my coworker is crowdfunding for IVF and keeps asking everyone for money

A reader writes:

I work in the HR department in payroll for a medium-sized company. My coworker (and his wife) want to have a child. They have already tried the conventional way, drugs, IUI, IVF, and surrogacy with her eggs/his sperm. They have not had success. Adoption OR surrogacy for a non-biological child is not an option for them because they both have past addiction issues and criminal records, although they have since turned their lives around.

They want to try IVF again, but since it was unsuccessful before and multiple doctors have told them his wife will never be able to conceive or carry a child, insurance will no longer cover it. And no doctor will attempt surrogacy again, given the history. They have turned to crowd-funding to raise the money.

Ever since the funding started, my coworker will not stop asking everyone for money. I don’t mean he once casually mentioned the fund and then dropped it. I mean he brings it up multiple times a day, send emails about it, prints copies of the fund page from the internet and hands them out, and flat out asks people for money “so we can make our dreams come true.” Giving money won’t deter him because one of my other coworkers did donate, and he still gets asked and emailed same as the rest of us. It makes everyone uncomfortable because he isn’t taking no for an answer.

Their past fertility struggles are written on the funding page and my coworker mentions them all the time. He even tries to show us paperwork from the doctors to “prove it isn’t a scam and we really are going to use the money for IVF.” I don’t think it is any of my business to know about their past attempts and medical issues, but he discusses them as casually as one would discuss traffic or the weather. He won’t take no for an answer and if anyone asks him to stop he will get upset. He will leave but act like we are personally trying to hurt him. The next day it starts all over again.

He isn’t a manager or supervisor, but he is by far the most senior person here so some people are afraid to speak up because he isn’t a peer. How do we get him to stop? Our boss retired right before the fund started and we are being remotely managed from another location until a new manager is hired and none of us have met our new management because they are largely hands-off. We are in our slow period so it might be a while before a permanent new manager is here. We are all getting sick of this. What would you advise?

Stop worrying about hurting his feelings

He’s being a jerk. He’s not taking no for an answer, and he’s ignored requests to stop. That’s jerk behavior. And yes, it’s stemming from a personal situation that’s presumably difficult and painful, but most people who are dealing with difficult and painful situations do not run roughshod over their coworkers and refuse repeated requests to stop.

So stop worrying about hurting his feelings by telling him to stop. You’re not saying something that’s actually hurtful; you’re making a request that’s beyond reasonable, and that anyone who cared about your feelings would have respected.

I get that it can be tough to push back on someone who’s senior to you at work, but this isn’t about work stuff. This is about personal behavior — very personal behavior — and you do have standing to assert yourself there.

You can start with kindness, but if that doesn’t work, you’ll need to escalate from there. Here’s what that escalation can look like:

The next time he hits you up for money, say this: “You’ve asked me about this a lot. It was fine to ask the first time, but I told you my answer was no, so I don’t want to keep being asked.  Thanks for understanding.” If he gets upset and leaves, that’s fine! It’s okay for him to be upset. Don’t be manipulated by that.

If he continues to bring it up with you, then you need to escalate in firmness: “I asked you not to raise this with me again. You’re making me really uncomfortable.” Or simply: “No. Like I’ve already said, don’t ask me again.”

And if he brings it up after that: “Dude, no. I’ve told you multiple times that I’m not open to this. It’s really inappropriate for you to do this at work. If you’re not going to stop, I’m going to escalate this to (manager). Please don’t make me do that.” (And I get that your current manager is remote and hands-off, but this really does sound insanely disruptive and like something you could escalate after a bunch of attempts to deal with it yourself don’t work.)

That’s the professional approach. But frankly, in a lot of offices there would be room for a bunch of you to just yell, “Fergus, STOP ASKING FOR MONEY” the next time he raises it. Sometimes there’s room for social shaming when someone is repeatedly being a jerk.

{ 653 comments… read them below }

  1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

    Oof. This is rough. I totally get not wanting to upset someone who’s going through a bad time, but Alison is right–this guy is being a jerk. He’s also being super unprofessional, which is maybe what you should focus on? He is not behaving in a work-appropriate way at work. And it’s okay to say that. Deeply uncomfortable, yes, but entirely justified.

    1. Snark*

      Having been through some fertility struggles of our own…..yes, it can be consuming and distressing and it’s easy for it to become an object of overwhelming or even obsessive focus, but it’s not a “bad time” in the sense that something anybody needs to tiptoe around him with.

    2. Hills to Die on*

      He sounds awful. You need to get management involved—be clear about exactly what he is doing and saying, and the impact it’s having. Find some phrasing you like and just keep repeating it over and over. Fergus is an ass, and having personal problems or heartbreaks doesn’t give anyone license to behave this way.

      1. Anne (with an "e")*

        (Of course, people could just tell the jerk that at least he doesn’t have cancer or an eating disorder.)

            1. Robin Sparkles*

              Amy is from a previous letter submitted a few days back -she yelled at people for having any problems whatsoever because “at least it wasn’t an eating disorder or cancer”. LOVE this suggestion.

      2. Wintermute*

        +1 This is now firmly in management territory.

        There are things you can try to solve on your own, I’m a big fan of it myself, but DIY problem-solving is really for little things, “Bobert is directly soliciting people for girl scout cookies rather than using the posting board as per policy,” kind of things where you can gently push back and come at them from a place of presuming innocence and saying something like “hey! not sure if you knew this, but…”

        You already pushed back gently, the behavior did not stop, and this is not one step over the line this is so far over the line that he would have to make it a day trip to get back to the Line of Acceptability, pack a picnic lunch, and really make a day of it.

        This behavior is just so far out there and floating that someone should push back and management has to be made aware. If I were in management’s shoes I’d be upset I didn’t know this was going on, frankly, because I’d be very concerned that people who did give (!) were pressured into it and with the pressure not stopping even then that people could be feeling coerced by a senior associate.

        1. Annonymouse*

          Not to mention it sounds like he is spending HOURS a day on this instead of actually working. And it is distracting the rest of you from work too.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      He is in effect upsetting himself by behaving like this. And I say this as someone who is childless not by choice. He is upset anyway. He is upset regardless of what you say. And if he’s upset because you won’t donate, that’s not on you.

      It sounds like major, desperate, super-double-down denial. This isn’t going to make their dreams come true. It’s unlikely to work – that much has been made clear. He is putting a huge amount of energy into denying this – and he’s denying it AT you. It’s really sad. But you can’t fix it. And you shouldn’t have to put up with this at work. It’s okay to go ahead and stop worrying about hurting his feelings.

      1. Observer*

        OP, the point here is not that it’s not likely to work. And it’s not something you should mention, even though it’a 100% true. It’s just that it speaks to the level of denial this person is operating under. That would normally not be your problem, but as Ramona Flowers says, he’s denying it AT you.

        The key takeaway here is that reasonable conversations are not going to get you anywhere. Don’t get into any discussion about the matter. Just keep on repeating your refusal and insisting that he drop the subject. And definitely get management involved. He’s being disruptive and using his position to try to pressure people into giving him money. It doesn’t matter what the money is for. He should not be trying to pressure people who rank lower than him to give him money.

      2. pope suburban*

        He may also be upsetting other people. He and his wife are not the only people on earth who have fertility concerns. People in the office in similar straits, who are more discreet, may not enjoy hearing about this all day, every day, and that’s even without the hideously awkward repeated cash grabs. What Fergus is doing is downright awful, pain or no pain. It’d make me crawl out of my skin as someone who doesn’t have a lot to spare and who cannot stand high-pressure sales tactics, and it could well be salting wounds for other people who have not been able to conceive. He has to be told to stop, clearly, now.

        1. RVA Cat*

          This. As someone who is coming to terms with secondary infertility, this has my shoulders up at my ears. I can just imagine the earful of “at least you have one child!” I would get from him.

          1. many bells down*

            Me too. My spouse and I tried for 5 years to have another child, and we decided IVF was not for us for a host of reasons. This would be really awful to have to listen to every day.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          This x2.

          I wanted a family. AS things worked out, I never married and, according to various doctors, would almost certainly not have been able to have a biological child even if/no matter how hard I tried. I’m past it now (because you have to be, or it will ruin the rest of your life. Case in point) but ten years ago listening to this guy would have been excruciating.

        3. Jennifer Thneed*

          I also wonder what Mrs. Fergus would think of this behavior. I’m sure he told her “I’ll ask people at work to help” and doesn’t mention that he asks 8,320 times a week.

          1. Say what, now?*

            I’m thinking this may be at the root of it. If he’s this desperate, maybe he’s just feeling so guilty/remorseful/frustrated/other that he can’t give his spouse a baby. I’m thinking that this is just a “make it right” instinct in overdrive.

      3. Julia the Survivor*

        Also if possible and covered by his insurance, can he get therapy? He’s obsessing, in denial, behaving inappropriately, and clearly needs help. Your description of him reminds me of the street beggars in my big city. They’re in denial and need help too.
        None of us get everything we want, and we all have to accept and deal with that. He’s not. Not having children isn’t the end of the world… there are enough people already! Maybe he and his wife can channel their child-caring energy into something that would help people, or animals.

        1. Midge*

          While I don’t think you’re wrong that therapy might help him cope, if the OP is wondering whether she has standing to ask him to stop badgering people in the office for money for his wife’s IVF treatments, then she definitely doesn’t have the standing to recommend he sees a therapist!

          1. Julia the Survivor*

            She could informally suggest it to his boss or someone else with standing, and they could recommend it…

      4. Hills to Die on*

        maybe a bit off topic, but I do wish I could pass my fertility on to others. I have my two kids and it breaks my heart to see people go through this.

        1. Oderixi*

          You can certainly try donating! It’s not quite the same as passing on your fertility, but it might help a family get started.

          1. Hills to Die on*

            I have thought about it, but I am 43 so I’m not sure if anyone wants them, and in order to donate you have to go into a state of forced menopause or something? It’s hormonally quite arduous so unless someone asks I don’t think I’m going to. But I did consider it at one point!

        2. AKchic*

          There are days I wish I could pass my former fertility on to people. I can easily get pregnant. Carrying to term wasn’t always the easy part (13 pregnancies, 4 full-term births). I’ve been pre-menopausal since I was 28.

    4. Casuan*

      Also, where does it stop?
      If the IVF isn’t successful then will they try again to crowdfund the procedure?

      +1 to comments re inappropriateness, especially by Fergus trying to prove that the procedure is legit
      Then again, sometimes those who want to be parents will go to great lengths to have a child- including trying to convince those who know of his past that this time he’s being real.
      I wouldn’t be surprised either way.

      OP, any idea if Fergus’ wife knows that he’s sharing her medical information? Presumably she knows it’s on the crowdfunding page, yet somehow it seems different for someone to be sharing the infos in person (admittedly my logic is off here).

    5. I Didn’t Kill Kenny*

      The guy has demonstrated that he won’t stop. Sounds like people push back and he gets angry. Escalate to management. They can make him stop.

    6. ECHM*

      I hope the man won’t treat any child he ultimately has as poorly as he is treating his co-workers …

  2. Mike C.*

    Seriously, just because it’s about having babies doesn’t stop this from being terrible behavior. There’s plenty of room to tell this person to knock it off.

    1. Clare*

      Right?! I get that fertility issues are difficult and can be very painful, but we really need to stop allowing terrible behavior “because babies.”

      The time to go to upper management is now. People have already asked him to stop and all he does is get upset and then continue the next day. Enough already.

      This would obviously not be okay even if the IVF treatment had a chance of working, but the fact that he & his wife have been told by multiple doctors that this WILL NOT WORK makes it even worse. Yes, doctors can be wrong sometimes, and if they had endless money and wanted to keep trying it’s their business. But asking others to take part in and finance their delusion is not. Indulging the fantasy might feel like the nice thing to do in the moment, but is not kind.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I wouldn’t bring up your latter point with him, though I do agree with it. It won’t end well – he’ll get even more upset – and it leaves him room to argue that yes it will work, therefore him asking for money is okay. I think the simpler the message (“Asking us for money repeatedly is not appropriate”) the better.

        1. Wintermute*

          That second point would be one for a very close friend to broach, not a co-worker, you’re right.

          That said I think it’s an important piece of information for management to have because it highlights just how far this guy is past the point of rationality.

      2. Barney Barnaby*

        I don’t think that the delusion (or lack of potential for success) is an issue; the issue is that he’s asking co-workers and sort-of-subordinates for substantial sums of money. That doesn’t belong in an office, period.

        1. CG*

          I was told a long time ago that I couldn’t have children and I can’t imagine even asking, let alone badgering my coworkers for money!

          Reading this letter made me really upset that someone would think it was a good idea!

          I am sorry he and his wife are going through that but it’s rude and highly unprofessional. I agree, escalate it to whomever you can.

      3. Working Hypothesis*

        I think the question of whether or not it might work is really outside the whole thing. As you said, this would not be OK even if the IVF treatment had a chance of working. It’s just plain not OK. Since there is no way to convince somebody who is in this kind of denial that it *doesn’t* have a realistic chance of working, that part shouldn’t even be brought up.

        They are welcome to keep their fantasies of what might have been if only they could raise the money. And *if* they can actually raise the money through ethical means, they’re free to spend it on a fantasy which won’t come true. But whether they could actually get a baby this way or not, they don’t have the right to trample all over everybody else’s toes, feelings, work time, and wallets in order to do it.

    2. FD*

      And to a certain degree it doesn’t even matter what it’s about. This would also be inappropriate if this were about, say, bills for chemotherapy he was going through. This is clearly crossing a line.

      1. Mike C.*

        It’s true, I just think that because it’s about having children and holds an incredible amount of status in society makes it more difficult to know if it’s ok to shut this behavior down.

    3. PlainJane*

      Exactly. It’s not OK to beg for money at work. Period. Why you’re begging for money really doesn’t matter.

    4. Tequila Mockingbird*

      My husband and I are undergoing the IVF process *right now* (as in, my embryo transfer is on Wednesday!!!) and yeah, it’s reeeeally expensive, even if you’re healthy and have a high chance of success, as I fortunately do. We’ve spent $30k so far.

      But it would never, never, never occur to me to hustle coworkers for money to pay for my infertility journey. Never. It’s our problem and our business alone. And if we did need to turn to others for financial help, we would have asked our own families – y’know, the people who will be biologically related to the child. It is no one else’s business or obligation. Period.

      So seriously, tell this jerk to bugger off. Kids are expensive, no matter how they’re brought into the world, and all parents have to figure out how to manage their finances.

      1. Rana*

        Seriously. And if no one tells him to knock it off, he’ll keep going. If it’s not for IVF, it’ll be for something else. (I mean, what if, against all odds, they _were_ successful? Then it’d be badgering everyone for money to pay for the kid’s clothing, or toys, or school, or, or, or. This boundary needs to be drawn firmly, and now.)

      2. Just Another Techie*

        Best of luck with the transfer. That wait before they can do a hcg test is the worrrrrst

      3. NorthernSoutherner*

        Good luck, Tequila! I’m glad you brought up the price tag for IVF. What is is this guy going to do, get 6 co-workers to fork over 5K? Let’s say everyone does something crazy and donates $100. That’s a whopping, what, thousand dollars? I guess since I’m not privy to his GoFundMe page, I’m not seeing the $$, but I wondered how much help hitting up one group of coworkers would be.

    5. Tuxedo Cat*

      If he were trying to sell wares like this, it would be bad. Everyone else outlined why else this is a bad idea.

  3. Don't Blame Me*

    HR needs to talk to him about this! It is not okay to repeatedly harass your coworkers for money, no matter what the reason is.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Just because your management is in a different location doesn’t mean they don’t have a job to do, or that there’s nothing they CAN do.

      You need to do your part to support your managers in the other location by being their eyes and ears. (Heck, even if they were in town, or on the same floor, it’s your job to send info upstream.)

      Tell them what’s going on, and tell them your plan to push back on a personal level, and mention that this is becoming a work-quality issue.

      1. myswtghst*

        “You need to do your part to support your managers in the other location by being their eyes and ears.”

        Yes, this. They may have no idea what is going on, but if they’re even halfway decent managers with any desire to retain their employees, they would want to know.

        1. Wintermute*

          If I were in their place I would feel abjectly mortified I allowed employees to be treated this way!

      2. Wintermute*

        This highlights why remote management is a terrible, terrible idea. An in-building manager would have shut this down ASAP, and had a real come-to-jesus sit down about boundaries and office behavior.

        Now it’s gone so far because no manager was there to intervene I’m having trouble seeing a path forward that has him remain in this role long-term because of the amount of frustration, inappropriate personal information, and boundary violation he’s forced on his co-workers and the deep and abiding concerns about his judgement, rationality and professionalism left behind.

        It’s sad, in a way, because hands-on management may have nipped this in the bud, instead it turned into something that is so far out there, it’s damaging everyone.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I agree.

      I think OP should raise it with management. Stress that Fergus is asking repeatedly, not only day after day but repeatedly in one day.

      As he emails regularly, send them copies of the e-mails.

      I wouldn’t make any comment at all about the likely success of the IVF or the medical advice, focus on the fact that he is putting inappropriate pressure on you and other coworkers, including those who are junior to him.

      I don’t know whether you are in a position to suggest a more general policy about soliciting money at work. (I assume you don’t already have such a policy)

      We have a policy which limits any requests. People can send round ONE general, informative e-mail to the full office. (e.g. “I’m running a marathon in support of Cancer Research – if anyone would like to sponsor me, here’s link to the online form and there is a hard copy in the break room”) and/or leave a sign up sheet in the kitchen, but that’s it. And the policy explicitly states that failure to keep to the policy can lead to disciplinary action)

  4. Temperance*

    I honestly think that it’s gone beyond the time to treat him with kindness and kid gloves, and you should escalate to your management team. Even though they’re offsite, I’m sure that they want to know that Fergus is bullying his coworkers for money.

    I also think it might be time to create a policy relating to Go Fund Mes in the office, and personal solicitations. In my office, we don’t allow anyone to circulate GFMs or to beg/harass coworkers for money. It’s okay if you’re selling Girl Scout cookies or doing another fundraiser for kids, but not this.

    1. TootsNYC*

      And in every office I’ve been in, even Girl Scout things are “you can send out a few emails so people know to come to you, or put a sign in the break room, but that’s IT.”

      I don’t know that it’s officially been a “you can’t walk around and ask people directly,” but that’s been the standard.

    2. Antilles*

      It’s okay if you’re selling Girl Scout cookies or doing another fundraiser for kids, but not this.
      Disagree. The issue here isn’t really what cause is being dealt with; it’s the repeated requests and refusal to hear/accept no. This behavior would be just as awful if he was pushing Girl Scout cookies “multiple times a day” as it is for trying to get funding to conceive a future girl scout.

      1. Temperance*

        Oh no, I totally agree with that. For cookies or whatever, people put up a sign outside their office and another one in the coffee station and might mention it once or twice, but not what he’s doing.

        1. JessaB*

          Yeh in our office you were allowed to leave a brochure/order form in the break room. Period. You weren’t allowed to ask people, you weren’t allowed to email, you could put out a list with your name on it and people could decide yes or no.

          The only time you got to talk to them was to collect money from those who said yes and deliver their goodies of whatever kind. It was okay for someone to email YOU and say “hey when’s cookies,” but you were not allowed to go around selling and bothering people. Same with Avon, or whatever the latest thing you sell by catalogue. Stick it on a table and walk away.

          People who got pushy got strictly told no by management. AND their peers got peeved at them for potentially ruining for everyone the ability to put something out. Because one year it got to management almost doing that because of people who think rules don’t pertain to them.

          Luckily that job was one of the ones where management isn’t okay one person was one minute late, let’s use the nuclear option, one second late write up. Nobody can come in five minutes late ever because Sam took advantage and we don’t like punishing people for what they do individually, it’s too hard. So let’s punish everyone.

    3. Teal*

      I think this is actually the kindest path too. Rather than upsetting him every single day for the rest of eternity, just get management involved NOW and have it done with. Just be concrete about that is happening and your desired outcome, since a hands-off and off-site team will need more guidance to get rolling.

    4. all aboard the anon train*

      I actually disagree about fundraisers for kids, since I’ve seen is dissolve into complaints of unfairness that one person gets to put their kid’s GS cookie sheet in the office, but another loses out because they were a day behind or someone got their first.

      1. AllDogsArePuppies*

        I’m against for kids to, but because it defeats the purpose. Cookie sales (or whatever) are part a fundraiser but equally if not more to teach entrepreneurial skills to the kids. Having mom and dad put up a sheet at work defeats the purpose. maybe a sign where you put your # and let the kid call you and make the pitch themself. I refuse to buy from kids outside the grocery store who stand there when the adults make the pitch, but if the child themselves asks me, tells me prices, etc I’ll bite.

        1. Amy*

          But if you don’t know a Girl Scout, it can be really hard to get your annual Thin Mints fix! Thank goodness my niece became on this year. I was really tying myself into knots trying to find my source last year. I wish they were for sale in my office.

          1. Kimberly*

            The only reason my Dad took in sheets for my sister’s and my troops was was people had seen a picture of me in my Brownie uniform and demanded Thin Mints. We were the only two girls kids of an employee in the right age range at the time. So he talked to the leader and what he sold at the office went into a general fund for the whole troop.

          2. Dove*

            Plus, as someone who *was* a Girl Scout? There’s…a serious push, in the troops, to sell as many cookies as you can. Back in my day, you got a special badge for having sold the most cookies out of every girl in the troop; I don’t know if they still do that, but I’d be surprised if it had stopped.

            If you’re a kid who’s in an area where there’s a lot of people willing to buy cookies, and you’re a kid who doesn’t have any problems with going up to someone’s door and doing a sales-pitch? Then you’re fine, there’s no reason your parents need to be helping you out by taking a sheet in to work and advertising to their co-workers. But as a kid who was socially awkward at the best of times and wasn’t too great at being able to sell things to people? If I hadn’t had my dad taking that sheet in to work, I would have managed to sell cookies to my family and no one else.
            (I mean, as it is, I only kept getting ‘most sales of the year’ because I kept getting given a whole shipment really early and then my dad and brother would eat it no matter what mom did to hide it, so we then had to purchase the entire order so that I didn’t get in trouble.)

            Not every kid in Scouts is going to be good at sales. That’s okay, but it’s really not kind to the kid to force them to choose between being a social outcast for having been the only one to come back with *no* sales at all, or to have to become really good at a skill that may be outside of their range, or to be the annoying person who’s desperate to get their friends and family to buy in volume.
            For all you know, the kids outside the grocery store are too nervous to make the pitch themselves this time. They don’t deserve to be punished for that.

          1. Not a Morning Person*

            Just had a Girl Scout come by the house yesterday carrying stacks of cookies in a wagon. Thank goodness!

              1. Dalaimama*

                As a troop Cookie Parent for the 8th year (meaning I am the adult managing cookies for our whole troop), this is not true. You can absolutely sell cookies door-to-door snd are encouraged to do to.

                There are detailed rules about how old you have to be and you cannot sell by yourself. Depending on age you have to have a.) a parent with you or b.) a parent waiting on the sidewalk while you sell.

                More on topic, neither my work nor my husband’s allow personal sales of any kind. I’m fine with that.

                1. Owler*

                  Dalaimama, you may be right for your troop, but that isn’t true nationwide. Allowing door-to-door presales is decided at the council or service unit level.

                  My daughter’s unit allows it, but my friend’s daughter is in a service unit in a different state that doesn’t. They can only start selling once the cookies arrive, and they have to declare how many they plan to sell, and then arrange the booths to sell them. (They might also be the ABC Bakery, while we sell Little Brownie Bakery ones.)

        2. Temperance*

          That’s like my worst nightmare – extra steps to get cookies! On one of the floors in my building, a dude had his daughter make a poster, which was super cute, and she comes through and thanks everyone once the cookies actually arrive.

          1. Ophelia*

            I like this – it’s not obtrusive, and the kid has to actually expend some effort. It used to drive me crazy as a kid when my parents would make me go door to door ,but other kids just got to send their sheet to an office and presto! cookies! Darn work ethic.

        3. Tuxedo Cat*

          That’s what a friend instilled in me, that it’s for the kids and skill building.

          I usually have a friend’s kid call me and we talk cookies. I ask for recommendations and such. It’s kind of fun. Her kid doesn’t do the best in terms of sales, but I think the child is building some good skills.

        4. Kelly*

          My dad wouldn’t take our order sheets into work with him because he thought doing that was defeating the purpose of selling them. Then again this was in the early to mid 90s, so times have very much since changed. He loves GS cookies, and usually buys enough of the peanut butter patties to last him for a while. He bought some last year from my cousin’s daughter and only after she made the sales pitch herself.

          1. VioletEMT*

            My dad wouldn’t take my order sheet to work because he was the manager, and he didn’t want anyone to feel pressured to buy things from me because I was the boss’s daughter. Yes, even Thin Mints.

            1. Nox*

              I get very nasty with managers who parents of girl scouts who try to sell their gross cookies to me. I only buy from kids directly. My own niece in Florida is held to the same standard and has to pitch to me and overcome at least 1 objection. This is what my mother instilled in me as a former business owner and how she handled me when I was in GS.

              We now no longer permit any sales or private charity fundraising.

    5. Bowl of Oranges*

      It can go too far with fundraisers, too. My husband’s former company (a few thousand employees) did an annual fundraiser while he was there for a well-respected, well-known children’s charity. It was a company-wide fundraiser, and the person running it (another employee – not anyone at the charity) sent multiple emails about it every day for weeks. There was so much backlash that they had to change their policy the next year to limit the amount of communication about it.

      So I agree that it may be time for them to create a policy around fundraising, but it should include more than just personal solicitations.

      1. Safetykats*

        Every company I’ve worked for has had a formal policy prohibiting use of company resources for fundraising for anything not specifically sponsored or endorsed by the company. This prevents people from using work email (to or from) for private fundraising, and generally cuts down on the potential for this kind of harassment. It’s allowed to leave a Girl Scout cookie order form or a pledge sheet for your kids jog-a-thon out in your office or in the lunchroom, but if you want to really solicit donations you need to also talk the company into formally sponsoring your event or team.

        If OP’s company doesn’t have such a policy, it sounds like it’s time for one. I would recommend reporting the soliciting for funds to senior management and HR, and let them take care of it. If the many email solicitations have been saved, forward those so they can see the magnitude of the problem. If they haven’t been saved, see if they can be recovered from the company server, or start saving them now.

    6. Tuxedo Cat*

      In the offices I’ve worked in, you can ask once like send an email.

      You can’t badger people repeatedly to buy their kids’ stuff.

    7. Wintermute*

      I know other people have pointed this out but I think it’s just as inappropriate to hawk girl scout cookies in the office. There is a partial exception many places (though I argue there shouldn’t be, but it is slightly different), it’s still not okay to be aggressive.

      The problem isn’t the cause you’re stumping for. The problem is you’re crossing the streams, you’re leveraging a professional working relationship for a personal financial/economic thing. GSC gets an exception partially, in my opinion, because it’s not entirely a direct, personal economic benefit, though it partially is which is the part I think people don’t understand. Same with school fundraising, ultimately it’s asking other people to pay for stuff for your kid so you don’t have to, just via a highly indirect method.

      It’s the same any time you’re trying to cross domains, it often is inappropriate. You don’t mix work and your personal finances, your dating life, etc.

  5. Snark*

    Alison missed the obvious script: “Fergus, I’m really uncomfortable with multiple requests for money. I’ve already told you no and I expect you to respect that. Also, it’s not an eating disorder or cancer, so look on the bright side.”

    HEYOOOOOOOO *fingerguns*

    1. Juli G.*

      I feel like so many of these letters could be resolved if we could utilize some AAM matching services.

      1. Snark*

        I’m just going to start a company called GuanaCo, hire all the drama llama coworkers from AAM letters, and let them all scream at each other about eating disorders, take pictures of each others’ stoma bags, backseat drive at each others’ Uber drivers, throw tantrums over stolen baby names, shirk work for months, cheat on each others’ husbands, get blackout hammered on work trips and drive each other around, and so on. None of them would fire each other, so it’d just be this self-perpetuating infinity machine of dysfunction.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            And that’s when I spat my drink out on the London tube. Thank you for a much needed laugh. Also I mentioned below that talk to the hand boss from earlier could have her uses

            1. AnnaleighUK*

              I just cackled on Waterloo station concourse at Snark’s comments and someone gave me a totally filthy look!

              Snark should be prescribed for everyone who’s had a bad day. His comments certainly brighten me up!

              Also can you imagine how full of bees his proposed office would be? Good grief. Oh to be a fly on the wall.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          > cheat on each others’ husbands

          I suspect this of being a typo, but I love it so, so much.

          1. Snark*

            fposte noticed this too. It was a typo, and I caught it, and then I was like, nah, we gonna leave it right there.

        2. Wintermute*

          This might be the most brilliant idea I’ve ever heard. You could make serious money just putting up cameras.

          I’d love to be a fly on the wall when “eating disorder and cancer woman” meets this guy.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Just FYI, this ended up with a ton of jokey replies, which I removed because they were starting to take over the thread (funny though! but taking us way off-topic).

  6. Boo*

    I kind of wish that Amy from the “AT LEAST YOU DON’T HAVE CANCER AND AN ED” letter last week started working there, I think they’d work well together.

          1. Fact & Fiction*

            I threw a fava bean and Chianti reference into one of my published books because to this day it still amuses me. I write first person POV in a snarky tone so it worked.

            And it’s really amazing what some people believe is okay behavior at work. This guy has definitely gone over the line.

              1. Fact & Fiction*

                Ha! The conundrum of me wanting to be anonymous when commenting on this website but then being unable to tell people the specific books I wrote. Not that I’d feel comfortable self-promoting here.

                And yes, I remember the organ donation boss!

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              Here it’s actually a reference to an infamous letter where someone’s boss was going around demanding that everyone get tested to see if they were compatible to donate part of their livers to his brother…

  7. Rincat*

    Distributing flyers, bringing it up multiple times in conversations, asking coworkers repeatedly, sending emails – it’s not appropriate for bake sales, big charities, or anything else. It’s disruptive to work and that’s a good reason to talk to your manager about it if he doesn’t stop. I sympathize with his situation, but really – he can’t keep disrupting work this way. Let him be upset. He’s the one making this awkward and difficult, and his feelings aren’t anyone’s to manage but himself.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Ugh, my manager brings his 12 year old daughter and has her go around to every desk, clearing her throat to stop your work, to pitch her girlscout cookies. I hate it, especially since I’m trying to lose weight and the last thing I need to do is buy boxes of cookies! It’s really not the cause that’s the issue, it’s the fact that you’re creating a situation where a captive audience feels they can’t say no, and you’re doing it on the company time.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        I was going to say that it’s like the dad at my school doing daily Girl Scout Cookie sales pitches. I SAID NO!

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          There’s a time for talk to the hand boss from earlier to find her purpose in life and this just may be it.

      2. SoCalHR*

        Totally agree on a personal (I don’t want to buy cookies I shouldn’t be eating) and on a professional level. I mentioned below, but it may apply to you too- your company may have a no solicitation clause in their handbook. Not that you probably want to get the reputation for kicking the little girl scout out, but hanging the cookie order form in the breakroom should be more than sufficient – people who want cookies will know where to go.

        1. Lil Fidget*

          Yeah, that’s the issue, other people are like “how cute!” / “great job teaching your daughter leadership!” so I don’t want to be the one who’s like, get that little girl out of here haha.

        2. Wannabe Disney Princess*

          That’s all that happens here. As well as an email that says: Girl Scout cookie order form in Teapot Glazing break room. (We have three, so it does have to be specified lest there be another Thin Mint Crisis.)

        3. Kate*

          “hanging the cookie order form in the breakroom should be more than sufficient”

          Exactly this. I actually miss working in an office because it was my link to Girl Scout cookie sales (I love me some Tagalongs), but there is really no need to do a sales pitch for them. It’s not just rude to interrupt someone’s work and to put them on the spot, but enough people have heard of Girl Scout cookies to know whether they want them or they don’t.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            Keebler Peanut Butter Filled Cookies. (Thin Mints = Grasshoppers. Samoas = Coconut Dreams.)

            I swear to god the Girl Scouts have built their empire on the backs of elves they abducted from the Hollow Tree and enslaved because their cookies are exactly the same.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I have no trouble saying no to fundraisers. It’s easy because I don’t have any money! /s

        Seriously, this is really annoying that she’s stopping people from working. I’d totally say “No thank you; I need to get back to work.”

      4. Larina*

        This happened where I work a couple of years ago, but it was the CEO’s daughter. When she finally got to me, I deadpanned with “I don’t like girl scout cookies.” I felt awful, but it’s true.

        Now it’s my direct manager who peddles his daughter’s cookies and despite me saying I don’t enjoy them, he insists that he’ll get me to buy a box. Out of spite, I bought a box of cookies from a different girl scout, and I’m waiting for the right day to bring the box in and eat it in front of him.

        1. Decima Dewey*

          At a recent area meeting, the City Integrity Office person came in to discuss gifts and solicitations. Generally, bosses are allowed to give gifts to subordinates, not the other way around. Subordinates can only give bosses gifts on significant birthdays or if boss is retiring or being transferred (in other words, if the supervisory role is being severed). While it’s okay to give to boss’s favorite charity, the boss cannot solicit the donation.

        2. Rainy*

          GS cookies are now made in facilities where cross-contamination with a common food allergen is happening, and it seems to be across the board–I used to live in ABC territory and had an allergic reaction, and went GS cookie free until I moved to LBB-supplied Colorado, bought a box, same reaction. Pretty miserable, but also a great excuse for not buying coworkers’ kids’ cookies.

      5. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Ugh. I’m so glad that the norm in my area nowadays seems to be Scouts setting up tables in front of grocery stores, libraries, etc. and selling them lemonade-stand style. Anyone who wants to get their cookie fix can do so easily, but those who don’t want cookies for whatever reason don’t feel pressured. When I was 10 my troop sold door-to-door and even at that age I was awkwardly aware of how much pressure it put on people to have to tell me “no” to my face.

        (Also it was a huge logistical hassle to collect all the forms, order exactly the right number of cookies, distribute the right combination to each scout, and then deliver them to the right people… my mom was Cookie Organizer for my troop one year and the living room was FULL of towering stacks of cookies labeled “Kayla” and “Stephanie” and “Jennifer.”)

        1. CheeryO*

          I have so much internalized trauma from Girl Scout cookie sales. My parents didn’t have office jobs, and I never felt comfortable selling door-to-door, so I was always that person who sold like 10 boxes total, and some of my troop leaders over the years were downright mean about it.

          1. the gold digger*

            I have never been so grateful to have an introvert mother who did not want to support The Man as I was when it came to selling GS cookies. She, a former Brownie troop leader, refused to let me do it, saying that almost all the money went to the cookie company and why should GS bust their butts to make money for someone else.

          2. another STEM programmer*

            This was always me too. I hated it so, so much and the troop leaders were pretty mean about how poorly I always did compared to everyone else.

      6. Candi*

        I would so be tempted to (professionally and politely) ask why he is teaching his daughter bad work habits.

        You know, because interrupting people when they’re: 1) working; 2) on something most likely important; and 3) knocking them out of concentration will tick off a lot of her future coworkers.

      7. Tuxedo Cat*

        That’s a horrible thing to teach a kid, that that’s the way to get someone’s attention.

      1. Samata*

        Disregard, I completely forgot about the part where they have remote management and he is only senior in the office itself.

      2. Lil Fidget*

        Well mine is the manager, so I buy one box of cookies and then give them away when they arrive, but that’s a better scenario than OP’s because 1) the girl scout cookie thing is only once a year, and 2) it’s like $8 so I can afford it, one time. If it was more than that (more frequency or more money) I *would* push back, because we do technically have a solicitation rule in the handbook. Also what if everybody with school-age kids started to do that? It would quickly get out of control. I prefer when people just leave the sign-up sheet in the kitchen.

        I will say, this year I saw her coming and excused myself to the bathroom for 20 minutes before she got to me. But I’m barely fitting into my winter clothes over here, I can’t take any chances :P

        1. Judy (since 2010)*

          I believe most Girl Scout Councils encourage the “Cookie Share” program. The girls research who they would like to give donated cookies to. The first two years, my troop sent our donated cookies to one of the girls’ older sister and the rest of her team who were overseas in the military. We’ve been donating locally since then, to a shelter. You might ask if their troop is doing that.

          1. Bunny*

            I like this idea.

            Also: I was a Girl Scout, and am very grateful to the organization. I buy as many boxes as I can from as many girls as I can and just…give them away.

            Also, they freeze well. :)

            That said, grown ups shouldn’t push like used car salesmen.

            Troop 1207

        2. AMPG*

          He should do what a friend of mine does and have his daughter make a video with her sales pitch, then send it around. Way less intrusive, but it still teaches her speaking and management skills (even more so if she’s the one who creates and edits the video).

      3. Rincat*

        If it was the manager doing this kind of behavior, I would still try to be direct and kind, but ultimately might need to push back with a group of coworkers, or go to his boss or HR. I’d keep it focused on the disruption to the business and, if they exist, any non-solicitation clauses in the employee handbook. I mean people *should* respond to “he’s being a jerk and making us all feel uncomfortable,” but sometimes what gets results is to discuss how it impacts the business.

  8. neverjaunty*

    LW, do you see how you are talking yourself out of getting management involved? It doesn’t matter that management is remote for now or that they are “largely” hands-off or that it’s a slow period. In addition to AAM’s scripts, TELL MANAGEMENT. Tell them exactly what you described here.

    Did you notice that his fund started right after the manager retired? Highly unlikely that it was totally a coincidence that he suddenly developed a need for money when the manager on site retired.

    (Which, by the way, isn’t the only sketchy thing about this dude’s story. My, what a lot of detail he is sharing with co-workers! And people who are starting a fund honestly rarely feel the need to reassure everyone they have proof they’re not trying to scam you.)

    1. Snark*

      Yeah, that raised enough red flags for a Russian May Day parade. Generally, when someone is actually trustworthy, it’s unnecessary to performatively assure everyone that you’re not scamming them.

        1. Wintermute*

          my favorite formulation is “that flag is so giant, and red, that it belongs at the North Korean People’s Games”.

      1. palomar*

        Well, to be fair, it sounds like he and his wife have both overcome some really challenging pasts, and they’re probably used to being judged really harshly by people. Lacking evidence, I’m willing to believe that they’re on the up and up, but that they’re going through extreme anxiety as they watch their shared dream crumble. Think about what you might be feeling if the thing you and your partner wanted the most was hanging just outside your grasp, possibly forever.

        That said, OP, what he’s doing is totally inappropriate and you’re right to want to put a stop to it.

    2. Lil Fidget*

      IMO it doesn’t really matter if it’s a fraud or not, and this is just going to derail OP from clearly addressing the issue that these requests need to stop.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Oh, was not intending to indicate that your COMMENT was wrong, just for OP, I don’t want them to waste a lot of brainpower on the scam/not scam conundrum, because it doesn’t change the outcome in this case.

        1. neverjaunty*

          It doesn’t change the outcome or what the LW should do, but sometimes people feel very hesitant to deal with jerks who are (allegedly) being jerks as a result of bad personal circumstances. My mother in law was like that – she’d drag her feet about dealing with someone abusing her trust because “but the poor man” unless we walked her through hard evidence that the person was a scammer.

          If science can put humans on the moon, why can’t it invent a drug that will cure fear of confrontation?! /rant

          1. Emi.*

            If science can put humans on the moon, why can’t it invent a drug that will cure fear of confrontation?!

            I have found three beers to be an effective solution.

            1. Snark*

              It’s the veg-o-matic of coping strategies – it slices! it dices! it psychs you up for a yelling match!

            1. Candi*

              Hiring Mgr, will you please mark your jokes with /joke or /humor? It’s impolite to sucker in people who don’t know you, and some of your past comments have resulted in some rather impressive derails from those who took you seriously. I find it annoying.

                1. Hiring Mgr*

                  Very would never be my intention to affect anyone’s experience on the site..sincere apologies

              1. Ego Chamber*

                Hiring Mgr, will you please mark your jokes with /joke or /humor? It’s impolite to sucker in people who don’t know you, and some of your past comments have resulted in some rather impressive derails from those who took you seriously stop intentionally derailing for the lulz or whatever. I find it annoying.

                Fixed that for you.

            2. Jennifer Thneed*

              You go watch some videos, my friend. Search on YT for “the googling”. You will see the truth.

              > *Not to sidetrack*

              Uh, yeah. That’s a good deadpan ya got there, bub.

    3. sunny-dee*

      Maybe it’s simply because of the amount of money? Absolute best case, a round of IVF + a transfer costs around $25,000. (I know, I just did it last autumn.) A lot of people have no idea how expensive it is, and the majority of insurance plans either don’t cover any of it or have laughably low lifetime limits. My company just introduced an option for infertility coverage, and for the low-low price of an extra $250 a month, it has a LIFETIME cap of … $12,000. That literally doesn’t cover the cost of a single egg retrieval procedure, much less the medications, the transfer, any freezing or genetic testing, or ultrasounds and bloodwork (which they don’t cover for IF).


      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        It sounds like their company provides coverage for IVF, and the couple exhausted it. The crowdfunding didn’t immediately strike me as scammy, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

      2. TootsNYC*

        48 months. So if you save your premiums for 4 years, you’ll have $12,000 PLUS any interest you managed to accumulate.

      3. Anonymousaurus Rex*

        Yeah, I was amazed that his insurance has ANY coverage for IVF. Mine certainly doesn’t. My partner and I are planning on IVF in about 2 years. It will take us at least that long to save up for the costs to do an initial round. We’re both ladies so we’ve got donor sperm to buy too. I’d be really put off by someone who has already been able to try at least once asking me for money for round two. It’s not that I’m not sensitive to wanting to have a kid–it’s just that I’ve got to save every penny for my own shot at having one.

        1. DCompliance*

          Just as an FYI, as someone going through IVF, do research on the cost of a mild stim. Of course your doctor will advised what is best for you, but mild stims are cheaper and I obtained the same number of viable embryos on a full stim as I did a mild. Many doctors don’t talk about it so you may have to do your own research on it. As someone who went down this route, I know it is expensive and I just want you to get the most out of your money.

          1. Anon for privacy*

            More unsolicited advice: if you haven’t already, talk to a doctor sooner rather than later to get a sense of what the options are given your specific medical situation and what things will cost. For many lesbian couples I know, including me and my wife, the recommendation was to start with several months of IUI, and in most cases that ended up working fine and was much cheaper and less intrusive, even if it took several cycles. There are various things that can make IUI more likely to be effective, too, before resorting to IVF (though some of the drugs to regulate your cycle raise your risk of having twins – ask me how I know!).

            If you’ve already done that, my apologies for being that obnoxious person on the internet making unhelpful assumptions.

        2. Someone else*

          Since we’re giving out advice… :-D Do you have the option of a flexible spending account? When I went through IVF, the husband and I both maxed out our medical flexible spending accounts, which basically let us “save” for a year, but we had access to all of the money in January.

        3. Anonymousaurus Rex*

          I’m actually really appreciating all of this advice! Maybe I should open a thread on the weekend to ask about everyone’s fertility journeys :)
          I don’t want to derail with too much off-topic here, but we do have an HSA that we’re stashing money in like mad. (Currently in a high-deductible plan, as none of our options covered fertility anyway). We’re not ready to start trying to conceive yet because my partner is about to start grad school, so we’re waiting 2 years. But we’re getting older (I’m 35, she’s 36) so looking into freezing eggs now, hence the need for IVF later, rather than IUI. We’d also like to do reciprocal IVF so we both have a biological connection to the kid, but that’s dependent on whose eggs look best. Just starting with initial visits to the RE now. I’ll save the rest for the free-for-all weekend thread!

      4. neverjaunty*

        It’s not the amount of money. It’s the oversharing plus the long explanation plus the timing plus the past criminal and addiction histories plus the bullying.

        1. Candi*

          Randomness: I wonder if the bullying behavior is a holdover from their previous less savory personas?

          This guy and I would have so much fun. (/sarcasm) I tend to dig in my heels big time when nagged, especially when money is involved. I was the one in junior high asking people to sign they would pay me back. (It was always the bullies who asked to “borrow” money.)

          1. Alli525*

            Could be, although their crimes could be of the white-collar variety too. At any rate, turning one’s life around virtually guarantees that one will still have some holdover traits from that previous life.

    4. starsaphire*

      Oh man, I am so glad I’m not the only one who feels dubious about this whole thing.

      I have a Toxic Relative with similar past issues, and sure as Christmas, every time s/he starts piling up the evidence to prove how *this time* the money is for something legit… it’s totally not. (Like, “my son needs new shoes” is totally NOT the same thing as “I want a nicer TV.”)

      Either way, though, the behavior is the problem, and the behavior should be addressed with a manager, offsite or not.

    5. CarolynM*

      THIS. “I’m totally not scamming you! Let me show you proof that you never asked for to show I am not making this up!!!” sets off klaxons and causes a field of infinite red flags to flutter in the breeze …

      1. Shandon*

        I’d be a little suspicious, but the LW mentions the past addiction and legal issues this guy has had. It’s entirely possible that he’s entirely legit and is just accustomed to people not believing him, so he goes overboard.

        It’s irrelevant anyway, as the behavior is not okay in either case, and the truth of his situation isn’t the question.

        1. Connie-Lynne*

          Yeah, I was coming here to mention this. Addicts sometimes have a particular way of dealing with the world that makes them appear scammy even when in recovery or doing something legit. I don’t know how to explain it but it’s really disconcerting to deal with.

    6. Reba*

      You have the emails! It sounds like many, many emails. Maybe send one or two of those to management with a note that Fergus has been hounding people and sending emails like this since X date and you have 80 other examples you can provide if necessary.

          1. Candi*

            Easy fix, since it sounds like the guy will. not. stop.

            Wait for another email.

            Send ‘please do not’ etc., etc., in an appropriate professional-ice tone.

            Wait for the next one.

            Forward the whole thing, along with a ‘we’ve told him verbally’ and so on.

            1. Reba*

              Yes, Candi, that’s exactly what I meant! Do That, then send to management. Since we know from AAM that it’s often good to go to management after taking a swing at something yourself.

    7. EddieSherbert*

      For OP’s issue (the guy keeps soliciting money, multiple times a day, every day). I think it doesn’t matter if the coworker’s GoFundMe is legitimate or not.

    8. TootsNYC*


      Also, it is the RESPONSIBILITY (not just the right) of every employee to provide information upstream, so managers can actually do their jobs. Sure, a good manager is proactive, but some stuff, they just can’t know.

    9. Good Morning!*

      I doubt he’s trying to be shady.

      This comes across as he’s at the point he’s heard every reason and excuse and has a response to everything you could possibly politely say. I mean multiple medical professionals have ceased taking him as a client and all of his co workers and likely friends and family have reached their limits of involvement. Wearing folks down is really his only hope at this point.

      But at this point the guy risks burning through every iota of compassion and help from everyone in his life before they even need a hand with raising a child. He’s not thinking clearly and this money grab has no place at work. He’s the only one that will fault people for going into rude territory to get him to Stop Asking Me For Money.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        If coworkers give in to this, and if it actually works, they can expect to be asked to crowdshare getting baby into Montessori School, a new swing set, and who knows what else.

      2. Former librarian*

        “This comes across as he’s at the point he’s heard every reason and excuse and has a response to everything you could possibly politely say.”

        I have always found that flatly saying “Because I don’t want to” when people press me on exactly why I won’t contribute money to whatever cause they are shilling for tends to bring the conversation to a screeching halt. It may be blunt, but it is not impolite! And it doesn’t leave room for a response or an argument either.

    10. Thursday Next*

      +1 to neverjaunty’s first paragraph. OP, you’re on firm ground to get management involved.

      Regardless of the objective of the fundraising, it’s got to stop. It doesn’t belong in the workplace, and it’s management’s responsibility to help shut it down.

    11. Wintermute*

      Oh wow, you know, I had NOT thought of this angle but… wow… I hate to say you’re right but I think you might be right.

      The most damning for me is the over-proving because you are 100% top-grade right he’s firmly in “protests too much, methinks” territory. But the timing thing too? Yeah, not good.

      And on top of all that it strikes me as suspicious in a different light now that it’s so obvious this is a long-shot procedure. People were saying that it’s evidence he’s totally delusional and in denial. May be. But it could ALSO, less innocently be evidence that he’s setting up low expectations and plausible deniability for when there are no results.

  9. matcha123*

    This behavior is really inappropriate. I know that some people want to know what’s going on in their coworkers lives, especially for things like marriage or kids, but I don’t think crowdfunding at work for either is appropriate. I might be a hypocrite because if this were for a medical issue like cancer or a terminal illness, I’d be fine with them mentioning it and not putting pressure on coworkers.

    They have tried with multiple avenues and they need to accept that this probably is not going to happen. Bullying coworkers or pressuring them for money is not going to get anyone pregnant. The people in charge really need to put a stop to him asking. I get it’s a personal and sensitive issue for some people, but this is going too far.

    1. KellyK*

      I think it’s the level of pressure and TMI that’s the problem more than how “legitimate” the medical issue is. It wouldn’t be okay for someone with cancer to badger people every day or refuse to take “no” for an answer, either. While infertility is not life-threatening, it’s certainly an expensive medical issue that it would be reasonable to set up a GoFundMe for (though not necessarily to bring up at work, and definitely not to pressure people about).

    2. Onyx*

      “I might be a hypocrite because if this were for a medical issue like cancer or a terminal illness, I’d be fine with them mentioning it and not putting pressure on coworkers.”

      I don’t think it’s hypocritical to treat a request for funding to help an existing person with a life-threatening medical problem differently than a request to fund someone’s attempt to create a new person. Yes, infertility is distressing to people who want kids. But asking others to help you create a child because you *want* one is a very different scenario than asking for help funding something that you *need* in order to avoid death and/or disability.

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        I don’t think it’s hypocritical because there’s a lot of space between “mentioning it” and what this coworker is doing. He’s waaaaaay past a mention. It’s the aggressiveness with which he’s attacking it, especially in the workplace, that is the real issue for me, not that they’re trying crowdfunding in the first place. Even in this case, although I likely would never donate, I’d smile and nod at him, say, making ONE announcement about it and then putting a flyer on a bulletin board in the break room.

      2. Julia the Survivor*

        Also, fertility is a social issue I feel strongly about. It’s not necessary. Ever. I’m sorry if that upsets anyone, but there are thousands of children who *already* exist and need homes!
        Please resist the constant social/cultural pressure to go to unhealthy, obsessive lengths to have children and adopt instead! You get your child, society gets one less traumatized/abandoned/neglected child who will grow up to be an adult with serious issues!
        A person who gets obsessed and doesn’t see the big picture isn’t going to be a good parent…
        I know this doesn’t apply to Fergus’ case because he and his wife aren’t allowed to adopt. In their case they need to take responsibility for their early life mistakes and move on – as I suggested earlier, maybe channel that energy into something that will benefit society, children, and/or animals.
        Thank you.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Also, fertility is a social issue I feel strongly about. It’s not necessary. Ever. I’m sorry if that upsets anyone, but there are thousands of children who *already* exist and need homes!
          Please resist the constant social/cultural pressure to go to unhealthy, obsessive lengths to have children and adopt instead! You get your child, society gets one less traumatized/abandoned/neglected child who will grow up to be an adult with serious issues!

          I assume you have adopted, and therefore you know that it’s easy and inexpensive, and anyone can do it? That no one is ever disqualified due to age, or health, or being in a same sex marriage? And that the children who already exist are not already traumatized? Because I know people who would disagree with you.

          Also, “obsessed” is an ugly word. Please don’t call people “unhealthy” and “obsessed” simply because they want something you don’t want. It’s unkind and it’s incorrect and it kind of makes you look like a jerk.

          1. Julia the Survivor*

            I know adoption is complicated and not cheap, at least I’ve heard this. And IVF is easier?
            One of the biggest problems in American culture is conformity. I’ve seen many, many people following the crowd and not thinking about their decisions. I’ve seen many have children for the wrong reasons – because of social, cultural, and family pressure. They feel they have to and never see they can choose not to!
            My parents married the wrong person and had children because of all this pressure. Neither of them really wanted to be parents. I know for sure this is not a good thing to do!
            It seems like IVF is taking this to the nth power. People get unhealthily obsessed with having kids anyway, and then if they’re not fertile get even more obsessed, and so on… Is an obsessive person who’s not thinking clearly going to be a good parent?
            I wish everyone would step back, take 10 deep breaths and think about what they’re doing, what the end result will be, and whether that’s what they really want to do with their life.
            No matter how anyone defends it, I’ll always feel that existing children should be taken care of before bringing more into the world.
            Also, check the government stats – the birth rate always goes down during recessions because of people waiting till they can afford to have a child.

            1. Valancy Snaith*

              I have no words, but this is immensely offensive to those of us struggling with infertility and yes–IVF. “Unhealthily obsessed” are strong words. You are free to your own opinions, of course, but just because your parents didn’t want to have kids and were unhappy doesn’t mean anything about other people’s lives.

            2. Totally Minnie*

              Julia, I want to tell you something from the perspective of someone who is unlikely to be able to give birth to a biological child.

              I want you to know that receiving an infertility diagnosis leads to a significant amount of grief. All those dreams and plans you had for your future are just gone. You never get to have them. The life you wanted and hoped for is out of your reach. The level of despair that can spark is not something that’s easy to describe.

              So when you tell people who are grieving the loss of the future they desperately wanted that they are selfish and their efforts to cope with their grief are not necessary, you are being incredibly hurtful.

              Now, it’s true that there are millions of kids all over the world who are in need of safe and loving homes. But bringing that up in this conversation is just another way of comparing grief, like the employee from last week who told everyone that their problems weren’t really problems. There’s no need to do that. It’s possible to seek solutions for those children who need homes while still having compassion for people who are grieving the loss of the life they always thought they would have.

            3. Julia the Survivor*

              I’m sorry I was too blunt about this. I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. I just wanted to mention the other side of this and get people thinking about it.
              I also have dreams that haven’t come true in my mid-50’s. Most of them have, but the big one I’ve wanted all my life has not, and may not ever. I am trying to deal with that.
              I expect this happens to everyone, and we all have to deal with it as best we can and live our lives anyway.

        2. fposte*

          I’m an adoptee, and please don’t go there. It is not just “You get your child.” This is profoundly uninformed about the experience.

            1. fposte*

              Again, you are profoundly misunderstanding the cultural complexity of this process. I am not anti-adoption. I am anti-rescue fantasy. Your approach is offensive.

            2. Queen B*

              How deeply and profoundly ignorant and rude do you have to be to post this comment? You are making yourself look like a really horrible person in your comments here. I can only hope this does not reflect the truth of who you are, and that you will be able to step away from this, do some deep reflection on how badly you screwed up here, and do better in future.

              Because this is ugly, cruel and ignorant.

        3. Ego Chamber*

          “I’m sorry if that upsets anyone, but there are thousands of children who *already* exist and need homes!”

          Did you miss the part where OP said Fergus and his wife aren’t able to adopt because of their past criminal and addiction issues?

          Kinda fucked that people are allowed to have as many babies as their reproductive systems can manage, no matter how ill-equipped they are to provide for them, but if you want to adopt an existing human, then you have to meet all kinds of minimum social/moral qualifications—if you want to foster, though, holy shit what trainwrecks I’ve seen.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Me, too.
      I am fine with asking once. I have donated toward medical treatment for people and dogs, I have help pay for grave stones. I have bought lunches, snacks etc. I do not mind being asked. Typically the request involves someone’s illness or passing or shortage of food. These are baseline things that can be dire.

  10. Myrin*

    My goodness, this guy really takes oversharing to whole new level, doesn’t he?

    I’m personally in favour of a bunch of you yelling FERGUS STOPPIT but I get that that’s not everybod’s cup of tea; Alison’s professional scripts all sound very reasonable. But really, OP, from what you’ve described of this guy, there’s really no way you can act that won’t hurt or even offend him, so you might as well do so in a way that’s most likely to stop him (i. e. no traipsing around “would you, could you”s, but clear, direct, straightforward refusal).

    1. neverjaunty*

      Perhaps he really is having detoxify issues. But I keep thinking about that point in The Gift of Fear that when people are trying to scam you, they give you way too many details.

      1. Candi*

        If they used to scam people for whatever reason (from getting drug money to sweet-talking probation officers), they may be so stuck in that mode of operation that they currently can’t operate like people with more constructive mindsets do.

        Which means it’s a favor to him as well to get him to knock it off already. I mean, besides him not being a pariah in the office. Although from his described reaction, I don’t think he would take constructive feedback on winning friends and influencing people.

      2. Anon-The-Moose*

        Something about the story doesn’t add up…you can’t crowdfund to pay for a miracle. I’m wondering if the “no hope ever” diagnosis from the doctor was legitimate, or if it’s creative embellishment to make his story seem sadder?

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          If so, it would have the opposite effect on me. I’d be more likely* to donate to someone who had a chance than to someone who didn’t.


    2. Not So NewReader*

      And stop looking over his evidence/proof of his problem. That only lends credence to the idea that you might be persuaded to donate.

      You can say, “You know. That stuff is actually pretty personal and private. I am not comfortable with all this information. I need you to stop. I don’t want to know this personal info and I cannot donate.”
      Notice at no point do you apologize.
      Notice “I cannot donate, period.” The sentence should not include Reasons. He will try to one-up your reasons. If he asks you why, tell him your reasons are personal and the bottomline is you will not be able to donate. Don’t give him inroads.

  11. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    Health issues does not give anyone a free pass to be a jerk. Full stop.

    Let Fergus get angry. Or upset. I get it, nobody wants to be The Jerk. It’s so much easier for everyone to be friendly with each other. Well. Guess what? THIS isn’t friendly. And if you push back you aren’t The Jerk. Fergus is. The Fergi of the world always are and are usually quite skilled and making you feel like the title is yours. They count on people not being comfortable to push back.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Yeah, captain awkward phrases it as “return awkwardness to sender,” and that’s the issue here. OP isn’t making it weird. This guy made it weird.

      1. Candi*

        I was looking for this!

        Yes, LW, you and everyone else in your office is perfectly entitled to drop this right back in his lap. He is being rude.

        1. Wintermute*

          a roman walks into a bar and orders a martinus. The bartender says “don’t you mean a martini?” the roman says “if I wanted a double I’d have ordered one!”

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*


        Fergus, Fergi, Fergo, Fergum, Fergo; Fergi, Fergorum, Fergis, Fergos, Fergis

        1. Parenthetically*

          Can we turn it into a verb as well? Fergare: to offload awkwardness onto everyone in the room.

              1. FD*

                I propose that it be conjugated like fero (to bear or tolerate):

                Fergo, Fergos, Fergot, Fergimus, Fergitis, Fergunt.

                It’s especially apt because the third person would sound like “forgot”.

            1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

              Perfect passive: Fergatus, -a, -um esse; perfect active: Fergavi

          1. Julia the Survivor*

            Fergarar, Fergaras, Fergara, Fergaramos, Fergaran – this is harder to type than it looks! :D

          2. Old Admin*

            Present passive: (As in “I am being Fergused, you are being Fergused, he/she/it is…”)
            fergor, fergaris, fergatur, fergamur, fergamini, fergantur.

  12. Trout 'Waver*

    Whenever someone feels compelled to tell you it’s not a scam, it almost always is a scam.

    Maybe this is the exception, though.

    1. AnonEMoose*

      This occurred to me, too. Now, it’s possible that Fergus is aware that people know about his past history (the addiction issues, etc.), and is feeling a bit defensive because of that. But it does trip the “something’s off” radar for me, a bit.

      That doesn’t really change what you should do, though. I think that following Alison’s advice, and giving management a heads up, sounds like the best way to go.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Given how much he’s begging money, it’s also possible that someone (exasperated by the requests) told him they didn’t believe him and he’s defensively trying to avoid that.

      2. Julia the Survivor*

        The whole thing seems off to me. Crowdfunding/begging in general put me off even with my friends. This would make me inarticulate. I might have to leave. :p

    2. MuseumChick*

      Good point. I have this rule that if a restaurant has the word “Quality” in its name I will not eat there. If you have to say it….

      1. Cat*

        I have a similar rule to yours, MuseumChick. I cringe when a place describes the salad as “fresh”– like, if you have to say it, I do not believe you as much now…

        1. Candi*

          The only exception I make is the specific statement of ‘farm fresh’. Fresh and farm fresh around here do have distinct meanings.

    3. EddieSherbert*

      I mentioned it above, but I don’t think it matters (or helps the OP to speculate on) if the GoFundMe is legitimate or not.

      Unless we’re advising the OP try to “call the guy out as a scammer”? Which would probably be a reallyyyyy bad idea! (Please don’t try that, OP…)

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I agree. It would probably make people happier to shut Fergus down if it were a scam, so I can understand why people start toying with that notion. Legitimacy doesn’t make his actions acceptable, though, and stifling him solves the problem whatever the truth.

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        It doesn’t change how the OP should interact with his colleague, but it might offer some peace of mind for not donating if the OP hadn’t already picked up on this particular red flag.

      3. SusanIvanova*

        Well, in the office it would be. But if any hard evidence were to turn up, GoFundMe would like to know about it; having scammers hurts their reputation and their legit users.

        1. fposte*

          On the one hand, sure; on the other, there’s a risk of finding that hard evidence taking over employees’ lives as a mission (we’ve had a couple of letters where it did that), and the whole point of shutting Fergus down is to make this *smaller* in their lives.

        2. Lil Fidget*

          Perhaps, but I’m sure Alison would *never* advise OP to try and figure out if this is a scam / prove it’s a scam to everybody – because that’s just so far outside the scope of what’s required in this situation. This guy is going overboard on workplace solicitation, he needs to stop no matter what the cause is (or isn’t).

          1. Candi*

            Yeah. I can see her saying that if there’s proof positive it’s a scam that the LW stumbled upon or came across, to send it up the chain and maybe report it to the relevant site. But going all private detective because it might be? Uh uh.

    4. Tuxedo Cat*

      It doesn’t even matter, IMO, whether it is or isn’t scam. He needs to stop asking his coworkers for money.

  13. Savannnah*

    OP- This sounds terrible. I am right now currently fundraising for my sister and her wife to be able to afford fertility assistance that is not covered by insurance, expensive and they are looking at a host of lawyers fee’s simply by being two women trying to start a family. My colleagues know about this because I asked them for help with a catchy title and since I launched the campaign last week they have asked me for updates. That’s it- I would never ask them to donate and I would not be updating them on the campaign at all if they didn’t want to know. It is somewhat awkward enough to ask your friends and family but I’m happy to do so for my sister. This man has lost perspective on this issue and may be desperate but there is no way you need to continue to be subjected to his constant badgering- which is what he’s doing.

    1. Anna*

      Not that this is the case with Fergus, but I think you hit some of it on the head. You don’t offer up how things are going with the fundraising unless directly asked, and then it’s just an update with no expectation of donation. It’s an interesting piece of information from your life.

  14. Jenny*

    This is making me think of how the NYTimes advice column had a note over the past week from someone who was upset that no one was donating to his/her (?) GoFundMe and the Times was like “Ask in person and tell them how much it means to you!” and I read it thinking “NOOOOOOO. People need to stop expecting their family members and friends to subsidize their dreams.” I mean, we all have bills to pay and dreams of our own. I’m patient with the ones where it’s for necessary medical bills or a funeral but otherwise, it makes me really uncomfortable.

    1. Future Homesteader*

      I’m not sure what I wanted the answer to that question to be, but I agree that that answer left something to be desired (although maybe it was the most compassionate response, given the situation).

      1. Jenny*

        I think it was only part of an answer. I think the letter writer there also had to be gently told “And they still might say no when you ask them face-to-face. Just because something is very important to you does not mean that others have the money for it or that it is very important to them. They may still support you but not financially. There are many ways to show support and you must allow for emotional support, physical support and the ability of them to help you make connections. It’s also a good time to look at yourself and ask yourself how supportive you are of your friends. This is a two-way street and often we often help people who have been there for us in the past and are expected to be there in the future.”

    2. a girl has no name*

      I agree completely. The Go Fund Me fundraisers are driving me crazy, and I feel like I must be a terrible person for thinking that. I am sympathetic that sometime people go through a hard time, but it really bothers me that people just keep asking for money. In fact, the more I am asked, the less charitable I feel. I would maybe try, “Fergus you have asked me multiple times about donating. I don’t have anything extra to give right now. Please stop asking me.” Maybe it would help to point out that you don’t have the money to give. (You might have the money, but you need it for bills or vacation or dog snow boots-he doesn’t need to know the reason)

      1. Jenny*

        If I can financially swing it, I will help friends who are in a medical financial crisis (or need help paying for a funeral – which has happened once or twice). The “creative endeavor” fundraisers get on my nerves more than the medical ones. And honestly, not that I ever donate for accolades or anything but I can only think of one situation in my past where I was actually thanked via e-mail for donating to someone’s cause. Usually you donate and it’s just crickets.

        1. Trig*

          Ha, you remind me of the time I donated to a local non-profit alternative school that a friend co-founded. They were doing a funding drive (that I only saw because I follow the org on Facebook; friend is very good about not badgering people and didn’t say a word about it), so I pitched in a bit. A few weeks later, I got a hand-written thank you note in the mail! Wow!

          Of course, it just said “Thank you!” and was signed by a bunch of preteens in different colours of pen. No indication of what it was for, no mention of the school or anything. The only reason I really knew what it was was that I recognized the card – one of the kids a few years ago made a bunch of art cards and a local card shop sells them. I laughed. But I can imagine someone having NO CLUE why Chloe and Pheonix and Allistair and Stephanie were thanking them!

        2. Beatrice*

          I have helped close friends and family in financial crisis before, but I’ve always done so directly, and never ever ever through a Go Fund Me page.

      2. eplawyer*

        If you say “I don’t have anything extra right now” Fergus will take that to mean “ask me later, I will have money then.” With people like this, JADE is your friend. Just a simple “No.” If he keeps asking, you keep repeating no.

        I also echo the calls above — management needs to know about this disruptive behavior. it is affecting the work of the office. Management needs to know about work related issues.

        1. Candi*

          I’d be tempted to say, “My extra is going to student loans.” (Because it probably will be in a few years.)

        2. Tuxedo Cat*

          When it comes to people behaving like Fergus is in this story, I find that saying you don’t have money turns into them nitpicking how you choose to spend money even if it isn’t their business. If you buy a $2 cup of coffee, they’re going to be jerks about it.

          Shutting it down simply and not taking the time to engage further is the best bet, as well as informing management. If Fergus is spending all this time badgering people, I can’t imagine he’s getting much done. I also can’t imagine people want to talk to him even about work-related matters.

      3. TootsNYC*

        ” I don’t have anything extra to give right now. ”

        I would say, “I cannot donate to this, ever.”

      4. Temperance*

        You aren’t a terrible person. I have a blanket policy against GFMs. I regularly tell people posting them where they can get help from a nonprofit, if applicable. For something like this, where he’s basically admitted that his wife can’t get pregnant and surrogacy won’t work, but he still wants the money … it would be very hard for me to remain calm after getting asked more than once.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Yeah, this is where I am.

          Honestly, I would be tempted to say “Fergus, I am not donating to a fundraiser when you’ve as much as said that the procedure has no hope of working.” and then consider referring him to our EAP for counseling because he is living in some serious denial.

          … there is a reason I don’t write an advice column.

          1. Lissa*

            You’re not alone. I’d have a really hard time not saying something like this, too – he shares so many details to try to get a certain reaction, part of me would want him to know it’s actually having the opposite reaction!

          2. Wintermute*

            Denial, or setting people up for low expectations so he can abscond with the money and no one asks too many questions because “it’s a sensitive topic” and there’s no real way to ask for proof?

            His behavior raises enough questions, as others have pointed out.

        2. Becky*

          The only Go Fund Me I have ever donated to was a friend who was getting married and that was his request for gifts (no registry, just donate to the GFM) since I was already planning on giving him a wedding gift, I respected his wishes for what/how to receive it. Otherwise, yeah I pretty much have a blanket policy against them.

      5. Parenthetically*

        Compassion fatigue. Genuinely, these are worthy causes, but neither my wallet nor my emotions can extend to all of them.

      6. Nemo*

        I agree! I just finished college and I see Facebook friends post Go Fund Me’s from time to time for things such as a new car or a study abroad trip. Maybe I’m weird, but I think it’s extremely inappropriate to ask other people to pay for things that aren’t needs. Everyone else has their own expenses and wants. I only studied abroad because I got a job saved for SIX YEARS to afford it!

      7. FD*

        My personal policy on them with people who I immediately know is that I may contribute for campaigns linked to needs (e.g. medical bills, etc.) on one issue. But in my experience, if you end up running multiple Go Fund Me campaigns for different things, then Go Fund Me isn’t the solution to your problem.

      8. PlainJane*

        I’m with you on the fundraisers. I feel like I’m being uncharitable, but I’ve gotten pretty jaded. I’m sympathetic to those who need money for major medical expenses, but most other things people are raising money for are purely optional. I’d like to take a big trip or take time off to write a novel, and it would have been fun to have a fairytale wedding, but I can’t afford those things, so I don’t do them. As for work, as others have said, fundraising at work needs to be minimal and subtle. And it’s perfectly fine to shut down a co-worker who is badgering you for money–regardless of why they want/need it.

      9. Former Retail Manager*

        Ohhhh…you are NOT a terrible person for being driven crazy by them. I have only 1 friend who’s ever done them to my knowledge and she’s done them for a variety of reasons, none of which I consider to be deserving, and I haven’t donated a penny to any of them. I sometimes long for the days when people were “funny about money” and it simply was NEVER discussed.

        1. PlainJane*

          “I sometimes long for the days when people were ‘funny about money’ and it simply was NEVER discussed”–yes! I was taught that it was shameful to ask others for money. I think that’s probably too harsh, but seriously – unless the circumstances are dire, can we go back to expecting that people will manage their own lives and make do with what they have?

          1. whingedrinking*

            I feel like that can go much too far, though. I’ve seen people rage out against tip jars on blogs or webcomics, Patreon, Kickstarter, or even requests for likes/reviews, which seems like it’s going awfully far. “You NEVER ask people for money, and if somebody’s already paid, why are you asking them to advertise for you?!” seems to be the reasoning. Well, coming from an artistic and theatrical background – passing the hat is a time-honoured tradition, as is encouraging word of mouth. Not to mention, without investors a lot of stuff will never get off the ground to the point where you even have a product to sell.
            I don’t personally give to GFMs (I’m fortunate enough to live in a country that has universal healthcare, for one thing), but I don’t object to them in principle for the same reason. If people want to give you twenty bucks towards your dream wedding, why not?

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I grew up with that rigid thinking. Baby showers were a money grab and so on.

              While hopefully I am less judgy than my parents, I cringe when I think of myself asking for money from someone. I’d rather go without, even if it meant going without filling a major dream I have.

              I don’t know what it would take for me to stone coworkers for money. Looking at this guy’s situation in that context, I would be wondering if he would be hitting me up for donations for diapers later. Some approaches to life become habits. (Sometimes, not always.)

            2. Wintermute*

              There are a few huge distinctions you’re ignoring I think.

              First of all when you pass a hat there’s no indelible log of who put money in, that’s sort of the point, you give if you can you don’t if you can’t and no one is really the wiser. Whereas with GFM there’s records of who gave and how much. The accountability portion of it where you can see who gave, who didn’t and how much is what makes it very different because of the added pressure. Same with facebook shares. When you can see details of who did how much and when it breaks the social compact because people can’t just say “oh sure I’ll tell people about your thing” and then… not if they don’t think their friends would be in to it.

              Patreon is a straightforward model, you make I give, you stop I stop, which has built-in accountability. I think that it gets a bad rap by being misused or misunderstood. It’s not “I like you so I’m going to give you money” it’s a straight up business transaction– “I like your art/videos/content/blog, I will give you money in exchange for exclusive content, a say in your creative direction, a shout out so all my friends know how cool and cultured I am because I donate to niche architectural review snark blogs, whatever else you’re offering.” I support about half a dozen creators there and I feel I get good value-for-money and support some great entertaining content.

              Kickstarter is somewhere in the middle, frankly I don’t trust it unless the creator has one hell of a track record. I don’t donate to any technology either. The problem is starting about 3 years ago KS removed all their pre-vetting to make sure projects obey the laws: of physics, copyright, or common sense. Now it’s bandit country and there are a lot of tech products from slick producers out there that have an amazing design and content team and assume that doing the thermodynamically impossible or developing projector tech lightyears ahead of LG or Hitachi is a trivial matter for one engineer to knock out over a weekend and fit in their beautiful rendered design they spent all their actual time on.

      10. Julia the Survivor*

        I’m like this too. Always have been. I’ve seen two fund-raisers among friends and donated to one because I believed she didn’t deserve the legal bs her ex was putting her and her daughter through – a year later I learned she had brought it on herself with bad behavior!
        The other was a person who doesn’t have a real job, doesn’t take care of herself, doesn’t make a real effort – asking for money to keep her car going – and I’m thinking, “yeah, if you stopped smoking weed and got a real job, you wouldn’t even need the car…”
        Ever since I was a young adult in the 80’s, every time I’ve seen people begging it was because they weren’t willing to make the effort to take care of their lives. I used to try to talk to them and make suggestions about how to get a place to live, a job, etc., and they always had a million reasons they couldn’t do those things. They were holding themselves back and there’s only so much others can do. :p

    3. ragazza*

      Ugh I was irritated with that answer too! You can ask for help, but you have to be prepared to accept that not everyone will be able to (or want to) give it, and it doesn’t automatically make them terrible people or bad friends..

    4. What's with today, today?*

      Yes! A lady in our town sent one out trying to raise 40k for daughter and son-in-law to pay for an adoption. Right after she published it she and daughter took a three-week trip to Europe and country hopped. They took pics of themselves staying in the best hotels, and yet she shared daily the go fund me. It was just crude and odd.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Were they looking to adopt from another country? In my experience, many people consider it “charity” and/or “evangelism” to adopt a child from outside the U.S., so they’ll expect you to donate more readily than they would otherwise.

    5. OG*

      I couldn’t agree more with you! Donating to someone in a genuine crisis as a result of illness or natural disaster feels okay to me, although I prefer to donate via reputable organizations. I cannot imagine foisting the burden of making my own dreams come true or rescuing me from my own bad decisions onto other people, particularly ones outside my intimate family. At work?! It’s a matter of self respect, privacy, and understanding others’ boundaries and what’s appropriate. EVEN in circumstances in which I feel compassion!

  15. MuseumChick*

    “Fergus, I am not able to give any money and I’m finding very odd and awkward that you continue to ask. My answer is firm please stop.”

    Then if it keeps happening: “You know my answer” repeat over and over.

    Also I would Reply All to the email with “Hi Fergus, please remove me from this mailing list. Thanks!”

      1. MuseumChick*

        Lol, a few years ago I was working a sales job and we all got divided into teams for a contest to see which team could sell the most in one month. The leader of my team was awesome and we were hitting around 80% which was really, really, really good. Well she went to have a meeting with the owner and instead of saying what a great job her team was doing he got on her case about something small. The next day she sent him and email call him out (he was a bit of a jerk generally) but….she accidentally sent to everyone. I mean everyone. Very awkward for the next couple of days.

    1. Natalie*

      I guess it’s probably too rude to reply all with a flat “Unsubscribe” but I would certainly be tempted.

    2. Trig*

      Better, reply from the HR perpsective with a “This is not what the office mailing list is for. Do not use it to solicit money from your coworkers.”

      (Every now and then we get someone trying to get people to sign up for their kid’s hockey pool, to buy whatever MLM stuff their sister is selling, and once, to buy their nephew’s car. There is always a swift flurry of angry reply-alls and HR chiming in with “Do not use the office mailing list for this.” It’s nice working for a big corporate monster sometimes.)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OP, maybe you could do a reply to all saying, “Your email has been forwarded to management/HR with the inquiry about this being a company sanctioned fundraiser and has had proper approval of all concerned channels.” You could add, “We probably need to be careful about using company resources for our own personal projects.”

      2. Old Admin*

        My company has dedicated mailing list called for buying/selling/funding/looking for accomodation etc. Everybody is on this ML when joining the company, but you can always leave it, or filter to a different mailbox.
        Same goes for our jokes ML. :-)

    3. AKchic*

      I think that if the OP is the first person to hit “Reply All” and ask to be removed from the mailing list, others will be emboldened to do so as well. They may not even realize it’s an *option* to do such a thing.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Yes, I think this is a good move “Fergus, I’m not able to donate anything to your fundraiser, and I’m uncomfortable with you pressuring me and other co-workers for money. Please don’t send you any further e-mails, and don’t ask me again in person”
        Hit reply all and then forward a copy to HR.

  16. Millennial Lawyer*

    Is he also a co-worker in the *HR* department, first of all? That’s not great, because this is an area where hopefully HR could step in. Yikes.

    And yes please escalate this to a manager – it’s becoming less of a personal issue and more an issue of harassment of his coworkers.

      1. Old Admin*

        Ah, how about mercilessy bouncing *each and every* crowdfunding mail and angry reaction to the remote manager? Flood *his* mailbox, too.

  17. HannahS*

    These days, I’m working on not managing other peoples’ feelings about feedback. Starting with kindness can look like saying, “Fergus, I know this is a really painful situation for your and [wife], but I’m sorry, I’m not able to contribute.” “BUT WHY” “I’m sorry, Fergus. I’d appreciate if you don’t ask me for money anymore.” Then he might go off in a huff, and he might cry, and for the rest of his life, you might be “that MEAN, HORRIBLE person who had zero compassion for me and my wife who WOULDN’T EVEN give me five dollars and told me to stop talking about my SUFFERING” and you know what? That’s ok. You can’t control that. As long as he stops hitting you up at work, as long as he still behaves professionally, you’re good.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Yes, I have to frequently remind myself that I don’t even LIKE Fergus, so why does it bother me to think of Fergus being upset with me? I don’t want to be friends with people who continually hit up people for money! Them avoiding me is a good outcome!

      1. Penny Lane*

        It would be interesting at some point to talk about why so many people are afraid of others being upset with them. Lil Fidget is right. So what if Fergus is upset? And? We all get upset with others and the world doesn’t end.

        1. Lil Fidget*

          I mean, certainly it’s tough in a work context because you’re going to keep on seeing these people every day and probably have to work with them on a variety of issues. And it can certainly hurt you to have somebody senior who holds a grudge against you, even when they’re being ridiculous and everybody knows it. Also, YOU can come out looking bad for failing to maintain professional relationships with coworkers, even if they started it. But, I have to believe there are ways to handle it reasonably and then elevate it if Fergus is being nutsos, it just takes some resolve.

        2. Tuxedo Cat*

          From my end, I’ve had some personal experiences where lateral colleagues manipulated situations when we had a disagreement and they were upset. These are things that damaged professional relationships, important ones. There were tons of issues at these places, though, which contributed to things falling out the way they did.

          1. Snark*

            Off topic: I just bought a t-shirt for my 4-year-old son that has a Big Wheel on it, with the words “RIDE OR CRY”

        1. TootsNYC*

          I don’t like this one so much–it’s an order, and I don’t think it’s OK to boss people around about their feelings.

          But saying “They will get over it, or else they’ll die mad,” is saying something about your OWN boundaries, and your own willingness to worry about other people’s reactions.

    2. Candi*

      Part of the problem is one of LW’s coworkers did give money, and is still being hounded. So even giving this guy five dollars to shut up and go away doesn’t work!

  18. SoCalHR*

    You may have a no-solicitation clause in your company handbook. That may provide you some official leverage with the problem. Anything outside of a ‘hey here is my gofundme I’d appreciate a donation if you can spare it, but I totally understand if not’ is too much for the workplace (and even that could be against some company’s policies).

    (also, anyone else think the funding sites have gotten way out of control? I fully understand them for unexpected tragic situations but they should not be for vacations, poor choices on someone’s part or even family planning {IMO}).

    1. Elizabeth*

      I was coming here to say this. If they don’t already have one , this would be a great example of why HR needs to implement one ASAP. We have a stringtly-no-fundraising policy, and I’ve definitely gotten a couple of “Help me raise funds for XXXX” emails from new staff that were quickly followed by the same staff person sending an email saying “Sorry for the solicitation!” once a colleague clued them in. And most of the times those were just for innocuous things like charity bike rides to raise money for cancer research and stuff.

    2. Luna*

      Definitely agree on the funding sites getting out of hand, it drives me crazy. I once knew someone who get up a GFM because she wanted to go to grad school so had to study for the GRE, but didn’t want to have to work while studying so quit her job and instead just asked people to help her pay for rent & food so she could study full time.

  19. Big10Professor*

    I’m not clear if the OP is asking as a regular coworker, or as a member of the HR team. The latter makes it seem like she has even more reason to go to management.

  20. blackcat*

    Passive Aggressive blackcat would start sending him links to donate to causes aiming to prevent overpopulation. But don’t do that.

    I really like the saying “No is a complete sentence.”

    Keeping a flat tone and saying, “No, and don’t ask me again.” isn’t rude. It may seem rude because of the drama he’s bringing, but it’s really not. I might put the request that he stop asking in email, too, so you have a documented request that you can show management if needed.

    1. Mary Anne Spier*

      Your overpopulation idea is amazing.

      And yes, “no is a complete sentence.” Ever since I read The Gift of Fear years ago, I get really angry when someone keeps asking me for something after I’ve said no once. It’s just blatant disrespect.

      As someone who has never ever wanted kids, this letter doesn’t tug my heartstrings at all. It just makes me angry.

      1. Irene Adler*

        It makes me mad that this guy can ask for funds to pay for IVF yet I’m out of line should I ask for funds to pay off my mortgage (not that I have ever done so).

        1. fposte*

          But it’s not a situational ethics thing, because he’s out of line to do what he’s doing, too. It’s just you’re wisely letting that stop you and he isn’t.

        2. Lora*

          Don’t you wish sometimes that you had the big brass ones that other people have?!? It’s just amazing.

          I mean, I feel secure in knowing that I’m not a total a-hole like them, but still. I’d like someone else to pay my mortgage while I sit around eating bonbons and playing on the internets, but it ain’t gonna happen. Damn you, dignity and self-worth!

      2. Jen S. 2.0*

        This makes me angry not because I do or don’t want kids, but because either way I feel about the topic, the fact is that the universe does not owe Fergus and his wife a child. I’m single, and the universe doesn’t owe me a mate. I want to be thin, but the universe doesn’t owe me a faster metabolism. I may or may not ever get those things, and it’s not anyone else’s issue. At all.

        I feel compassion for them, and it’s an unfortunate and sad situation that they are struggling for something they so desperately want, but these two are acting like it’s everyone else’s problem and responsibility to pay for their entitlement to have a child OR ELSE, when it’s just … not.

    2. Mary*

      Please definitely don’t do this. Infertile people don’t have a special responsibility to not have kids to reduce the population any more than ill people have a responsibility to die to reduce the population. I have two kids by IVF and my kids have just as much right to be here as any other kids.

      1. blackcat*

        There’s a reason why I said don’t actually do that! It’s super out of line and inappropriate!

        But it’s what passive aggressive me thinks of doing when Fergus is already being super out of line and inappropriate.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Saying something rude about IVF itself is basically saying it to all people who did/will do IVF. It’s not just aimed at the one person who’s trying to fund it inappropriately.

          (And Blackcat wasn’t going to say it for reals, it was obviously just a “you’re being such a jerk that it makes me want to be a jerk right back” statement.)

    3. Julia the Survivor*

      “Passive Aggressive blackcat would start sending him links to donate to causes aiming to prevent overpopulation.”
      That would be more constructive than my ranting and fuming! :D

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I was thinking along the lines of “Here are my problems A through G, please feel free to donate to any of my GFM pages.”
      The next time he came around asking for money, I would ask him how much he has donated to me so far.

      You know it’s odd. The people who have put the most coin in my pocket are people who just used their words of advice. I had a stellar year one year. Two friends with advice on two different things saved me $400 per month EACH. Yes, my two friends used words alone to help me free up $800 per month. That is what I call REAL help.

    5. Wintermute*

      It’s not rude, it’s just refusing to accept his rudeness, it’s a “return to sender”. He created the awkwardness, you’re just not soothing and unruffling and doing all the “okay lets not make this weird” work AFTER he made it weird!

  21. Lady Phoenix*

    You think after all of that, they would realize by now that kids probably never gonna happen. I am sure I sound callous when I say this, and I don’t recommend Op saying this… but I don’t think children will be in this couple’s future. It just isn’t unless by some crazy stroke of fate.

    If anyone here has had a similiar experience and success, please let me know. I have no knowledge about these procedures and their success rates to know. All I do know is that if they have already tried enough that the doctors and insurance have given up, then I don’t think it is gonna happen. I wouldn’t pay for it. I won’t pay for anything regarding adopting a pet/child or trying to make a child. I think that is something that should be between the parents and that if they can’t cough up the money it takes… then they probably don’t have the money to CARE for the pet/child. It’s ONE thing if the entire family is poor that they need the cash to thrive until they can get back on their feet… it is another to essentially pay to MAKE a poor family.

    And yeah, OP has every right to come to work without someone harassing them for cash. Be vocal that this is bugging you and that you want him to stop, and get someone above him involved if he keeps bugging you.

    1. Mary Anne Spier*

      I paid to adopt one of my cats, but he came neutered and with all his shots. ;)

      No, I see what you’re saying. I’ve never wanted kids so I can’t relate to wanting to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get them.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Trust me, paying to adopt a cat is WAY cheaper than not doing so! Around here, it’s ~$140 to get one from a shelter, fixed and up to date on shots — when my ex-roommate and I gave in and took in a stray who decided she was going to be our cat whether we liked it or not, she ran us WAY more money with the shots, the spay, the complications from the spay, and so forth.

        On the other hand, she did provide us endless entertainment when she was living in the Cone of Shame. So there’s some return on investment there.

        1. Mary Anne Spier*

          Yeah, I have two from the same shelter. One was a full-grown adult who had been there for 18 months and the volunteers were just happy someone was taking a chance on him so someone paid his fees upfront. Free cat! The other was a kitten I wanted to keep my big guy company, and the kitten ran me $125 or so, but that’s less than what I would have paid to get it all done myself.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Yep, ours was 8 or 9 months old (ish…) and all in all, she ran us about $1,000 for all the bills and fixins. And that was including our vet’s “kitten care” discount, which she happily still qualified for.

            She went with my roommates when we split up, and I do miss her sometimes, but she and my cat hated each other.

          2. Candi*

            The county humane society offers discounts and even fee waivers on cats 3 years or more. So many people don’t want to take a chance. :(

            My daughter says that when she gets her own place (in a few years), she wants her first cat to be older. (3-9 range) I told her that was a good thing to do. And my stepmother adopted a three-year old rescue. At PetSmart’s meet the animals thing, this cat just jumps up on her walker and looks at her like, “I like you. You’re mine.”

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              I love having an older cat, and when she goes to her reward, I honestly will probably get another adult. I’m down with having a sedate animal who really just wants to be asleep next to me at all times.

          3. Relly*

            The last cat we adopted was only two, but had been through a lot of trauma / neglect, and was going to be difficult to adopt out, so a benefactor at the shelter paid her fees in advance.

            When we found out, we paid it forward by sponsoring another cat at the shelter.

        1. BadPlanning*

          I’m wondering if Lady Phoenix meant giving other people money to adopt a pet. Not paying the adoption fee oneself for one’s own pet. Like, if you can’t afford the pet adoption fee then it’s not time for you to get a pet.

          1. Lady Phoenix*

            I meant paying for someone ELSE’s pet (like a gofundme). All the dogs we own were adopted from shelters and I am a huge “get thee to a shelter” person.

            However, I refuse to pay for SOMEONE ELSE so that they can adopt a pet. If they can’t be bothered to pay the fees it takes to adopt, then they certainly don’t have the cash to keep the pet happy.

            Same with kids. I refuse to pay for you to have kids [or adopt a child]. If you can’t py the fee to make ‘em, then you sure as hell aren’t fiscally responsible enough to care for them.

            1. fposte*

              While it’s of course your prerogative to fund what you wish, this is, as noted, an economically naïve statement.

              1. Candi*

                Considering how uncovered and expensive fertility treatments are… I don’t think that last sentence really works.

                (That includes places with government sponsored health insurance. A quick Google shows a wide variety and level of coverage in places with national health care, but the parents often wind up footing at least part of the bill, and it’s not cheap.)

            2. DCompliance*

              I think your statement is overly hurtful. There are many people who cannot afford IVF, but are still fiscally responsible.

              1. Anon for this one*

                Yeah, it sure made my day. I had no idea I was “fiscally irresponsible” because I couldn’t come up with an additional 20K after already spending thousands of dollars on non-IVF fertility treatments and still be able to feed, clothe and house a child, despite *years* of planning and saving before we even started trying. I was not aware that the medical conditions that cause infertility also cause fiscal irresponsibility! Who knew they were so intimately connected?

                1. DCompliance*

                  I especially liked that it was tied to “can’t pay to make ’em”. Like if we asked fertile people if they could come up with $20K on the spot and the said no, would the response be, “then you sure as hell aren’t fiscally responsible enough to care for” your children?

            3. Stormy*

              I understand, I was referring to Countess Boochie Flagrante’s comment. I think several of us mixed us the nesting and were referencing separate people.

            4. Someone else*

              If you can’t py the fee to make ‘em, then you sure as hell aren’t fiscally responsible enough to care for them.

              So you think someone who can’t come up with $25K on the spot isn’t fiscally responsible enough to care for a child? And people who don’t have that much cash on hand shouldn’t be having children?

              1. Birch*

                The way I interpreted that is, they were saying its irresponsible if you can’t afford that much extra for IVF *on top of* what it would take to raise the child. The cost of raising a child is several times the cost of IVF, so the question is if you can’t afford IVF, how are you going to afford to raise the child? Even taking into consideration that you obviously don’t have to pay all the costs at once, it’s a huge chunk of the total. Making a kid the old fashioned way is free. I can see it both ways–having a child is definitely worth any cost–but for myself I know I’ll never be able to afford IVF or adoption *and* raising the resultant child, so it’s old fashioned or nothing. But it’s a reasonable thing to question if it seems like the would-be parents are starting out in the red before the kid even exists.

                1. Birch*

                  Also, addressing some of the comments about 20,000 upfront –that’s a really good point, but what about savings? Do you throw your savings at it, start from nothing and crowdfund the rest? Or do you keep your savings and crowdfund the whole procedure? I’m really uncomfortable about being asked for money by people in both those situations.

                2. DCompliance*

                  This a generous reading of what Lady Phoenix said. If I asked a bunch of people who wanted to have children if they can come up with $25,000 in next three months and they said no, we wouldn’t be telling them, then you better not have kids. I know lots of people who had children naturally who cannot come up with $25,000. I wouldn’t assume they are not financially responsible.

    2. DorthVader*

      Not trying to defend Fergus (I think he’s totally in the wrong), but infertility is expensive. As another commenter mentioned, a single round of IVF can cost $25,000 if not more. I’m doing IUI right now and each round is about $3,000, not including medication. Insurance is only mandated to cover fertility treatments in 17 states (last time I checked). Just because a couple may not have $25,000 up front, and many times you need to pay up front or within a certain amount of time, doesn’t mean they can’t afford to care for a child.

      That being said, Fergus is being an ass and OP should not feel bad about shutting him down.

      1. Temperance*

        I totally see this point, too, but he and his wife have been told by multiple doctors that it won’t work, which is why insurance is no longer covering it. This is a case of throwing good money after bad.

        1. fposte*

          Right. He’s basically told people that there’s no chance that money will give them a baby.

          (Which makes it slightly less scammy in one sense, since it’s a harder sell, but it’s also more bulletproof–he’s literally promising them nothing.)

      2. Emi.*

        Right. Fergus is definitely in the wrong, but not because he’s trying to “make a poor family” (which is a gross way to talk about human, by the way).

    3. Jules the Third*

      Success is about 25% from a really good place, iirc. google google – ah – that’s for a certain age. Under 35, over 40%, drops about 4% per year after 35.

      I do not judge others’ reproductive choices – it is intensely personal, and there’s no way for the people outside to know the emotional impact. I know how it feels to be judged – after my second round of IVF, someone who knew I was doing IVF started complaining about ‘people spending all that money when there’s kids that need adopting’ in my presence. I gave them a brief explanation of their errors and left to go cry.

      I did not hit up other people for $$s, but I have a lot of privilege in that area – solidly middle class, white collar professional, no bad teen / early adult choices showing in a criminal record. It does suck that this person’s bad choices x years ago are still a factor causing harm in their life (if this is not a scam).

      Adoptions cost as much or more than IVF, if you have the right insurance.
      Healthy babies are not easy to adopt – there’s a long waiting list.
      It’s not their business how people spend their own money.)

      1. fposte*

        And adoption is bringing actual people with their own history into your family. Not everybody is prepared to accept that . (I’ve never heard “just adopt” from somebody who has actually adopted.)

        1. Liane*

          I am an adoptee* and a very happy one, and I don’t tell people to adopt unless they tell me they are considering adoption first.

          *from the days when Every. Little. Detail. about about bio-parents was kept a Deep Dark Secret.

      2. Natalie*

        At least in my state, someone with a criminal record is perfectly able to adopt children through the state child welfare system provided they weren’t convicted of something incredibly serious like murder or criminal sexual conduct. All other offenses have specific time periods of disqualification or are addressed on a case by case basis.

        1. fposte*

          Good point. It’s possible this was an assessment of the likelihood of a birth mother’s being willing to go forward rather than a legal restriction (or it could be that they’re just not up for adoption, which as an adoptee I have no problem with).

          1. Natalie*

            Not to get too far offtopic, but I’d bet about a million dollars they aren’t even considering kids in foster care. In my experience, when most people talk about adoption they are clearly only thinking private agency, infant adoption and seem to have forgotten that adoption through the state even exists.

            But yes, if they aren’t up for adoption for whatever reason they absolutely should not do it! I was more making a general comment about the effects of criminal convictions. This probably varies by state, of course, but I know my state is super flexible with a lot of things people think are disqualifications – you don’t have to own your home, you don’t have to be married or partnered, and so on.

            1. Lil Fidget*

              To be fair, thinking of my friends who have gone through this – it really is very different. You’re probably not going to get a healthy infant in your family race through the state system, and it’s a little hard of us to tell a family that wants to have a baby, that adopting a twelve year old is basically the same thing.

              1. Natalie*

                Sure, I’m not saying everyone has to go out and adopt all the teenagers. It’s just a particular blind spot I’ve observed. And I do think there is a difference between “no one will let us adopt” and “we have an option to adopt but it probably won’t work for us”. The latter is a choice Fergus and his spouse are making – maybe a totally understandable one but a choice nonetheless.

                1. Jules the Third*

                  There’s a reason I said ‘baby’… I am familiar with adopting foster children, but, well, babies really are a different experience than an older child. I would not call desiring a small infant a blind spot – for whatever reason (cultural conditioning, biology, I dunno), I found something deeply satisfying about holding and caring for an infant that isn’t there now that he’s older. I could certainly bond with an older child as well, but I have a lot of sympathy for people who feel a need to start at infancy.

                2. Natalie*

                  @ Jules, I’m sorry, I should have quote the part of your comment I was responding to in order to be more clear. You said “It does suck that this person’s bad choices x years ago are still a factor causing harm in their life (if this is not a scam)” and I just wanted to note that this isn’t necessarily the case and Fergus may well have options to adopt that don’t care about his criminal history. Definitely was not trying to make any sort of statement on what you should have wanted or done!

      3. Candi*

        In my state, adoption is often a beaureacratic nightmare of red tape, and jumping through all the hoops may not result in the adoption of a child of any age.

        And then the same people who set/could clean up the policies whine (yes, it sounded like actual whining) how the foster system is overwhelmed.

        There need to be some rules, but when the existing ones are the equivalent of the stunts Lilliputian government officials have to do to keep/get their offices, it’s a bit much.

    4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Agreed – it may sound callous or abrasive – I will say – those procedures work for many , but this is a personal choice that two people have made – and asking for charity (that’s what it is) to support that choice, as you say – might not be the right thing to do.

    5. please*

      ” It’s ONE thing if the entire family is poor that they need the cash to thrive until they can get back on their feet… it is another to essentially pay to MAKE a poor family.”

      This is pretty callous.

      1. Thursday Next*

        I read LP’s original comment a bit more generously–I think it’s a similar principle to what underlies adoption agencies’ requirements about family asset levels: the idea is to get a sense that a family can support the child they adopt. As I read LP, a family that needs financial assistance to conceive or adopt a child may not have much of a financial cushion to raise that child.

        (I’m not advocating for a particular level of assets, or saying that finances are more important than anything else. Simply that it’s not an invalid concern.)

      2. blackcat*

        The phrasing is callous, but I get the sentiment. I’m not going to support a GoFundMe to help someone adopt a pet, either, but I might support one to save Fido after he gets hit by a car.

        Unexpected things happen to existing families that people can’t plan for. That’s different from funding a lifestyle choice in the first place.

      3. Wintermute*

        Callous but not entirely without merit. they say over their lifetime a child will cost between a quarter and half a million dollars, and that’s if they DON’T have any major medical issues or special needs. sure most parents couldn’t come up with 25k on the spur of the moment, but we don’t do ENOUGH thinking in this country about whether people are financially able to raise children. I say that as the child of parents that had no business having kids with their economic capabilities, it’s no slur on them they’ve done well for themselves since but their decision was not a reasonable one and I suffered for it.

    6. Kelly White*

      What kind of stuck out to me was the fact that they aren’t candidates for adoption. I’m an adoptive parent, and honestly, there might be a good reason why the adoption agency said no. I’m not a perfect person by any means, and we have addiction and mental health issues in our (recent) past and we were approved to adopt. I think that in general, they (adoption agencies, state foster care systems) are pretty good at screening people.

      So, if no adoption agency is willing to work with them, and their docs have said that IVF won’t work, I mean, I’m not sure why they think this will work.

      1. Mary*

        This whole situation sounds EXTREMELY “dry drunk” to me: they both have past addiction issues and they are bringing a lot of disordered thinking and willingness to trample other people’s boundaries to Project Family. They sound very much like Project Family is the obsession that’s replaced the addictions and that as far as they are concerned it HAS to succeed.

        I have two kids through IVF (no formal infertility issues, just an absence of testes in the family), and there’s were lots of times when we thought we weren’t ever going to be able to have kids, so I’ve lots of sympathy for them. But it absolutely doesn’t justify transgressing other people’s boundaries like this.

        1. FD*

          +1 That’s what it felt like to me. I also can’t help but feel like there’s an element of “When we have a child, it will make everything better/prove that everything is better” in all this. Which is…not a great situation to bring a child into, really.

          1. Candi*

            Theorizing here:

            I really hope it’s not one of those situations where the marriage is going through a rocky phase and ‘baby makes everything better’. It won’t. That’s what counseling is for, singly or together. And some people just do better as friends, not romance partners.

            Whatever the underlying factors, this guy needs ot stop already.

        2. blackcat*

          Oh, man, you have hit the nail on the head for why my BIL & SIL’s approach to having kids (which also happened through IVF) has sat so poorly with me. They’re both alcoholics, and yeah, it’s like “project family” took over and their journey to have kids was the MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER. (Sadly, parenting is not for them….)

    7. Savannnah*

      “It’s ONE thing if the entire family is poor that they need the cash to thrive until they can get back on their feet… it is another to essentially pay to MAKE a poor family.”
      Yikes- no. Infertility treatments are hugely expensive and also often not covered by insurance (not at all for LGBTQ folks) so please don’t correlate the idea that because someone does not have 40K on hand they shouldn’t have kids or don’t have the resources for them.

      1. Candi*

        I ran a quick Google and found that even in countries with national health insurance, fertility treatments, and specifically IVF (because it’s directly relevant to this conversation), are often only partially covered. If you qualify in the first place for coverage. Even with coverage, it was still crazy expensive.

      2. Detached Elemental*

        Yup. I am outside the USA, in a country with a socialised health system, and my IVF treatment still cost the better part of $20k.

        Also, in my country, adoption is difficult. There are fewer than 100 domestic adoptions per state each year, and overseas adoptions cost almost as much as IVF, plus have many restrictions around parents’ health, ages, etc, etc.

    8. Lady Phoenix*

      Upon reading the comments, I want to apologize. I think the potential parents in this letter and people similiar to these people have colored my view of the entire process and I said mean things to several groups of people (poor people, people going through this struggle).

      I want to apologize for the hurtful things I said to you all and thank those who took the time to educate me on this matter.

      While I don’t trust the LW’s coworker, I should realize that he is only one out of the numerous families who do want kids. For those you who are going theough this process or gone through this process, I wish you all the best of luck.

    9. Agnodike*

      I have three kids. They are expensive. We feed them, we clothe them, we send them to ridiculously expensive March Break drama camp even though we have to listen to them sing “Tomorrow” 1000 times when they get home. There was no way, by the time we were planning for #3, that we would have been able to afford $25k-$75k for IVF. He didn’t “make a poor family” of us when he was born – we could and can afford to give him not only the basic necessities but a few extras. Not having thousands and thousands of dollars in spare cash on hand at a given moment doesn’t make you an unfit parent. Moreover, the notion that poor people shouldn’t have kids is in itself deeply and disgustingly problematic in a society rife with inequality, so maybe give that belief a really good, hard look sometime.

      The question of whether it’s sensible for these people to pursue IVF is another question (I would definitely not be contributing to this campaign!) but YIKES. Please think twice before you use a phrase like “make a poor family” again.

      1. Lady Phoenix*

        I read your comments and others and yeah, my words were beyond callous. I apologize for insulting you and your family. I let my jadedness cloud how I dhould see all families, not just the ones that left me jaded.

        I am glad you have a very happy family… and my dearest sympathy as “Tomorrow” is gonna be stuck in your head forever.

      2. Jules the Third*

        On the plus side: sometimes the band director’s going to do Star Wars, and is willing to let your kid play a trombone soli for The Imperial March… WAAAAAYYY better than ‘Tomorrow’!

    10. bookartist*

      “…MAKE a poor family…”

      That is possibly the cruelest thing I have ever read here. Every human being has the absolute right to reproduce, and to criticize the “poor” for having children is beyond….. just beyond. You have no knowledge of very many things, it seems, not just the success rates of current IVF technology and protocols.

      1. Lissa*

        Is it really necessary to keep piling on after Lady Phoenix has apologized twice and people have already explained what was insensitive about those comments? I don’t see how repeating how she’s so wrong is helpful.

      2. Lady Phoenix*

        I have said before that I apologize for my comments. They were not even callous,!but instead cruel.

        I will admit I came into this without much knowledge, but instead a jaded view of parenthood caused by individuals who abuse crowdsourcing/charity. I will admit I am still jaded.

        But that doesn’t mean that every person who croudsources is abusing the system. It also doesn’t mean every parent that is not well off is terrible or undeserving, and the same for every parent that has or is going through infertility procedures. The few bad parents colored my vision for all parents and that was wrong.

        I am thankful for the people who educated me on the procedure as well as pointed out how my jaded viewpoint has made sound like a massive jerk.

        1. Sup*

          No need to apologize, you said nothing wrong or callous or cruel. You are allowed to have an opinion without the typical guilt trip pile-on that so frequently happens because BABIES.

  22. Oryx*

    When someone keeps pressing an issue like this, I will very clearly and directly say no and tell them to stop asking me.

    The next time they bring it up, I ask “What did I tell you last time?” This will often put them on the spot and make them uncomfortable, because they KNOW what I told them last time and chose to disregard it and forcing them to address that seems to catch them off guard.

    1. katydid*

      I wish I had the wherewithal to use this response in similar situations. I’m getting more assertive as the years go by, but I need to step up the pace and feel comfortable being true to myself. Thanks for the reminder to not bear the discomfort for their social infraction.

  23. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    1) Most companies have concrete rules about in-office solicitations, and I would think getting someone to contribute to a GoFundMe, crowdfunding, etc. would fall in this category.

    2) I generally don’t have a problem with raising money for a cause – someone’s medical bills, someone’s in dire straits, or some other major setback – BUT – when people are GoFundMe’ing for a commercial cause or even a personal choice responsibility, I think I have to definitely say “no” – especially in the office.

    I am reminded of one avant-garde artist, who had the audacity to ask for crowdfunding for a tour, and even went so far as to hire unpaid, non-union musicians as “volunteers” for her performances. I worry that reliance on crowdfunding for commercial ventures might not lead to success – as there’s no responsibility to the “investors”.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        … and I won’t even mention the performer’s stage name, as posting it here would violate AAM’s terms of service.

    1. Cordoba*

      Is the musical example meant to be “good” or “bad” crowdfunding practice? I’m not familiar with the crowdfunding campaign you are referring to, the phrasing of of what you wrote says “bad”, but the description you gave seems reasonable.

      If I donated to a crowdfunding campaign that was intended to build something, a movie theater for example, and then the person running the campaign said “Rather than spend your donated money on movie theater chairs we’re going to see if anybody will donate movie chairs for free” that would strike me as good management of the money I donated.

      Presumably the “volunteer” musicians were true volunteers; meaning consenting adults who knowingly chose to play for free. If they were hornswoggled or forced into it that would of course be a different story.

      Is there a larger context I’m missing here, or is this just not how things are supposed to be done in the music world? I’m asking because it would not have struck me as a red flag for a crowdfunding campaign, and I want to make sure I’m not inadvertently supporting bad behavior in future crowdfunding donations.

      1. Candi*

        A tour is a choice, not a need like medical bills for spleen cancer removal or bowel resection due to Crohn’s disease. So crowdsourcing for that – a desire- is a bit tacky in many people’s eyes.

        Touring stars generally have sponsors paying for the tour in exchange for the marketing and advertising opportunity. Those giant signs and branding on every cup? That’s what’s paying for the folks on stage. Conversely, not being able to get even a little company to sponsor you looks really bad.

        The non-union musicians is a bit of an issue, since the music union(s) tend to be a bit persnickety about their territory and their rules being violated. The “volunteers” being in quotes presumably represents an attempt to get around said union rules; various people have been pulling it for forever. The union knows what’s up. (I’d have to search exactly what the problems are, but I’ve read enough to know there would be problems.)

        1. whingedrinking*

          A tour is a choice, not a need
          Uh…for a lot of musicians it is a need, in that it’s part of their job. A tour is not a vacation.

          1. The_artist_formerly_knwn_as_Anon-2*

            Trust me, for the individual I am referring to – she’s got dough. She still did a crowdfunding. Her show tickets go for around $100 on the scalpers’ market.

      2. Grapey*

        IMO I will always crowdfund artists that I know and love to get their stuff produced when they themselves don’t have the sort of income to independently produce it.

        I think the person you’re replying to had a problem with the fact AP COULD afford to pay pro musicians but didn’t, and thinks hiring ‘free’ volunteers devalues the work of all musicians.

        As an example of my own: I dabble in a certain type of art, super not professionally, learned on youtube like. I have tons of examples in my attic and I just like giving them away as gifts because I value free space in my attic more than I do the $30 I see them go for on Etsy. I have an alternate, very well paying job that lets me treat this hobby as therapy for me and I can afford all the materials. I have no desire to set up any real ‘shop’ for my pieces.

        I’ve previously given one to my friend as a gift, and he is now opening a restaurant. He knows I do this kind of art and wanted some for his new space. He asked me if I would be willing to ‘unload’ any more for his restaurant at some very discounted price (paying for shipping basically), and I said yes. Am I taking $300 out of the mouths of starving artists that do that style professionally? Maybe. Is he wrong for not looking for artists that are making a living? Maybe.

        1. a different Vicki*

          Maybe, but your friend isn’t opening an art gallery. It would be a lot more questionable if your friend expected the sous chef to work for free in order to support his “art” as a big-name chef, while paying himself a salary and naming the restaurant after himself. A group of musicians setting up in the park, putting out a hat, and splitting whatever the passersby give them is fine; one of the group taking all the money because “I’m the guitarist” or “people will see you playing with me, and maybe next week they’ll give you a share of the tips” is exploitative.

  24. iglwif*

    OMG, that sounds awful.

    And I say this as a person who (a) spent an enormous amount of money on IVF cycles, (b) sometimes has a tendency to overshare health issues in the office, and (c) is Certifiably Socially Awkward. Fergus & Spouse of Fergus, I feel for y’all, but DO NOT DO THIS.

  25. Winged*

    It sounds like Fergus is not even taking “yes” for an answer, since he keeps badgering the coworker who did give money.
    If being really blunt with Fergus doesn’t work (and I can’t imagine it will given his behavior to date), I think OP will have to say something to management. I think I’d say something along the lines of “Fergus is spending a lot of time every day repeatedly asking all of us for money. Apparently he’s trying to raise money for IVF. I certainly understand that he’s in a hard place right now, but it seems like he’s lost all perspective and his constant requests are really disruptive and uncomfortable. I’ve asked him to stop multiple times, but it hasn’t made a difference, and I’m not sure where to go from here.” I would hope that would spur management to tell Fergus to knock it off.

  26. MassMatt*

    It sounds like management is totally absent here, and the inmates are running the asylum. I wonder what other problems or dysfunctions may be festering.

    1. Augusta Sugarbean*

      Well, they can’t do anything about it if they don’t know about it. I mean, yes, absentee management can be a problem but it sounds like as far as they know, there aren’t any problems to be handling. Staff needs to make the problem visible.

      1. PlainJane*

        This. Managers aren’t mind-readers. If there’s a problem, speak up. We can only address what we know about, and when management is offsite, they have to rely on staff to raise issues.

        1. Candi*

          The alternative is cameras in the office and someone monitoring them all the time. Passing info up the chain is so much easier, more convenient, and less expensive.

  27. Cordoba*

    I have a relative who asked the extended family repeatedly for donations for fertility treatments,. After a few polite refusals only resulted in more frequent and aggressive panhandling I responded “I’m taking donations to allow me to purchase the Lamborghini I’ve always wanted. Care to chip in to that?” I didn’t get any more requests after that.

    Maybe I’m an outlier, but I’m much more willing to entertain pitches for life-saving medically-necessary treatment than I am for something like IVF which amounts to optional lifestyle choice. May as well ask me to pay for hair plugs while you’re at it.

    I would give Fergus exactly 1 polite “no thanks”. After that I would not take his feelings into consideration, and would say whatever it took to get him to leave me alone about this.

    1. yup*

      I’m in the same boat.

      I also had a former coworker who complained constantly about her kids, even though she had gone through multiple rounds of fertility treatments and ended up using a surrogate to have them. If I had donated to that cause and then heard her complaints 10 years later, I would be livid.

      1. Thursday Next*

        In fairness to your former coworker, though, it’s possible to want kids *and* be exasperated with them at times! (Hmm…how do I know this?)

        But I hear you on the problem of oversharing in the workplace–one’s fertility struggles or parenting struggles shouldn’t be related at length to coworkers.

        1. Candi*

          (opinion): Kids are adorable bundles of joy and wonderful to have. They can also be incredibly exasperating and as annoying as sand down your pants. (/opinion) They’re also expensive.

          No matter how much you love them, you will complain about things having to do with them at some point. Pretending otherwise is denying the reality of being human. (Thinking “happy housewives” of some eras, especially.)

          I don’t question anyone who doesn’t want to have kids. It’s a huge investment of emotion, time and money. And I feel bad for those who want kids and can’t, because they are so much fun and great to have around.

          They just make you want to go live with wolves once in a while. :P

      2. Grapey*

        I don’t want kids, but I did want a PhD, and I would have been sad if my close coworkers and friends were ‘livid’ over the few weekends when I had to ditch their plans just because I unloaded some typical frustration on them at other times. But that doesn’t mean I’d undo all my hard work and say the PhD wasn’t worth it.

    2. CarolynM*

      Then I am an outlier too – disaster recovery, outrageous medical bills for life saving treatments, etc.? Hit me up – I am happy to help in whatever way I can! But I don’t fund lifestyle choices – I have my own goals and wants and needs, you handle yours, I’ll handle mine.

    3. Helen J.*

      I did something similar once. There was a “travel” baseball team asking for donations to help fund a trip to a tournament in Florida (at Disney, I think) in front of the grocery store every Saturday and Sunday for a month. The same team. A group set-up on each side of the entry/exit doors so you got solicited going in and out. On the third weekend I just couldn’t take it anymore and I said “How about you donate so I can go to Florida?”. I used a neutral voice with the kid, but his dad who was sitting in chair under a tent, got so mad at me. He jumped up and practically chased me into the parking lot, yelling about while I being a b*tch about donating a few cents to help the team get to Florida. I rounded on him and started yelling back. I told him that I had kids who would like to go on a trip to Disney, too, but since I couldn’t afford to take my kids, I sure as hell wasn’t going to donate for his kids to go because when he signed them up he knew traveling was part of team activities, and if he couldn’t afford to pay for it, he shouldn’t have signed them up and he shouldn’t have them asking for money at the grocery store. I told him if he didn’t back off and leave me alone, I would call 911 to report him for menacing.

      If it has been only weekend and/or at least 1 entry/exit where they were not set-up, I would not have said anything. I’m not exactly poverty-stricken, but I work hard to help support my family and we don’t get to go on vacation every year. It’s well-known how much travel baseball cost and if you have to ask strangers for money for weeks on end, I think you should reconsider what activities you sign your kid up for. Travel ball is a choice and you should not expect strangers to fund your choices.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        My daughter’s high school band went to Europe a few years ago. When the trip was announced, a few years in advance, the director promised there would be extra fundraising opportunities. It turned out those “opportunities” were “ask your friends and family to sponsor you.” Which I refused to do. It’s bad enough asking people to buy overpriced chocolate bars and magazines, or donate for a car wash, but just standing in front of the store asking you to give them money? No way.

        1. Candi*

          …there’s the gift wrap, cookies, and coupon books my kids were told to sell in elementary school.

          Bake sales, arts & crafts, selling the results, kids asking their parents for… stuff for an auction (it’s amazing what people will buy when it’s to help out)…

          A band? Check the local laws on playing music in public. My city permits street musicians between April and September, during and at the same location the farmer’s market takes place. People play and leave their instrument cases/other container out for people to throw money into. (You’re not supposed to do that at other times, but often they’ll give a wink-nod to well-behaved school kids, as long as they aren’t in the way. It still has to be at the FM location, though.)

        2. Al Lo*

          I work for an organization that does performing arts tours with students, and we have limited fundraising opportunities within the organization itself, for various reasons. My fundraising ideas document for the performers includes things like:

          — Get a busking license
          — Ask for money toward your tour in lieu of birthday and Christmas gifts
          — Are you a visual artist? Look into websites like society6 and create a store with your artwork that you can market beyond your immediate circle
          — Do a closet cleanout and hold a garage sale

          I’m watching this thread for more ideas like this (i.e. less “just give me money” ideas) that I can add to my list of suggestions!

      2. AKchic*

        I agree with you on this one. I rarely donate to anyone soliciting at the grocery stores. The few times I have are notable.
        First time – a church that supports LGBTQIA rights that had a major fire and were trying to rebuild. They were selling amazing chocolates and I bought about $100 worth on the spot. I am anti-religion, but they work within the LGBTQIA community and I know them from pride events. Not gonna lie, they are great folks.
        Second time – Girl Scouts and I was out of cookies. My grandma ate my last box of Thin Mints and I didn’t want to go to my regular dealer since those girls were right there.

      3. Lora*

        Ugh, I feel your pain. Have many friends and colleagues whose children are in the high school sportsball league, for which they must fundraise a zillion dollars or whatever so the team can go to Destination Event or get a coach who previously played sportsball professionally. They regularly spend upwards of $10k on high school sportsball things, and solemnly inform me that this is absolutely 100% necessary for Junior to get a scholarship or succeed in sports.

        I come from a rural area where all sportsball of any kind was pretty much someone’s dad volunteering after work or the Phys Ed teacher coaching; there weren’t any professional full time coaches or anything like that, my older brother mowed the fields on the weekends and that was about all the professional support they got. The local public schools with such limited resources still managed to send players on to Big 10 schools on full sportsball scholarships, mainly because rural farm kids who make hay all summer and pull calves every spring grow up to be the size of mountain trolls. Ticket and concession stand sales more than paid for uniforms and bus trips to away games.

        It seems like it’s a very insular world, where their friends are all other parents whose kids are in the same sports, and they get involved in playing one upmanship games for who can sell the most candy bars and whatnot. Like, that’s their whole life and they don’t quite realize how weirdly self-absorbed it looks from the outside.

      4. Plague of frogs*

        A young relative of mine was trying to fund a trip to drama camp. My mom offered her landscaping work, and she refused. An aunt offered her house-cleaning work and she refused. Then she complained that “No one wanted to help her go to drama camp.” It was hard to resist telling her that she seemed to be dramatic enough already.

    4. jj*

      I think I get what you’re trying to say, but as someone who’s gone through three unsuccessful rounds of IVF, calling it an “optional lifestyle choice” and comparing it to hair plugs or a Lamborghini feels pretty callous. My husband and I are unable to get pregnant by any other means; it’s the only way we can have a biological child (and now that door has been closed too, and we’ve stopped).

      It’s incredibly draining and challenging, physically and emotionally. I’d give anything not to have to do it, as would pretty much anyone else who’s been through the hell of infertility. The drive to have a biological child is incredibly strong, and while I think Fergus is a jackass, I can have sympathy for the road they’re walking.

    5. Agnodike*

      Do you ever treat someone to lunch? Have you ever covered a coworker’s coffee because they were short? I submit that there are more worthy causes than just the ones that fit under the umbrella “I will die if I don’t get this,” because human life is varied and layered in shades of meaning.

      It’s perfectly fine not to want to donate for any reason – other people’s lives are their responsibility, not yours, and you don’t have to contribute toward Uncle Rudy’s kidney transplant any more than your neighbour should expect to successfully hit you up for her vacation fund! But I think it’s worth examining why you feel that it’s OK to ask for money for a life-or-death cause but not for the stuff that makes life worth living – like cosmetic surgery to help you regain your confidence in an appearance-driven world, or the chance to live your dream to be a parent.

      Fergus is being a huge jerk about this, but that doesn’t mean that infertility is trivial.

      1. Cordoba*

        I am 100% fine with people asking for money for whatever they want as long as they do so politely and are willing to take “no” for an answer.

        I’m just more likely to contribute if it’s for something that is required to maintain a person’s life (or quality of life) rather than just something that a person wants a lot but doesn’t actually need.

        I honestly do not see any reason why one person’s “dream to be a parent” is in any way more important or valid than another person’s “dream to be a movie star” or “dream to own a Picasso” etc. Aspiring parents shouldn’t be surprised when another person lumps all of these sorts of things together.

  28. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Look, our team is close enough that we’ve given nice strollers for baby showers, brought food to each others’ houses after hospital stays, and attended funerals together. But even we would NEVER ask someone more than once if someone would like to participate, because we don’t intend for anyone to feel obligated to participate in these, and we never expect anyone to say yes.

    Also, seconding the “leave the flyer in the kitchen for your kid’s fundraiser, *maybe* send out one group email to make sure everyone’s aware (assuming there’s no policy against it)”; anything more is too pushy.

    1. please*

      I think if asking for money is appropriate once, it’s appropriate to ask people who declined after a year or so has passed, unless they said they would never give. Circumstances change.

      1. fposte*

        I would disagree with this. If the person changes their mind and wants to contribute, it’s fine if *they* say so, but the respect for the “No” by others stands. It’s a delicate balance permitting any kind of money solicitation in the workplace, and asking people who’ve said no is a way to get the whole shebang shut down.

      2. Candi*

        That’s one of the beauties of the casual ‘let it be known to all’ approach: If someone’s changed their mind, they know where to go.

  29. Jessica*

    When I talked to management about the coworker who is constantly begging for money in the office, I wouldn’t normalize it by using terminology like “crowdfunding.”

    1. Observer*

      Agreed. The problem is not crowdfunding. It’s that he’s trying to pressure people into giving him money. The fact that he’s doing this to people who are lower on the totem pole makes it that much worse.

  30. Sunuva Biscuit*

    My personal opinion is that if you can’t afford IVF, how do you think you are going to afford a child?

    1. SallytooShort*

      That’s not entirely fair. Babies cost a fortune over a lifetime but don’t usually require a high down-payment.

      1. FD*

        Honest question, is this significantly more than the cost of pregnancy/hospital/etc fees if they weren’t covered by insurance?

        (Childfree so I know it’s expensive but I have no scale of how expensive.)

        1. Natalie*

          This will obviously vary by area, but from a bit of googling it looks like the average cost for a hospital birth is under $10K. Plus, if you really can’t afford it, the hospital has things like payment plans and charitable care. I can’t imagine very many IVF clinics offer free services to anyone.

          1. FD*

            That makes sense. I just wondered if people were thinking in terms of “apples-to-apples”, uncovered medical expenses.

            Not that it matters–this is inappropriate behavior anyway!

          2. Candi*

            Definitely on the payment plans for some hospitals/hospital systems. I didn’t have to use it, but the hospital I gave birth at had a very generous system. They were of the philosophy that they’d rather get a definite 1/3 or 2/3s back, then never see a dime by being too stringent.

            (And yes, when people make regular payments for years, they often wind up eventually writing off the balance of the debt. One of the reasons their hospitals are so loved in this area.)

        2. Detached Elemental*

          I am outside the USA, in a country with a socialised health system.

          From the time I became pregnant to the time my baby and I left hospital, the cost to me was under $500 for some optional scans/scans where I chose the provider rather than getting them done at the hospital.

          Everything else was free, including an emergency c-section and a three day hospital stay.

          The ivf treatment to get pregnant cost me around $20k.

          So, yeah, big difference.

          1. Airy*

            My sister had a child by IVF and had to get a bank loan for the extra cost, which meant she got to tell her two year old, “I’ve finished paying you off. The bank can no longer repossess you.”

        3. SallytooShort*

          That’s a big if. Most pregnant people in the US do have insurance.

          And even then usually you can work out payment plans with a hospital.

        1. AKchic*

          You can make payment plans after the fact for the birth of a baby. It’s not like they are going to swoop in and repo that kid. Or put the baby back in if you miss a payment.

    2. KellyK*

      IVF costs $25k a pop, all at once. L0ts of people have kids the old fashioned way who don’t make that in a year.

      1. fposte*

        Honestly, I think most people don’t have a disposable $25k when they first start having kids. You have to get pretty well-heeled before you can toss that kind of money out in one go.

    3. Snark*

      Because a child costs what a child costs, regardless of how it came into the world; IVF is an additional cost.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      It’s not the same thing. IVF demands tens of thousands of dollars upfront. When you have a child, no one says “Okay, it’s going to cost $50K over the next 5.5 years for daycare and you have to pay that RIGHT NOW.”

      (I mean, I still think Fergus is way off base and being extremely inappropriate here, but spurious arguments against IVF aren’t helping.)

    5. Bend & Snap*

      That’s not fair, nor is it accurate. IVF is closer to a down payment on a house than the added day-to-day cost of having a child.

      1. AMPG*

        This is a great analogy. I rent because, even though my rent more than covers the mortgage on my house, I don’t have a down payment available to buy it.

    6. Valancy Snaith*

      Do fertile people have to pony up $25k the instant they get pregnant? No. The cost of having children is amortized over months and years, and much of it can be done cheaply. There’s no inexpensive way to get secondhand IVF, or borrow IVF from a friend who’s had it before, or use washable IVF instead of disposable. It isn’t the same at all.

  31. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    Given that you want to keep a decent working relationship with Fergus, I wouldn’t go with some of the blunter responses commenters have proposed (although in other circumstances those would be totally on!) but I would absolutely do something like this:

    Fergus: Some variant on “give me money!”
    You: Fergus, I’m sorry, I’m really not a position to donate now or in the foreseeable future. Good luck though.
    Fergus: (later) Hey, another variant on “give me money!”
    You: Fergus, I already explained to you that I can’t. I don’t want to keep telling you ‘no’ over and over and I’m sure you don’t want to hear it, so let’s just understand my answer is going to be ‘no’ from here on out.

    1. Augusta Sugarbean*

      Fergus is already damaging the working relationship. I get what you are saying but I don’t like putting to burden of preserving a relationship on the person who is behaving appropriately. If there is reason to think Fergus is going to be a PITA when the LW starts pushing back then that’s even more reason to get management involved. And if Fergus is spending so much time on this campaign, I’m wondering how much time he is spending doing actual work. Maybe there isn’t much of a relationship to preserve.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        I agree with you that Fergus is already damaging the working relationship, but in terms of practicality, I don’t think it’s in the OP’s best interest to escalate things, even only in the scope of returning the awkward to sender. As they say, he is the most senior person onsite and not considered just a peer, so for that alone it’s reasonable to take a somewhat more delicate touch. Notice that my script still bottom-lined at “stop asking me.”

        1. Augusta Sugarbean*

          I always wonder what “senior” really means in practical terms? I’m the #3 most senior person in my department but it just means I’ve worked there forever not that I have any authority. It just seems like people get hung up on the *idea* of seniority. We read a lot of letters that say something like I’m in my 20s and Bob is in his 40s” and they let themselves be intimidated by the person’s age or number of years in the company. But they don’t stop and really think through what power someone truly has over them.

          The LW says “He isn’t a manager or supervisor, but he is by far the most senior person here so some people are afraid to speak up because he isn’t a peer.” So start with “what can Fergus actually do to me?”

          1. Candi*

            Eh, at the seasonal job I had back when, “senior” meant “didn’t walk off the crazy-paced job after two weeks” which meant “senior enough to train someone on a computer program I first encountered three and a half weeks ago” not “has any authority whatsoever”.

            Computer program was used to run photos through and print photo calendars. I had so. much. fun. exploring it whenever I got a moment.

    2. anon for this*

      I agree–this seems like the best place to start if the LW hasn’t already said something like this. Then, if Fergus doesn’t back off, it’s time to let management know.

  32. SallytooShort*

    It should be an across the board office policy that individual giving pushes should only be allowed if the end results provide me with cookies in some manner. And even then you can’t be this aggressive. (But you wouldn’t have to be because people like cookies more than fertilized embryos.)

    1. DorthVader*

      I’m so glad I wasn’t eating anything when I read this comment! Plus cookies are way cheaper and the result of buying cookies is guaranteed!

    2. hermit crab*

      I guess if you are really in it for the long game, then in about seven or eight years the fertilized embryos could potentially be selling you cookies. But that would require a LOT of patience. :)

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      The danger is that Fergus will say “If you contribute toward my IVF, I will bring you cookies.”

    4. cookie?*

      I’d rather have a fertilized embryo right now than a cookie (although both cause weight gain haha). ;-)

      1. Candi*

        Well, yeah, since an embryo is a fertilized egg at a certain stage of development, 2-6 weeks, it says here.

        But for the joke, it works. :P

  33. Elbe*

    This type of behavior is so painful. I get that this coworker is going through a very emotional time, but it’s no one else’s responsibility to “make his dreams come true.” It sounds like he’s so focused on this goal that he’s started to see everyone else as a type of tool to be used to achieve it.

    I think that the OP should call this out for what it really is, which is refusing to respect other people’s boundaries. The OP could say something like “when someone tells you no, you need to respect that.”

    The OP could also point out that, because he’s the most senior person in the office, these repeated request carry a certain weight and that he’s abusing his position of authority.

  34. What's with today, today?*

    We had a co-worker like this. He asked repeatedly for advances, loans from co-workers, the works. When he finally got fired (for calling in and faking a week-long out of town hospitalization), and we cleaned out his desk, we found a loan agreement for several thousand dollars informally drawn up on a piece of paper between him and a late co-worker. The co-worker had died two weeks after it was signed. We all figured he got out of paying that one back.

    1. SallytooShort*

      What a horrible story.

      Are you sure he did it before the late co-worker died and not after but then was back dated? Did you recognize the signature? He could have drafted it himself and been planning to present it to the co-worker’s family. “This was one of his last wishes.”

      1. What's with today, today?*

        It was very obvious it was done before the co-worker died, and I doubt co-worker’s family was even aware. We were all very aware of his uh, shortcomings, so co-worker knew what he was getting into when he loaned the money.

        1. What's with today, today?*

          I have such great stories of this guy faking illnesses…I’ll have to make a Friday open thread post this week.

  35. what's my name again?*

    I don’t have any other advice other than what people have already said but I just wanted to say my eyes roll when people ask for funds to “make my dreams come true.” (In this case, and in many others, just because Fergus has this desire, it doesn’t mean that it necessarily MUST become reality. Life doesn’t always work that way.)

    Also, well, umm, I have dreams too but I’m working towards them myself, thankyouverymuch.
    …except for that one dream where I was naked in church. Not that one.

    1. AKchic*

      I can honestly say I made someone else’s fantasy come true by being naked in a church.

      My own dreams? I tend to be more realistic. Is it really too much to ask that my kids finish their chores and that my laundry actually be *done* once in a while?
      Oh… my sources say “yes, yes it is too much to ask. Film at 11”.

    2. Wintermute*

      what about that dream where I’m trying to drive from the back seat of the car and swerving all over the road? I can get a set of extension handles for a steering wheel for like 10 bucks!

  36. Free Meerkats*

    Bring it up to management, like yesterday; it doesn’t matter that they are remote and acting, they are still you manager. I can’t believe Alison didn’t say this in more than a parenthetical statement. Focus on the disruption it’s creating.

    If it doesn’t resolve in very short order (I’m thinking days, not weeks), start forwarding every email to your manager to show the disruption.

    1. MommyMD*

      Bringing it up to management is the first thing to do. It needs to be shut down by the people who can. It’s not the employee’s responsibility to avoid being shaken down for money at work or have to come up with statements to get this je rk to leave them alone.

  37. curious*

    I’m happy that your coworker has managed to turn his life around and working towards starting a family. I say this with any crowdfunding not just with what your coworker is going through because honestly I can’t imagine the emotional rollercoaster he is on…. I’m all for the crowdfunding for a good cause, but is your coworker doing anything to get these funds besides crowdfunding? I mean does he have a second job, sell unwanted stuff, rework investments. I would be totally annoyed if he was just expecting people to fund his needs (and yes I can see how family needs are very very important) and not doing a thing on his end. Just wondering… I am in no way criticizing his need for financial help, it just seems like with his constant begging for money, obviously he needs the money and (personally) wonder if he has explored all avenues to fund IVF.

    1. MommyMD*

      Everyone personal needs are important. He’s so out of line he can’t even see it. He needs to be working three jobs if he wants something before pushing people into giving him their hard-earned money. This isn’t a sudden death or a funeral.

      1. curious*

        You definitely said it much better than me. I guess I was trying to point out that I have no issues with crowdfunding, but I wouldn’t want to do while someone sits back and waits for the money to pour in. I want to know that this issue is A) realistic and B) it is something the person wants so bad that they are doing everything they can in addition to crowdfunding achieve the financial goal. Trust me I donate to a lot of charities and crowdfunding for people I know but this isn’t something that came up unexpectedly or is life threatening. I feel guilty saying this because coworker and wife must have a lot of pain, but I’d want to know that they are working towards their IVF goal too.

        1. fposte*

          I think that all makes sense on a personal level, but at a workplace level it doesn’t matter if Fergus is working twelve jobs and eating cardboard to achieve this–he still doesn’t get to badger his co-workers to fund it.

          1. curious*

            Yes I agree. I went on a bit of a tangent. As for OPs letter, the coworker is out of line by constantly asking people to donate.

    2. Penny Lane*

      “I’m all for the crowdfunding for a good cause, but is your coworker doing anything to get these funds besides crowdfunding? I mean does he have a second job, sell unwanted stuff, rework investments. I would be totally annoyed if he was just expecting people to fund his needs (and yes I can see how family needs are very very important) and not doing a thing on his end. ”

      I personally wouldn’t care if he were moonlighting at 3 other jobs in order to fund the IVF. I still would have zero interest in funding anyone’s IVF, except *possibly* a super-close family member.

      1. curious*

        Hi Penny Lane – I wrote a whole bunch of comments about my thoughts. I totally agree with you in that I personally don’t want to fund something so intimate for another couple. I get that the couple is hurting. I’m just frustrated with some of these crowdfunding requests, where the initiator is doing nothing on their end but expecting a donation to fund their dreams. To donate is a personal choice. For a personal issue (not a community one, etc) in which one would use crowdfunding, I feel like crowdfunding should be a last resort or at the very least be a small suppliment to the intiator’s own attempts and hard work to get the money.

        1. Penny Lane*

          I won’t waste my time being frustrated. I’ve got essentially zero interest in donating to other people’s lives, whether it’s their kids’ band trip to Florida, their IVF, or their cancer treatment. I would only really care about donating for their cancer treatment if they were *very* close friends / relatives. So whether or not those people are “doing enough” to realize their trip / IVF / cancer treatment wouldn’t even make my radar screen. If I sat and thought about all the ways I could donate my money today, I’d never get anything done.

    3. Temperance*

      This isn’t a need, though. It’s a want. He and his wife want to keep trying IVF, even though multiple doctors have told them that it won’t work. He wants other people to fund his pipe dream, essentially.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Yes. He basically wants people to throw their money down the drain to support his false hope.

  38. Bend & Snap*

    Okay I did IVF for YEARS. Literally, 7 years of fertility treatments. And this is totally out of line. Not only solicitation, but the OTT sharing. It is not a topic for the workplace and it certainly isn’t something to ask coworkers to fund.

    Also, when fertility doctors tell you there’s no hope, they mean it.

    1. AMPG*

      Excellent point about the fertility doctors telling you there’s no hope. I did IUI for my 2nd pregnancy and had to push pretty hard to get realistic expectations out of my clinic (as opposed to, “Well, that time didn’t work – on to the next cycle!”).

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Agreed. It’s not something I’ve ever thought about, admittedly, but it seems logical they’d lean toward encouraging any sliver of hope.

        It sounds like when I tell a client it sounds like investing isn’t for them. I only say that when they’re REALLY DEFINITELY not suitable.

        1. Anon-The-Moose*

          If a doctor has already claimed that there’s no hope, would a medical provider even be willing to perform the procedures, paid out of pocket or not?

            1. Natalie*

              Which is pretty sad in and of itself. It’s shady as hell to take a lot of money for a procedure that has basically no chance of working.

          1. Candi*

            I think that would depend on the specific person. Some over here would turn them down flat, over there would be like, “as long as there’s money”, and there’s a whole range in between.

            So the question becomes, is there a provider within their travel time and budget that will do it?

  39. Jules the Third*

    Not that it matters for the Fergus question, but in the US, IVF + meds should be about $15 – 17K, not $25K. ICSI (injecting the sperm into an egg) should be about $1,500 extra. If someone’s quoting you $25K, get another quote.

    1. Elbe*

      It sounds like they’re going to a less-than-reputable doctor because all of the other ones have turned them down.

      1. MommyMD*

        Yes. And truthfully I would not want to help this guy get a baby. He sounds clueless and pushy and entitled. Add in the background factors. I’d worry for any baby.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Um… no. That’s not how it works. It costs more or less in different areas of the U.S. It costs more or less depending on your med protocol. It costs more or less depending on many variables at your clinic.

      1. Observer*

        And it costs more depending on many variables depending on your health etc. And, if a surrogate is involved, it’s even more expensive. So, yes, $25 would not raise my eyebrows with this kind of history.

        Not that it really matters, but for anyone who is reading this…

      2. Candi*

        Which clinic you use, which specialist you use… true rock stars are good at what they do, but often cost more.

  40. Irene Adler*

    So why doesn’t Fergus just take out a loan for the IVF treatments? I don’t see why this expense should be other people’s responsibility to bear.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      And that might be my response. “Here, I searched for information medical loans for you. I’d also be happy to help you come up with a budget.” (Cause that will make most people run away screaming.)

    2. Drama Alpaca*

      I’d imagine there are significant difficulties getting a loan, given the circumstances described in the post.

      1. Candi*

        The lending agency would likely want some collateral -and anything still being paid off doesn’t count. (Because someone else has first dibs until it’s paid off.)

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          There’s actually a pretty big medical loan industry now, for things like infertility and plastic surgery and other costs not covered by insurance, that doesn’t require any more collateral than a credit card does.

  41. Jam Today*

    Life can be very capricious and very cruel, and I’m sorry for people who wind up with the sh*t end of the stick, but my goodness this is selfish.

  42. Beep*

    I know this is awful, but if multiple doctors are saying that having kids is not going to happen – no matter what – then doing IVF again will only be another heartbreak. Obviously, they are grieving, and this is the way they are trying to cope with that news.
    I think this couple needs to be gently lead to talk to someone, like a therapist, to unpack all these feelings.

    1. SnowyCold*

      I was going to post the same thing. Direct them to an EAP or someone they trust to mourn the loss of their dream to start a family and how to move on. The feelings of loss/disappointment/sadness are very real to them and they need to be addressed (by them with qualified ppl).

    2. President Porpoise*

      Well, I generally agree – but I’ve had two siblings who unexpectedly had kids in a conventional manner after doctors told them there was no way it would happen. So, I guess there’s two anecdotal data points in favor of Fergus’ tenacity, but the manner that he’s trying to raise funds is so unacceptable.

      1. Observer*

        True. But if the doctors are that off base (and it does happen) the odds of success in the conventional matter and doing IVF are pretty much the same, unless something has changed in the time between their last treatment and now.

      2. Candi*

        There’s a story in the comments somewhere on this site where the woman said she and her husband tried and tried and tried and had fertility treatments and IVF and all that and no luck whatsoever -and then she decided to leave her very toxic job. She was pregnant, conventionally, before she finished her month’s notice.

        Considering what stress hormones do to the body, I’m not entirely surprised.

        But sometimes doctors -male and female- may forget to take into account severe stressors. Especially since everyone reacts to stress differently, and some people are incredibly fertile no matter the circumstances.

        1. Valancy Snaith*

          Stress hormones have very little to do with conventional fertility rates. They may have some small effect, but it’s not measurable in reputable studies. Women get pregnant in horrible circumstances all the time, when stress would theoretically make it impossible, and the vast majority of fertility doctors have refuted the idea that stress hormones make it impossible to get pregnant.

  43. BadPlanning*

    If you bring this up to management and/or HR, I would go in with numbers and examples. How many times a week Fergus has asked you. Print out the emails and hand over the stack. Then they can’t hand have, “Oh he’s just making sure everyone knows, but may be a little enthusiastic.”

    1. BadPlanning*

      Edit: Duh, manager is remote so printing is not so clever. Forwarding email may have to be the way to go. “Hey Boss, can I talk to you about a coworker, I’m going to forward you some emails first, for reference.”

  44. MommyMD*

    Unbelievable and rude. The next time this pushy money grabber asks you to fund his personal life, tell him you are crowd funding for your mortgage. Seriously. Don’t worry about this DA.

  45. Marie*

    I’m not fund of crowdfunding sites. If used for things that make sense e.g “this person will die if we can’t find $50,000 for an operation” or “let’s build a community youth centre to get children away from gangs”. But far too many people use it to try and get people to fund their holidays, I know so many people who have used it to try and get money for gap years etc.

    This one is more difficult, Fergus won’t die if he doesn’t get this money but assuming he is telling the truth this is big life changing deal (though the timing, just after your manager left and the fact he gives so many details are suspicious).

    1. FD*

      It’s certainly obnoxious but I’m not certain I see how it would be sexual harassment? I don’t think that the mere fact it’s about fertility makes it sexual necessarily.

    2. BritCred*

      I could potentially agree with Hostile work environment (thanks to begging and harrassment) but not sexual harrassment. Just standard annoying harrassment.

      Is the woman who constantly wants to show you her new baby photos sexual harrassment? nope…

      1. Candi*

        In the US, this wouldn’t be hostile work environment. That requires very specific behaviors based on protected class.

        Googling, it doesn’t look like it would be one in Britain either, although the bar is a bit lower. Mostly because while he’s being a royal pain, he hasn’t crossed the legal line for hostile yet. Bullying, on the other hand, in the UK, might be breach of contract.

        Disclaimer: IANAL, I only know what I research, and that could be wrong. If anyone wants to chime in, go for it.

      2. Penny Lane*

        As has been stated multiple times on AAM, “my coworker is a jerk” =/= “hostile work environment.” You may want to search the site so you are clear on the difference.

        A hostile work environment has to do specifically with harassment / discrimination relative to being a member of a protected class.

  46. MommyMD*

    You really have no way to know if they have turned their addictions around. This constant almost daily grab for money may well be for something quite different than what it’s proposed to be.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Given that Fergus seems to think the legitimacy of his request is an issue, I wonder if it might help to say “I believe you, Fergus, but I’m still not contributing.” Probably not.

    2. GreenDoor*

      This was where I was going in my head, too. I have a few drug addicts in my family and it is always a shocker the lengths they will go to for drug funds. I can see someone using their past history of infertilty as a way to get the sympathy donations.

      But, as others have said, it doesn’t matter WHY hes’ asking. Shaking down your coworkers for any reason is just not appropriate. Even less appropriate when you’re in HR.

  47. Engineer Girl*

    His behavior is concerning. If he held a security clearance this would be considered adverse information – something that could make him susceptible to bribes and blackmail.
    You have someone working in HR that has access to social security numbers and other financial data. And they are desperately seeking money, so much so they are harassing others for it. So much so that he has lost any discernment about proper behavior.
    This is a HUGE financial risk.
    OP, you need to contact your superior immediately. Before your coworker succumbs to the temptation around him.

  48. Anon Religion*

    If you aren’t comfortable going to management or something bigger to make him stop across the board and just want to make him stop as to you, you can tell him that IVF violates your religious beliefs and you can’t support it. There are a few religions, Catholic being one of them, that forbids IVF.

    1. fposte*

      And that’s when you find out your Catholic cubicle-mate had children via IVF and now doesn’t want to talk to you any more.

      I would only say this if it were true.

    2. Emi.*

      No, don’t do this. It’s unlikely to help (do you really want to get into an argument with Fergus about formal vs. material cooperation? No, you don’t, you just want him to go away) and in any case it’s gross to co-opt other people’s religions to try to get out of uncomfortable conversations.

    3. Drama Llama*

      1. OP shouldn’t have to fake believing a religion in order to say a well justified no.
      2. Even if OP is Catholic, this excuse will only work for people who actually respect other people’s boundaries and religious beliefs. I have a feeling Fergus does not.

    4. Temperance*

      You could always say it’s a deeply-held personal belief, but then you’re not only insulting Fergus and Mrs. Fergus, you might be hurting anyone in your office who also had children in this manner.

    5. Rusty Shackelford*

      I wouldn’t want to lie about something like that. To me, it would be like pretending I was a racist just as an excuse to not donate to someone.

    6. Anon Religion*

      You are all right. I live in a pretty conservative and religious area so I was extra shocked since fertility treatments aren’t widely accepted around these parts. I guess I should have worded it more like given that many people have religious objections to ART, you shouldn’t be crowd funding at work. At the end of the day though, this is really a job for management and not OP.

      1. Penny Lane*

        In what part of the country do people routinely discuss fertility treatments and the moral acceptability (or lack thereof) of IVF???

        1. AKchic*

          Hi, welcome to Alaska, where everyone overshares both their lives *and* their opinions about how wrong your life is.
          We’re ridiculously convoluted and hypocritical. Backwards, backwoods, and did I mention ridiculous? Well… it bears repeating.
          I love my state, I just don’t love the majority of the population.

        2. artgirl*

          Honestly the idea that this should be secretive is not the way I hoped people would answer this question. He’s being over the top with soliciting his coworkers, but why can’t people share their experiences with fertility (treatments or whatever else)? It’s an extremely common and emotionally fraught situation to be in, and commiserating with peers can be great for people feeling stuck or alone. Let’s focus on why people shouldn’t demand their coworkers’ money rather than on what people should/should not discuss about their own health!

    7. GreenDoor*

      I’m Catholic and fully support IVF as an option for those who want to try it….but now I’m arguing religious beliefs. Which is why this isn’t such a good idea. You could just go from on inappropriate behavior (shaking down coworkers for money) to another (arguing religion in the workplace)

    8. Penny Lane*

      I would not pull a “my religious beliefs forbid it” because it gives him the impression that his request is a valid one and that you would have indulged it if it weren’t for your religion. Why would you make up an excuse? “No, thanks, but best of wishes to you” is a complete sentence. What IS it with the need to justify?

    9. Mephyle*

      And it’s unlikely to be effective in this instance, since someone who is that boundary-violating is not going to be stopped by religious beliefs, but is quite likely to want to argue someone out of them.

  49. sunshyne84*

    I would look up a support group for he and his wife to attend to help with their feelings because all this tension in the workplace is unhealthy. It looks highly unlikely that becoming a parent will happen for them. Maybe someone in the support group would have suggestions, but this has to stop immediately.

    1. Candi*

      The person to do this would be the manager, and the only way to do it would be to refer them to the EAP if the company has one. Anything else would be blurring the work and personal lines, and Fergus has knocked enough of those down already.

  50. Drama Llama*

    OP, my concern would be any kind of (well deserved) push back would result in even more argumentative response on his part. If you even try to explain “You’ve asked many times before, stop asking” – it’s likely to result in him repeating his sob story, accusing you of being heartless, etc.

    You don’t want to engage, so don’t. Simply cut him off with “no thanks.” Repeat as necessary.

  51. Menacia*

    OP, he should absolutely not be harassing his coworkers into funding IVF. I have a real problem with this because if you can’t afford IVF, how are you going to afford a baby?! If they do end up getting pregnant and having a kid, I see him as having his hand out for supporting said child. If they have been through all of this, and have been told they cannot get pregnant, they need to do *something else*. I do wonder if the past pathology of addiction has not come into play here. Addicts can be very self-absorbed and it seems like this behavior is occurring here. This definitely needs to be stopped by the higher ups because it’s really disrupting to the working environment.

    1. HannahS*

      I don’t think the idea of “if you can’t afford IVF, how can you afford a child” is fair, and I’m not thrilled to see it all over this discussion. I absolutely agree that he shouldn’t be hounding people for money. We can criticize this guy’s behaviour without getting judgey of people not being able to afford IVF. Most people, at the age when they first discover infertility, can’t. Plenty of financially responsible couples don’t have 25 000+ dollars of cash laid by.

      1. Savannnah*

        I’m surprised at how much anti-IVF or simply judgmental by lack of knowledge is coming through. This guy is clearly in the wrong full stop AND the lack of empathy towards the greater struggle of infertility is alarming.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I have a real problem with this because if you can’t afford IVF, how are you going to afford a baby?!

      It’s pretty easy, actually. Most people don’t have enough cash in the bank to do IVF when they get pregnant, and yet they still manage to raise their children somehow. It’s really sad and disappointing that anyone would have this mindset.

    3. Menacia*

      I was talking specifically about this guy not being able to afford IVF and looking for constant handouts which in turn will probably lead to looking for handouts when/if a child ever came of it. I know IVF is a very personal struggle, but when you involve others, to the point of being an annoyance, about something that is and should be personal, then I have a problem with it. People can GoFundMe and CrowdFund for whatever they want, that doesn’t mean everyone is going to support them, regardless of the reason.

      1. fposte*

        I don’t see any reason why this would be true, though; they’ve had troubles before and not hit up colleagues. I mean, they may hit them up for Girl Scout cookies or band candy or whatever standard parental stuff, but I don’t think this is the gateway crowdsourcing drug you’re suggesting.

      2. Hiring Mgr*

        Menacia, not sure if you’ve read all the comments or are familiar with IVF but do you realize how expensive it is if it’s not covered by insurance? My two kids were both from IVF–thankfully we live in a state that has full coverage

    4. AKchic*

      It’s actually pretty easy to afford a child and not IVF.
      If my stupid 16 year old self could afford a baby. Or my stupid 18 year old self could afford two kids under 2. Or my stupid 20 year old self could afford 3 under 4… you see where I’m going with this, right?

      Just because I didn’t have a $20k deposit to be able to create children doesn’t mean I couldn’t afford the babies I created the “old fashioned way”. Not everyone has an extra $20k or more in the bank to drop on medical expenses. You are convoluting financial cushions with being a good parent and being able to stretch a budget.

    5. Menacia*

      This is pretty comical, I stated my opinion and now it’s turned into a free for all regarding IVF. I think that people should not be asking others to fund their child-making, period.

  52. michelel*

    As I started reading this page, my music player “randomly” pulled up “Making Our Dreams Come True”. My music player is a *creepy stalker*.

    Definitely document how often he badgers people and how many times people have told him “no” to no avail. When you escalate to management, having specifics will be very helpful.

  53. OMGERD*

    I had a coworker who was doing a “gofundme” to pay for her daughter’s cheerleading group’s trip to Disney World. She WOULD NOT STOP. She would tell people, “Just give $10, ok?” Finally I said to her, “If this is so important to you, why don’t you get a second job to pay for it because I have bills to pay, too!”

    And that’s when it stopped. But I had to get UGLY with her!
    I hate gofundme and youcaring and all those other “crowdfunding” sites with the passion of ten hells.

    1. Candi*

      Eh, in your case and the LW’s case, I focus on the naggy, boundary-stomping people who will not back off. If they didn’t have crowdfund sourcing, they’d have something else to hassle the people they know about. It’s a personality issue.

  54. Work Wardrobe*

    Being an adult means dealing with things we’d rather avoid.

    It takes some of us a long time, but we need to learn to say “no” and be comfortable with it.

  55. K, Esq.*

    This co-worker must be having other performance issues if he’s spending a significant portion of his work day on his IVF campaign. Those are worth identifying and escalating as well.

  56. Alicia*

    I did IVF twice and there’s these things called loans….from banks…

    I’d never ask even my own family for money.

    1. Candi*

      With the history the LW describes, they’d need some heavy collateral to get a loan. And anything being paid off, like a car, wouldn’t count.

  57. Allison*

    If one of my coworkers wanted to have a child, but were dealing with infertility, I’d be sympathetic but that’s really not something I’d wanna hear about. Too much information, IMO. And then for them to act like I’m morally obligated to help them fund a medical procedure to help them reproduce? Hell to the no! Super unprofessional.

    1. RVA Cat*

      This. Some of what Fergus is oversharing could get into harassment territory depending on his level of detail….

  58. Master Bean Counter*

    Multiple emails????
    Okay this would be the one and only time I would use reply all.
    Dear Fergus,
    I can understand that the struggle for you and your wife to have a baby is hard. You’ve indicated this in the last 10 emails, and 15 conversations we’ve had. At this point I have to tell you that I have things in my life that are my personal struggles as well. Do to the nature of my private struggles I will not be donating to you and your wife’s cause. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors and I wish that you please remove me from all future emails and leave me out of all future conversations on this subject.

    Thank you,


  59. kapers*

    “he is by far the most senior person here so some people are afraid to speak up because he isn’t a peer”

    This is the bit that makes it a management issue beyond a doubt. This is a huge power imbalance.

    It’d be inappropriate and unprofessional from a peer, but you might be able to resolve that with a firm rejection without having to escalate. This, though, is not something OP can or should handle with a clever response. This needs to be escalated with documentation and dealt with by management.

  60. Cochrane*

    Tell him that’s you’re unable to give any money but will give him as much semen as you can procure, provided he isn’t too picky.

    Guarantee he never so much as asks you for the time of day ever again.

    1. AKchic*

      I snorted my drink onto my keyboard. I have not shot liquid out of my nose since I was a teenager. Before I had children!
      I kind of love you right now. But my nose loathes you.

  61. Annie*

    I would rather fund someone’s goal to make an indie movie or an album or even the potato salad guy before donating money to cover “life.”

  62. AJ*

    I agree that he shouldn’t be crowdfunding his coworkers. From how the OP described his bahavior, he doesn’t sound like a “jerk” – he sounds desperate and not very smart. If I worked with him I would ask him to stop, and if the behavior continued I’d bring it up with management. But I think the line between jerk and not a jerk is “are they being mean or cruel?” His behavior sounds annoying, obnoxious, and aggressive… all things that are not OK at work, but think about it – if he actually believes he is going to be able to raise enough money in this way, it is pretty sad. Or if he is so desperate for money that he is scamming it from his coworkers – equally sad. Yeah, it’s rude and selfish, but it really sounds like no one has taken the time to have a real conversation with him and explain why its inappropriate – or taken a few minutes to e-mail management. He’s not a “jerk” – he’s not very smart and needs a real conversation to help him to stop.

  63. Not So NewReader*

    Just my guess but if he has to keep asking you guys, OP, he is not doing very well with his fund drive OR he does not know a lot of people. This could mean that he will just keep asking. All the more reason to squelch this one.
    If he retaliates after you report him with more unprofessional behavior then report that also.

    If you are worried about retaliation bring one or more people with you to report it. This means you could all email the boss or call the boss.

    It kind of ticks me off, OP. Because I am sure if you went around your workplace each person could come up with something that they would love to have a GFM for. And most of these things would probably tug at your heart strings, an electric bed for elderly mom, helping a favorite aunt pay her rent because she has had a run of bad luck, paying for a neighbor’s kid’s sports stuff so he can participate at school. All of us see something in or adjacent to our lives that we would love to wave a magic wand and fix it. There is just not enough money out there to fix everyone’s dreams no matter how heart-touching. And that is reality.

    I find it odd that he tells you up front that the treatments won’t work. It’s like there is a huge disconnect he does not hear himself talk. Very odd. People are funny, my wise friend always said, “If you listen closely to people they will tell you exactly what is going on.” That sure seems to be the case here.

  64. Nox*

    I feel like I would blow up at this guy and at some point yell at him about how his juju issues aren’t anyone else’s problem. I wonder if that would shut him up…

  65. Q*

    It’s going to take a manager to get this guy to stop his inappropriate behavior. Any kind of money request at work just makes me cringe, it’s so out of place unless it’s tacked to a bulletin board with no pressure. I’ve seen a coworker stop by every_single_persons desk and demand they donate money for a crop walk she was sponsoring. I politely declined and she was genuinely shocked, and visibly peeved. There was also a high pressure email from a manager above me to donate money for his relative’s surgery. I feel horrible their relative is sick, but pressuring coworkers to donate simply isn’t right because we work at the same company. Go Fund Me is a much better place to make these kind of requests, not to mention it’s a huge assumption your coworkers have spare money to donate and are not dealing with issues of their own.

  66. Laura*

    “Nagging at me is the best way to ensure I will *never,* under any circumstances, give you a penny. If you nag me one more time, you will guarantee that I won’t give you a penny. Ever. You are also creating a hostile work environment and making all of us miserable. Knock it off. Now.” I don’t know if the hostile work environment part is actually actionable, but odds are, he doesn’t either.

  67. Cave*

    It’s possible that he might already have the money, but could be hiding the donation feature on that website. He could also be spending that money on something else. I would watch for what he posts on social media. If he says something like he bought something very expensive with his donation money then that right there is abuse and a scam. You could report him to the donation website too. Why don’t his wife set up the donation account? People are more open to their feelings when a woman asks for help as opposed to a man’s cries for help. It could also be God’s way of saying, Sorry you can’t have kids. Please adopt.”

  68. LadyCop*

    This guy’s rudeness aside…even assuming it’s all legit…the history he so blatantly lays out makes it sound like any money given will be flushed down the toilet. I totally get that sounds harsh, and far be it from me to say miracles don’t happen…but geez, for a guy who’s been through the ringer, you’d think they might learn when life just has other plans… sheesh

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