or three things for the child you chose, and they would decide behind the scenes to break apart that gift and give it to other kids.

              Their original underlying motivation might have been noble (to make the giving more equitable) but I’ve always had a problem with that because of the lack of transparency and honesty. So it’s a good idea when you get a tag off a tree to make sure that you know how the organization actually distributes what you give.

              1. Beth*

                So you think it would be better if the one kid who you picked out gifts for got two gifts and another child got none? I actually just got two gifts for one child per the tag, but I noticed there were still TONS of tags on the tree. I actually thought about splitting it up myself.. I wouldn’t be upset at all if I found out they split up the gifts I’d donated. I mean, if they were reselling them or something, sure, but if they were giving them to a child who hadn’t had a tag picked up, I don’t have a problem with that.

                1. Red 5*

                  Yes, I do think that would be better. Because that’s the stated purpose of the exercise.

                  If the organization was actually doing things in an ideal way, they would also be raising money to then adopt all the unclaimed tags themselves at the end of the season and/or would be asking for general donations for that purpose. Anybody planning this kind of charitable event would realize that this was a risk of the design of the drive itself, and would put things in place to mitigate and solve that risk, especially considering that the solutions are so obvious and simple.

                  If they want to have a drive where they select a handful of kids and each kid gets a toy, then they should have a drive where they just ask for toys in general, not one where you claim a specific tag for a specific child who asks for a specific thing.

                  Like I said, their intention might be nominally noble, but it’s dishonest and it’s a transparency issue. And if they’re willing to say they’re doing one thing with your donation and do another when it comes to a toy drive, what are they doing in their other activities? Is any of your donations going where they say it is? Are they actually doing anything the way they advertise they do? That’s the underlying problem with it.

                2. Bri*

                  I used to collect donations for a local toy drive for foster care kids where you got a list of stickers with the specific requests for toys on them. I had a lady come back with three bargain bin items and she cant have spent more then $5. I was going to put them in the general donations bin and put that girl’s sheet back in but she started yelling at me that she wanted to watch me put the stickers on them and that any kid should be happy with what she got. Unfortunately once the stickers were put on there was nothing I could do. Still kind of feel bad I didn’t tell her off.

                3. Science!*

                  They way my old department did the tree was that they had tags anyone could take but they also said if you didn’t want to take a tag or do the shopping you could donate money. The admin would collect all the money, buy the remaining presents for the kids. Usually there was even money left over so she would then get a grocery card or other gift card to give to the parents (since only kids were on the tree). I liked that system. Also it was all organized through a local group.

        6. Akcipitrokulo*

          I would not want to support anything involved with the military… but if it was the only option, and they were only the admin for it, then I’d grit my teeth the same was as I would for SA.

          1. Snark*

            I’m sorry, you seem to have some misconceptions about site rules. You may have missed them directly above the comment window you hammered this into, so allow me to copypasta:

            “Before you comment: Please be kind, stay on-topic, and follow the site’s commenting rules.”

            1. Snark*

              And to be clear, it’s 100% kosher to take exception to the opinion expressed – I find it offensive and offputting myself. But it’s 100% not okay to attack someone the way you did.

            1. Mananana*

              Equally not cool.

              “Before you comment: Please be kind, stay on-topic, and follow the site’s commenting rules.”

          2. Bigglesworth*

            As others have already commented, your statement is uncalled for on this site. You can politely disagree in the comments, but one of the wonderful things about those who comment on this site is that we can disagree civilly (unlike many other sites out there where your comment would be par for the course). Please remember all are viewpoints and beliefs are welcome here (and yours too if you can write civilly).

          3. Style Icon*

            Jojo, thank you for your service! And thank you for my freedom to post this comment. God Bless You!

              1. Astro*

                Style Icon did not break any commenting rules, so s/he should be allowed to post a comment without being admonished.

              2. Kate 2*

                The original comment was rather uncivil. Unless the group itself has hateful rules that are universally supported by it’s members, when ELSE is it okay to speak nastily of an entire group? That’s uncomfortably close to stereotyping, etc.

                People in the military fight, get brutally injured, and die for our freedom and the freedom of people all over the world. Sometimes they are sent into situations they don’t agree with. But a lot of the time, the vast majority, they do good.

                So to speak badly of “the military” is a really nasty thing to do. “The military” includes soldiers all the way back to the revolutionary war, WWI, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, etc. It includes generals and the newest grunts. Women and people of color have served.

                If you have a problem with the leaders of the armed forces, or if you disagree with the wars they are sent to fight, or the policies of specific branches, say that! Don’t act like “the military” is all the same. It’s not. It’s people.

                By the way, I am the child of 2 veterans.

                1. Pomona Sprout*

                  Don’t know about you, Princess, but the way some here are missing the point is discouraging to me. *sigh*

          4. OhBehave*

            So where does it stop? You want the company to stop associating with the SA. The charity that’s chosen to replace them could put off another employee. Said employee brings it up and that charity is out. Round and round you go.

          5. Cap'n*

            As someone with close ties to the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard, I would like to remind you that these holiday drives are about providing for families with less than they need or have lost loved ones. Please do not dismiss their good works because of your hatred.

      2. Natalie*

        Interesting, I’ve known a lot of intense peace activists but I don’t really remember any of them being anti Toys for Tots. Is this an actual concern you’ve heard someone express or just a guess that some people might care?

    4. C.*

      I would definitely have a few alternatives in mind and ready to suggest if bringing it up. I think charities are sometimes chosen out of habit rather than a conscious decision, and I think if you suggest changing it but don’t give any alternatives, finding a new charity could very easily go on that person’s back burner and never happen.

      1. Jesca*

        I agree with this. For instance, I had no idea about that with the Salvation Army. Granted, I do not follow those things either. I think it is highly likely that the company just doesn’t know!

    5. MsMaryMary*

      OldJob had a similar angel tree, and they worked with the local county child welfare agency to give gifts to children in foster care.

      1. PlainJane*

        My OldJob worked with a local organization that provided transitional housing. My former church worked with the local school district to identify families (not just the children) who needed help at Christmas, and we created gift tags, sorted donated gifts, and used donated money to buy gifts when needed to even out the amount of gifts received by children in the same family. So there are local options, at least in larger metropolitan areas.

    6. Temperance*

      There are so many great local charities that benefit kids in foster care. The Support Center for Child Advocates in Philly is my absolute favorite, because you *know* that your gift is going to a specific kid in need, and fulfilling a wish. Hands down, would recommend!

      1. LW#2*

        These are all great ideas! I’ll plan to use them when I bring this up, and also mention a local food bank we’ve worked with before.

        I’m planning to bring this up to HR, since the announcement originally came from them. I have a friend in HR I have a good rapport with after we bonded over our love of games and sci fi

        1. Muriel Heslop*

          At my last company we decided on our area food bank for this reason: the highest rated/least controversial ratio was the best. It’s what worked for us! Good luck. You are a really thoughtful person for thinking big picture.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          LW#2, can I just say I’m really grateful that you’re doing this?

          I also love the idea of supporting local charities. It builds stronger relationships to the local community, and it often supports groups that are overshadowed by larger charities with bigger brand names. Those smaller groups often have a lot more investment and local knowledge, and they tend to have a stronger ROI, as well.

          1. Temperance*

            YES YES YES YES YES

            It’s also such a great way to really personalize the work that you’re doing!

        3. AMPG*

          We had this issue one year at an old job (my full story is below) and one of the solutions was to have two organizations that people could choose between when donating. People might appreciate having options.

        4. nonymous*

          I’d also add that since the SA tree was so popular, maybe just suggest the alternate charity in parallel. So instead of going through a second giving tree, it will take the whole season to gift the first one, and anyone who doesn’t want to support SA can donate towards the food bank or whatever.

          Honestly, I sometimes get squeamish about the gift trees, for reasons that are not entirely healthy or helpful (but my Reasons shouldn’t stop others from giving!)

    7. MHR*

      Our company always asks a nursing home who is there who could use some holiday cheer. There are plenty of residents who don’t have family and are lonely at christmas. Another bonus is that they items they ask for are very affordable (think hats, socks, books, dvd’s) and it allows us to be able to sponsor more (and hopefully get them more than they asked for)

      1. Temperance*

        My family used to do this as a project when my great-grandmother was at a facility. She had physical limitations, not memory or cognitive, so she was very appreciative that we bought gifts for the others on her floor. (The gifts were seriously dollar store teddy bears, soft socks, and other stuff like that.)

    8. ss*

      Check with the local Child and Family Services government office in your area because some of them do an ‘adopt a family’ at the holidays where you get the name of a family that needs help and you buy the food for a holiday meal and also presents for the children.

      1. Xarcady*

        My company does this at the holidays, but through the local high school, which identifies families in need. Employees buy gifts and contribute to a holiday dinner basket.

        1. Mischa*

          Yes! My high school did this. I think it was called “Adopt a Tot”. The students would gather money then go shopping for things the child needed or wanted, and then we would have a party during class with the family. It was a great way to help someone in need and to make sure they actually benefited from the donations.

    9. Samiratou*

      Or check local charities–there is one organization locally that does this same thing. We had “trees” in my sons’ YMCA daycare, and my company is doing them this year, too. It shouldn’t take much searching, or ask on a Nextdoor or neighborhood FB page if anyone knows of local orgs doing something similar.

      Having an alternative to suggest would make it more likely they will add other options in the future.

    10. anonanon*

      Many children’s hospitals have toy and book drives this time of year. Another option would be a food bank or a local coat drive.

    11. DevAssist*


      Could you please put a stop to this line of comments???

      I feel like there is joy taken out of giving when we critique charities in this way. Everyone has personal favorites, and I would love to see a round-up post of thoroughly vetted, noncontroversial options, but this particular comment chain is getting out of hand!

      Maybe OP#1 can bring it up after the holidays and then again in the fall so that during the next holiday season, the company can pick something more inclusive.

      1. Tea Fish*

        I feel like it’s important to be cognizant of who and what you’re giving to, and what they do with your thoughtful, warm-hearted donations– and who they harm, if anyone, with it. “The joy of giving” is great and all, but I’d consider it far less important than ensuring that people who are in need of charity and giving receive what they need (and without being discriminated against.)

        1. DevAssist*

          I don’t disagree, which is why I said a round-up of suggestions would be great. I was just getting “comment fatigue” from seeing comment after comment that seemed to intentionally want to find fault with any named charity. I just feel like it was derailing the thread.

      2. serenity*

        Wait, what?

        You want to put a stop to a legitimate conversation about the background of a charity referenced in a letter-writer’s question simply because? And you want “vetted, noncontroversial” options presented (from whom you would accept these “vetted” options, I can’t hope to say – I’m guessing, people who share the same opinions you hold?).

        Dude, no.

        1. strawberries and raspberries*

          Over Thanksgiving I was commenting to my mom that everyone wants to feel good but no one actually wants to do good. Comments like DevAssist’s, where holding charities accountable for potentially damaging practices and ideologies they espouse would “ruin” the “joy of giving,” are exactly what I meant.

          Which is actually sadder- that an already highly vulnerable population is routinely excluded from services, or that somebody won’t be able to pat themselves on the back for giving one toy to one kid?

      3. SC Anonibrarian*

        i don’t agree. i thibk that charities absolutely need to be criticized and held accountable for their views and who or what they support. having more complete information helps people be consistent with their moral stances, and even if i don’t care about a specific view, someone else does, and they should know.

        everyone here (with a few notable and noted and reprimanded exceptions) is being factual, clear, and straightforward. i don’t think anyone here is trying to take ‘joy’ out of anything. i also don’t think ‘but it’s Christmaaaaassss’ is a particularly valid reason to NOT criticize a group or publicize their beliefs and actions. it’s the time of year when people are thinking about it – let’s help people think about it with a full hand of information so they can make a choice that won’t steal their ‘joy’ later when they find out they accidentally supported an organization they don’t agree with.

      4. General Ginger*

        I can’t agree with the idea that joy is being taken out of giving when we do our due diligence in checking what a charity’s policies are. If anything, it ensures that we are better able to help people in need of help.

      5. Xay*

        I can only speak for myself but part of the joy of giving to a charity for me is knowing that my donation will be put to good use by an organization that I trust and respect.

    12. Erin*

      Coats for kids is non religious. If you’re not into Christmas. Everyone can agree that kids will need good cold weather gear in the winter. They’ll accept coats, hats, gloves, even winter boots. So if you can’t afford to donate a new or like new coat, you can donate gloves.

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    In addition to what Alison noted, OP#1, this is what “friend groups” are for on Facebook. You can filter out your employees, including ones who were your friends pre-management. But of course it’s easier to deal with something you never published as opposed to trying to contextualize or apologize for something you published in haste.

    1. AnonForNow*

      Also sites like NotAlwaysRight/NotAlwaysWorking where you can share frustrating funny work stories with vague enough details that no one recognises it. (Well it depends how obscure your company is, I did recognise a local one but that’s because there’s not many high street magical apothecaries hah)

    2. Lars the Real Girl*

      Yea – I would 1) unfriend your employees/coworkers (or set them to a very limited privacy setting and 2) just don’t post about your work! Even if you have all of the privacy settings in the world, it can still get back to them and it’s really in poor form (but I think you get that now.)

      1. MK*

        At this point, unfriending employees might not be a solution. If the OP had done it at a random time, fine, but doing it right after she was found out to be posting something inappropriate?

        1. Say what, now?*

          Agree with this. If he/she does it now it will make them think that the “I’ll never do it again” portion is disingenuous. Oh, she says she won’t do it again but doesn’t want accountability… interesting.

    3. idi01*

      Whatever you post to Facebook, always consider the very real possibility that it will not stay private.

        1. K.*

          I don’t either, but a lot of colleagues from a previous job do. I became friends with them on FB after I no longer worked there, as is my policy, and the amount of trash talk baffles me. Not what they say (that place was toxic, hence why it’s a previous job for me – and they’ve seen a TON of turnover in the last year or so), but that they were so blatant about it. It’s a small company, only about 40 people, and everyone except the CEO (who was the problem) talks all kinds of smack all over FB – and a lot of them were/are friends with the CEO’s executive assistant. I know the CEO is on FB too. It’s so odd to me.

          But yes, I keep work talk off social media. I don’t even think where I work is up to date on my FB profile.

        2. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          I will but only the most innocuous things like, “You know you are at work too late when the lights turn off” or “Moving on up, my desk is now by a window”

        3. Yomi*

          Yup. Or at least make sure it’s something that you’d be happy to say out loud into a microphone at a company wide meeting.

          I had a boss who frequently posted about other employees (that she was also friends with!) while trying to hide who they were but we always knew. And she would post incredibly unprofessional things like how she was out at a meeting and really wanted to stop at the bar on the way back to work.

          She was a bad boss for other reasons, but I absolutely screenshot those posts and submitted them in my exit interview to HR as part of a complaint about her. Which I never would have done, and couldn’t have done, if she hadn’t insisted we all should friend her because we were supposed to be besties or something.

      1. Ramblin' Ma'am*

        Learned this the hard way…I posted some complaints about my job. I carefully limited the audience to exclude any coworkers, past coworkers, etc. One of my friends then wrote a post about quitting a job–and tagged me in it! Making it visible to ALL my friends. Aargh.

        1. Red 5*

          Yikes. This is why I think tagging somebody in a post should be like a photo, where you can set it to where you have to approve the tag.

          Facebook makes a show of filters and privacy, but they are really, really bad at it and not worth messing with. The best policy is to have Facebook locked up tight to keep out strangers, but also never post anything that would be harmful if it was public. Maybe embarrassing, but not harmful. There are just so, so many ways for a Facebook post to escape where you thought it was hidden.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            You can control whether or not it shows up on your timeline. I don’t remember where exactly that setting is, but I have mine set that way. If anyone tags me in a post, I have to review it before it shows up to my friends.

            1. Red 5*

              Oh good, I’ll have to dig that up, because it annoys me the way that works. But then, almost everything about Facebook annoys me these days.

            2. Mallory Janis Ian*

              I set mine that way after my SIL tagged me in a rant about some petty interaction she had with someone on a Facebook sale/swap group. She tagged about 40 people trying to pull people in on her “side”, and within about 2 hours, 80% of those tagged had un-tagged themselves. I un-tagged myself and immediately looked into how to prevent her from ever doing that again.

            3. Ramblin' Ma'am*

              Yes, you can block it from the timeline, but it will still show up in News Feed, search, etc. So people scrolling through Facebook would still see, “Ramblin’ Ma’am was tagged in a post: ‘When to Leave a Toxic Job'”, even though it wouldn’t be on my actual page.

              I had even mentioned in the post itself that the audience was heavily restricted, hoping that would signify that discretion was needed–no such luck!

              1. nonymous*

                I just untagged myself from someone’s photo post and my name disappeared from the description on her post. There is a difference between showing up on timeline and tagging though, and who knows when it will change again.

      2. PlainJane*

        Yep. “Facebook privacy” is an oxymoron. If it’s private, don’t put it on Facebook (or anywhere else online where it could possibly be traced back to you).

  2. Supanon*

    #2 – definitely speak up! Lots of people don’t know about the Salvation Army’s history and whoever organizes the angel tree for your company might not know. I handle charitable giving for my company and I am always astounded when someone tells me they had no idea SA was religious. (Usually in response to me telling them the company can’t support SA due to the religious association.)
    That being said, in some areas it is really, really challenging to do any kind of holiday gift drive that isn’t associated with a religious organization.

    1. HannahS*

      True. If the organization doesn’t want to change to something less Christmas-y (like winter clothes drives, or raising money for a food bank, or something like that), here are some ideas of organizations that might want to give Christmas presents to children, but don’t have explicitly religious missions: foster-care systems, group homes, women’s shelters, places like Ronald McDonald house, community centres, and organizations serving very young and/or low-income parents.

      1. Runner*

        Well, Christmas actually is religion based. Charitable drives are good all year long. There is some cognitive dissonance in putting a foot down that a Christmas drive should be disconnected from anything Christmas-y. I get it, but just saying.

        1. HannahS*

          No, there isn’t. There’s a difference between objecting to a Christian organization which, operating on their version of Christian values, denies services to people who need them, and a secular organization that says “Hey, most of the kids in the foster-care system celebrate Christmas, so it would be kind to give them gifts.” Organizations that give people the tools to celebrate their own heritage are entirely different from organizations that impose their beliefs on others, and it’s totally reasonable to support one over the other.

        2. Akcipitrokulo*

          There are also differences between christian organisations which say “Need help? We’re here!” and those that say “Need help? Are you cis? You’re not one of those lgbti* people are you? Cool, we’re here!”

          1. question*

            Is there any evidence that Salvation Army has imposed that litmus test on the children who are getting these toys?

            1. Oryx*

              That’s not really the point, though. If the concern is getting toys to children there are organizations that do that without pushing an anti-LGBTQ agenda.

            2. Temperance*

              Young kids don’t typically identify themselves as queer until a bit later in life, but kids whose parents are queer have absolutely been disadvantaged.

              There’s also the very important point that there are plenty of non-discriminatory orgs that help people, and that’s where your support should go.

            3. blackcat*

              I have heard of them denying toys/assistance to the children of LGBT parents. I will google to try to find actual (legit) stories.

              Even so, I’m one of those folks who is super anti-Salvation Army. Their actions during the AIDS crisis were really unforgivable. I wouldn’t want to do anything that goes through them, even if the org as a whole didn’t profit/get money to support the other work they do. Basically, I don’t want to do anything that supports their image as a wholesome charity.

              1. Aeryn Sun*

                They’ve also let LGBT people die rather than stay in their shelters – a trans woman froze to death because they wouldn’t let her stay because she’s trans. I can’t forgive them.

            4. Snark*

              Does it matter? If there are multiple groups providing that service, I’d err on the side of the ones without troubling histories of discrimination.

            5. SA*

              I can’t answer about a litmus test for the kids getting the toys but I know of someone they kicked out of an inpatient drug and alcohol program for being gay.

          2. Greyhound*

            I’m sure the SA has acted against the fair and equal treatment of LGBTQ individuals and that’s unacceptable. But, in my experience, their outreach efforts don’t discriminate. For some time, I lived in a youth refuge that was run by the SA and they didn’t seem to care whether the kids were LGBTQ. Really, they just provided food, shelter at night and access to alternative schools and donated clothes. There was no kind of spiritual or religious element involved with living there and they had no control over us or idea what we were doing with ourselves.

            1. Greyhound*

              Wait, no… I actually just looked for material about LGBTQ youth in the context of the specific SA youth refuge where I lived. Turns out there was an incident a few years ago involving a resident who was told to pray away her attraction to women when she asked for advice. I didn’t see anything when I was there 15 years ago but obviously anecdotes mean nothing. So yeah, screw the SA.

            2. Had Matter's Pea Tarty*

              Didn’t they reject a trans woman from one of their shelters and she subsequently froze to death?

                1. paul*

                  Not specifically LGBT related, but I’ve seen 4 instances over the last 5-6 years where a homeless person was found dead after a cold night and relatives or community advocates started going after the local shelters because “why were they kicked out/not allowed in!”

                  In at least 2 cases the person had never *gone* to the shelter in the first place; one of them had actually been dropped off at *our* building, which is not a shelter, and was closed (because it was seven or eight pm), and died in an alley between us and the salvation army. We found footage on our cams of him trying the doors then leaving.

                  The other, as far as anyone could ever find out, never went to any shelter–they were found dead in a pond in a city park on the other side of town. Of the other two, one had been banned from both men’s shelters in town after stabbing/trying to stab other clients and staff–in both locations. Why they weren’t in jail I don’t know; we’d banned him too (for the same thing—dude was knife crazy).

                  The fourth had checked in then left-the local SA maintained it was voluntary. I didn’t know that one, we’d never worked with him, so I don’t have any clue at all what happened.

                  In every case, people instantly jumped to “it’s those damn shelters fault” and I’ll confess, it has left me *very* jaded.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  There have been other reports, as recent as this year, of SA shelters rejecting trans people in need.

                3. Geoffrey B*

                  @paul: Not commenting on specific instances, but there’s no inherent contradiction between “this person never went to Shelter X” and “shelter X’s anti-LGBT policies contributed to their death”. If a trans person knows that they’ll be kicked out – or only allowed in under humiliating and dangerous conditions, like requiring trans women to sleep in male quarters – then that’s a powerful disincentive to ever going in the first place.

              1. Annabelle*

                Yep. The SA in my hometown is notorious for kicking out gay and trans teenagers. One of our local nonprofits just built a shelter specifically to house LGBTQ teens because it became such an issue

            3. Temperance*

              That has not been my experience working with an SA shelter. I know someone who is a trans dude and he was actually thrown out because the director was expecting, and I quote, a “nice Christian girl”.

              I’ve worked at that shelter due to work commitments a few times, and never met a single queer person. Not shocking.

          3. Copper Boom*

            This is the Salvation Army’s official stance on LGBTQ concerns (at least in Canada). It explicitly states that the SA doesn’t discriminate in its assistance based on sexual orientation. I don’t know what the OP has experienced or heard of, but it’s clear that any discrimination is not condoned by the larger organization. This may factor into OP’s company’s decision to support the SA, as their official stance is one of inclusivity.

            1. Annabelle*

              Their official stance doesn’t actually affect how each mission operates. And their tendency to turn away queer folks remains a pervasive problem in a lot of different missions. Changing their written policy didn’t actually do anything but make them look better to people who aren’t interacting with homeless queer people.

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              They’re currently being sued in New York and other states for refusing to provide aid and shelter to transgender people, including transgender children (who have a higher rate of poverty and homelessness and are at much greater risk of death, human trafficking, suicide, etc.). They recently funded the “No” campaign on Australia’s marriage equality referendum. Their theological position is still that LGBT people are an abomination. And as recently as 2013/14, they were actively funding and referring LGBT people in their shelters to “conversion therapy,” a traumatic, bankrupt, and completely non-medically-supported brainwashing effort.

              Their non-discrimination statement does nothing to advance inclusion or to fix discriminatory conduct at their shelters and stores. If they’re like most employers, they’re legally required to post an anti-discrimination statement regardless of whether they practice those principles. I’m sure the Weinstein Corporation’s official stance is “inclusionary,” but that didn’t stop them from reining in a serial predator, and the same goes for Uber, et al. What an organization says and what it practices matters.

              1. Pomona Sprout*

                Thanks for this. I’m getting really tired of people trying to let the SA off the hook here. To anyone who isn’t bothered by their treatment of certain groups, you go right ahead and contribute to the SA. Ain’t nobody stopping you. Just please don’t try to “explain” to those of us who ARE bothered why we should not (in your opinion) feel that way. That is all.

                1. Pomona Sprout*

                  P.S. Princess, I trust you are aware that only the first 2 sentences of my comment were aimed at you personally. (Just in case that was not clear to you or anyone else, lol.)

        3. Traffic_Spiral*

          Well, Christmas may be “religion based,” but it’s pagan religion based, not christian, if you actually want to go there. Plus, regardless of the fact that it has pagan traditions (yule, christmas trees, misteltoe, etc.), and religious significance for Christians and pagans, it’s currently a secular and cultural holiday for friends and family.

          1. Lars the Real Girl*

            Alison has said this before way more eloquently than I’m probably going to do now, but just because you may consider Christmas secular, many, many people don’t, so it’s not fair to discount someone’s aversion to it because of their different beliefs. People in religious minorities can find the pushing of Christmas in the workplace highly uncomfortable, even in ways that well meaning people think “aren’t religious”.

            1. Natalie*

              I don’t think that’s the point at issue. It’s not super clear from the threading, but Traffic_Spiral is responding to a post that says “Christmas actually is religion based… There is some cognitive dissonance in putting a foot down that a Christmas drive should be disconnected from anything Christmas-y.” The pagan and secular aspects of Christmas are a perfectly valid counterpoint to that argument.

              1. Lars the Real Girl*

                Not really. Trying to claim that Christmas is a secular holiday is disingenuous. Yes, we can talk about the roots of a holiday or a word, but with something so prevalent in society, its very dismissive to say “oh but 2500 years ago it meant something different”.

          2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            It’s also wildly inaccurate to claim that Christmas is not Christian, simply because the celebration has older roots.

            1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*


              Symbols and practices are constantly adapted and recontextualized, and the older meanings are not always the one true “real” meaning. It’s heavily dependent on context. Plenty of non-religious people in our day and age celebrate Christmas with enthusiasm (I’m one of them) but that doesn’t mean the holiday itself is secular. It’s far from it.

          3. neverjaunty*

            This is like saying that Hanukkah is a secular holiday because the dreidel was originally a secular toy. Please stop.

        4. LW#2*

          It just so happens we’re around Chicago! (Northwest suburbs) I’ll definitely add Coat Angels and Christopher House to the list of what I suggest!

          We’ve also worked before with the Greater Chicago Food Depository and Northern Illinois Food Bank (I’ve personally volunteered there as well). I’m open to other suggestions for Chicago area charity ideas

          1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

            my office in Chicago area does a DCFS thing for foster kids, and also has “adopted” a couple of very low income schools. Same idea, they collect toys/money for toys based on kid’s wish lists.

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              The schools are a great idea. I belong to a hobby group that also does community projects, and we give to a couple of local schools with low-income kids, as well as the local Second Harvest and the local shelter.

              With the number of seniors who need assistance every year, please also make sure you’re not forgetting groups that provide eldercare and supports to the ageing. They often also need things like warm blankets and just to be remembered at the holidays (not everyone is surrounded by family in their “golden years”).

              If your company creates partnerships with local organizations, I think that will be beneficial to both of you.

          2. Jaydee*

            Oh, yeah SA has a *big* presence in Chicago! I always feel personally torn because most of my extended family is heavily involved in the Salvation Army, and they are lovely, wonderful people. And I love the idea of a church that is so committed to helping the most vulnerable members of society. At the same time, that can be really problematic if that religion is used not simply to provide care and services but to justify discrimination or to put religious pressures on people who may be particularly susceptible due to their circumstances.

            But the good news is that Chicago is a big city and there are certainly other organizations your employer could partner with for an Angel Tree or similar charitable project.

      2. Broadcastlady*

        I’m on our County foster care board (child Prptrctive Services). 95% of our kids are placed in religious based group homes, or private foster families that practice religious home school based program. We are in Texas it could be different in other stated, but to assume from Steve systems don’t have religious ties is not true. In fact, the local chapter of the Salvation Army does our Angel Tree.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I was trying to figure out this “STEVE” acronym. Okay, the S or St is state, but then Ev is environment and that won’t fit unless the tree has deserving wildlife in need…

        1. Kelly White*

          I am a foster/adoptive parent (through the state- not a private agency) and we were not allowed to home school, or send the kids to private school. They had to attend public school.

          It’s so interesting to hear other states rules/regs!

          1. Broadcastlady*

            Wow! Totally different in Texas, of course, our foster care system has actually been ruled to be unconstitutional by our state’s Supreme Court. It’s incredibly hard to get licensed as a foster family here, so our kids(our county has 130 in care at any given time) usually end up in group homes all over th state (especially teens). In addition to me being on the board, which only handles financial things(fundraisers, Christmas gifts, etc), my husband is a family law/ criminal defense attorney. He had a client last year that was denied as a suitable placement for her niece b/c she had a CPS case file from 1985. The case file was so old, they couldn’t see what it was, but his client was denied b/c of it. His client was the CHILD involved in the case! She had been the one removed. She was eventually allowed to be the permanent placement (permanent is a loose term), but it took about 6 months of fighting the court and CPS. The child was in a group home the entire time. It’s a mess, but I digress and that isn’t the point of OP’s letter.

    2. Artemesia*

      This has always bugged me too — the Salvation Army’s intolerance, but no one else does something like the Angel Tree i.e. where specific kids get what they actually want. In Chicago there is a great charity called Coat Angels that provides low income kids in Chicago with winter coats/hats/gloves. The great thing about it is the kids get to actually choose the coat and the coats are different i.e. they don’t get stigmatizing poor kids coats but choose from coats like everyone else has. I have shifted my Christmas giving there. But for years we bought kids bicycles through Angel Tree and we have never found any organization that does as good a job getting kids (and needy seniors) what they want and need and I have looked for other options. We no longer give to the Salvation Army but for years made the Angel Tree an exception.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        I used to go to a gym that did that! They worked with some schools in the area and had a Coat Tree where you could purchase whatever coats, boots, or other winter items were requested by a kid or their family.

      2. Lars the Real Girl*

        This is a great distinction! The OP says that they don’t want to support SA with their money, but this isn’t donating money or anything in-kind to the organization, it’s giving a physical item directly to a child.

        I’m not a fan of SA either, but this doesn’t directly benefit them.

        1. Anion*

          Exactly. I would understand the LW’s reluctance a lot more–I’d agree with it–if she was being asked to donate money to the SA, but this isn’t that at all. It’s literally refusing to give a gift to a needy child because you don’t like the person who’s going to hand them the gift.

          If another group can be found for next year and the years after, great, but for now it’s not helping the SA to give a gift to a child; it’s just helping the child and the giver.

          1. StrongOpinions*

            Except the S.A. get to claim the credit for organising it and include it in their promotionso material.
            “Over the years, millions of children and young people have benefited from gifts donated to The Salvation Army. By giving a gift to our Christmas Present Appeal you can make a real difference in someone’s life at Christmas.” <- direct quote from their site.

            It allows them to cover themselves in accolades and claim others generosity as implicit support.

            Personally, I would not want to associate myself in any way with an organisation that has shown itself to be hateful, bigoted and harmful, and I think the letter writer actively seeking an alternative so the good intentions are not lost is commendable and the absolute best option.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              But actively seeking an alternative that is doing the same work in your city sometimes means there isn’t one. Even “work directly with your local shelter” won’t cut it if your local shelter is run by SA. Or by other religious charities, which as noted upthread is often the case. If you want to help in a particular way, but don’t want to found your own charity to do it, sometimes there are no options of perfect secularism.

              I don’t know who “runs” our local food pantry, but it’s physically based out of the Catholic church.

                1. Falling Diphthong*

                  I was replying to Strong Opinions re the problems with Org You Don’t Like getting to claim credit for something they do. I have no quarrel with OP’s plan, but with the broader “don’t do anything unless it can pass all the tests of purity” often leading to not doing anything. Mostly, I think we’re better off with people trying to do something right but imperfect.

              1. StrongOpinions*

                I absolutely agree that giving and helping others (in a way that does not cause or promote harm) is more important than what I may think of their beliefs and lifestyle.
                (Which is kind of where my problem with the S.A stems from).

          2. Temperance*

            Actually, no. It helps the Salvation Army spread their reach, and it gives them some great marketing points. They get to claim that they helped X number of children, and then LW is part of that.

            It is not “literally refusing to give a gift to a needy child”. This framing is not appropriate, not helpful, and really not in the spirit of giving. This same language has actually been used by orgs that do “missions work” overseas and more or less bribe locals to give up their beliefs in order to get needed food.

            1. Geoffrey B*

              Yep, and it builds the SA’s status as Default Charity, which then harms people who aren’t well served by the SA.

        2. Enya*

          I agree. You’re not punishing the SA, you’re punishing those poor kids. It doesn’t sit right with me.

          1. Katniss*

            The OP is not “punishing” kids. The SA is by 1. directly turning away LGBT kids, which they have done 2. Supporting homophobia and therefore making themselves unsupportable.

          2. Yorick*

            OP is looking for another charity to give to, so they are not being greedy against poor children.

          3. Annabelle*

            As others have pointed out, the SA directly harms and refuses services to queer kids. I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to support them either.

            1. Enya*

              You can spin it any way you want, but the fact remains that in this case, the kids on the tree will not be getting toys. And as others have said, you’re not supporting the SA with a monetary donation; the SA is merely passing on the toys to these kids. Why should these kids not get presents?

              1. STG*

                It’s not the only option though. Are you responsible for making sure that every kid gets a toy?

                Giving to a different charity for a different kid (or even the same family…who knows) isn’t taking away something from someone else.

              2. Annabelle*

                Stating an actual fact isn’t spinning anything. You’re trying to make people who don’t want to support a horrendously bigoted organization look like kid-hating Grinches.

                But even donating a toy makes it look like you support an organization that directly harms a lot of kids. So the whole “what about the children” handwringing thing doesn’t hold water for me.

                There are a lot of other organizations that do toy drives. Lots of school districts even do an angel tree. Moreover, the SA uses things like their angel trees to make it look like they’re a valid, helpful organization that cares about people. I would prefer not to contribute to that misconception.

              3. Grad student*

                Sadly, lots of kids won’t be getting toys. OP presumably cannot personally provide toys for every child in need this month, and they have no greater responsibility to help the children represented on this tree than the ones sponsored by T4T or a local shelter or someone else.

              4. Leatherwings*

                And this is exactly the kind of logic that SA uses to push people to donate year after year.

                It doesn’t really sit right with me that you’re condemning someone for not supporting an anti-LGBTQ organization. If you want to give, that’s great and the toys you buy will undoubtedly be appreciated. But there’s no reason to imply that someone else is ruining Christmas or something by choosing to give elsewhere.

              5. Academic Addie*

                It’s OK for SA to punish LGBT kids and the kids of LGBT parents by not giving them gifts, but the LW is an awful person for seeking to send a donation elsewhere. Makes sense.

              6. JAM*

                The SA doesn’t serve every child. No charity possibly could. So why wouldn’t it make sense to give to one that you feel will value your gift and help people in the way you want to? If a person doesn’t choose SA that doesn’t mean the end result that no children will get presents.

          4. LBK*

            SA has no problem punishing those “poor kids” that are LGBTQ, who are wildly overrepresented among homeless youth, with estimates ranging from 10-40% out of all homeless youth being LGBTQ. It’s pretty disgusting to turn away people who have often already been turned away by their own families.

            1. strawberries and raspberries*

              Full agreement. I love people who are so apprehensive that poor kids won’t have presents at Christmas but think nothing of supporting policies that would strip every essential service from poor kids and make sure they have nothing the rest of the year.

        3. Lars the Real Girl*

          I just want to clarify based on some of the other responses that I am in no way saying the OP has to donate, and I fully support bringing up other options for future years. I’m just pointing out that if she does feel compelled to buy a gift, she wouldn’t directly be supporting SA.

      3. little mermaid*

        They have what they need now – but Moms United collects presents for kids with mums in prison. They just publish a wish list on Amazon with specific gifts and you can buy them.

      4. Sam*

        I know Christopher House here in Chicago has a holiday gift-donation program for some of the families they work with. And I believe it’s for the whole family, not just the elementary-aged kids.

          1. SweetTooth*

            My Chicago company has organized donations to the Night Ministry, which included the option of buying items from their Amazon wish list. They have a really good reputation as a resource for homeless youth, particularly those who are LGBT, and do great work locally.

      5. Natalie*

        but no one else does something like the Angel Tree

        That might be true as far as national organizations, but there are definitely local alternatives in some areas. We did a wish tree at my old job that had been arranged through a large homelessness-prevention charity in the area without the SA’s baggage. This would be a bit harder to arrange if the company has branch offices all over, but if it’s just headquarters not so difficult.

        1. Snark*

          And, like, Angel Tree is awesome. Really. But if donating to an ethically cleaner organization that doesn’t do specific gifts for specific kids is an option, forgoing a “nice to have” squares okay with my ethics.

        2. Jaydee*

          There are often smaller local alternatives. A local youth agency, not religiously affiliated, is doing the same type of thing for the kids and young adults they serve. I’ve got a present at home for a young person who aged out of foster care sitting at home that I need to wrap and drop off.

        3. JAM*

          Many cities or counties with health or public service agencies or courthouses or who partner with state aid will do this as well. I know my last county was stingy but they had an angel tree for children receiving county aid in some capacity and our courthouse also had a separate program for children receiving state aid but lived in the county.

      6. Temperance*

        Support Center for Child Advocates in Philadelphia. They have an Amazon wish list, with gifts picked by the kids, and you can request the age and gender of the kid. Highly recommend.

      7. Lindsay J*

        In Houston, the Women’s Center does a similar thing for kids in the shelters or who are otherwise tied to the organization with school supplies – they get to choose their own backpack, notebooks, folders, etc. They have rules about some of the types of donations, too, to make sure the kids aren’t getting inferior stuff like dollar store brand crayons that don’t color.

        I just looked and it appears that they are doing a similar thing for Christmas – they’re going to have a selection of toys the parents can pick out for their children, and also gifts children can pick out for their parents. They also accept (and like getting) monetary donations so they can leverage buying in bulk to get better deals, and so they can fill in the gaps from what people donated (like if everyone donated notebooks and folders, but not enough pencils and rulers they can buy enough rulers and pencils).

        I know it’s not your area, but I thought it was a good example of a similar program (and the kids really liked being able to choose their own stuff.) I’ll link their page below in case anyone in the area is interested.

        1. Temperance*

          Totally OT, but I have to say that I work with folks in Houston regularly and am always truly amazed by how wonderful, kind, loving, and giving they are. Truly great people.

      8. chi type*

        I’m plugging Heartland Alliance in Chicago all over this thread…I’m currently shopping for some some kids who use their domestic violence services.

    3. Backroads*

      At least without taking a major responsibility for it. It’s possible for a company to just run it themselves, but that’s some major effort in many cases. I work at a school, so it’s easy enough to sniff out our own students in need. But we have poor families we are directly connected to.

      I prefer giving through my religion and.through my secular school. It’s nicer when they’re separate, but yeah, that isn’t always an immediate option.

      1. Xarcady*

        My company does a “snowflake” tree, working with the local high school. Counselors/social workers in the school system identify families in need and the school partners with local businesses to provide gifts and holiday food baskets.

        A local dry cleaning chain runs a coat drive every fall. You can donate new or used coats and jackets. The chain cleans and does minor repairs to the used coats (sews on buttons, stitches up an open seam) and works with the local food pantry to distribute them.

    4. Q*

      It’s called The /Salvation/ Army why do people not think that’s religious? Always baffles me! If you actually think about what it’s saying, it sounds like a cult.

      1. Temperance*

        A lot of people just think that the title is old school, like how the YMCA is pretty much secular at this point but still stands for Young Men’s Christian Association.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Yep. Or if they aren’t well-versed in Christian terminology, they might also think it refers to “saving” people from poverty rather than “saving” them in the religious sense.

    5. Red 5*

      Do you have to have a blanket “no religious organization” rule? I ask only because several places I’ve known of have made their rule more akin to “the organization must distribute aid in a non-discriminatory manner” rather than “can’t be affiliated with any religious anything.”

      In my hometown, a lot of national charities just don’t show up because the town is too small to be worth their time I guess. But a lot of the churches have charitable funds they’ve set up, and while some of them do discriminate, most of them were very adamant that they will give to anyone who demonstrates a need and they put that in writing, and show it through actions. I personally got help from a fund that was done through a church I didn’t belong to, because they were very clear that help came with no strings and was given to all who came through the door.

      All that being said, I also can completely understand that it’s often easier to make a rule that religious association isn’t something you want to deal with, because it does make things trickier and harder on you to go through the evaluation process, and a place could be great one year and get a new administrator who then decides to be more strict (I know of a food pantry that used to be non-discriminatory but then was taken over by a new person who changed the rules). But it could be something for people to think about, since it _is_ hard to find a place that has no religious association whatsoever.

      1. Temperance*

        FWIW, I do have that rule for any org that I give to, with very, very, very limited exception (like giving to a friend’s discretionary fund at her church to help fund her Veterans program). I dislike that my work and my donations will be credited to an org that is at odds with my personal values.

        1. Red 5*

          “I dislike that my work and my donations will be credited to an org that is at odds with my personal values.”

          That sounds like a very good metric to me, and I think that it applies to organizations too, whatever charity they choose to work with will be a reflection of their organizational values. I just think that for somebody who is wanting to look for more places to give, there’s room to look for those limited exceptions. But it’s important to make sure that it’s a place that is very clear on their non-discrimination policy, especially if they have any religious association at all, and to make sure they live up to that pledge.

          And it’s fair to say that there are some that I wouldn’t approve of even in that case. I won’t name any specifically, but there are some religions where the greater organization/administration of the church has issues that I wouldn’t want to be associated with, even if this one individual church has something that seems reasonable.

      2. AMPG*

        I think due diligence is important if you’re working with a religious organization (and I say this as an active participant in a major world religion). At an old job, the staff voted on the recipient for the proceeds from our holiday raffle, from a list of non-profits suggested by staff members. The organization that won served low-income kids in an after-school program, but the staff member who nominated it neglected to mention that it was a proselytizing Christian organization – i.e. the after-school program included mandatory Bible study and other religious activities. I complained to HR about it, both because I felt that the description we were given before the vote was misleading, and because I thought it was inappropriate to support an organization that would be using our donations for religious instruction. The solution was to give people a choice between the top two vote-getters. The person I talked to pointed out that the second choice served Iraqi kids with disabilities, so it might have connections to Muslim organizations, but I countered that they weren’t requiring kids to convert in order to receive assistance or anything like that, which made all the difference.

        1. Red 5*

          Yes, that is exactly what the difference is for me. I don’t have a problem with a church doing charitable work, but I have a problem with their charitable work coming with conditions, especially when those conditions are “convert and/or submit to indoctrination in our religion.”

          You either are there to help or you aren’t. It’s fine with me if your religion calls you to help and you use that as your springboard to form your organization, but I can’t support it if there’s then conditions put on that assistance, especially religious ones.

    6. Jennifer Thneed*

      For what it’s worth, Salvation Army also discriminates against Jewish employees and probably clients as well.

      They’re just so very not inclusive.

  3. Dr. Seuss*

    OP 2 had better come up with some other organization that does almost exactly the same thing. Otherwise she is going to be perceived as the grinch who took toys away from needy kids.

    1. Anion*

      I’m perceiving her that way already, frankly. Nobody’s asking her to give money to the SA, they’re asking her to buy a gift that will be given directly to a needy child, and she’s refusing because the people handing out that gift are religious? The kids aren’t running the SA. They’re just kids.

      And btw, the Salvation Army has a whole page on its website devoted to the work it does for the LGBT community, and how its policies etc. have changed to be more inclusive toward them in the last few years:

      The page includes links to articles in major media outlets and media focused specifically on the LGBT community backing this up, it’s not just the SA saying so.

      1. Geoffrey B*

        As far as I can see, that page doesn’t discuss how their policies have changed or offer an apology for their previous record. If their policies have improved that’s good, but when people have been harmed it can be hard to find forgiveness for an organisation that hasn’t expressed contrition.

        Also, there’s some argument about whether they’re living up to those shiny new words. See e.g.:

        In Australia they were also involved in long-running child abuse; while they have at least apologised for that, it’s hard to heal that kind of wound.

        1. Anion*

          If you read the linked articles, there’s discussion of the actual changes there, along with their apologies etc.

          I don’t care about the SA, frankly; I’m not trying to argue that they’re some great group or anything. All I’m trying to do is maybe show the LW that it’s okay to buy a gift for a needy kid this year–a needy kid who didn’t choose the charity, and did nothing wrong, and doesn’t deserve to be penalized because the group handling their gift isn’t perfect and doesn’t share the LW’s worldview exactly.

          1. Lars the Real Girl*

            This. They’re not supporting SA as such, since the gift is going directly to the child.

            1. Geoffrey B*

              They’re not directly *financially* supporting the SA, but they most certainly are supporting its standing as a charity. Which entrenches the SA’s position as Default Charity, which boosts its donations, potentially at the expense of other, more inclusive organisations.

          2. Geoffrey B*

            I read all the linked articles, aside from one that appears to be a dead link. There are apologies for a couple of specific incidents: one where one of their media relations directors (!) appeared to be saying that homosexuals deserve death, and one for linking to “conversion therapy” resources.

            But I don’t see anything that comes close to an apology for their organisation’s overall history on LGBTI issues. In fact, the Advocate article linked from that page ( specifically states that SA considered such an apology and decided *not* to issue one.

            IMHO, even when somebody *has* improved their behaviour, reconciliation usually requires acknowledgement of past harms, not “don’t mention the war”.

          3. Ramona Flowers*

            Am pretty stunned by the number of people accusing this OP of pushing their worldview on others or being overly picky. It’s quite upsetting to read.

            Sometimes charities can help needy kids but also have faults. If everyone keeps donating as the charity has the monopoly on x thing, nothing will change.

            1. Anion*

              I’m not “accusing” this OP of “pushing her worldview on others,” in any way. I’m honestly confused where you’re seeing that? Not wanting to have anything to do with a group that doesn’t share one’s worldview isn’t the same as pushing one’s worldview on others, at all, and I’m certainly not claiming that it is. And I agree with you that charities can have faults, which is why I said the group handling the gift “isn’t perfect.” I don’t think they’re perfect. Again, I don’t really support them. I just don’t think needy kids should be penalized for their less-than-perfect policies, and wanted to urge the LW to think of it that way so she could feel better about giving. There’s nothing wrong with my thinking that, or saying that.

              I honestly don’t understand what I’ve said here that’s so upsetting to you, or what specifically is so upsetting to you about people thinking what the charity does in this instance is more important than whatever policy disagreements we may have with said charity. But it’s certainly not my intention to upset you or anyone else.

              Yes, if people keep donating, maybe the charity won’t change (although they apparently are at least making some effort to change, at least according to the articles linked on their site, but I guess I’m not supposed to believe any of those?). But nobody is asking the LW to *donate to the SA.* She’s being asked to give a gift to a kid, and the SA gets *nothing* from that; no financial benefit at all.

              And if there’s another charity that does the same thing, then, again, the LW should absolutely hook her company up with them instead for next year. But it’s too late for that this year, so the LW can either remind herself that giving a kid a gift isn’t the same as giving the SA a donation, or she can refuse to give a gift to a child who needs one because she doesn’t like the group organizing the event. Those are her choices. It’s not unfair to point that out, and it’s not unfair to say that personally I don’t think whatever past or isolated or even semi-isolated incidents happened with the SA are enough to make me refuse to even let them be a go-between with a gift for a child. Others may disagree, and they certainly have as much right to disagree with me as I do to disagree with the LW.

              1. Grad student*

                Or the LW can donate to one of the other groups mentioned far above (like Toys for Tots) outside of work! The choices you list are not her only choices.

                1. BeautifulVoid*

                  This. I didn’t see the LW saying anywhere “I don’t agree with the policies of the charity my office is supporting, so I’m never going to donate anything, ever!” All these insinuations that the LW is somehow single-handedly depriving needy children of Christmas gifts is a little over the top.

              2. BemusedBewilderedBefuddled*

                You keep say the OP is punishing the kids by not donating toys. You are fairly clearly shaming them for not treating an optional donation as compulsory, plus making a big assumption that they don’t donate to other charities or in other ways.
                I personally don’t care for SA. Every time they have claimed to not be anti-LBGTQ or that they have changed, it has proven to be false. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, you’re probably a bigot to the core and playing PR games. I’ll take my charity elsewhere.

              3. copy run start*

                It may not be your intent, but it feels like you are saying valid concerns with the organization should be outweighed by a child not receiving a gift because donating to the child via the SA isn’t supporting the organization.

                But frankly, it is supporting the SA. The donation is facilitated by the SA. Supporting an organization by participating in their event is support, even if it is not a direct monetary donation. By definition a charity is going to funnel most of the good or monetary donations it receives to its cause, so I don’t believe being a charity is enough of a reason to just blindly participate.

                The kid OP would’ve donated to is not being penalized by the OP not donating. OP is not personally responsible for ensuring a child on that tree receives a gift. There are other means for this child to receive a gift or support this Christmas and other ways for OP to help a family in need should they do so.

                And honestly, throwing up a webpage does not suddenly make an organization LGBTQ friendly. That sort of cultural change takes years to accomplish. It smacks of the SA caving to public pressure to keep donations rolling in my opinion. They have a long ways to go to erase their past actions.

                1. Red 5*

                  Also, there are a lot of other organizations that probably choose to not do an “angel tree” type system because the SA has that as their thing. Your local Wal-Mart isn’t going to put up two different trees, so if the SA already puts one there every year, where do you put yours? So they do other types of things.

                  I’m not going to weigh in one way or the other on people’s personal choices to do an angel tree or not, but it’s not happening in a vacuum and supporting the angel trees does support the SA in at least some ways. Those are all things a person can and should consider in their decision, whatever that decision might be.

                2. Anion*

                  “It may not be your intent, but it feels like you are saying valid concerns with the organization should be outweighed by a child not receiving a gift because donating to the child via the SA isn’t supporting the organization.”

                  No, that is *exactly* my intent, which is why I’ve said exactly that more than once. I *do* think that. I *absolutely* think that.

                  I do think not donating in this instance just because she doesn’t like the SA is penalizing kids for something they had no choice in. I do think the LW needs to decide if she wants to penalize the kids by not giving *just because of the group organizing it,* (which is different from not giving because she can’t afford to or whatever, afaic, because it’s intended to *punish* the SA for not being the way the LW wants it to be), or if she wants to put the kids’ needs ahead of her cause in this one instance, knowing that donating won’t be contributing anything to the SA. I’m certainly not suggesting anyone “blindly participate” in anything, and I definitely agree that generally a charity will funnel most of what it receives to itself–but that is not the case in this instance, which is why I disagree that it’s a good reason not to participate *in this particular event.* The LW is free to not donate money to the SA, and I support that 100%–I’m not a fan of the SA myself.

                  I mean, if we’re going to get into the “There are other charities to help kids,” well, there are plenty of charities that help LGBT people, aren’t there? It’s not like without the SA there is no one, no shelter, no nothing, to help them. But we’re okay claiming that the SA should be solely responsible for those people and penalized for not helping them, so I don’t see why it’s different to hold them solely responsible for helping kids.

                  As for your last point, well, what do you want here? You said yourself that such a cultural change takes years to accomplish. So until it’s complete, do we penalize organizations that are trying to reach out and make that change? Isn’t “caving to public pressure to keep those donations rolling in” *exactly* what you and others are advocating, when you refuse to donate because of a policy? You want them to make that change–you’re trying to make them make that change, by withholding your donations until they do. Isn’t that correct? So are they darned if they do and darned if they don’t, or what?

                  Again. The LW wants to donate but feels that she can’t do so because she doesn’t want to give support to the SA. I’m merely pointing out that in this case donating would not be supporting the SA. She is free not to do so if she wishes, and I am free to think she should anyway.

                3. fposte*

                  @Anion–but donating absolutely *is* supporting the SA. It’s on their books. It’s who I tell the IRS I gave to. It just also provides a toy to a child. I can understand somebody finding supporting the SA along the way a lesser evil, but there’s no way this isn’t supporting the SA.

                  And yes, of course I prefer organizations that are currently providing social practice I approve of than those that don’t. This isn’t an “reward for effort” situation; I don’t direct my money to those who are reducing the frequency of their offensive behaviors instead of to those who have none.

                  And it seems like people are thinking of Angel Trees as a dance, where if nobody picks you you have to sit it out. That’s not true in any of the ones I can find info on. In some SAs, the gifts don’t go directly to the kids but to essentially a free store, where parents pick stuff for their children; in others, the charity provides donated gifts for participants as long as they’re in the program, regardless of whether donations were received at that particular tree’s location. So if the OP gives a present through her local LGBT org instead, it’s not like little Lucinda is weeping her eyes out that she got no presents from the tree because little Jane did get something (and I’m not sure why little Lucinda would be entitled to more anyway).

                4. AMPG*

                  Support takes a lot of forms. I work for a non-profit that does a Toys for Tots distribution for our clients, even though it’s not a core part of our services. We don’t get any money from this; it actually costs us money in staff time. But you better believe that we put out a press release about it and put pictures on our social media and in our annual report. We do it because it’s important to us to serve our clients and the community in this way, but the benefits we receive for our reputation and community ties are very real.

                5. BeautifulVoid*

                  (Ran out of nesting, but this is in response to Anion)

                  Putting aside the argument over whether donating via the SA is supporting the SA, as other people have made those points better than I could, you still seem hung up on the LW being personally responsible for a child whose tag is on that tree. If she would have trouble affording a requested gift, is she depriving a child? If someone in the company is out on leave and misses the holiday Angel Tree, should we accuse that person of “penalizing” needy children on Christmas? Would you recommend tracking who donates what so you can berate those who don’t donate, for whatever reason, for being child-hating Grinches?

                  The LW WANTS to give. From her replies here, she seems like a thoughtful person who wants to do good things. As others have pointed out, you don’t know where else she gives her money and time to for the rest of the year, so to be so caught up in “you MUST donate to the SA NOW because of the CHILDREN” is coming across as illogical and an attempt to shame the LW for her beliefs.

                  I have recurring monthly donations set up for charities and organizations I support. As far as I know, none of them are specifically setting up any events for kids’ presents this month. Guess I’m ruining Christmas, then?

              4. JM60*

                “I just don’t think needy kids should be penalized for their less-than-perfect policies.”

                I don’t think anyone here is advocating removing donations through the SA and replacing it with nothing; I think people are advocating removing SA as the charity to go through and replace it with an alternative that is secular and doesn’t discriminate against LGBT people.

            2. neverjaunty*

              A lot of people have very warm feelings about the SA, because they think of the bell-ringers you see outside of stores.

              And I guess it’s easier to pretend that the OP is a Grinch.

              1. Lady Phoenix*

                Not me. There was one of those bell ringers that continuously rang his bell without pause. It was obnoxious.

                Most of them set it at a nice pace “ring – silence -ring”, but this douche was like “ringingringringringringringeing”. It almost sounded like he was demanding people to give him money. So rude.

              2. Anion*

                “And I guess it’s easier to pretend that the OP is a Grinch.”

                I think that’s an unfair and insulting statement to make, frankly. I’m not advocating donating because I’m incapable of looking at the issue objectively or thinking about it deeply. I’ve said repeatedly that I do not have “very warm feelings,” or indeed any warm feelings at all, about the SA. Just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean I’m a fool or someone who just can’t or won’t see reality, and again, I’m insulted that you dismiss me and categorize me in such a facile manner. I have not done so to you or anyone else.

                Bottom line is, the OP can do what she likes here. No one is going to force her to do anything. This isn’t a decision that will be made by committee. We’re all just sharing our opinions; I think those which disagree with me are just as valid as mine, and it would be nice if the same respect would be paid in turn.

                1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

                  You literally said “I perceive her that way already” when Dr. Suess said she would be perceived as a grinch. That’s pretty insulting, not helpful, and not respectful.

                2. Marthooh*

                  “I’m perceiving her that way [i.e. as a Grinch] already, frankly.”

                  You literally did say that, so it’s not an unfair statement.

                3. Anion*

                  “Perceive” vs. “pretend.”

                  I’m objecting to “pretend,” like I’m a child or someone unable to face reality.

                4. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

                  @Anion (Ran out of nesting): I’m sorry you feel attacked, but now you’re just splitting hairs. You started your argument off by being really insulting towards the LW and you haven’t listened to anyone who has pointed out that your reasoning is flawed. Maybe take a break?

            3. Kelly*

              I work for a progressively minded workplace in the public sector that has a coordinated holiday giving campaign. This was the first year that the issue of having groups and charities that historically have discriminated against LGBTQ individuals included in the hundreds of options we have to direct our money to came up.

              I personally don’t give any money because it’s a payroll deduction and United Way, a group I view equally as problematic as Salvation Army, is one of the big beneficiaries. My problem with United Way is how little of the donations goes to help people – most of it goes to pay for salaries, including the woman who was pitching it to my division at our annual meeting. Keep in mind she’s doing her pitch to state workers, most of whom make under $50K per year and haven’t had a raise in several years. She’s probably making more than most of us working for United Way.

              I personally give year round to causes that are closer to me, including animal rescue and women’s causes.

              1. Charlotte Collins*

                I used to work somewhere that was all about United Way. It could be super obnoxious how they did the fundraising (including once calling us all away from our desks to stand in the hall and listen to the CEO and the UW rep pitch for donations – right around the time when we had heard there weren’t going to be raises for those about hourly pay and below management level).

                They eventually chose an option where you could donate to specific local organizations and within your own county of residence (we were near a few county lines), and I did give when that was an option. (I objected to some of the groups under the umbrella organization.) But I stopped when they stopped entering people in raffles for assigned parking places.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        That’s a really unfair conclusion to draw about OP, particularly because OP is not incorrect in pointing to Salvation Army’s historic—and in many locations continued—discrimination against the LGBT community. Despite SA adopting “non-discrimination” policies in hiring and in the provision of aid as of 2013, their theological position and religious affiliation still embraces homophobic practices and beliefs. They’ve only recently jettisoned conversion therapy. The change is welcome, but I think it’s reasonable for someone working for a non-religious employer to have a non-religion-based charitable option.

        The fact that the gift passes through SA doesn’t magically wash away the problematic behavior of the sponsoring organization; this isn’t a toy laundering operation where we can pretend that SA doesn’t touch the transfer. It’s not really fair to present this as an either/or option, where good deeds trump someone’s legitimate and founded concerns about equality and inclusion. There are loads of other non-religious and non-discriminatory organizations, even if they aren’t as widespread or organized as the Angel Tree project.

      3. AnonForNow*

        Well don’t forget that those needy kids have already had the LGBTQ kids weeded out and they have a history of destroying toy donations that they think aren’t Christian so Timmy gets nothing because he’s trans and Jessica has to pick things she doesn’t want because Harry Potter is evil. I was in the Salvation Army as a child (against my will) and it’s a very damaging organisation.

        Why not switch to literally any other organisation doing kids gift lists? I’m taking part in three secular national groups this year, it’s not like they’re rare.

      4. Traffic_Spiral*

        1. “Nobody’s asking her to give money to the SA, they’re asking her to buy a gift that will be given directly to a needy child.”

        Actually there’s lot of anecdotal evidence of SA people cherrypicking through donations if they want something.

        2. There are lots of orgs that give Christmas presents to kids and don’t have SA’s bad reputation. Like seriously, spend 2 minutes on google.

        1. Q*

          I had to volunteer with the SA as a teenager through a youth mission trip my church sent me on, so I had no choice in where I went.

          Before being allowed to do anything, they made all us teenagers and tweens sign contracts about what we could and could not do—and one of them was “buy anything from this store at any point.”

          I always thought it was weird.

          And then I heard about how SA members just take all the things they want. They didn’t want us volunteers getting there first, I guess.

      5. Temperance*

        It’s fine if you’re judging her, but I am not. I’m on Team LW#2, frankly.

        When you support discriminatory charities, even if the gift is theoretically going to a kid and not benefiting their mission, what you’re actually doing is helping to spread their reach. I never, ever, ever donate to faith-based organizations unless there is an excellent mission or specific project.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*


          I don’t donate to the SA, I don’t shop at SA thrift stores, and I have a lot of reasons, both related to LGBTQ issues and related to my own religious beliefs, that I don’t want to touch the SA with a ten-foot pole. There are plenty of charities out there. It’s not the Salvation Army or nothing.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          Yes, this. The SA or whoever still gets the credit, even if they aren’t technically benefiting directly.

        3. Annabelle*

          This. As a gay person, it’s incredibly disheartening to see people insinuate that someone should just overlook an organization’s egregious, bigoted practices. There are a lot of other organizations that do toy drives, especially around the holidays.

          1. Dinosaur*

            Ditto. It’s good to know that so many people are okay with supporting an organization that would turn me away at my most needy so long as they get to feel good about kids getting shiny things for Christmas.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I’m with you. I’m pretty frustrated by the responses, but I probably should be used to people coming up with mental gymnastics to justify supporting bigoted organizations.

            1. Anion*

              And if I was supporting giving a financial donation to the SA, that might be a fair statement. Since I’m not, it’s insulting and rude. “I fully support not giving them money, and don’t care for them myself, but you’re not doing that in this instance so I think you should go ahead and donate for the kids,” isn’t exactly a mental gymnastic, IMO.

              The sheer nastiness exhibited toward me personally in this thread is honestly quite upsetting. But I guess we don’t need to be polite to others here if they don’t agree with us about which issues are the most important? I guess we can be rude and insulting to others here because we’ve decided–since they think needy kids are important *in this instance*–they’re not as caring and compassionate as we are, and we only have to be respectful to other people if they agree with us 100% on everything? It’s okay to speak about me as though I’m not only not here, but as though I’m a bigot who doesn’t GAF about LGB people?

              1. Annabelle*

                I don’t see any of this purported nastiness. I do, however, see a handful of LGBT people telling you why something is harmful and you (and a bunch of other people) refuting it. That’s not okay.

                You don’t get to decide what is and isn’t harmful to marginalized people, particularly with something as life and death as refusing indigent folks shelter.

                1. SC Anonibrarian*

                  this is exactly how i feel also. it’s not being hateful or mean to point out that your choice makes me and others like me feel less valued than some hypothetical cishet kid with cishet parents getting a toy. i’m not going to follow you around with the bell of shame, but i do want to let you know (this being a comment and discussion-heavy group) that yes, i do see your choice as ‘support’ of the organization. you are free to do what you like with that information, but my perspective isn’t unreal or nonexistent simply because you don’t see it that way. that’s not how life works.

              2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Firstly, I haven’t said anything impolite or nasty or insulting or rude. You’re certainly allowed to take it that way, but that wasn’t my point.

                My comment wasn’t directed toward you specifically, but it IS directed toward everyone making an “it isn’t really donating” argument. That includes you, but it’s not personal and not about you. My point isn’t to make people feel like bigots (although I’ll admit to frustration when I wrote
                that one-liner)—it’s to help folks understand that regardless of their feelings, there is no material difference between giving in-kind (toys) and giving money.

                There is no difference—not legally, not operationally, not financially, nor factually—between giving a toy and giving money. It can feel different in the donor’s heart, but that doesn’t change that it’s not different as a factual matter. There are loads of problematic charities with problematic policies who give some direct aid to needy children/adults/animals, etc. This is an ends and means argument. You suggest the ends excuse the means. Others don’t, and they’re explaining why. That seems like a reasonable debate to me.

                You’ve made several inaccurate statements about SA’s practices, and you’ve accused the OP of being a killjoy who is depriving children of toys (nevermind that there are other charitable organizations available that don’t discriminate and provide children with toys). Those comments come off as minimizing and attacking, in addition to being incorrect. It’s not surprising or unreasonable to expect significant pushback in response.

          3. Oxford Comma*

            Yep. We’ve donated to the kids at shelters for battered women. We’ve donated to refugee kids. There is no dearth of organizations to which you can donate. Sadly, it’s not like the SA has a monopoly on this. If anything, I think there are going to multitudes of groups who will need help and charity in the near future. I see nothing wrong with the LW telling the employer what the objections to the SA are.

          4. Anion*

            Except the LW says there aren’t others available to her, in her area. And I, at least, have said more than once that she should try to find another one to work with next year, but it’s too late for that this year.

            1. fposte*

              She says her workplace doesn’t provide any other options. It doesn’t mean she can’t give a toy outside of the workplace.

            2. Annabelle*

              The LW said she wasn’t aware of any other options, but a bunch of people have made suggestions and the LW herself has commented saying she was compiling a list of relevant ones.

            3. Temperance*

              That is not what she said, and none of us have told her to try and stop the drive for this year.

            4. chi type*

              Um she said she lives in the Chicago area. I can assure you there are many other options available.

        4. Kelly White*

          I agree, and frankly, as a LGBTQ person, I would be uncomfortable with my company’s tacit support of an anti-lgbtq charity.

        5. LBK*

          Right. The Salvation Army isn’t the only charity in the world that helps kids; there’s no imperative to ignore their harmful policies because they do some good when you could donate to a different organization that doesn’t discriminate against LGBTQ people. You don’t have to throw your hands up and say “Well, they’re not great, but they’re the only option so we have to work with what we’ve got!”

      6. Alton*

        The thing is, there are a lot of deserving people out there, and few people have the resources to help all of them. When choosing a charity, it makes sense to choose ones that you trust to treat people well (and it’s not as simple as saying that the SA’s homophobic and transphobic history has no influence on this particular program, because it’s hard to know if there’s any discrimination happening against LGBT kids or kids with LGBT parents. The SA’s history raises reasonable doubt, there). One benefit of supporting non-SA charities is that there are probably smaller organizations that could do more good if they received more support.

        1. Guacamole Bob*


          Framing this situation as “OP is refusing to help a needy child” isn’t helpful. By participating in the angel tree, she’s also not using that $20 to donate to the food bank or to support a friend running a race against a disease, or to buy mosquito nets in a region with malaria or a goat for a family through Heifer International. We should all think carefully about which organizations we support and why, and someone running a specific charity drive doesn’t have some sort of claim on our money.

          If lots of companies stop doing the SA angel tree and start doing other things to help local families in need, the over time the agencies that have discriminatory policies will have a smaller role in providing services in our communities, and that’s a good thing.

      7. Hey Nonnie*

        SA has good PR spin, but their version of complying with local non-discrimination laws is to close down operations (that is, soup kitchens and shelters) in cities that have them and tell SA they must abide by them.

        They haven’t actually improved, they just have smarter people trying to polish their image.

    2. BuildMeUp*

      I really don’t think that’s fair to the OP. They just want their company to support a charity that doesn’t discriminate.

      1. Dot Warner*

        It’s not fair, but that’s what people are going to think, especially people who aren’t aware of all the issues with the SA.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Someone who insists on interpreting “I don’t think the company should support a charity that opposes LGBTQ rights in future years” as “I want to take toys away from needy kids” is looking at things through a pretty weird lens. If the OP is clear about her concerns, most people aren’t going to come away with that impression.

          1. Dot Warner*

            I would like to believe that, but people get really worked up about this type of thing, especially at the holidays.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I agree with you, but I also grudgingly agree with Dr. Seuss as someone who’s been on the receiving end of this sort of thing.

            People can be irrationally wedded to maintaining bad practices if they like the program (the angel tree), but having ready alternatives can help diffuse that frustration. OP shouldn’t have to name alternative charitable programs—because people being harmed by a practice shouldn’t have to bear the burden of fixing it—but it could be helpful from a social relations and office politics perspective.

          3. Steve*

            It was the impression I got. Not that op wanted to take away from needy kids but that she wanted to push her values over needy kids. The end result of this type of complaint is too often to just get rid of any charity. Why doesn’t op just give to a gay charity on her own if that is what she wants?

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              So the options are “no corporate charity” or “give privately to a group of your choice”? It’s really not out of bounds to suggest that a non-religious employer pick a non-religious charity. There are plenty of non-religious groups that provide direct aid to underprivileged children.

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                If people start objecting to the company’s choice of charity, there’s a non-zero chance that the company will not participate in any charity rather than try to find one that makes everyone happy.

                1. LW#2*

                  Ideally, my company would have multiple options where everyone can find at least one they want to support. Part of my concern is that it seems SA is the only charity we’re working with at the moment.

                  A different thread here brought up several alternative options I plan to suggest

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Has that been your experience? Because in my experience, healthy and rational organizations come up with solutions instead of abandoning charitable efforts full-stop.

                  Please don’t twist this into ways to blame OP#2 for the possible-not-yet-existent-but-non-zero-likelihood that their company will behave like jerks. I find all of the blame-y comments problematic and disingenuous.

                3. Trout 'Waver*

                  Please don’t twist my comments into any sort of blame for OP#2.

                  And yes, it has been my experience that when people face pushback on charity, they stop organizing for charity rather than acquiescing to the complaining person.

            2. Steve*

              And before you accuse me of being antigay like you did before. A person can be pro gay rights and not want to force that opinion on others. Don’t force your values on others and live and let live.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                If you “live and let live” when the thing that’s left living is oppression and discrimination, you’re effectively supporting the status quo, which is a system of entrenched inequality. There’s a difference between funding and advocating for the denial of services to people based on their identity, and advocating for folks’ right to be treated as human beings of equal worth/value.

                Flagging an (extremely reasonable and worthy of concern) issue for review is not “forcing your values” on other people. OP isn’t threatening to lead a protest march. They’re simply asking if their concern is worth elevating. Alison and others say yes, you and others say no. But whether OP decides to raise the issue, OP’s underlying concern is still valid.

                1. all aboard the anon train*

                  Seconding all of this.

                  There seems to be a sentiment that by elevating the concerns OP is asking for the SA charity option to be removed, but it doesn’t have to come to that. She could just phrase it as asking her employer to offer additional charity options for people who want to donate, but are uncomfortable supporting an organization like SA.

                2. Julia*

                  Yes. Sometimes, not “picking sides” means picking the side of the louder oppressive majority and leaving the minority undefended.

                  I also have to wonder if the SA does this for all poor kids or only ones with heterosexual parents, kids who are cis-gendered etc.

                3. Katniss*

                  Yes, thank you. As a queer person, “live and let live” just translates to “let people mistreat you!” to me.

                4. blackcat*

                  @Katniss, I’d go a step further.

                  “live and let live” has historically translated to “non-oppressed person looking the other way while other non-oppressed people *kill* oppressed people.”

                  As someone who lost a close queer friend to suicide as a result of his treatment at the hands of his anti-gay parents, I don’t see “live and let live” as a real option. Hateful opinions cause people do die.

                  And that’s why, as far as I am concerned, I will take NO actions that in any way offer material or moral support to SA. They have a history of letting queer people *die* rather than provide help.

              2. HannahS*

                I mean, you’re certainly coming off as anti-gay. If this is something you’re being accused of routinely, you might want to consider that it’s true.

                1. Steve*

                  People have a right to hold whatever religious view they want. The one trying to initiate force onto the other is wrong. Advocating for nore choice us different then pushing against the salvation army. I grew up among religious people and they were not hateful bigots, but kind people who were taught a different world view. Those in the salvation army trying to get presents for needy should be seen the same way, imo. They are wrong about gays, imo, but are dunfamenatally trying todo good.

                2. HannahS*

                  Sure you have the right to believe whatever you want, but that doesn’t mean that your views aren’t anti-gay. The reason people are suspecting you of being homophobic is that you advocate hard for tolerating homophobia and talk about it as if it’s nothing more than a belief. It’s not. It’s an action. One person’s “kind people who were taught something different” is someone else’s “parents who kicked their child out of the family home for being gay.” I’m glad that the religious people you knew were not hateful towards you. I can also assure you that there are many people whose experience is different.

                3. LKW*

                  If forcing one view over another is wrong – then wouldn’t that indicate that the long documented history of an anti-LGBTQ organization that tried to force its view on the world is wrong? Have we come full circle? Is this “I can’t tolerate people who aren’t tolerant of people who are intolerant?”

                4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Since no one is talking about changing someone’s religious beliefs, what are you referring to? Because a non-religious organization does not have a religious right to protect donations to SA. No one is trying to change the SA. Folks are trying to inform the private charitable donations practice of a private, non-religious employer. What does that have to do with religious (I assume you mean Christian) people?

              3. Ramona Flowers*

                I will resist the urge to fulfill Godwin’s law and just say that personally it is written into my job description and that of all coworkers that I need to help ensure all of my organisation’s activities are inclusive of and support the needs of groups including people identifying as LGBTQ. We are also signed up to a workplace equality index. So I’m thrilled to be able to say that my job would actually require me not to ‘live and let live’ if I was concerned about an association with homophobia. I’m glad my employer doesn’t see diversity and inclusion as ‘forcing your values on others’.

              4. Mary*

                As a queer person, I’m really touched that you support my rights and also those of people who want to discriminate against me. Very even-handed of you.

              5. Yorick*

                I think we should definitely try to force our views of tolerance on others who are currently in favor of oppressing others.

                1. LBK*


                  “Gay people don’t deserve rights” is not a difference of opinion, it’s hatred and bigotry, period. I don’t care how sweetly you say it.

              6. Annabelle*

                I’m sorry, but as an actual gay person I have to tell that isn’t how it works. You can’t really have a “live and let live” attitude about literal human rights.

                1. Pomona Sprout*

                  I’m not L, G, B, T, or Q, and even I can see what a huge fallacy it is to claim that it’s in any way appropriate to take a “live and let live” stance on human rights issues of any sort. I would go so far as to say that anyone who can’t see that is confused at best. (I’d use stronger language, but I don’t want to put Alison in the position of having to delete mt comment.)

              7. Detective Amy Santiago*

                Hey, as an LGBT person, I would be perfectly happy to take a ‘live and let live’ attitude towards people who don’t like me if they were willing to do the same. That means stop passing laws that discriminate against me and treating me like a second class citizen.

                1. LBK*


                  If you want to “live and let live” tell your kind, good religious friends to stop getting involved in gay people’s marriages.

              8. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                I don’t see how you can be pro gay rights and be a-ok with gay people being treated like crap by others.

              9. Temperance*

                Except, you were more offended that I pointed out that you were using coded homophobic language than the fact that your ideas were hurtful to many.

                It’s ironic to me that you’re saying “live and let live” here, because, frankly, I am a HUGE believer in that. I just hold the opinion that “live and let live” means that people get to be different from me, live different lives, and have different viewpoints up until the point that it harms others.

              10. Aeryn Sun*

                “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”

                There is no such thing as live and let live here. This is about human rights.

                1. fposte*

                  I really don’t like that quote, though; it’s a blunt instrument about appropriate thought rather than useful action.

              11. Tea Fish*

                How in the world can someone be “pro-gay rights” and “not want to force that opinion on other people.” Equal rights aren’t an opinion or a value. This is bigotry, pure and simple.

                Just imagine. “Oh, I’m pro-Asian people being allowed to own property and having the right to vote, but I don’t FORCE that OPINION on other people. Live and let live, you know. If my neighbors think that all those slant eyes* deserve to be rounded up and tossed in internment camps, well, the important part is that I don’t push my values on them.”

                * I am Asian. It’s hilarious the sort of things people say to me.

              12. Courageous cat*

                Sorry, but:

                The difference is that forcing your values on others (pro-gay rights to anti-gay rights) means someone’s, what? uncomfortable? feeling hurt? That’s about it. Forcing your values on others (anti-gay rights to pro-gay rights) leads to people getting assaulted and murdered. They are not comparable and never will be, and it’s obtuse to suggest otherwise.

                1. Anonimouse*

                  I would counter that forcing a rigid pro-gay rights agenda just led to the suicide of a 23 year old adult actress, but we are getting off topic.

            3. Ramona Flowers*

              Perhaps you meant that OP could donate to their own choice of a charity that doesn’t have a history of homophobia. That is not the same as donating to a charity that specifically focuses on supporting people in the LGBTQ communities, which is perhaps what you meant to say.

              I am sorry to criticise someone else’s comment as I am trying to do less of that but no way on earth am I just walking past this one.

            4. Temperance*

              Wow. Okay I know from other comments you’ve made that you have Feelings about the LGBT community, but shockingly, the world isn’t decided into Gay and Religious. There are plenty of religious orgs that have non-discrimination policities. There are plety of secular orgs that serve everyone and don’t care. And yes, there are “gay” orgs that serve members of the LGBT community.

            5. neverjaunty*

              The SA choosing to push its values over needy kids is the reason OP would rather support a different charity.

          4. Akcipitrokulo*

            I agree… but lots of people do have a pretty weird lens :( so if she can find an alternative, it might make life a bit easier.

          5. Trout 'Waver*

            On the flip side, someone who insists on interpreting, “I want to give toys to needy kids” as “I want to support anti-LGBT organizations” is looking at things as an equally weird lens.

            1. fposte*

              I don’t think anybody’s doing that, though. What they’re saying is that actually *giving* toys to an organization with anti-LGBT policies is, in fact, supporting and legitimizing that organization’s work. Otherwise what you’re saying means that it wouldn’t matter if it were the KKK or ISIS as long as kids got toys at the end of it, and I think to most people it would matter.

              1. neverjaunty*

                This. The OP isn’t shaming people for giving to the Angel Tree, she’s asking if her company can find a worthwhile alternative.

                1. fposte*

                  Sure they are. That’s how the program works. You donate a toy with an earmarked destination to the SA; the gift is even tax-deductible, because you’re giving it to a 501c3 organization. They’ll give you a receipt if you ask. The SA takes it somewhere else.

                2. SC Anonibrarian*

                  technically you are – why do you think it’s tax deductible? if you were giving it directly to the kid/family, it wouldn’t be.

                3. Trout 'Waver*

                  I guess if you’re going to parse semantics (which is discouraged here by the commenting policy) you could claim that on a technicality. There is no desire from the people donating toys for the SA to possess a toy. They are giving toys so that needy kids get toys. Claiming otherwise is intellectually dishonest.

                4. neverjaunty*

                  Good grid, it’s not necessary to get snippy and accuse people of violating the comments policy for taking what you said at face value.

            2. Annabelle*

              I think LW’s point is that lots of people don’t know about the SA’s troubling history and actions and she wants to raise the issue. No one is saying that her company maliciously chose to support them.

            3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              You’re donating to an anti-LGBT organization. How is recognizing that fact a “weird lens”?

      2. Tiny Soprano*

        Yeah and seeing the Salvos donated a heap of money to the incredibly damaging, openly homophobic No campaign in the recent Australian marriage equality debate, I would be seriously unhappy if my company chose to use them over another charity. The PR spin they put on is pretty shallow. They are still an actively discriminatory organisation.

        1. BookishMiss*

          I’ve been trying to convince my in laws to find a different charity, for all the reasons already stated, and they’ve quite dug their heels in. I’m going to go Google this and add it to my mental library.

        2. Ismis*

          Hey Tiny Soprano,

          Do you have a link for this? I didn’t realise the Salvos donated to the No campaign and would like to share with my mates before charitable giving season.

          Ignoring the politics, if I give to the Salvos, I expect my money to go towards helping people in need.

            1. Rebeck*

              Really? The most recent item I’m finding is from 2016. Certainly they have a history of being anti-gay (one of the two regions in Australia more than the other), but I’m not seeing anything about financial support to the No campaign. Very few details about financial support for either side have emerged, other than the Anglican diocese of Sydney’s well-publicised donation to No, and Alan Joyce’s personal donation to Yes.

              Meanwhile- yayayayay! As of tomorrow my marriage will finally be recognised here!!

            2. Ismis*

              Oh – and I probably should clarify my “ignoring the politics” comment. I was 100% a Yes voter, but if I donate to the Salvos, I expect my money to go towards helping people.

              On the plus side, my laziness means that there is a donation to the op shop still sitting in the other room (it might be there a few months). Time to find a new recipient!

          1. snorkellingfish*

            I would also love to see a link, cos I’d also like to be able to share it (and I just tried and failed at googling it). As an LGBTQ person in Australia, I found the “no” campaign genuinely damaging, so this is a subject that does really matter to me.

            (On an adjacent note, right now I’m so relieved that marriage equality has finally passed into law.)

            1. Liz*

              I also failed to find a source — the closest I came was that the Salvos in NZ have apologised to the LGBTQ community for campaigning against gay rights in previous decades, and deliberately stayed out of the debate in that country.

            2. Quiet lurker*

              I didn’t find anything about a donation to the no campaign either, and I was paying a distressingly close amount of attention to the whole thing (also Australian and not-straight).

              I’m wondering if people are thinking of the Anglican archdiocese of Sydney donating $1 million instead? Or are the SA connected to the Anglican church?

              1. Lioness*

                So I had found this article in where the Salvation Army in general(not sure who they talked to?) wasn’t taking a public stance, but then I found the other article in where the commissioner of the Salvation Army was participating and encouraging other to participate in prayer campaigns for their version of marriage.

                So they are still anti gay marriage even if they aren’t as obvious about it as much.



                1. Quiet lurker*

                  The guardian article is by a New Zealand MP – the salvation army reference relates to them not taking a public position in the campaign in New Zealand.

                  I know they’re homophobic, I’ve just found no reference to them donating to the Australian No campaign anywhere.

    3. Bea*

      I see that happening no matter what. I think it will heavily depend on the coworkers themselves. I have had plenty of coworkers who would scoff at the idea of not giving to a charity due to their behavior towards the LGBT community. You get those people who will also respond strongly to changing a tradition that they’ve become attached to, despite this kind of news.

      Even if it’s a place with the same exact idea, it will come down to people just thinking “why does it matter? This is about giving kids a Christmas, why do you have to make it political?”, etc.

  4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, I second bringing this up. In my experience, companies choose problematic organizations out of ignorance. They’re unlikely to change the angel tree at this point in the year, but I think it’s worth focusing on the importance of transitioning toward a more inclusive donee going forward. There are fantastic, non-anti-LGBT and non-religious organizations that provide support to foster children, homeless children, children in shelters or in need, etc.

    1. JamieS*

      Agreed. I’d say it’s usually either that or they support the fundraiser/charity drive itself and aren’t concerned with who the charity sponsor is.

    2. LW#2*

      Thank you! I agree, this is probably out of ignorance. I plan to suggest some other charity ideas when I bring it up

  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#5, does her lateness matter? That is, does it affect wages (e.g., hourly) or coverage? If not, it might be helpful to say something that lets her let it go. I suspect she’s embarrassed by the lateness and is overcompensating more than she’s trying to get you to help cover up for her… especially if she’s at the mercy of transit. Alternately, you could gently refer her to EAP. Sometimes chronic lateness (that isn’t explained by the vagaries of public transit) is a byproduct of bigger issues going on in someone’s life.

    1. CC*

      Yes I have been in a similar situation where timing didn’t really matter so I made up embarrassed excuses even though AS I SAID them I knew they sounded lame. My chronic lateness was tied to depression/oversleeping.

      I would suggest saying, “No worries, I know things can get hectic when you commute.”

      Or, the OP could say, “I know it helps me when I reward myself—maybe treat yourself to a fancy coffee in the morning? If you do it all this week it can be my treat!” But that would be going above and beyond.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          I mean I get why you would suggest drinking it, just not the treating them all week part?

          1. Blank*

            My read is that the fancy coffee would be a reward for getting to work on time, lauding the coworker for having hustled to catch the earlier bus.

            1. Mabel*

              I would hear this as patronizing, and I’d probably feel worse about being late if it seemed that my coworker felt that she had to help me fix the problem with rewards.

          2. Kindling*

            That seems… deeply unnecessary. That would be a kind of patronizing thing for a boss to do, let alone a co-worker.

      1. Colette*

        That’s really not something the OP should suggest. The coworker is responsible for getting to work on time, and the OP needs to let her manage that – or not – as she chooses.

        1. LKW*

          Yeah, you don’t give rewards for just doing what you’re supposed to do. At least not for adults. Children and dogs – no prob.

          1. TootsNYC*

            it’s really less that and more than the OP isn’t the mother or boss or teacher or authority figure here.

            That messes up the dynamics tremendously.

      2. Anna*

        Kind of nice to hear someone say this. I’m kind of chronically late (but not 20-50 minutes but usually 5-10). I have an hour bus commute and it’s just hard to get motivated to get to my stop. Plus I’m not happy at my job and that has definitely impacted my ability to get there on time. I’m sure mild depression is in there too, due to some other life circumstances.

    2. CM*

      I would say, “You don’t need to explain it to me — I’m not keeping tabs on when you come and go.”

      And then if the coworker gives another “I should really take an earlier bus” excuse, just shrug and say, “OK.”

    3. OP*

      Technically speaking we’re on contract and supposed to be working x amount of hours a day, so realistically no. It’s not like there’s a clock in-clock out situation where she’s losing money. I agree that have definitely felt it’s an overcompensation thing. I mean, we’re definitely all late at times, or leave early at times depending on situations. I know when I’m leaving early, even if totally legitimate and justified, she’ll say something (I interpret innocently) and I’ll explain I have an appointment or something. I have never sensed any attitude or malice from her in ANY of these situations, so maybe she does feel like she’s just being polite by justifying herself, even if it is over-compensating

      1. LKW*

        Since she’s leaving “on time” despite having arrived late, she’s technically not fulfilling her contract. If someone asks if she’s working her full day – would you cover for her?

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Her work seemingly doesn’t impact OP–they have the same job for different people–so I think such a question would fall more under busybodying. A manager should be able to judge her work based on whether it’s getting done, and institute spot drop-bys of the annex if there’s a problem–it shouldn’t be on people from different teams who happen to work in the same area to monitor someone else’s comings and goings.

          This is different if the person is on your team and their short hours adds to your workload, which is invisible to those higher up because everything is “from the team.” OP doesn’t have to cover for someone in a parallel department, but she also doesn’t have to be drafted into being the eyes and ears for someone who’s not in her chain of command.

        2. Yorick*

          OP doesn’t need to cover or not cover for the coworker. OP isn’t tasked with tracking her hours, so if someone asks if she works a full day, OP doesn’t know. Maybe the coworker completes some tasks from home in the morning or evening, or works through the lunch break, or something else, and therefore she might work the required hours despite being a little late in the morning.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          Had your boss been in the armed forces? That’s where I’ve heard that phrase, was from former service members.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Oh, that’s interesting. I wonder if it would help to say something that signals that you don’t track her time (or really care)? That way you’re not suggesting to cover anything up, but it’s a little odd that she’s watching when you leave unless it affects her. I mean, I tell my coworkers when I’m leaving early or out, but that’s because it impacts them or because our admin person worries we’re dead in a ditch somewhere.

      3. Risha*

        I work with a guy who keeps me scrupulously up to date on when he will be in and out of the office if it even slightly varies from his normal habits, even if it’s well within normal working norms. I’m not his manager, he doesn’t have to, and he knows (and has been told directly on multiple occasions) that I don’t and almost certainly will never care. I haven’t been able to tell if he thinks it’s required politeness, or some sort of compulsive need, but I’ve given up worrying about it, and am mostly over getting annoyed by it. I just acknowledge what he told me, and then move on.

        For instance, I came in today to an email saying that he was going home for lunch and it would that he would be back by the end of the normal lunch hour. He then verbally followed up to make sure I saw it. I have zero reason to care if he leaves the building for lunch (like the vast majority of our coworkers do every day) instead of eating in a meeting room. On Monday, he sent me an email saying he had to leave at 5. He starts work by 8 most days.

      4. OP #5*

        Lots of great suggestions everyone, thank you! I think maybe i’m maybe commiserating too much with her, like “oh no, that sucks, that’s terrible, missing your bus is the worst” when maybe I should be a little more neutral/non-committal.

        1. Legal Beagle*

          These are nice, friendly responses if it happens occasionally, but since she’s doing it every day, it’s just encouraging her to continue. An “ok” [shrug] or “mmhmm” [without looking up from your work] should communicate that the excuses are unnecessary. (I definitely read it as a justifying/CYA attempt.)

        2. nonegiven*

          Don’t excuse yourself if you have to leave, either.
          “Leaving early?”

          “I have an appointment,”

      5. Birch*

        You both need to stop policing each others’ hours. Even if it does impact her work, that’s not your business, and you can stop answering if she asks you when you leave early. Academic productivity is not a bums-in-seats kind of thing.

    4. Victoria, Please*

      I was surprised Alison didn’t respond just be direct. “Sue, it’s totally none of *my* business that you’re late, no need to be sheepish about it every day. If it ever does become a problem I’ll let you know, but for now, it’s fine to stop talking about it and in fact I wish you would stop.”

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      The OP works under a different supervisor and isn’t above the co-worker in the hierarchy, so I think the OP should just ignore it or make a half-smile gesture or something and get back to work. And if the half-smile doesn’t work, just don’t react at all. Just ignore it.

      That said, even though it’s none of the OP’s business, whether this position is exempt or non-exempt may matter to the co-worker’s supervisor if the co-worker is logging hours she isn’t actually there.

    6. TootsNYC*

      I would not say, “no worries…” I just don’t want to be helping people make excuses for themselves.

      I once used to complain to a coworker about how much I weighed. “I’m so fat!” I would say.
      And finally she said, –in an interested tone,– “What are you going to do about it?”
      Talk about a wake-up call. Like, I could do something about it, so what was the plan?
      I went on a diet and started exercising. And I shut up about it.

      The tone is key–it has to sound like you’re mildly interested in what her thoughts about the solution are, as an academic exercise, or as a matter of friendly interest.
      Sort of the way you’d say, “Oh, you’re going to London for vacation? What will you see there?”

      (you cannot let it sound in the least challenging or admonishing. you are not the authority here–this is HER responsibility, HER life, and HER goal that she has just told you SHE wants to achieve)

      So the next time she says, “I need to leave earlier,” maybe say, “What’s your game plan?” in that interested tone. As though you were interested in hearing her plan to get a new alarm clock or something.

        1. Agent Diane*

          This is not a serious suggestion, but point her at a montage of Reggie Perrin’s increasingly daft commuting excuses. (Link to follow).

          More seriously, acknowledge the next one and say something like “it’s OK – I’m not hall monitor.” And then switch straight into work talk.

      1. PlainJane*

        I had a similar experience when venting (apparently one too many times) about a life situation. “What are you going to do about it?” was exactly the wake-up call I needed to, well, do something about it, or at least change the way I thought about it.

  6. all aboard the anon train*

    #2: Definitely bring this up! I brought it up at my current company when my department wanted to sponsor it, and most people had no idea that SA was religious and homophobic. A lot of people aren’t aware of the political, social, or religious associations of some big name charities.

    I don’t know how they made it happen, but our HR department ended up putting together a bunch of links to charitable organizations that were organized through Amazon and other online retailers. So, you’d click on the org you wanted to support on our company intranet, and they had a list of gifts the kids wanted to receive, and you could buy and ship directly to the org via amazon/target/etc., who would deliver it to the kid’s home. Since we’re in publishing, a lot of the orgs were book based – donating books to under funded schools, buying books from a kid’s person wishlist, donating requested books to women’s shelters, etc., but it worked out really well.

    1. Anion*

      The SA has made some big policy changes in recent years. It’s worth checking their website (I provided the link to the page specifically about their work for and with the LGBT community in an above post).

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        Considering they’ve been accused in 2017 of discrimination against LGBTQA+ individuals, I don’t really see their so-called policy changes as anything more than covering their bases. Actions speak louder than words. Actions such as the conversion therapy fliers I saw posted on the exterior of a SA building when I was visiting friends out of state a few months ago does not speak toward working for and with the LGBTQA+ community. There was a lot of news in queer circles last year about how SA paid people to go spread news of how they were “helping” the LGBTQA+ community to foster a better reputation.

      2. Bea*

        Their publicly made policies are little to no help knowing how each mission runs. I highly doubt that there was ever a written policy about the discrimination that we’ve heard about, it’s about their individual locations that are turning away people based on their beliefs.

        When you’re in a crisis, your reaction to being turned away isn’t “Well it states here that your policy says that you accept us!” and it only comes up when someone thankfully find a voice to listen to them, which is rare because again, we’re talking about impoverished people who are suffering greatly. They’re focused on surviving.

      3. AnonForNow*

        Yeah there have been plenty of news stories just this year of the way their shelters treat trans people. A top level policy change that is ignored at grassroots level is meaningless words.

      4. neverjaunty*

        And others have pointed out above that the webpage hasn’t magically fixed their problems or changed their policies.

      5. Red 5*

        All the policy changes in the world doesn’t change the fact that I saw a story three days ago about them kicking a homeless person out of a shelter simply for being trans. And that’s just one of the FOUR stories I’ve read in the last month, when I don’t actually even go looking for them, they just end up on my radar.

        I give with an open heart and an open hand, and I only give to organizations that I’m absolutely certain do the same. That does not include the Salvation Army, no matter how good their internal PR campaign is.

      1. BuildMeUp*

        This is the second rude comment you’ve made. Please check out the commenting guidelines – we don’t talk to people like this here.

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        The key phrase was ‘religious and homophobic’. Religious charities aren’t really an appropriate choice for the workplace. And a lot of people aren’t aware of some charities’ religious associations – pointing that out isn’t anti-religious.

        Personally I think the anti-religious agenda lies with charities that call themselves religious while operating off of values that suck, not with people who mention that on the internet.

        1. Iris Eyes*

          I’d say it depends more on the effectiveness of the charity than the motives. I would be very against my organization supporting Goodwill because they are historically TERRIBLE at actually supporting the work they claim to be doing. As long as it isn’t actually a religious institution (church, mosque, synagogue etc) I think results should count more than if they have a religious background or mission statement. (Check out rating sites like Charity Watch and Charity Navigator.) Ideally whether the charity actually helps people and communities long term rather than enabling the cycle of poverty would be taken into account as well. There’s a lot more to charity work than just what special interest groups they do or don’t cater to.

          1. Chameleon*

            Turning people away from necessary services because they are trans or gay hardly falls into “catering to a special interest group.”

            1. Geoffrey B*

              Ah, right. For a while I had a glitch on one particular browser where I’d hit post, and my comment (with no link) would just vanish. AFAIK it wasn’t a moderation issue, just a technical bug, so I didn’t twig that this was a different thing. Thanks!

    2. eplawyer*

      That is a great way to do it. That way the person who prefers to donate to animal shelters doesn’t feel left out when Toys for Tots is the charity. And the person who thinks people should come before animals doesn’t feel left out when it’s an animal organization.

      People can pick the one that most aligns with their philosophy without the whole office getting in anyone’s private beliefs.

    3. BlueWolf*

      I’ll admit I wasn’t really aware of the Salvation Army’s background. Our company also participates in the Angel Tree program and we consider ourselves to be very LGBT-friendly (in other ways I guess). We do also support many other local charities with fundraising and donation drives, though. I participated in the Angel Tree program, so it is disheartening to hear about their background, but I feel somewhat ok with it since I wasn’t giving money directly to the SA, I bought presents for a child in need.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        You were still giving directly to the SA. If I donate food to a food kitchen, it still goes to the food kitchen. They still get to count it as a donation and give you an IRS letter. The fact that it later is distributed to a person in need does not wipe away the fact that it went to and benefitted the food kitchen, who in turn was able to decide who received their food. The SA does the same, even if the Angel Tree makes you feel like you’re giving directly to a child (as opposed to letting SA collect donations and redistribute them as they see fit).

      2. Lady Phoenix*

        It is still going through the SA and they seem to have the habit of combing through donations to make sure it “fits their beliefs” such as destroying Harry Potter books.

    4. TootsNYC*

      One of the departments of our organization got linked with an organization that handed out lists of names of kids and their wishes, and I signed up for that.

      It was a lot of fun–I picked a teenage boy, because I think they get shafted a lot when it comes to community goodwill (men may have a lot of power once they’re grown up, but in my observations, boys, especially minority or poor boys, are viewed with suspicion in their everyday interactions with strangers, especially once they’re teenagers).

  7. Alice*

    OP1 – I don’t know that this exchange is ridiculous or even amusing.
    – I need more hours, but I don’t want to work earlier on Saturday because of another commitment.
    – I need more hours, but I want eight more hours, not two.
    – I need more hours, but my commute by public transit won’t work at that time.

    I can imagine lots of situations where that’s a reasonable response.

    I bet it will blow over soon. Good luck!

    1. Public Historian*

      I had a manager say the same thing to me and I just kept my mouth shut. His was “oh they say they want more hours but ask them to come in on their day off…”

      Our schedules were a week at a time, if you told me I had Friday off I made plans for Friday! We had to be at their beck and call for a few extra hours for no respect back. I transferred to that store from a store that gave me full time hours and this store wouldn’t and of course I wanted more hours! But you gave me this day off and it lines up with the company discount day at a theme park… no I’m not coming in, I’m 2 hours away.

      1. JamieS*

        Agreed. When I worked retail and said I wanted more hours I meant I wanted my supervisor to start putting me on the schedule for 28 instead of 20 hours not that I wanted to be called on Friday morning and asked to come into work Friday afternoon when I’d already made plans since it was my day off.

      2. Foreign Octopus*

        I agree with this.

        I wanted more routine, scheduled hours, not two hours here and there at the manager’s discretion. I needed a schedule I could rely on instead of battling for crumbs.

        1. TheBeetsMotel*


          I quit a retail job that tried to make it MY problem when my dept. manager called to see if I could come in 30 mins early to cover a gap in the schedule. I agreed, and the store director tried to blame me for being there early (penny-pinching on hours was at an all-time high) when my manager never got clearance to call me in early, and then tried to tell me I had to give up 30 mins elsewhere to make up for the 30 I was “stealing from her” then.

          Quit about a month later. I’m not about to change my day around for my employer’s convenience to be treated like a thief who’s trying to steal more hours.

          I understand retail scheduling is the 8th circle of hell, but I wish managers would realize that a request for more hours tends to mean wanting more full shifts – at least for anyone with real bills to pay.

      3. DevAssist*

        See, I’m kind of the opposite! I wouldn’t cancel major plans for a job, but I have a PT job and I babysit regularly in addition to working full-time. If my PT job or one of my families call me last minute, I will make it happen. I will say no if I have to, but since I want/need the money, I can usually make it work. I might only be getting paid for two hours, but that $20 I didn’t have before and every dollar really counts.

    2. lisalee*

      I bet it’s the second one–two more hours at a minimum-wage job is like $12 take home pay. When I used to work food service, it was really frustrating to ask for more hours and be given 1 or 2 here and there and have managers act like that was actually more money. It’s just not worth it unless you get an entire extra shift.

      1. hbc*

        I get that it’s not worth it to come in just for that, but it’s frustrating for the manager too, because they’re not going to overstaff just because people want more hours. Dribs and drabs might be all they have to offer.

        I had people clamoring for overtime in a plant that was 100% full-time, 1st shift, so I did a survey about who was willing to work OT and when. 90% wanted OT, 20% were willing to come in early 10% to stay late, and 10% to work weekends. So at least 50% of the staff wanted OT only if it happened during their normal work schedule. I avoided taking it to Facebook, but I won’t pretend I didn’t have some laughs.

        1. the gold digger*

          OT only if it happened during their normal work schedule

          I don’t understand why that isn’t something reasonable to want. I don’t get OT, but if I did, I would much rather just stay a few hours late at work than lose part of my weekend. Not only because I treasure my weekend but also because staying late optimizes the setup time – I don’t have to take an extra shower, I don’t have to make an extra drive to and from work, I don’t have to use an additional set of clothes.

          1. Hophornbeam*

            I would also prefer to stay longer, but some people have other commitments, especially with shift work. It could be prepping and bringing the kids to school, another job, classes, or any other number of things. See caryatis’s comment below.

            1. the gold digger*

              Yes, it is. If it puts you over the hours for the day (in some places) or over the hours for the week, it is time and a half for people who are non-exempt.

              And I understand why some people might not want to stay later, but I don’t understand why bbc thought it odd that some people might want to come in early or stay late for extra hours.

              1. the gold digger*

                Although upon re-reading bbc’s comment, maybe it’s that 50% of the group wanted to be paid OT but didn’t want to work longer than eight hours? Now I am confused – because that would mean people think they should get paid OT for regular hours. Which would be dumb. Although highly desirable.

                1. Perse's Mom*

                  Or the ever popular ‘whenever it’s convenient for me,’ meaning there’s no scheduling for it, which is probably fine if there’s enough work and the job is flexible enough for it, but doesn’t work at all if the job/management is pretty restrictive about it.

          2. nonegiven*

            Because 90% wanted overtime, and 10% wanted it on the weekend, 10% wanted to stay late and 20% wanted to come in early.

            10+10+20=40 not 90

            There is only early, late, and weekends to chose from. 50% seemed to want to squeeze in the OT at the same time as their regular work day.

        2. Genny*

          Yes! I was a manager at a fast food restaurant for several years. When we needed extra staffing, the first thing we did was ask people to come in early or stay late. If you want more hours, that’s often the way it’s going to happen. We really tried to avoid asking people to come in for under three hours (which is why we started by asking people to extend and then moved to asking people to come in for whatever amount of time they could).

          I also noticed that the people who talk about wanting extra hours are either 1) rarely available/gave us limited hours to begin with and/or 2) the less strong workers (if we need someone to come in, we’re going to call in the strongest performers first. Want more hours? Be a stronger performer).

    3. caryatis*

      I agree. “I need more hours” does not mean “I am available every hour of every day with no notice.”

    4. LCL*

      Speaking with my scheduler hat on, I thought the exchange was funny. That’s exactly what scheduling is like. I even disagree with Alison on this. There was no public mocking going on-posting the facts isn’t mocking. And the employees are over reacting. That’s why I’m not on social media.

      I believe the reason why the employees reacted so strongly is because they don’t like being called out on their games. When any of us, me included, are presented with evidence of our less than optimal behavior our first impulse is to slap back at the person making the accusation. Even if we know we are doing something wrong, and feel some guilt about what we are doing. Again, this basic human impulse is one of the reasons I’m not on social media.

      1. Alice*

        It’s not a “game” or “less than optimal behavior” to want more hours and nevertheless be unavailable on short notice.
        Sure, it’s frustrating for you as the scheduler. But the people whose other commitments prevent them from taking last-minute shifts are not doing it AT you.
        I don’t think OP1’s employees are “slapping back” because they feel guilty — I think they are upset because they feel belittled.
        Happily, OP has a suggestion from Allison — apologizing and then not talking about work on Facebook — that will probably solve the problem.

      2. Landlocked Thalassophile*

        It was posted specifically so that people could laugh at the employee. Factual or not, that’s mocking.

        I believe it is the *manager* playing games here. And then posting the conversation publicly was the slapback.

        Employee says they need more hours – they’re asking for something that will *regularly* increase income. Manager offers to extend a shift on one day by two hours. Employee says that’s not what they want.

        Manager mocks the employee with a FB post.

        That’s exactly what working for someone like you is like.

        1. LCL*

          Exactly like working for someone like me? I scrupulously follow our OT policy to the letter, and track it by the quarter hour so everyone has the correct place on the OT list per the hours they have worked, and I document it all. And post the list for viewing by all of the workers, and will work with anyone who asks to provide the documentation of when the hours were worked. The people who I call out on short notice or offer OT with longer written notice are chosen strictly and only by their place on the list. When it is their turn, I ask them, regardless of who my favorites and least favorites are.

          If more people worked for someone like me more people would be treated better at their job. You have no idea what it is like to work for someone like me.

      3. CheeryO*

        The employee didn’t do anything wrong, though. Even if the reason for turning down the two hours was “I was planning on sleeping in,” that doesn’t mean that the manager can mock them on social media. It’s just tacky, especially when you’re talking about people who are probably making minimum wage or close to it (and yes, I know managers don’t make much either – that doesn’t make it okay). As others have stated, “I need/want more hours” means “Please put me on the schedule for more shifts,” not “Give me an hour or two here or there at the last minute.”

      4. JAM*

        That is shockingly dismissive. I worked retail long enough to appreciate a job with steady hours, where I know going to work will bring more pay than the cost of transport to work, and that values my time off. A quick 2 hour shift doesn’t fix the real problem that I would guess the employee is having. If you are having similar issues, maybe you should treat your employees like they are people who work for pay and not playing games to mess with you.

        1. Genny*

          In the OP’s story, they asked the employee to come in for their shift two hours earlier than scheduled, not to come in and only work a two-hour shift. If you want more hours in retail/fast food, that’s often how they come in, especially during down seasons.

    5. TootsNYC*

      but the response was “I don’t want to,” not “I already have plans” or “that’s too short of notice.”

      This was face to face.

      And, even if the underlying reasons made sense to the OP, the literal exchange was funny.

      1. TootsNYC*

        (by “this was face to face,” I mean that the employee had easy opportunity to add some other information like that)

      2. CheeryO*

        You can find it funny without putting it on Facebook. It has a tinge of “Look at this choosing beggar!” that’s just a little tacky/rude.

        1. Someone else*

          I did not interpret it as “Look at this choosing beggar” but rather more of a “there’s no pleasing some people”. I mean, I wasn’t there, I don’t know exactly how the exchange went, but it immediately reminded me of a zillion years ago when I did manage several part time staff. It alllllllll depends on the tone of the exchange though. If the boss’ tone were very much “well let me see what I can do, this is all I have available right now but it’s yours if you want it” in a clearly showing an effort to get the person what they asked for, if they did literally say “nah, not then”, as a manager that’s a bit frustrating. If the person said “I can’t, I have plans then, is there anything else available?” or “that time doesn’t work bt keep me in mind if something else opens up?” that’s a totally different type of situation. Or if the manager’s tone/mood offering the Saturday earlier hours were more snide or rude, then the whole thing is rude. There’s just…a lot of different ways that roughly that same exchange could’ve gone down. For example, we used to have all part timers provide us their availability a month in advance so we could get a schedule out two weeks in advance. So if Manager is supposed to know Employee is only available from 10-6 on Saturdays, and offers them coming in at 8, well, that’s not a very helpful offer. But if Employee has provided wide open availability, and Manager regularly offers extra shifts in those theoretically available blocks, and Employee regularly turns it down, at a certain point, even if they’ve asked for more hours, there’s not really anything else you can do to help them.

          I do think it was misplaced of the Manager to post it publicly, but depending on the details of how the actual conversation went down, his having the thought, or even expressing it privately to friends is not inherently condescending or dismissive of the employee. It could be a well-founded frustration.

          1. OP1*

            “But if Employee has provided wide open availability, and Manager regularly offers extra shifts in those theoretically available blocks, and Employee regularly turns it down, at a certain point, even if they’ve asked for more hours, there’s not really anything else you can do to help them”

            That is exactly how it went down, but of course that isn’t known to everyone who saw the post.

        2. OP1*

          As the OP, I think you are right. Truthful or not, it did have that tinge to it, and I can see how that would be hurtful.

  8. LeisureSuitLarry*

    Me: What do you want for dinner?
    Her: I don’t care. Anything’s fine.
    Me: Pizza it is.
    Her: Not that.

    That conversation happens every night somewhere in America, and an infinite number of jokes are made about it. And it’s really not all that different from OP#1’s post on Facebook.

    I’m usually right on board with whatever answer Alison gives, but something about the answer to #1 doesn’t seem right to me. That conversation could have taken place between OP and any of OP’s employees. However, it took place with one that OP is not friends with on FB and that employee decided to go talk about it with his/her co-workers. Then someone got upset about something they heard about from someone who read something online. OP needs to unfriend his employees (seriously, don’t be connected to your employees on social media unless it’s a LinkedIn account you never, ever look at), but aside from that, I don’t agree that OP needs to apologize for anything or refrain from posting about work in the future. Just get rid of the former peers that are now minions.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Who says that person decided to go talk about it? All we know is that word spread.

      They need to apologise because this is deeply unprofessional.

      They need to refrain from posting about work because indiscriminate social media use can sometimes get you fired.

      1. LeisureSuitLarry*

        Deeply unprofessional? I think you’re overstating just a tiny bit. At the absolute worst this is something that is nearing the edge of the professional/unprofessional line, and I don’t agree that it crosses it.

        There are two realistic ways that this could have gotten out: someone talked or someone stalked. Both can be solved by unfriending the minions and locking down facebook privacy settings.

        Yes, people can and do get fired for social media posts. No doubt about that. We get to see stories on the news about it all the time. But getting fired for an anonymized, ridiculous conversation. No. Not if the company OP works for is even remotely reasonable. At worst this deserves a talking to from OP’s manager that should basically be “why are you friends with the minions on social media?”

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          If you manage people you shouldn’t be posting about them on social media – but then I subscribe to the view that you don’t post work stuff that would make you look bad as you never know who’s going to see it, however good you think your privacy settings are.

          1. LKW*

            Agreed. Plus it sets a tone – it’s a peek into your brain. “Look at the nonsense I have to put up with world!” Putting it out there where your employees can see that is pretty crappy.

          2. Antilles*

            I subscribe to the view that you don’t post work stuff that would make you look bad as you never know who’s going to see it, however good you think your privacy settings are.
            I’d go a step further and broaden it to: Never post *anything* on social media that you wouldn’t want your current job, future jobs, best friend, spouse, parents, and children to all see.

          3. Marthooh*

            And also, don’t post stuff that would make your reports look bad. Or your boss. Or your peers.

      2. DevAssist*

        People post about work on social media ALL THE TIME.
        Unless it is egregious and a true mockery of an employee or gives cause for concern, I don’t think we should act like every single person must refrain from mentioning work on social media.

        If there are no incriminating details and the exchange is mild (as I thought this one to be) I don’t see an issue with it. I would feel differently if OP went on to rant and insult the employees, but that didn’t happen.

      1. Not Australian*

        Indeed! I had a major struggle to re-educate a former boss out of that one; we settled on ‘staff’ instead.

      2. NW Mossy*

        True story: when I first started managing, my older daughter was about 3. In an effort to help her understand what a manager does, my husband used Gru/the Minions as an analogy. And I think for about a year, she genuinely thought my directs were small, vaguely banana-like in appearance, and didn’t speak intelligibly.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Surely you recognize the difference between romantic partners and a manager/reports, right?

    3. Lissa*

      LOL, yeah. I can understand in an objective sense why what LW posted was wrong, and will duly shake my finger at him/her, but as a former fast food employee and then manager….oh man, that particular interaction about hours happened so often and was so annoying I’m having a hard time drumming up real outrage about it. It’s like posting about repetitive annoying customer questions when you work these jobs. Perhaps not ideal but…well, very normal.

      But yeah, unfriend your coworkers, LW.

      1. LeisureSuitLarry*

        And there’s another reason why it’s not a big deal. That conversation happens in fast food and other shift work all the time.

        1. neverjaunty*

          A lot of things that happen in fast food work or shift work “all the time” aren’t appropriate either.

      2. Lars the Real Girl*

        But why post about it at all? And the customers thing is even worse – people are fired for that on a regular basis. I think as far as work and social media are concerned “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” needs to be the default. You can always vent to your best friend or spouse about the ridiculousness of it, you don’t NEED to post about it on social media.

        1. Dankar*

          I don’t want to live in a world where my retail/restaurant friends can’t complain about customers on Facebook.

          1. Lissa*

            Seriously. Then again I saw things happen in my restaurant/fast food days on the regular that, if I take AAM commenters at their word, would have them calling the police or suing. It’s a different world, man. Not one I want to go back to, either!

            1. Lars the Real Girl*

              If things were happening that you or your coworkers should have been calling the police or suing for…then you should have been calling the police and suing. Just because a pattern of behavior is prevalent doesn’t mean it’s okay. And posting about it on social media does nothing to fix the problem.

              Especially as management, you are held to a higher standard. The ways I can post “ugh, my job!” on Facebook vs the ways I can post “ugh, my employees!” or “ugh, my customers!” are very different.

      3. Natalie*

        I don’t think anyone’s saying the OP can’t roll their eyes at the interaction, complain about it to their spouse, blog about it anonymously, whatever. It’s simply not prudent to post about an employee on Facebook when you are friends with other employees who will see it. No matter what the story is, it’s going to leave a bad taste in your staff’s mouth, and rightly so.

    4. JamieS*

      I don’t think Alison’s point was that the content of the exchange itself is offensive (honestly sounds rather boring) but that it’s inappropriate to post a work-related exchange that shows an employee in a poor light on Facebook. Especially true if you’re the manager since, fair or not, managers are often held to a higher standard for professional behavior.

      As for your example it doesn’t sound like the same thing. Your example sounds like a personal story not a work story and would be inappropriate to post if it were about an exchange with a coworker since the intent would be to mock the coworker in the exchange.

      1. SRB*

        To be fair, I don’t think the two are *that* different. If I had that dinner conversation with my husband and he turned around to mock me on Facebook with it, I’d be a little upset too.

        Yeah, conversations like that happen a lot. But that doesn’t make it any less unkind to publicly make fun of someone for it.

    5. Observer*

      The OP needs to apologize because their reaction to their employee was deeply unprofessional and not reasonable at all- and now they are blaming the employees for the repercussions.

      We don’t know what the original employee did or did not say about the situation. We DO know that the OP posted a mocking comment about an exchange that (as otehrs have noted) may not be as unreasonable as they seem to thing – and did it where employees could see it. Why would anyone think that the employees would NOT repeat it?!

      1. LCL*

        But it’s really a stretch to see what was posted as mockery. We are instructed to take the letter writers at their word here. Yeah, the FB post could have been very sarcastic and inflammatory, but that’s not what OP reported. As described, it was basically a transcription of a conversation.

        Unless, I am starting to wonder, is posting something on social media, period, considered mockery? Luddite that I am, I don’t facebook. But I am starting to pick up the idea that being mentioned by another person for any reason is considered mockery, even for real events that happened in real life with no editorializing added in. Am I off base or is this facebook?

        1. CheeryO*

          No, plenty of people manage to post positive things on Facebook. There’s nothing inherently mocking about posting a status or a photo. The specifics of this situation are pretty clearly mockery, or at least a little negative jab at the employee.

          1. LCL*

            I won’t bore everyone with my background. Please believe me when I say, I have first hand experience with mockery as the target, and what was posted was not mockery. What the responses to this thread have done is illustrate why newspapers are falling out of such favor as a news source. The old way of thinking is that it is OK to report anything as long as it is done in newswrite style, the 5Ws. I had thought of facebook like that, as being a modern version of a newspaper. That’s what my friend who lives on facebook tells me, anyway. But I have learned that there is something different about facebook, somehow. Probably the lack of verification of any material. I believe I will continue to stay off facebook.

            1. Observer*

              I don’t understand what you are saying. It sounds like you believe that since this doesn’t match YOUR experience of mockery, it can’t be mockery.

              If that’s what you are claiming, I will be blunt and say that you don’t get to dismiss people because it doesn’t fit YOUR experience.

              1. LCL*

                And I will be blunt and say anyone looking at this and seeing at mockery is either looking for a way to feel offended or is feeling guilty about something.

          2. DevAssist*

            I see it less as a jab at an employee and more of a “manager frustrations” post. Like anything of this nature (the dinner example above, etc.) I think the intent is not to say “what a loser- they didn’t take what I offered!” and rather to say “I try, and it’s frustrating when it does’t work out easily.”

            1. OP1*

              This is exactly what was supposed to be at the heart of my comment. I completely understand what everyone is saying about it having been unprofessional, and I do regret saying it and will refrain from doing so in the future. But it was not intended to be a jab. It was just a frustration. I spend a lot of time switching things around on the schedule to give everyone close to the hours they want, and I feel like it’s not noticed or appreciated. Then when I do try to help (this person had literally put up notes at the store saying they’d pick up shifts, come in early, etc), I was told that they ‘didn’t feel like it.’ I wasn’t expecting them to drop what they were doing to come to work on their day off, just to come in at 7am instead of 9am. I get that they wouldn’t necessarily want to, but it was completely contradictory, which made me frustrated.

        2. Observer*

          The OP explicitly says that they were expressing frustration and a “mild” joke – one that is clearly at the expense of the employee.

          1. LCL*

            The joke isn’t at the expense of the employee. The joke is in the nonsensical nature of the situation. Person asks for something, then is offered it, person won’t take it. It’s funny, in an absurd kind of way. I was that same employee who always complained about not getting OT, then turned it down whenever it was offered. I thought it was funny then, in the same way.

            1. Marthooh*

              An employee asking for and then refusing OT is indeed nonsensical. “Look how nonsensical my employee is being!” is a joke at the employee’s expense. It’s nice that this kind of joke doesn’t bother you, but it did bother the LW’s employees.

    6. NW Mossy*

      It’s unprofessional because as a manager, you’re effective “on stage” for your employees all the time, because you’re in a position of authority. What you choose to say and do carries more weight, and it’s on the manager to recognize that and moderate what they say, where they say it, and how they say it. It’s why we get paid the intermediate bucks.

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      In this conversation, your hypothetical “her” is saying Anything’s fine.

      In the real conversation the OP had with the employee, the employee said “I want more hours” not “Any additional hours any day of the week at any time would be fine.”

      The appropriate analogy would be…

      “I want more food.”
      “How about this rotting apple.”
      “Not that.”

      1. tigerlily*

        Except the manager didn’t offer the coworker a rotting apple. She offered perfectly legitimate hours, extra hours that the employee asked for. Maybe they didn’t work for her for some reason, but there’s nothing rotten about the hours offered.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          You’re nitpicking. The point is that the employee isn’t saying “All hours on any day of the week would be desirable.” The employee is saying “I want more hours.”

          1. Delphine*

            Right. Honestly, the way to handle that conversation so that you don’t end with a “not those hours” is to sit down with the employee and ask them what works for them, how many hours they are thinking of, and *then* offer up the hours that are actually available.

          2. tigerlily*

            Nope, not nitpicking, just finding fault with your argument. Just like you did in your original comment. Your analogy doesn’t work because the OP isn’t offering a rotten apple. The employee asked for more hours and OP offered more hours. So she was offered exactly what she asked for. It’s fine she didn’t want those specific hours, but you can’t say what she was offered was something rotten. Perhaps if the employee had specifically said “I want more hours but am only available for more hours in the afternoon” and the OP had responded with “Great! I have extra hours from 3am to 8am!” But from the exchange we were told about, the OP offered exactly what was asked for.

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              So substitute in “food person is allergic to” for “rotten apple.” You are nitpicking. The point is that the two do not correlate. Someone saying “I’m up for anything” should not object to anything. Someone saying “I want more hours” can object to certain hours.

        2. Observer*

          Actually, no they didn’t. The employee wants more SCHEDULED hours not a very small amount of hours on a normal vacation day at the last minute.

          I would edit AE’s exchange:

          “I’m not getting enough food”
          “here is this cotton candy that is colored with something you are mildly allergic to.”
          “not that”

          Sure, the cotton candy is calories, and it won’t make the person REALLY sick. But really?

          1. Someone else*

            I just don’t think that’s an analog to the conversation presented unless OP commented somewhere and I missed it and they provided significantly more detail than what was in the letter. The way I read the letter, it’s more like:
            “I’m not getting enough food”
            “I have some cotton candy, if you want it you can have it”.
            “No, not that.”

    8. Kindling*

      Honestly, if someone posted that pizza conversation without any extra context on Facebook, I’d think it was a boring post and that they were being a little passive-aggressive towards their partner, especially if they didn’t address the contradiction to their partner in-person before posting it. It wouldn’t be an actively bad thing to do, but… why? You don’t need to post everything to Facebook (I say, as someone who works in social media).

      1. Hophornbeam*

        Yeah, that would be a relationship heading for the dumps, if not already there. (Definitely not the way to have a successful relationship. Praise in public, correct in private.)

    9. Hophornbeam*

      I sometimes see a Facebook friend post stuff (read: minor complaints) like this about her workplace, other people, etc. and it always seems like really bad form to me, even though I like this person and I don’t know any of the people she is discussing and I don’t live anywhere near her workplace. There is just something kind of icky about it. In terms of the work-related comments, it does strike me as unprofessional.

  9. Sami*

    I really do hope OP2 will speak up. It is likely too late for this year, but it hopefully there will be a change for next year.
    Contact local public schools, foster care organizations, after school groups, Boys and Girls or Big Brothers/Big Sisters organizations. I’m sure they’d all be grateful for your company’s generosity.

  10. Close Bracket*

    OP1, and everybody who FB friends co-workers, you need to up your security settings. Unfriending has the possibility to create ill will, but you can put people who shouldn’t see your posts on your restricted list.

    1. Lars the Real Girl*

      Yes, I had an old coworker that I became FB friends with, and then she ended up coming back to my company and working for me when I got promoted. I immediately moved her to the restricted list because our interactions were no longer social but professional.

      1. Mabel*

        I think this is the best way to handle this. The way the OP worded it, it seemed like they had no choice about their staff members seeing their posts because they were all FB friends from before the OP was a manager. If you don’t want to unfriend anyone, they can be restricted. Although, I don’t think anyone is notified when you unfriend them – is that right?

        1. ECHM*

          People aren’t notified but you can figure it out if you go to their page and it says “Add friend.”

  11. HannahS*

    OP 5, I think you can also say in a vaguely confused, I-don’t-understand-you-but-I’m-trying-t0-be-helpful way, “Oh gosh, Anne, you don’t have to explain it to me! You get here when you get here. It’s not like I’m going to tell on you!”

    In situations where I’m pretty sure I know what someone is secretly afraid of, I find it’s actually fine to explicitly say, “I’m not going to do that thing.” Not in a let’s-sit-down-and-talk-about-it way, but just working it in to conversation.

    Workplace example: In university, I had a research supervisor who clearly felt uncomfortable telling me what to do. I guessed that she worried that I bristled at being told what to do by someone my age, so once when she was kind of dancing around how awkward she felt I laughed and said something like, “Don’t worry Alexa! We all know you’re the big boss around here.” And because I said it in a friendly, joking way, (and since she was really a very minor boss, and “around here” was an office the size of my bathroom) she laughed and *visibly* relaxed and it actually was a turning point in our relationship. Now, for different people in different relationships in different places, using the subtext of a joking comment to reassure people won’t work. But the principle of naming the anxiety and addressing it can be useful in stopping awkwardness, however you do it.

    1. Tyche*

      I don’t think OP should say something like “I’m not going to tell on you”.
      Once I said something like that to a colleague for a small infraction (not so much dissimilar to OP colleague) and they took my phrase as a blanket statement to cover for every kind of infraction. When I “tattled” with our supervisor, they were astonished because I promised to keep silent!
      So better stick to a more general phrasing in my opinion.

      1. Yorick*

        I like HannahS’s script minus “I won’t tell on you.” It will still get across that OP isn’t keeping up with the coworker’s comings and goings.

      2. Kelly*

        I have a colleague that also has a tardiness problem, which improved when our boss had a talk with him about it. I take public transit into work and take an earlier bus just to make sure I’m in on time, and he drives in. There’s another bus that comes a bit later, but if it gets behind schedule, then I’m late for work.

        It was irritating and annoying seeing how he was seemingly getting away with it, where I couldn’t leave 10 to 15 minutes early to catch a bus. She had been observing him and she called him out on it. It’s improved to where he’s 5 to 10 minutes late, but he still has problems with sticking to his allotted break and lunch times.

        The other question for the OP is if their workplace is union or non-union. I’m also in the public sector that was union up until about 7 years ago, but we lost our collective bargaining rights. The hourly people that started after the change like myself are better about adhering to our scheduled times than the people who were around before the change. They know their managers and supervisors aren’t going to do any discipline to them for both coming in late and leaving early.

    2. Natalie*

      I don’t know that I would go with this exact wording, but I do think the best thing would be to communicate that you really don’t care. The coworker is probably doing a little performative embarrassment out of habit or assuming you will mind.

      After you’ve told them a couple of times that this doesn’t matter to you, just ignore it entirely. Say something else about the morning, or just “good morning” and back to work.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, I’d definitely leave off the “It’s not like I’m going to tell on you.” The OP probably isn’t going to “tell on” her, but the OP may be truthful when asked. If the co-worker’s supervisor says “Hey, I’ve been concerned that so-and-so may be coming in late. Have you noticed in anything?” that’s already an awkward enough situation to be in, but it’s extra awkward if you’ve volunteered “I’m not going to tell on you.”

    4. AKchic*

      No. No “I’m not going to tell on you”. It implies that they are children and that the two of them have a secret to keep from the “big bad bosses”. It also implies that if directly asked, the LW will lie for the co-worker.

      They are both adults. If co-worker is actually embarrassed by her tardiness, she would have actually done something to remedy it. She hasn’t. She is merely paying lip service to LW in hopes that LW won’t mention it to the bosses. That’s it. It’s what a former co-worker of mine used to do. She’d show up for work late. Up to 2 hours late daily. Then spend an hour applying make-up before leaving at the end of the day for her second job, which kept her up late, to start the cycle all over again the next day. She was liked, and yes, the boss made her document on her timesheet (once they finally caught her falsifying her timesheet) her absences, but nobody actually held her feet to the fire and be on time with consequences for being late. Nor did they make her really do her job. The VP just liked having an assistant on hand so we had to keep the VP happy.

      I’d be shutting down the daily litany of excuses. A simple “you say this every day. You don’t owe ME an explanation for your chronic tardiness” or something similar should be effective. Or a blunt “it’s expected since you aren’t actually planning on changing your morning commute routine”. It all depends on how cordial LW would like to stay with the coworker.

    5. Hey Nonnie*

      My preferred phrasing for someone who constantly complains about the same problem is, “Huh. That’s too bad. What are you going to do about it?” Repeat as needed.

  12. Rhonda in Oregon*

    #2. My opinion, simply throwing this out there. Move on. I have been a lesbian/straight (polyish relationship) for many years now and an atheist. I choose what to sponsor or not. I’m gonna say it’s not worth the battle. You need to pick what you will throw yourself onto the sword for, and this is not it. Get over it, the world is not what you want, and it is not fair. Life does not happen to make you happy, you have to find your own happiness. Donate to who you want to, celebrate whatever, however you want to an realize the world is full of people who cannot open their eyes. Giving trees rock and if you can get over yourself, you may just help someone.

    1. LeisureSuitLarry*

      I have a serious, deep, and eternal dislike for the Salvation Army. However, I have no problem participating in the angel tree thing. I wouldn’t give them a penny I found on the street in front of one of their buckets, but I’ll donate a toy so that some kid doesn’t wake up on xmas and not get anything.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Please don’t tell people here, especially people expressing concern about discrimination, to “get over it.” It’s fine if you have a different opinion. But she does not need to “get over” concerns about bigotry.

      1. Julia*

        Thank you, Alison! This is something that needs to be said much more often.

        People are allowed to have feelings on matters, especially important matters like this, without being told they’re “too sensitive” (my berserk button) or to “get over it”. I, too, need to remind myself of that more often. (Not that I often tell people to get over things, but in that I often don’t allow myself to get upset over things.)

      2. Lynn Marie*

        I’m going to try to walk a fine line here and I may not succeed but I have to try. It’s fine to “express a concern about discrimination.” But many of those expressing that concern here are also simultaneously expressing disdain and intolerance to anyone who disagrees with them. It’s not the way to change hearts. If that’s something you care about.

          1. neverjaunty*

            “How dare you make me feel bad by disagreeing with me” is generally a good sign that someone’s heart isn’t going to change, period.

        1. Knitting Cat Lady*

          Well. I’m concerned about discrimination.

          The people discriminating against me are trying to influence others into denying me basic human rights. In my case it would be the right to live. I happen to like being alive.

          So if people disagree with me, they are saying I shouldn’t be concerned about discrimination. That I shouldn’t be concerned about people trying to influence others to deny me basic human rights. That there are people out there who think I should be killed for reasons not under my control.

          There is no middle ground here. You are either with me or against me. There is no fine line.

          If I speak out against discrimination, and someone tells me to just agree to disagree? They are on the side of discrimination.

          Not picking a side is choosing the status quo. And the status quo is WRONG.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            But not everyone sees everything as pro- or anti- discrimination. In this instance, the vast majority of people are going to view it as a “giving toys to kids” thing. By challenging that, you’re accusing people of being anti-LGBT when in reality they are just pro-“giving toys to kids”.

            Also, the organizer of this charity effort likely put in a considerable amount of work to organize it. They likely didn’t pick the Salvation Army to make a statement on LGBT policy. I personally would be demoralized if I organized a charity drive and people griped about my choice of charity and made thinly veiled accusations about discrimination.

            If you do feel the need to speak up, do so in a productive way by doing it well in advance of the charity drive, offer clear alternatives, and most importantly, offer to help organize the effort. There’s no single charity that is going to make everyone happy.

            1. SarahTheEntwife*

              If I’d spent a lot of work putting together a charity drive and it turned out the organization had bigoted roots I wasn’t aware of, I’d absolutely want to know! I’d be pissed, but at the charity, not the person who told me about them.

            2. Natalie*

              By challenging that, you’re accusing people of being anti-LGBT when in reality they are just pro-“giving toys to kids”.

              No, not necessarily. If the LW wanted to accuse her organization of being bigoted I’m sure she would have done so. Practically everyone commenting here, including the LW, has assumed her company is acting out of ignorance and presumably the LW will take that tack when suggesting an alternative. No one has advocated “griping” to the organizer or “making thinly veiled accusations”. Those are your assumptions talking.

              1. LW#2*

                This is correct, I assume the person at my company who arranged this is simply not aware of SA being discriminatory

            3. General Ginger*

              But they’re not just “pro-giving toys to kids”. They may be unaware of the organization’s policies and practices, but their support of that organization supports those policies and practices.

          2. Drew*

            Not picking a side is choosing the status quo. And the status quo is WRONG.

            Applause and cheers and vuvuzelas. An organization that publicly stands for evil views doesn’t get a pass because they also give kids toys.

            1. Trout 'Waver*

              Yes, let us only interact with organizations that are pure as freshly fallen snow. To do any less is to participate in evil.

              C’mon. Sometimes it really is just about giving toys to kids.

              1. STG*

                There are plenty of other groups that you can use to give toys to kids though. This isn’t the only option. So, it actually DOES support their organization.

              2. blackcat*

                SA’s history is SO BAD, though.

                And as someone who has run these types of toy drives, I would 100% want to know if there was a problem with one of the orgs that I worked with. Did I make sure that the orgs were “100% pure”? No, that’s not possible. Did I make sure they had solid non-discrimination policies and were well-regarded in the community? Yes.

              3. Annabelle*

                I mean, the SA has done things that have resulted in the death of at least one LGBT person. Being better than that is a pretty low bar.

              4. Natalie*

                Come on now, literally no one is saying that and I think you know that. Pack up your strawmen, it’s not helpful.

                1. Trout 'Waver*

                  I don’t know what thread of comments you are reading, but there are a ton of people here saying that you cannot work with the Salvation Army because they do some bad things along with all the good they do. That’s literally the OP’s premise.

                  Drew threw out the “evil organization” label. I’m just running with it.

              5. Lady Phoenix*

                Oh sure, they are fine with goving toys to kids…. but only heterosexual kids who are hardcore believers of Christ.

        2. Bird*

          People who are experiencing oppression and discrimination have no obligation to be nice in order to spare the feelings of those who mistreat them.

        3. LBK*

          Nope, sorry, “A gay person has a right to live the same life as a straight person” is not an equivalent position to “A gay person does not have the right to live the same life as a straight person.” The latter does not need to be tolerated in order to believe the former. This is not a difference of a opinion, this is not a simple “disagreement,” this is a real, concrete thing that affects people’s lives.

          In almost half of the country you can legally be fired for being gay; I don’t have to tolerate people who defend policies like that that affect my livelihood in order to believe something as simple as my right to have a job. These things don’t exist in a vacuum – “both sides” arguments are only possible when you’re privileged enough to not be affected by the other side’s hatred.

          Why is it incumbent on me to be kind and understanding to someone who doesn’t extend the same empathy to me and is never asked to?

        4. Temperance*

          Well I do actually feel “disdain” for people who discriminate against the LGBT community, so there’s that. Also, the whole “you’re intolerant of my intolerance!” thing needs to get flushed down the toilet, because, wtf. No. You don’t have to tolerate hateful beliefs. I mean, following your thought pattern means that we have to be fine with white supremacists, because otherwise, we’re intolerant.

          1. LBK*

            I know you mean that last sentence as a kind of thought experiment but I think there are depressingly many people who actually believe that.

              1. neverjaunty*

                Eh, in this case I don’t think it’s even that. It’s people getting sentimental about SA or “awww, toys to kids!” being shirty that anyone is putting a dent in their warm fuzzies.

        5. all aboard the anon train*

          No. People in positions of power and privilege ALWAYS bring up intolerance when oppressed groups complain.

          I have a right to my anger over discrimination I’ve faced. You don’t get to tell me to be polite and nice when I’m talking about bigoted organizations and people who think I’m subhuman. Privileged people have used this mantra for years to further oppress marginalized groups. It’s coded language, and it’s harmful.

          Our anger and concern is legitimate. I’m so tired of people who think marginalized groups have no right to be angry or offended. Kindness and civility are all well and good, but those are words from people in privilege who twist the anger and concern of oppressed groups into dirty things, and who can be polite and kind because they’re not facing organizations and people who want to take away basic human rights.

        6. Starbuck*

          Ah, the classic “it’s wrong to be intolerant of people who are intolerant.” Made my morning! It’s not bigoted to express disdain for bigotry and people who are bigots.

      3. Katniss*

        Is there anything that can be done about the continued dismissive comments towards concern about the SA in general? There are a fair amount of comments in this post that basically read as “geez, LGBT people, just get over it already”.

      4. neverjaunty*

        THANK YOU.

        I am so sick of people saying “life isn’t fair” to shut down anyone trying to make life a little less unfair.

    3. Dot Warner*

      Yeah, that’s a good point. Plus, it’s not obvious who participated in a giving tree and who didn’t; I doubt any of OP’s coworkers will notice or care if she doesn’t bring in a gift.

    4. all aboard the anon train*

      Telling someone from an oppressed group to “move on”, “get over it”, and “get over themselves” minimizes their oppression and normalizes bigotry. This is the type of language that has been used for centuries to further oppress marginalized groups and make their legitimate complaints about bigoted individuals, organizations, and actions seem radical or petulant.

    5. JamieS*

      I mostly agree with the overall gist of what I think you’re trying to convey but putting it in terms of ‘get over it’ seems a bit abrupt and inflammatory. After all, you catch more bears with honey than vinegar.

    6. Kms1025*

      Thank you Rhonda! I so agree with everything you said. It’s not supporting Salvation Army to use them to facilitate getting Christmas gifts out to needy children. Who else is going to do it? Give to the kids, or don’t…your choice. But don’t take it away…those optics are bad for everybody.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Well sure, but What About The Children sounds a lot better than “I don’t really care how SA treats LGBTQ people”.

          1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

            Yep. BOATLOADS of places without the nation-wide visibility of SA do it. If you’re actually wondering who else can do it, you can use Google to find organizations in your area. Depending on where you live, you will probably find them with relative ease if you bother to look and aren’t just trying to shut someone down by accusing them of hating children.

      1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

        “Who else is going to do it?”
        Any number of other organizations upthread that don’t discriminate and actively harm LGBTQ+ people, perhaps?
        I was really excited to see the comments on this thread because I’ve been trying to find other charities and orgs to donate to, but the open homophobia and “tolerate my intolerance” comments are quite a bummer.
        LW, I support you. Other commenters are giving great alternatives you can suggest. Good luck and happy holidays!

      2. Nephron*

        Except there is optics of having SA branded stuff in your office. I and many other people as shown by the comments have very negative associations with SA. If I am a decision maker from another organization that walks into your office and see SA, I might think you are unaware but I also might make assumptions about the inclusiveness of your work place and not want to do business with you. That decision could easily be based on the rules of a company, state, or country I work in and I might not even tell you.

      3. Competent Commenter*

        Who else is going to do it? Try your county’s social services department, which most likely organizes a toy drive for children in the foster care system and/or homeless families. Typically these drives are organized by social workers and other county staff who are either doing this during work time or as volunteers. It’s a very direct donation to children and families in need with very little or no overhead.

      4. General Ginger*

        It absolutely is supporting them. And who else is going to do it? How about any number of local, regional or national orgs that don’t promote discrimination.

      5. Marthooh*

        It is supporting the SA, though, whether you give in cash or in kind, and the optics are “this company supports the SA.” As for “who else is going to do it?”, uh, no, the SA did not invent children’s charities.

    7. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      “Pick your battles” is a perfectly reasonable suggestion to make, if not one everyone will agree with, but it can and should be made without condescension. I also think framing “hey, alternative charities, maybe?” as “falling on a sword” is a bit melodramatic.

    8. Jennifer Thneed*

      Hey Rhonda, I’m curious what you mean by this:

      > I have been a lesbian/straight (polyish relationship) for many years now

      I suspect you left a word or two out? I have to admit that my shoulders go up when people who don’t live my life express opinions about how I should react to people who dislike me, and that’s why I’m wondering.

  13. Nobody Here By That Name*

    OP #2: Good luck in speaking up. I tried doing the same at my office when my secular company picked a local charity that is very religious for a food/clothing drive. Think the kind of place where you get the food but only if you agree that Jesus Christ is your savior and join their church.

    I raised the issue with HR, pointing out how I didn’t want to be a Grinch but supporting such an obviously Christian focused charity could be seen as a conflict with our stated commitment to respecting diversity and perhaps we should look into another charity choice instead?

    HR’s response to me was “we can’t please everyone” and that was that.

    Hopefully you have better luck than I did.

  14. Ramona Flowers*

    #4 You don’t know what’s going to happen between now and then, so you’re not withholding concrete information – just a likely future scenario. You can keep quiet with a clear conscience!

    1. document, document*

      The only addition that I’d make (as a manager), is if you think there’s a likelihood of your moving on, please make the effort to document every step even more carefully than you would otherwise, so that someone else can pick it up in midstream. It’s a pain, but a lot easier than trying to capture it all in the last week after you’ve given notice.

    2. LW #4*

      Thanks—this makes me feel better! It’s my first real job out of college so this will be my first time leaving a job like this. I like the comments below about documenting processes well and have started a log of my major tasks and responsibilities.

  15. Mark*

    OP2: Are you comfortable exposing yourself as an LGBT atheist and are you sure your company won’t retaliate? If so, go ahead and speak up. If not, find your own organization for people the Salvation Army skip over.

      1. Julia*

        I’m as straight as they come (but atheist applies to me – well, agnostic) and depending on how reasonable I judge my workplace, I would speak up against it. (I’m in a straight marriage, so most people wouldn’t think I was gay, and I feel that makes it easier for me to speak up than for someone else.)

      1. LS*

        Depends where you live and also your workplace culture, unfortunately. It’s how I got outed and later not exactly fired but not called in for any shifts.

    1. Mary*

      It’s really weird the way people confuse atheism and secularism. You can be super-duper totes religious and still think that a workplace should be secular.

      1. neverjaunty*

        And you can expect a Christian charity to, y’know, emulate Jesus in helping everyone, not just those it deems sufficiently virtuous.

      2. Red 5*

        That’s a good point, she can just not mention being atheist. I’m Christian but I would object in this case, and would object to workplace giving to any organization that was discriminating based on religion, even if it was based on _my_ religion. There’s too many other good options.

      3. Geoffrey B*

        Uh huh. The biggest religious conflict I’ve seen in my workplace was between two people who are both Christian but have very different views about what kind of religious displays are appropriate for the office.

      4. The Lemon test*

        Conversely, you can be relatively secular yourself, and still see value in allowing a holiday tree and toy drive.

        I do not believe dogmatic religion has a place in most workplaces. But we’re talking a tree here, not a creche. (A tree. The Muslim concierge in an apartment building I used to live in, who was from the former Soviet Union, put up a “New Year’s tree,” which was a widespread practice in his home country.) Is LW2 advocating that workplaces not be allowed any kind of holiday decorations whatsoever?

    2. Annabelle*

      I mean, allies are a thing. Speaking up against bigotry is not necessarily akin to coming out.

  16. Certain Someone*

    Op #2: Huh. I don’t see sponsoring a kid on the “angel tree” as analogous to making a cash donation to the Salvation Army. It is just giving one underprivileged kid something from their wish list. I get that it’s still support a program that is coordinated by the SA, but I would get the gifts for the kids without hesitation, even though I would never donate money to the SA.
    I would suggest finding out if there’s another agency who offers a similar “gifts for kids” program, and suggesting that to your employer as an alternative for next year. United Way does a “Secret Santa” program in my city, which is also for seniors and people with disabilities!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I like the idea of finding something that helps a more diverse group of people. I don’t have a lot of love for United Way either, but needy adults often get left out.

    2. CM*

      I think the concern is more that the SA itself is excluding LGBT people, so even though the OP would just be giving a gift to a child, it’s indirectly supporting an organization that chooses which needy people deserve services. I think it’s very much worth bringing up, especially with a light touch by saying, “I think this is a great idea and would really appreciate more inclusive alternatives,” not “THIS IS OFFENSIVE AND MUST STOP.” Personally, I wasn’t aware that the SA had a history of being anti-LGBT and I think it’s useful to let people know.

    3. LBK*

      I’ve seen a few people make this differentiation between donating toys and donating cash and I have to ask – how does this matter? Isn’t the cash also theoretically supposed to flow back out to good causes? I mean, I guess you can argue that it also pays for the staff and overhead that make their operation possible, but I don’t think when most people donate money to a charity it’s generally with the thought of the people who work there. It’s always intended for the people the charity serves.

      I don’t see a fundamental difference between donating an item for them to pass on to someone else and donating cash for them to use to buy something to pass on to someone else. Either way, you are enabling their operation to continue to exist.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I do feel like some people are treating the SA as if they’re the postal service here. But they’re not–the toys you provide are theirs, same as the money you give them or the food you give a food bank. There are a lot of reasons why I can understand somebody deciding still to give, but saying because you’re not actually giving to the organization is simply factually wrong.

    4. JAM*

      The SA uses their Christmas campaign to leverage fundraising all year long. So while this gift may (and that’s a may and not a sure thing since I don’t know) go straight to any needy kid, they’ll use your generosity to collect funds that will be applied discriminatory. With so many available charities, it’s so easy to go elsewhere.

  17. Nila808*

    It’s understandable that the OP doesn’t support SA, but this particular drive isn’t a benefit for SA. SA is just delivering toys to children who’s parents are incarcerated. Two different things in my mind. Pretty sure you can donate the toys with a clean conscience (and suggest a different/alternative charity next Christmas- diaper drive? Sanitary items for homeless/underserved women? Might be nice to have multiple options in your office)

    1. JessaB*

      I would still not want to do it. I do not want to give people the idea that the SA is an acceptable go between. That just gives them publicity that makes a fairly rotten agency look good. Yes they talk about being more LGBTQIA2+ inclusive but the truth is at the grass roots level they’re still run by people who discriminate, just not as officially or loudly as they used to and in some cases JUST as officially as they used to. They have a long long way to go to get past what they did, and this kind of thing just wallpapers over those issues because people say “well they’re just the intermediary.” However, that intermediary is still delivering things in SA marked vehicles, etc.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        And then using those activities and stats about them to drum up more fundraising. The end activities feed into other stuff.

          1. serenity*

            I think it’s because a lot of people just don’t like to or want to question their own assumptions about things (especially when they’re proved wrong or when contrary evidence is presented to them)

          2. tigerlily*

            I say this with kindness, but after having worked in non profits for all my career, lots of people have no idea how fundraising, donating, and charities operate.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I mean, technically all donations to SA are supposed to benefit recipients, not the SA. That includes if you donate direct aid. I understand why people compartmentalize, but it’s really not different from directly donating to the SA in support of their mission. Another great example of this non-difference is the Red Cross. Whether you donate in-kind supplies or money, you’re still donating to the Red Cross.

      1. JamieS*

        I think it is different. It’s impossible for all monetary donations to go directly to recipients and it’s likely part of any one person’s monetary donation will go towards overhead. After all, the workers have to be paid and the lights need to stay on. OTOH, giving something like a teddy bear with the express purpose of it going to an underprivileged child is guaranteed to benefit the recipient. Well guaranteed unless the SA pawns the teddy to help pay this month’s electric bill.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          From a legal and operational perspective, it’s not different. The SA receives the toy donation and counts it as income at its fair-market value, they then send the donor an IRS 501(c)(3) letter so the donor can claim the deduction, and they aggregate the supplies and decide which children receive which gifts (or which gifts to withhold from distribution).

          This is true for all in-kind donations to all charitable organizations. If I donate food to a food bank, that’s still a donation, even if the ultimate recipient is a person in need. Same goes for blanket donations to homeless shelters or to the Red Cross. The form of the donation does not eliminate the fact that it is a donation that the organization gets to count as income and advertise in its marketing materials as a sign of its impact and reach.

            1. Perse's Mom*

              Why is this irrelevant? The argument from some is that these toys are not being donated to the SA. PCBH is pointing out that they ARE donated to the SA – the SA just turns around and hands the toys (they approve of) to children (but only ones they approve of).

        2. JM60*

          “OTOH, giving something like a teddy bear with the express purpose of it going to an underprivileged child is guaranteed to benefit the recipient.”

          According to other comments on here, they pre-screen atheist and LGBT children. If that’s true, then you’re inadvertently discriminating against atheist and LGBT children by donating through them, in which case. Businesses shouldn’t encourage their employees to donate through them when there are suitable alternatives who don’t do such discrimination.

      2. Umvue*

        A bit of a tangent, but in “in-kind supplies” are you including blood? That’s always seemed different to me because it’s not obvious that there’s another place to donate blood *to*. (SA seems different because there are other organizations that do toy drives, even if theirs is a bit different in the details.)

        1. mskyle*

          A lot of the big hospitals in my area accept blood donations and some even run their own drives! I’m not sure how widespread this is though.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I’m not including blood, although there are lots of non-Red-Cross blood donation centers. I give blood pretty regularly, and I try to identify donation centers with inclusive policies (often local hospitals and community health clinics).

          I don’t want to derail too much, but blood and other organ donations fall under a different legal framework than all other in-kind donations of goods and services.

    3. LS*

      Personally, I would not support the Salvation Army, having personally experienced discrimination from them. However, they are the only charity in my (rural) area that supports homeless people, so I donate (non-saleable) goods rather than money so at least it’s going directly to those who need it. In a situation like the OP is in, it might be worth just supporting the tree this year, and making a reminder to bring this up well before Christmas next year.

    4. Alton*

      My concern with programs like these is that there can still be bias in who gets to participate, and how. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with donating toys via SA–that is helping someone. But it’s hard to know if there are people falling through the cracks because they’ve had bad experiences trying to get help from the local SA or because they’ve heard about discrimination and don’t want to expose themselves to that. So supporting alternatives that are more inclusive can do a lot of good, too.

  18. WTF*

    #1 I would put all of my employees in my acquaintance list and only post to friends except acquaintances. Personally I see nothing wrong with mild poking of fun in a general anonymous way. I have one friend who does these exact kinds of posts (he’s in internal IT and posts IT calls). Everyone should be careful who they are friends with on Facebook and tailor your posts accordingly.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      This isn’t wise advice. Your friend could get fired for that.

      Everyone thinks their privacy settings are better than they are.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        No, some of us know exactly what our privacy settings are because we actively test them, with the FB “View As” feature or actual sockpuppet test accounts. Personally, I bitch about work on Google+ to a small group of people, none of whom I work with. (And none of my coworkers, even those I’m very friendly with and would vent to, are on G+.)

        I also have “Work friends” and “Work only” lists on Facebook, and the latter aren’t on my more personal or political posts.

        But unless someone is in the habit of doing things like that and regularly auditing their social media contacts and their settings, I wouldn’t advise them to share something highly sensitive that way. It’s possible to control your message, but it’s not trivial.

        1. CM*

          It’s not possible to control your message.
          Someone can screenshot what you wrote and share it publicly.
          No matter how locked down you think your social media accounts are, whatever you post has the potential to become public and widely shared.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            Yes, this. Granted, a screenshot and public share is kind of scummy if it’s shared with you privately (barring the thing being screenshotted being highly illegal / disturbing instead of just embarrassing), but you really have to allow for that possibility.

          2. Name changed to protect the innocent*

            @CM – So right! The other day I shared about a donation of bread we had received at my workplace, that people could stop by and get free bread and say Hi to me. I intentionally have my posts set to “Friends only.” One of my friends copied and pasted it verbatim, so the post read as though it was HER workplace. Besides the practical confusion, I felt annoyed and violated.

          3. oranges & lemons*

            I may be more on the paranoid side, but I try to never put anything in writing that I really don’t want to be made public, even in private communication.

        2. neverjaunty*

          Assuming, of course, that you never make a mistake and that FB never has one of its periodic bright ideas where it changes a bunch of stuff without warning.

        3. Observer*

          What the others have said. There are many documented cases of FB making some change that exposed things and posts that people thought were totally private. FB has gotten better about this, but it still happens. And that’s aside from technical glitches.

          And, if you have never seen a screen shot of a facebook post, you are in the minority.

        4. a different Vicki*

          How much you know depends partly on how often you test those settings. Few people check every day, or before every post they make. “Regularly audit” sounds good, but some people’s idea of “regularly” would be “twice a year at the time change, along with replacing the smoke alarm batteries.”

          I decided against posting anything remotely personal or private to Facebook years ago, when they made retroactive changes that reduced the privacy level on some older posts. Because what that says is, it doesn’t matter how you lock a specific down now, they might decide to make it public later, or move all your friends into your most restricted group without warning you in time to undo that, or decide that friends of friends can see anything that those friends can.

          Yes, it’s possible to audit things that closely, including deciding who goes on which list based on how well they keep their passwords and security questions private, but it would be a lot of work.

    2. Observer*

      Anyone who thinks it’s ok to publicly poke “mild” fun at their subordinates is not someone who I would want to work for.

      As for your friend, yes, he could get fired. Even with a fairly locked down account, once he’s posted this stuff, he’s lost a lot of control and it could easily get into the wrong hands.

  19. Alienor*

    #2, I’m bisexual and an atheist, so I don’t have any love for the SA, but I really think it’s too late to bring it up this year. We’re less than three weeks from Christmas, your employer’s not going to pull out of the angel tree now, and if they did, those tags could end up going unclaimed and leaving the kids they represent without gifts. If I were in your position, I’d donate privately to a more appropriate charity of my choice, and after the holidays are over, then talk to someone in HR about choosing a different organization for next year.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Another bisexual and I agree with this. Speaking up so close to Christmas, especially when it’s obviously been popular with your colleagues, runs the risk of making you look bad.

      Wait until the first of the year and then bring it up as something to consider for next year.

    2. Jen S. 2.0*

      I’m in this camp. OP2 **absolutely** has a point, but changing for this season this late in the game penalizes the kids. Make your own equivalent donation or money or toys elsewhere, and talk to HR in January. I also agree that you shouldn’t have to, but it would be ideal to go to them very ready to suggest a couple of organizations that are better suited.

      1. neverjaunty*

        It probably wouldn’t penalize the kids if OP found an alternative. But you’re absolutely right that a lot of people have an irrational reaction to to changing something around the holidays (I mean, look at some of the comments here) – better to change it next time.

        1. Thlayli*

          It sounds like the kids have “booked in” for toys from SA and even have a specific tag on a specific tree. They probably have a few spare ones but it’s very doubtful they would have enough spare for an entire tree if a major contributor pulls out at the last minute. So in this case it absolutely does sound like these specific kids would not get any toys if the company pulls the plug at this late stage.

          1. Temperance*

            You would be surprised, actually. They often get cash donations for this specific project, so they would just buy that kid a gift. It’s not as dire as you would think.

            I also don’t think that LW wants the tree to come down, just the org to be a little more considerate going forward, which is never a bad thing.

            1. Thlayli*

              Well I sincerely hope that is the case and the kids are not going to be penalised if OPs company pulls out, but I’m not sure I share your optimism. Since the tags have a specific name and specific gifts listed I think pulling the plug last minute will mean the kids at the very least won’t get the gifts that the coworkers have chosen for them. If I had picked a kids name and painstakingly picked out a perfect gift based on their stated desires, I wouldn’t be happy if that was then cancelled because one of my coworkers raised concerns at the last minute, and the child I had chosen had to settle for whatever was left in the “extras” box. It’s way too late.

              The toys from my office tree are being picked up tomorrow. No doubt OPs office tree has a pickup date very soon. The time to raise these concerns was months ago.

              It’s pretty simple, donate to a different charity this year, and raise the concern to employer in January. Most likely the employer doesn’t even know about the SA history of discrimination and alleged child abuse, and will be perfectly happy to switch for next year.

    3. Thlayli*

      This is the best thing to do. Donate to a charity you do like, including one of the many non-religious kids toy charities, and bring it up WELL in advance of Christmas next year.

      I’ve organised plenty of charity stuff and I think I would react very differently if someone came up to me after it’s already in full swing and the week before the toys are due to be delivered and said “you know your charity is bigoted and we need to change charities now” versus someone coming up well in advance and saying “hi there, how are you, well done on getting so many toys to needy kids. I don’t know if you know this, but there are actually lots of secular organisations that do that too, here is a list of the ones active in our area that I have already researched for you, I think it would be great if we had one of those next year so it would feel more inclusive of people of all faiths and none. The SA actually has a bad reputation because of xyz which I’m sure you didn’t know about, but it might have put some people off donating last year”.

      Personally I think being accused of child abuse is a pretty big deal. I bet the company would be pretty quick to change charities once they hear about that – if OP doesn’t want to “out” herself as either LGBT or atheist she could just raise that issue and not even mention the LGBT rights / religion aspect of it.

    4. ShelfontheElf*

      Thank you for the most level-headed, practical response I’ve seen so far. Apologies to those who may have suggested the same up-stream, but the conversation was getting too tiresome to trudge through all of that.

  20. Chocolate Teapot*

    3. At least during the festive period, the “I have a prior engagement” excuse can be used without comment. I can imagine it would be awkward attending an event if the 2 halves of a couple worked for competing companies.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Obviously the LW knows her context, but having worked in education reform/charter schools, it’s not likely to be uncomfortable. Staff move back and forth all the time, everyone is aiming for the same goals, etc.

  21. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    OP #4, one thing you can do without giving your plans away is just to be diligent about keeping records of what you’re doing, and keeping things organized, as you work on long-term projects you think you won’t finish by February. It will make it easier for your successor, but it won’t look suspicious – you’ll just seem like someone who’s doing a good job at their job.

    1. Not Australian*

      This was my thinking, too; go the extra mile to make sure there’s a good handover for your successor and the timing of your departure becomes irrelevant.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      This is such a great point! So you could be extra diligent about collating important documentation and correspondence and saving files with clear names in a location others can access.

    3. eplawyer*

      Do this whether you plan to leave or not. After all you could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Then who would take over your projects with no handover time? Good documentation helps you keep track of where you are and helps others if they have to take over suddenly.

      1. Thlayli*

        Yup. Always have everything written in such a way you can do a quick handover.
        When I had a miscarriage I came home from the hospital and spent one hour finishing up a task on a report and sending one email explaining what needed to be done. It absolutely sucked doing that, but at least it meant I could take a few days off knowing the report would be finished properly and I didn’t have to worry about coming back to a big mess.

    4. LW #4*

      Great point! I actually started a pretty detailed log of my responsibilities and tasks a while ago (which also helped in my annual review and since I was able to show how much more I did than my job description stated, yay!) In my down time I’m going to commit to making sure everything is complete and up to date.

  22. Anancy*

    OP #2 The school district is a fantastic suggestion—ours has an angel tree this year for students. A lot of school districts send food home over weekends with kids, and provide lunches in the summer too. My old workplace used to regularly collect school supplies and backpacks to donate to schools. I wonder if you could suggest replacing SA with the school district and expanding the program to have year round opportunities. (I used to work at a shelter, and December was wonderfully full of donations, and in June we were scrounging to find swim suits and shorts for the kids. We used to hold some of the toys back so that everyone also got a birthday gift throughout the year.)

  23. Greyhound*

    OP #2

    An option that could work alongside the SA is gift donations to one of the organisations that help LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. Some have established holiday gift programs, such as the Ali Forney Centre in New York.

  24. Akcipitrokulo*

    I certainly wouldn’t donate to SA for all of the issues discussed here – but when they are only doing the admin, and the gifts go directly to the kids? I can live with donating to that – but still speak up and find an alternative group to do the same thing next year!!!

    (Glasgow has Refuweegees who are awesome ;) and there are other local groups all around where I am.)

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Nice :)

        Refuweegee doesn’t have person-specific requests but they do make up individual packages depending on who’s in the family. And of course the letter fae a local!

      2. Zoe Karvounopsina*

        On a related note, a friend of mine who works in education in California has an Amazon wishlist up to give children books to take home. I should try and find that…

  25. MK*

    #3, could it be that the principal is paying for the dinner themselves? Or that the budget doesn’t allow for partners to ensure also invited?

    Either way, if the OP doesn’t want to go to the party, don’t; in the situation they describe, I doubt anyone will notice or care. But I don’t see what the dinner beforehand has to do with it (unless there are logistical issues, like who gets the car, etc.).

    1. NJ Anon*

      I have to agree that OP does not need to attend but I do think its not cool that the boss is having an employee only dinner right before the party. They should have it on a different date.

      1. eplawyer*

        actually this is great. Now only one night is committed to the work holiday party instead of 2. If you have it on a different night then people have to attend the big party and the school only party at an incredibly busy time of the year.

    2. As Close As Breakfast*

      Honestly, the logistical issues are the only problem I have with what the OP described. I’d actually be pretty annoyed based just on that part. I would absolutely, positively, not care at all about not being invited to the dinner. But, if I’m going to go to a holiday party with/for my significant other, especially a work event, I really don’t want to go on my own and meet them there. I mean, logistics could be all over the place for people. Maybe there wouldn’t be time to go home or meet up with your partner even without the dinner. But sticking an employee only dinner in that time between the end of work and the beginning of the party, would make an event I probably don’t really want to go to anyway, unnecessarily convoluted to attend. I think the OP is fine (and well within reason) to bow out of attending the work party and will probably not be the only one to do so.

      1. SamSam*

        Agreed, and surprised more people aren’t annoyed on the OP’s behalf. Are couples supposed to take two cars to the second event? Or even if there’s public transit available, I might be miffed to travel alone to a work event for my spouse.
        It’s relatively minor, but annoying nonetheless. Still, OP can just pull the “not able to make it” card and leave it at that.

        1. Someone else*

          Yeah, that’s the part I would find vexing. I would expect this to result in a lot of spouses not going to the second event.

  26. Megan*

    OP 2, in addition to the local school districts, try checking with your local department of social services. Often they have an adopt a family program-the parents sign up for the toys or books or games the kids want but also the clothes they need. My office has a family of 6 that lost everything in a house fire this year, and we might have gone a tad overboard for them, but all six will be warm and fed and entertained.
    Foster care programs will be for kids in need,if you all want to focus specifically on kids, or you could do a food drive that benefits your town’s food pantry, or a coat drive that can usually be accessed through your local self-storage place. Good on you all for having and acting on the instinct to help everyone!

  27. PepperVL*

    Another thing to consider with the Salvation Army is the impression it will give other people about the company. Depending on what OP2’s company does it may be a moot point, but I’m not shopping at the local grocery store that makes me walk past their bell ringers, for example. And I let them know why, too. I also pointed out that the company so visibly endorsing an organization that wants to discriminate against me makes me feel uncomfortable with the idea of shopping there even when the bell ringers aren’t out and asked them to reconsider their policies for next year.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      During the holiday season I feel like I can’t go anywhere without walking past the bell ringers, so I always drop some change in the bucket; however, now that I’ve read all the comments and see that they’re anti-LGBTQ (I truly had no idea), I don’t think I’ll be doing that anymore. Two of my nieces are gay, as well as a male friend, so that hits home for me. I knew SA was religion-based, but had no idea about their exclusion of certain groups.

  28. MuseumChick*

    Number 5, pick one thing to say in response to her. It might take some time but after awhile, she will understand that she not going to get anything else from you.

    Her: “OMG, I need to get here earlier.”
    You: “Yup.” or “You say that a lot” or “Silent nod”

    Next day:

    Her: “OMG, I missed the express bus!”
    You: “Yup.” or “You say that a lot” or “Silent nod”

    Next day:

    Her: “I can’t believe I was this late today!”
    You: “Yup.” or “You say that a lot” or “Silent nod”

    Nex day:

    Her: “So sorry I’m late! *insert excuse*
    You: “Yup.” or “You say that a lot” or “Silent nod”

      1. CaseyJD*

        For OP5, is it possible your coworker is angling for a ride in the morning as well? I think she wants you possibly to pipe up and say “the bus situation sounds terrible – how about I pick you up tomorrow?” Just be careful with how you sympathize before you get roped into that if you don’t want to give rides in the mornings.

        1. OP #5*

          No, we come from completely different cities. And even when she drives in (which is rarely) she’s still late.

    1. bunanza*

      Yeah, I second this. My coworker did basically the same to me—I’m a chronically-5-minutes-late person and would want to explain what held me up because I was embarrassed. She started responding with an upbeat, “Hmm!” It was effective because it acknowledged that I said something, but also underlined just how little she cared haha. I suggest finding a similar neutral thing to say, and if she responds by explaining more, that’s when I’d tell her “You know, I’m just not that focused on what time you get here!” or something along those lines.

    2. Ainomiaka*

      This was my theory. Just say something like “probably a good idea ” when she says it or “always a good plan”. You aren’t giving her permission or censure, you’re just letter her have her feelings. Which are not the OPs to manage.

    3. LBK*

      I wonder if the coworker assumes the OP is more annoyed at her for being late than she is, so even though the OP isn’t her manager she feels the need to explain herself and basically apologize to the OP for her tardiness. At this point it sounds like the explanations are a bigger problem than the lateness itself, so maybe the OP can just say “Honestly, Jane, it doesn’t bother me when you’re late – you really don’t need to justify it to me, I know things happen!”

  29. Koala dreams*

    It depends on your relationship with your coworker, I guess. I could totally imagine myself saying things like that, since I take the tram/bus often and think bus stories are fine as small talk. In my case, I wouldn’t get the comment Alison suggests, I would interpret it as you are also interested in that kind of small talk. If your relationship is otherwise good, you could try being more direct: You say that a lot. I’m really not interested in talking about the public transport every morning. Could you try to use other greetings, such as (Good morning) or (It’s so cold today)? (Change the parenthesis to something you think is acceptable.)
    YMMV, of course.

    1. CleverGirl*

      “I’m really not interested in talking about the public transport every morning.” just feels so harsh to me. If someone said that in response to my habitual morning small talk I’d probably go cry in the bathroom (although I’m probably oversensitive).

      1. Koala dreams*

        Ah, yes that’s maybe too harsh. I’m not that good with tone. However, my point is that some people prefer more direct statements instead of hints.

  30. Natalie*

    LW #2, I think a couple of people have made the good point that we are probably too close to Christmas for your company to change now – when I arranged holiday charity drives nearly all of them had signup deadlines in late November or earlier. So this year, if you won’t be penalized for skipping the work donation, I’d donate elsewhere and do some research on alternatives for next year that you can suggest to your company. I’ll put in a plug for looking at whatever the larger local homelessness-prevention orgs in your area are. In addition to potentially being more inclusive, the big national charities can be fairly old fashioned in how they approach issues so sometimes they don’t adopt more effective models as quickly. For what it’s worth, some of those alternatives might have religious roots, but IMO (also an atheist) that’s a sight different than having an explicitly religious mission like SA.

    1. blackcat*


      My experience in running these things was that I talked to orgs in September and finalized plans sometime in October.

      FWIW, I worked with area homeless shelters. They had lists of needy families, both in the shelter system and in government housing. We did adopt-a-family style.

  31. Susan*

    Given it’s a Christmas themed charity drive, not sure why the religion thing is such an issue (I don’t follow any religions myself, but to separate it is akin to people who insist there’s a secular Christmas, which has been debated here in the past so will not get into since at derailing). People are free to donate whenever to whatever cause, unless it’s a visible thing where OP2 would look bad for not partitipating (not protesting the cause itself, just silently sitting out and giving their donations elsewhere), in which case the company shouldn’t be making such judgements.

    Honestly though, charity should be voluntary and if someone doesn’t want to give for whatever reason they shouldn’t have to. People who don’t want to donate money love to point out things like ‘oh it’s all going to overheads’, or ‘they’ll just spend it on drugs’. Sure some people have legit concerns (although seldom do they provide data for it, nor do they justify how charities can survive without admin) but most of the time it’s just that they don’t want to give. That should still be fine. OP2 shouldn’t have to give a whole spiel about her issues with SA to get out of this drive.

    1. Luna*

      Agree, and also it doesn’t sound like the OP is being pressured to contribute at all, she just wants the company to provide her with a charity instead of doing it on her own. I’m not really sure what the big deal is to be honest. It’s fine to not want to donate, or to donate somewhere else on her own. I also think it would be fine for the OP to suggest adding additional charity options, but still leave the SA tree. It sounds like it is popular with most other people at the company, and if they are used to that tradition they might see it as something being “taken away” from them because one person doesn’t like it.

      1. General Ginger*

        It’s not that one person doesn’t like it. It’s that an employee would prefer their organization not support an anti LGBTQ charity.

    2. Leatherwings*

      At the end of the day the company is still supporting and facilitating donations to an openly anti-LGBTQ+ organization. That not the OP “not wanting to give” – that’s the OP being concerned about donating to a really problematic charity and I feel the same way.

      It’s profoundly unfair and pretty rude to characterize that concern as wanting to get out of donating.

    3. a different Vicki*

      It’s not (or not just) that this is a religious group: it’s that it’s a religious group with a history (and some current practice) of discriminating against LGBT people, and requiring the recipients of other charity to listen to lengthy proselytizing in order to get a meal.

      When they send me a letter asking for money to feed the homeless, it doesn’t say “your $small_amount will pay for preaching to someone for ninety minutes and then giving him dinner.” I’m fairly sure that’s deliberate: a lot of people wouldn’t give if they knew that, either because they’re not religious or because they are religious and don’t want to sponsor sermons they disagree with.

      If someone didn’t already know they were a religious group, or what “mission” in the name means, they might think that what they did is say “welcome, please have a seat” to anyone who came in, serve dinner, and let the people who are eating pick a topic of conversation. Not everyone who believes in feeding the hungry and clothing the naked believes that they should make people listen to sermons before giving them a coat or a sandwich.

  32. Temperance*

    LW2: Bring it up to HR (or whatever department put up the tree) now! It’s honestly very likely that they don’t *know* about these things, or about just how religious the Salvation Army is. My boss had no clue, and we work with nonprofits for a living. I’m an ex-evangelical, so I keep abreast of what orgs are discriminatory just because I grew up with them.

    There are tons of orgs that, regardless of their mission, do not discriminate as a rule. (Or throw out perfectly good copies of Harry Potter, like the SA does!) It’s honestly not hard to find a way to help, or a similar project to run. If you’re in or near Philadelphia, the Support Center for Child Advocates lets you pick the age/gender of a kid to sponsor.

  33. Trout 'Waver*

    In regards to #3, I think the issue is more that it’s kinda rude to have a pre-party with selected guests and then open it up later. Kinda like inviting people the wedding reception but not the wedding. Especially since it wasn’t clear from the onset that that is what was happening.

    For the OP#3, I would just find a polite excuse to avoid the whole affair. Let your spouse go and put in work and make alternate plans for the night.

    1. MommyMD*

      Not really a fair comparison because this is definitely a work function. I would not be offended about spouse’s invitation to the dinner as it is a work, not social, event. It’s one evening a year to support your spouse.

      1. Murphy*

        There are still logistical concerns with doing it this way though that make it not great. If you leave the party out of it, and spouse just has a dinner with his co-workers, absolutely no problem. But having the dinner just before a party in the city means that OP and spouse will have to travel separately, arrive at the party separately, find parking (and potentially pay for parking) separately.

        1. Luna*

          If they live in a city there might be public transit options. And depending on the timing of the dinner and party people might have to travel separately anyway. If the boss and coworkers are leaving right from work to go to an early dinner, then to the party, to me that would be preferable to having an awkward hour or two to kill before the party (for some not quite enough time to go home, but longer than I’d want to hang around the office working).

          1. WellRed*

            yes, ours is right after work, so spouses, etc. typically just meet at the party. I certainly wouldn’t want to drive to work, drive home, drive back to party (which is held near the office). Then drive home again.

    2. Teapot Librarian*

      I was coming to say something similar. I don’t view it as analogous to the wedding situation, but I do see the problem with the dinner being that it is right before the party. Boss wants to take the staff to a festive dinner without plus-ones, no problem. But if the party is right after, then you have the plus-ones arriving alone to an event where they might not know anyone other than their partner, and then you might have issues of multiple cars at the event for a single household, etc. I understand how having them the same night is more convenient in the sense that it doesn’t take up two evenings in the busy holiday season, and I’m not saying it’s wrong to be doing it this way, but I definitely see the complaint.

    3. Susan Calvin*

      I didn’t realize the reception-only thing was rude either, to be honest! My own wedding was tiny, so no need, but my oldest cousin (atheist) and his wife (non-practicing muslim) had a very nice courthouse ceremony which could only realistically fit maybe 20 people in the room, but the reception headcount went way into triple digits, as is customary in her family’s tradition.

      1. Thlayli*

        I don’t think it’s rude. Where I live it’s really common to have different groups of people invited to wedding, dinner and evening reception. Generally you are expected to give a larger gift if you’re going to the dinner than if you are just going to the evening reception though.

  34. Keep it Professional*

    As a rule I never talk about work on social media. If I do talk about frustrations, I do it in a place where I can be anonymous (like AAM!). But you never know who is reading, even if you have your profile locked down, someone could be a friend of a coworker.

    1. Thlayli*

      OP1 if you want to make jokes about your coworkers online, may I suggest notalwaysworking. Utterly confidential.

      Although as others have said above, there are plenty of reasons someone would want more hours in general but not be free on a particular day they had already booked off.

      1. MommyMD*

        How about not making jokes about coworkers online? Anywhere? Not one of us is perfect. Calling coworkers out on the internet in any setting is unprofessional and sometimes cruel.

        1. Thlayli*

          I dont know what you mean by “calling people out”. Where I live that means challenging someone to a fight, so I’m assuming you mean something different.

          In an ideal world no one would ever insult anyone, to their face or behind their backs. In the imperfect world in which we live it’s pretty common. Anonymously posting what is probably a pretty common conversation with no identifying details on a site that is not in any way traceable to the OP is very unlikely to cause any offence or hurt to the coworkers.

  35. Mes*

    #1 – When your employees say they want more hours, they don’t mean they want to be called last minute on their day off to pick up some extra money. They want more hours on the actual schedule ie: 30 hours instead of 15. You probably aren’t able to do that for them, but at least understand where they’re coming from.

    1. OP1*

      I do get that. And I acknowledge that my actions were unprofessional and inappropriate. But I have to point out that this person was not asked to come in for two hours on their day off. They were asked, immediately after asking if they could have more hours, to come in 2 hours early (we are talking 7am as opposed to 9am). I don’t think that is unreasonable.

  36. Keep it Professional*

    I have a similar question to #2. I have worked at several organizations who feel it is appropriate to have (christian) prayers before meetings. While I am also christian, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to publically pray in the workplace. I feel like if I address it, it will be met by hostility from the big boss and I will be seen as anti-religion or overly politically correct. How do I address this?

    1. MommyMD*

      By opting out of the prayer in your own mind. I believe in keeping religion out of the workplace but I cannot control all things in life.

      1. Keep it Professional*

        Thanks, that’s what I’ve been doing–I don’t want to cause issues so I just protest silently.

        1. Frank Doyle*

          I sometimes attend municipal board meetings in the course of my job, and they always do the Pledge of Allegiance before the meeting. I just don’t say the “under God” part. (The Pledge in an of itself is a weird thing, of course, but for now I stand for it and say the words.)

    2. Temperance*

      I think this would be a great, great, great question to discuss during the Open Thread on Friday! ;)

    3. AKchic*

      I sit quietly and let them have their prayer. I will not be forced to pray with anyone. Nobody is going to follow my chosen rites, nor would I be so presumptuous as to ask them to; but I won’t be so rude as to demand anyone to stop with their public display of piety (even if, I cynically doubt them).

      Within political settings, I absolutely abhor all things religious. I am a firm separation of religion and politics type.

      For you: within the workplace, if you don’t own the company, it is going to be hard to change the culture if the owner is the kind who believes that their religion is the “one, true and only” religion. If they are open-minded, they might be more amenable, but if they are already openly praying in the workspace before meetings, it’s probably a lost cause.

  37. The Other Dawn*

    Re: #2

    I haven’t gotten through all the comments yet, so maybe it’s been said already, but maybe OP could suggest the company choose a handful of different charities that employees can then choose to donate to. That’s what our company does. they choose typically 8 to 10 charities, which are all different in some way. They then post a signup sheet that lists all the different things the charities are looking for. People put their name under the charity and buy whatever they want from the list. Employees then drive them to the various charities and surprise them with the donations. It works well, because if you don’t want to give to a religious charity, you can give to another one on the list. Also, the people running the charity get really excited when they unexpectedly see an SUV pull up that’s loaded with donations for them.

    My only gripe with this is that I’ve never seen an pet charity on the list. So, I’m going to email HR right now to ask that they do that for next year! Pets need food, medication, care, etc., too.

    1. Goya*

      Our local humane society is always my suggestion for charity drives. Not that it’s often accepted, but it’s pretty neutral in the way of “offensiveness”. The furry ones need help too!

  38. MommyMD*

    The underprivileged kids on the Angel tree don’t care what organization is giving them what may be their only Christmas present. My son is gay and we think more about the end-recipient and how a simple gift can uplift their sad lives.

    1. Katniss*

      Can we stop with the “you’re just punishing the kiiiiiiiiiids if you don’t support SA” rhetoric? The LW has said in the original letter and multiple times in the comments that she is planning to suggest other organizations that do similar work. We are not required to donate to homophobic organizations in order to help kids.

      1. Leatherwings*

        Thank you. This line of reasoning is beyond unhelpful.

        And the underprivileged kids of LGBTQ parents likely actually care a great deal since there’s a decent chance they’re not included in this service.

        1. Galatea*

          I can’t tell if the total refusal to think about LGBTQ parents/kids is because it doesn’t occur to people to think of us, or because people _do_ think of us and literally just don’t care. Either way, it’s really frustrating to see “think of the children! Just not the gay ones!” being bandied about as an acceptable line of thinking.

    2. Alton*

      This assumes that none of the kids are LGBT or have LGBT parents, or that there aren’t LGBT families who aren’t participating in the program because they don’t feel included.

      I’m sure that the Angel Tree donations are helpful and appreciated for the most part, but that doesn’t mean that that’s sufficient. If it’s possible to do the same thing while including more people, that sounds like a better idea to me.

      1. Edina Monsoon*

        I hate the ‘well I’m gay and I don’t mind’ mentality, it implies anyone who objects is pretty or awkward when that’s norms the case.

    3. BemusedBewilderedBefuddled*

      I support your giving and it sounds like you have weighed the good and the bad of supporting SA. While I don’t fully agree with your conclusion, It’s super awesome you made a considered decision.
      May I suggest considering that the kids benefitted by Angel Tree programs aren’t necessarily sad? I find it beneficial to think of charity giving as a way to enhance satisfactory, but imperfect, lives as compared to fixing broken lives. It’s silly, but I find it pushes my thought process away from subtly acting out of pity more toward acting out of empathy.

      1. name*

        I considered making this comment. Thank you for doing so. I think viewing the lives of people in poverty as ‘broken’ or ‘sad’ only serves to remove their agency and dehumanize them.

    4. Temperance*

      This is really not fair framing. It’s not the meanieheads who are supportive of LGBT folks being grinches and keeping gifts away from The Little Match Girl.

    5. Cheddarcheese*

      If the KKK organized a toy drive for (only) poor white children, would you be saying this? “Oh, well, my sister-in-law is black, but we think more about the poor white children and how a gift can be uplifting for them.”

    6. LBK*

      You understand that if your son were put out on the street today, the SA would turn him away from being one of those end-recipients, right? That they wouldn’t give a shit about his “sad life” on the basis of his sexuality? That is why people are concerned, because LGBTQ youth are often the most in need and the SA turns them away.

    7. Kelly L.*

      Then someone else can donate to the kid OP would have donated to, and OP can donate where her conscience dictates. It’s not my job to buy for a specific kid who is a stranger to me. There are many people who will give to this drive, and as I understand it, organizations also have plans in place to get gifts to any kids who are on their list but aren’t chosen.

      1. Kelly L.*

        (And I say specific for a reason. OP is no more depriving any specific kid than if, say, she chose an older kid over a younger one. She wouldn’t then be “punishing” the younger one. Someone else can gift to that one. It’s the nature of this type of drive.)

  39. CR*

    #4 this was a lesson I just recently learned. Until yesterday when I gave notice, I was participating in all our usual work planning, long term discussion, etc…it was really weird staying engaged when I knew I was interviewing and wanting to leave, especially since so many of our plans involved me!

    1. Mimmy*

      IKR? Whenever someone at my job mentions something far in the future, I think to myself, “I hope I’m not still here by then!”. It feels dishonest to act like you’re going to be there forever when you know that you want to move on sooner than later, especially when you’re getting positive feedback, but I know people will tell me that this is a very normal occurrence. How did your employer take it when you gave your notice?

      1. CR*

        My employer was disappointed, but understanding. I’m unfortunately leaving them in a bad spot (very understaffed) but that was just the way the timing worked out and not my fault, so I’m trying not to feel too much guilt.

      2. LW #4*

        I feel the same way! It feels so awkward, but I guess it would be more awkward to accidentally spill the beans about your plans.

    2. LW #4*

      Any tips for staying engaged? I want to keep being a great employee, but have definitely noticed a decrease in motivation since I made the choice to leave.

  40. BemusedBewilderedBefuddled*

    re: OP3
    While I understand and agree there is no obligation for the principal to include spouses in the pre-party dinner, it is also a little inconsiderate due to the proximity to the holiday party. If a spouse wishes to attend the party, they likely need to arrange separate transport and dinner plans, eat at a different nearby restaurant, or awkwardly eat at the same restaurant. I would regard it as a disincentive for spouses to attend the holiday party, albeit not intentional.

  41. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    #2 – Please speak up! At OldJob, our PR folks decided to do a succession of charity events revolving around autism, and when the first one was announced, it was raising money for Autism Speaks (which, for those not aware, is a pretty terrible organization wrt actual autistic folks). I quietly made my concerns known to the folks involved, and I know I wasn’t the only one — after that first, already-announced event, they quietly switched all the future events to a local org that actually had people with autism helping to guide it properly. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, and if you can focus specifically on “hey, I really want to donate, but you might want to be aware that there are XYZ issues and here’s an alternative,” it can go over just fine.

    1. Gabriela*

      Ugh, Autism Speaks. A company I used to work for still does a huge, very public fundraiser for them. When I worked there, I was super competitive (we had fundraising contests) and pushed a lot of my friends and family to donate as well. It wasn’t until after I left the company that I read about all of the AS issues. I wish someone had alerted me then.

  42. Nelly*

    While I think the LW has a concern that should be addressed by suggesting other charities as options for next year, s/he should not take out their politics on the kids whose names are on those angels. As someone who once had to go SA when no other options were available, I don’t agree with their religion, but I am thankful that they helped me.

    1. Temperance*

      This is not really a fair framing of the situation. LW is not “taking out their politics on the kids whose names are on those angels”, but choosing where to spend her own money. It’s the organization’s shitty politics that lead people like us not to donate to them.

      I’m glad you were able to get the help you needed from them, but if you were openly queer or trans, that door would have been closed to you. Just something to think about.

    2. Leatherwings*

      Maybe the SA should stop taking their religion and politics out on the people they purport to serve instead.

    3. Yorick*

      Taking your politics out on the kid would be something like going to find them, snatching their gifts away, and saying they can’t have them because SA is biased, or telling them they’re bad people for getting SA gifts.

      Choosing to donate to children through one charity instead of another is not taking anything out on anyone. Indeed, if you don’t donate anything to any charity, you still aren’t punishing low-income children.

    4. Chameleon*

      I have a gay friend who has struggled with a drug problem for many years. He occasionally has to go back to rehab, but the only one in his area that he can afford is run by the SA. Every time he talks about how much he wishes he didn’t have to go to an organization that often belittles or degrades him for who he is, just to get clean.

      It’s great that the SA runs an affordable rehab program. And yes, they help him although he is gay. But it doesn’t lessen the pain he has to feel by relying on an organization that openly hates him.

  43. Hiring Mgr*

    My experience with the Salvation Army is limited to the character Sarah from Guys and Dolls–the naive and idealistic crusader against sin and debauchery, though deep down she’s a sweet girl who just needed a romantic trip to Cuba to unwind. It’s a shame the organization has become so judgemental

  44. OP #5*

    I guess to add additional context our offices will be moving in the next few months and we WILL be in a single office space with our whole department. So at some point if she keeps this up, her lateness will be noticed. Now she’s not a dumb person, and I know it’s not my responsibility to manage her, but I do really like her and I do see this potentially becoming an issue when there are 30 people who would notice her absence instead of 1.

    1. Temperance*

      Not to be blunt, but this is just not your problem to solve. She’s an adult woman who knows what she should be doing.

    2. Ainomiaka*

      Yeah, that part sounds beyond the scope of what you can do. Yes, you can be encouraging when she talks about taking the early bus but you can’t force her. You aren’t her supervisor. You aren’t her parent.

    3. Yorick*

      It may not matter that she is late, her boss may not care, she may still be getting all her work done, etc. You should try not to notice the time she arrives or leaves anymore. When she tells you about the late bus, tell her she doesn’t need to explain herself to you. If she needs to be on time once you move offices, she will be or she will face consequences. It has nothing to do with you.

    4. LBK*

      I guess you have to decide what the problem is; do you have an issue with her being late, or do you have an problem with her making excuses to you constantly about it? If you’re genuinely concerned that this is going to affect her, it could be kind to point that out to her.

    5. Observer*

      Unless you are somehow privy to some secret information, she is knows about this problem too. It’s her issue to manage.

      The best thing you can do for her is to not engage and not get into it. It won’t do her any good to have you make excsues for her, and it also won’t help to have you scold her or try to manage her time. By not engaging with her, she’ll hopefully see that she needs to figure something out for herself because no one is going to do it for her.

    6. MommyMD*

      Chronic lateness is a big workplace issue. Unless she is piling onto your workload because of it, I’d let it slide. When you move and managers become aware that’s on her because every other person manages to get there on time. But I also would not listen to daily excuses. I’d simply and politely say that I don’t want to hear about it anymore. It’s ok to do that. If it IS affecting your job, I’d tell your manager. I once commuted 90 miles each way sometimes through fire and snow and was rarely late because I allowed for delays.

    7. MommyMD*

      And when 30 people start noticing some of those people are going to be disgruntled about it and I guarantee she will find a way to get to work on time. Let it play itself out. It’s her problem to solve.

  45. Emi.*

    My church does an angel tree and as far as I know someone has just made arrangements with a local homeless shelter (or possibly foster kids?) where they let us know what they want/need, and we collect it and give it directly to them. Could your organization do something similar?

  46. WillyNilly*

    I used to work for a large Fortune 500 company. We also did the toys for kids thing (we got stacks of letters to Santa from the kids); but it was through several agencies. Boys And Girls Clubs, the Y, local shelters, etc.

    Instead of a tree we had employee volunteer “elves” that helped coordinate. I loved volunteering. In doing doing so I experienced some employees wanted to get a Santa letter from specific agencies (“one of the Y kids”), some people wanted specific requests (“gimme a kid who wants a bike”), some wanted a family (“any shelter families or sibling sets?”), etc, and some people just didn’t care, they took any kid. And I am sure some employees didn’t participate at all, there was zero pressure to do so.

    It was a wildly popular program, that really served as morale and team building (my team of 7 decided instead of doing a Secret Santa among ourselves to get a shelter family and pool together and fulfill all their wishes; heartwarming hardly describes how great that felt).

    Speak up about the SA being the only organization, and have a few suggestions of additional groups. My experience really makes me feel strongly that people want to give: providing more options only increases participation.

  47. Luna*

    #5- I was in almost the exact same situation at my last job, only difference was that we both took the bus, just from slightly different locations. I will say, as someone who has always relied on public transit, it can be very unreliable and hard to predict (especially the bus!). There were many times when I would leave an hour early because I had a lot of work to get done, only to arrive an hour late instead because of bus delays and/or massive traffic jams. It doesn’t sound to me like your co-worker is afraid of you tattling, she’s probably just venting about her frustrating commute, and for better or worse you’re the first person that she sees in the morning.

    Also- I would definitely recommend not tattling. It sounds like this does not really impact you or your work in any way, other than being slightly annoying. As long as she is getting all her work done I really don’t see this as an issue. And if she isn’t getting all her work done, then it’s up to her boss to speak to her about that.

  48. GroundControl*

    #2 – I’m a medical librarian and experienced this at my last job at a healthcare research agency. I sent an email to the person in charge of the donation drive with links to news stories that discussed the Salvation Army’s discriminatory practices as well as a short literature review highlighting how discrimination affects the health and well-being of the LGBTQA community (in addition to it obviously just being a really crummy thing to do). They were horrified, apologized profusely, and made good on their promise to find new charities to support for future drives.

  49. B*

    #2 – Check with your local post office. A lot of them have “letters to santa” from children who are in need of items as well. The post office pulls the letters, writes a number on them and you comb through them. When you find one you like/feel a connection to then go shopping, wrap and place in a box and the post office will mail it (you pay for postage). It’s a wonderful way to also spread some joy to children.

    #3 – This seems completely normal to me and actually most of the organizations I know do that. If you are worried about showing up before your spouse ask him to text you when they are leaving. You could always grab a drink or coffee before meeting them.

    1. B*

      #1 – Meant to add that I agree, you are in the wrong. You vented as a manager on FB when you should have left it alone when you knew those you manage are on your account. Own up to it, apologize and then I would suggest unfriending or placing into a private category of some sort all of your coworkers.

  50. Sled Dog Mama*

    #2 thank you for writing in. My company also has a SA angel tree this year and because my employer is a healthcare organization that works hard to promote inclusiveness and being a safe space I’m horrified. I’ve been wondering this exact thing and I’m really glad to see others thoughts.

  51. Allison*

    LW 2: I’m a little torn on this. I dislike the SA as well and I often have to tell people that if they care about LGBT issues, they should avoid those little red buckets. On the one hand, the gifts are going to the kids, so it’s not like you’re giving money that might benefit programs that LGBT people are excluded from. On the other hand, the simple fact that it is a Salvation Army tree could send a weird message to people in the office that the organization excludes or denies help to, so it is worth mentioning to HR. There are other organizations that do similar “sponsor a child” programs where one person buys a kid the toys they want.

    Now, I’m also not a huge fan of those types of drives. Yes, it’s great to donate toys you know a specific kid wants, rather than bring in a gift and hope it goes to a kid who wants it, but not everyone is in a position to buy all the things on a kid’s wish list! Maybe someday my boyfriend and I could sponsor a kid together, but right now, I wish I had the option of just getting one or two things for someone, because while Christmas is about giving, there’s only so much I can give some years (like this one).

    1. Leatherwings*

      The kids of LGBTQ parents actually very well could be excluded from this toy drive, and this kind of thing is exactly what the SA markets itself on to leverage additional gifts throughout the year. They highlight it in their end of year emails, their annual pamphlets on their success stories, and in meetings with major donors to describe how great and charitable they are.

      The whole “this isn’t actually supporting homophobic policies” thing is beyond inaccurate and really dismissive. I do think the OP can suggest/personally give to other orgs that do similar work without the anti-LGBTQ stance, and that’s awesome.

      1. Annabelle*

        All of this. I also feel like a lot of commenters fail to realize that LGBT kids exist and are likely being ignored/turned away from these drives. It’s not like gay adults are born fully grown. We were all gay kids at some point.

        1. Allison*

          Okay, okay, I apologize, you’re right, I didn’t realize that. I made a mistake.

          Can’t wait for 8 other people to also correct me . . .

          1. serenity*

            Three people have thoughtfully commented on your post, on a public website. That’s not exactly a pile-on, and this isn’t exactly a private forum so you don’t need to be defensive.

            1. Allison*

              Yes, I knew it was 3 people being civil, but I was worried MORE people would correct me in the aggressive, “ugh, you’re an idiot and also kind of a jerk” tone you JUST used.

              1. serenity*

                You’re reading into my post, and others, and also disregarding the commenting policy of this website. Please stop.

          2. Kelly L.*

            The trouble is that other comments come in while each person is reading the thread, and they can’t see the new ones until they’ve posted and it reloads.