my company’s top exec is crowdfunding for their kid’s school project

A reader writes:

While scrolling through notifications on LinkedIn, I found one from the CIO of the multinational firm I work for in an hourly, entry-level position.

When I opened the post, I was stunned to see that the CIO was asking their professional network to donate money to their kid’s crowdfunding campaign. The kid is in college and working on their thesis, which involves the creation of an expensive project. The kid needs the money to complete the project (and, presumably, the thesis). We’re talking a goal that is well over $10,000.

As I started tallying up the problems I have with this appeal, I became more and more upset, and I realized I needed a reality check from you on the appropriateness here.

Here’s my short list:

•  This was published on a public platform geared to the CIO’s professional network. Anyone who follows the company’s work though, including entry-level folks like me, can become a target of the appeal. I’m not even directly connected on LinkedIn with the CIO, who couldn’t pick me out of a line-up, and the appeal landed in my notifications (which is something this person should have known, given their work in cybersecurity). Essentially, a person who probably is making an annual salary in the high six to low seven figures (based on the publicly available salaries of other executives in the company) is asking me to help fund their kid’s college education.

•  The company I work for is part of a highly regulated industry, and the company actively cultivates a reputation for impeccable ethics. Concern for the avoidance of any appearance of financial impropriety is paramount. For example, I have to take regularly scheduled training modules created by this person’s team that inform me that the company has no tolerance for employees (especially executives) taking gifts, loans, kickbacks, donations, or any kind of financial reward not specifically approved by the company. A few weeks ago, my own manager mentioned to our team that they had to turn in a comparatively small gift certificate they received from a vendor during the holidays. The ethics people ultimately decided not to allow my manager to keep a “thank you for your business” holiday gift.

So, what happens if someone in this CIO’s network drops a donation into the kid’s crowdfunding campaign, seeing it as a favor to the parent — a parent who happens to be CIO of a multinational organization and directly responsible for the company’s cybersecurity? Is there an expectation of quid pro quo? Will the parent be expected to be grateful to their kid’s benefactor in some way? That’s the company’s whole rationale behind not accepting gifts from professional contacts for oneself or close relatives in the first place.

•  If all that weren’t enough, a few weeks ago, the CIO’s team released an article on smishing that was posted to the company’s internal web site. We were warned not to trust messages sent through social media platforms purporting to be from trusted figures in the company. If we responded to such messages, our cybersecurity (and, potentially, the company’s cybersecurity) could be compromised. And here’s the CIO engaging in activity that could arguably be considered a form of smishing.

•  The company has a reporting system for ethical concerns and encourages us to use the system even when an employee is not sure there’s a problem. And the HR team is great. At one point I went to them on a sensitive issue with someone else in the C-suite, and they took the matter very seriously and resolved it well. The company also has an anti-retaliation policy. But when I checked the “likes” and “loves” the CIO’s post was getting, I blinked to see it was being upvoted by corporate attorneys whose job it is to protect the company’s “six,” by the CIO’s team members, and even by peers in the world of cybersecurity. Given that none of these people apparently see a problem here, I’m not willing to take the chance of being viewed as the oddball paper pusher who reports on execs.

But am I really seeing problems where there are none? Does this at least strike anyone else as icky? What are the limits on soliciting your colleagues and professional contacts to fund your kids’ projects? For example, is peddling candy bars for band uniforms in the break room okay, but posting to LinkedIn to ask people to pay for your kid’s college project questionable?

You’re right, it’s not okay.

You’ve got a long list here and I don’t think you’re wrong on any of it, but this point on its own damns the whole thing and doesn’t require any further debate: The company has a strict policy against employees, especially executives, taking gifts and donations of any kind for themselves or close family members. This is an obvious violation of that.

Done, solved, concluded.

I imagine your CIO sees this as something more like “putting out your kid’s Girl Scout cookie order form in the break room.” But it’s not — no one is ordering cookies here, they’re making donations to an executive kid’s project (and you could argue, as you did, that they’re helping to fund the kid’s education). That’s a donation. That’s a gift. That’s an obvious violation of your company policy.

Plus, the optics of “fund my well-off kid’s very pricy school project” are just different than “help this Girl Scout Troop and get some cookies.”

Now, is that Girl Scout cookie order form in the break room okay? I’d say yes, mostly, as long as the form is just sitting there and there’s no pressure on anyone to buy cookies — no emails, no stopping by people’s desks to try to sell to them, etc. But even then, I’d suggest high-level execs avoid doing it, because the power dynamics mean there’s always going to be someone who worries that their coworker who bought 20 boxes is currying favor or that they’ll suffer for not buying any (regardless of whether there’s anything to that). The higher up you go professionally, the more aware you have to be of those dynamics and the stricter about not benefiting from them, even inadvertently.

That said, would I have a big objection if your CIO put their kid’s cookie order form in the break room? No. If they asked me about it, I’d point out the above and encourage them to let someone else’s kid get those orders … but that’s not a huge deal.

The LinkedIn “fund my well-off kid’s project in exchange for nothing but my very likely good will toward you (which maybe could lead to future favors since I’ll sure be disposed to think well of you and who knows what might come of that)” post? Very different category.

So. Does your company’s ethics reporting system allow for anonymous reports? If so, that might be the easiest way to address it. If not, another option is to talk discreetly with someone in HR and tell them why you’re hesitant to report it (i.e., that the attorneys who would be investigating it are “liking” the post) and see what they say. If they handled a sensitive issue with the C-suite well previously, it’s reasonable to give them some benefit of the doubt that they’d steer you well here. (And if you want to give yourself some padding in case there is any blowback — which there probably won’t be — you could frame it not as “I’m outraged” but as “isn’t this exactly the sort of thing the company wants to be careful not to do, and if so, is it something you want brought to your attention?”)

{ 470 comments… read them below }

  1. Lobstermn*

    LW: set aside a budget, contribute, write it off, and move on. The generation currently in leadership in most U.S. companies simply doesn’t believe that any rules about anything apply to them, and they are all covering for one another. If this has been allowed to go on long enough that you can write a letter about it, everyone in the management team knows and has approved it. This is your company now. It might not be in 5 years. That’s what’s up.

    1. ZSD*

      I think this is a startlingly negative attitude.
      Also, we don’t have evidence that “everyone in the management team knows and has approved it.” I’d say it’s likely that no one officially approved it. The thumbs-ups might indicate indirect approval, but we don’t know that everyone in the management team has even done that.

      1. Giant Space Pickle*

        It might not be all entire leadership across the western world, but it’s prevalent enough to be causing major problems. How many stories have you read in the past decade of sleazy, greedy executives going through with underhanded or flatout illegal behaviour, workers and customers get screwed over, and all that happens is the company gets fined for a fraction of the profits? The company just writes it off as the cost of business, the rich assholes learn there are no personal consequences for them, so no reason not to continue. They all see it, and the behaviour spreads like a cancer.

      2. Random Dice*

        Yeah that was WAY too cynical.

        The options are more:

        1) report anonymously though your ethics portal, or

        2) don’t (but know that the oracle has spoken and you’re right)

    2. ecnaseener*

      I disagree that LW should feel at all obligated to donate. The exec doesn’t know who they are, this is a large company, it’s very very unlikely that the exec is going to penalize every employee who doesn’t donate.

      1. Ellie*

        Yes, but I’m betting he’ll remember the ones who choose to donate a lot. Hence where the issue is here (as well as being tone deaf – no-one who makes 7 figures should be soliciting donations for anything).

        If I was OP I’d probably not report it but grumble to everyone I knew, which isn’t a mature way of handling it I guess. If there’s an anonymous portal, that’s much better, but this isn’t OP’s problem to solve. One of those other execs should have pulled him up for it.

      2. PinaColada*

        You guys, I have an idea.

        The letter writer posts a link to the donation page… We all go donate a minimal amount… Then we all write irate emails demanding favorable treatment from the company.


        Okay, I’m kidding. But it does sound like fun.

        1. 1LFTW*

          My idea was to report it as a scam on the grounds that the CIO of such an ethically upstanding company couldn’t POSSIBLY have known that their LinkedIn was being used in such a way.

          But your idea works too!

          1. Heart&Vine*

            I’m wondering if this is a test? Like, it’s a little too suspicious that the head of cybersecurity is blatantly breaking the one big rule set in place by his company. I really hope this turns out to be an elaborate ruse set up by said CIO to see who would fall for it.

            My own company did something similar. They made all employees take a cybersecurity course and then, a couple weeks later, sent a faux phishing email to everyone to see who would still fall for it. The people who did had to take the course again.

    3. Ex-prof*

      LW clearly doesn’t want to contribute. Neither would I. Doing so would encourage the very behavior LW is objecting to.

      That other people have no conscience is not a good argument for LW to ignore their own.

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        Yup. People just going along because “that’s just the way things are” is why things like this keep happening.

          1. Keymaster in absentia*

            This is a very pessimistic and dare I even say paranoid view of the workplace.

            Nothing gets done if people follow along with bizarre unethical notions. Many of the workplace rights we have today were founded on the voices of those worse off.

            I’m not saying OP *has* to report this but I literally don’t see any reason why they should have to hork over their own cash for it either.

            1. Wintermute*

              I don’t think this is a “you can be right, or you can be employed” situation but it IS one where you need to tread lightly because while I don’t think they’d fire you over this, and the LW is likely such a small fish no one cares enough to penalize them, but you need to know your workplace. There are many where not contributing would become “a thing” which would be held against you in little petty ways your whole career and in others it would be totally fine and no one would think about it for more than five seconds afterwards.

          2. Normal Rachel*

            Where is there any indication that people would get fired for not going along? LW says themselves that a previous complaint was taken seriously and handled well. This reaction seems like projection and/or adding an element of conspiracy that we have no reason to believe is going on.

    4. Sloanicota*

      Wow, I had the exact opposite reaction: delete the notification, roll your eyes, and mentally move on. This is far above OP’s pay grade in terms of the ethics but you should certainly feel precisely zero obligation to contribute and in fact I seriously doubt the exec would even expect you to. It would be really outside the norm for you to do so. They’re just casting a big net with a post here. Put it out of your head, just as you might if they shared a relative you’ve never heard of’s “Go Fund Me” after a fire or something. This is not your problem.

      1. Athena*

        This was my interpretation as well and reading the letter as well as Alison’s response made me wonder if I was under-reacting. Is it because it’s on LinkedIn and not FaceBook that this rises to being an ethics issue?

        1. MsM*

          I think it may be more the industry standards, if they’re genuinely that strict about avoiding even the appearance of impropriety.

          1. HB*

            ^ This. I thought it was inappropriate but not really unethical at first because I assumed the CIO was treating LinkedIn like a generic social media site – and may have actually just hit a ‘Share’ button to post to a bunch at once. However once the OP laid out the finance rules of the company, it created a higher duty of care on the part of the CIO – which he didn’t exercise.

            1. Sloanicota*

              I would still argue that since is OP is junior / hourly and not at all involved with the people at that level, and can see that the appropriate people at that level *are* aware of the post, there’s not much for her to do but roll her eyes and maybe keep that CEO in mind as something of a hypocrit. It’s probably not going to be effective for OP to try and raise this too hard. You can, of course, follow the suggestion to report it to the right people if you want, I’m just not super optimistic it will have an impact, and worried it might cost OP some capital at her job.

          2. sparkle emoji*

            Yeah, I think it’s a combination of the industry standards LW outlined, the fact that the CIO is involved in enforcing some of those standards at the company, and the size of the ask. I also think the fact the total ask is $10,000+ is part of what’s bothering LW. There might be a bit of sticker shock with that sum compared to the cost of a box of thin mints.

        2. Always Tired*

          If it was on FB or insta, that would be (usually) geared towards a private/personal network. Posting to LinkedIn goes to your professional network (if you are using your personal FB and insta for business networking, that’s a different kettle of fish). Posting a request for money to colleagues or clients is very different from posting to far flung cousins, great-aunt Gertrude, and family friends.

        3. Common Taters on the Ax*

          It’s because in this company, any solicitation of gifts–or even acceptance of unsolicited contributions–from existing or potential business partners violates the stated ethics policy, which the company has in the past taken seriously. I take a similar annual ethics training in a similarly “highly regulated” industry, and they drill into you that even the appearance of a possible unfair advantage is completely unacceptable. Maybe he doesn’t plan to accept any from anybody who could be a business contact, but since it’s on a medium designed to reach business contacts, even asking for them is Not Okay.

        4. Nina*

          I probably wouldn’t ‘report it’ report it, but I’ve worked in industries with similar rules about ‘thou shalt not accept gifts from any professional contacts, ever, ever, yea verily, amen’, and this is the kind of thing HR usually want to know about, even if they do nothing that the average employee can see, because getting blindsided with ‘but CIO did x’ when you’re telling a lower-level manager to take down that signup sheet for their kid’s girl scout cookies is… not great.

      2. Winstonian*

        Same. It’s Linkedin, not work email or official work channels. The company/professional ethics side of it is little troublesome, but it seems like TPTB, who the LW says has a good track record of dealing with ethical issues, don’t see an issue with it then move on.

      3. Spencer Hastings*

        That was my reaction as well. The exec is being unprofessional here in multiple ways, but they’re not the one who wrote in. If I were the LW and the exec didn’t know me from Adam, I’d feel free to ignore the post and not donate anything.

    5. Beth*

      I don’t agree that OP should feel any obligation to donate. The CIO “couldn’t pick [them] out of a line-up,” and they’re not linked online–they’re not really the target of this, and they’re not going to get either professional benefits from contributing or consequences for skipping it.

      But you’re right that leadership often acts as though the standards and rules are different for them. Occasionally it’s on purpose, but more often it’s out of a combination of habit or lack of thought + not getting called on it. OP, I doubt you have enough clout in this company for it to be smart for you to call the CIO on that double standard. I think ignoring this and moving on is good advice.

      1. Accountant*

        I agree! They aren’t even connected on LinkedIn, so I think it’s a big logic leap to interpret this as “the CIO is asking me to contribute”

        1. Thin Minty*

          CIO probably expects the message to be going out to other people in similar financial situations, they *probably* aren’t expecting Junior Employee #134534 to have seen it and won’t care if they do but don’t contribute. CIO is expecting their rich peers to contribute because that’s how rich people operate, your kid has a project so other people chip in, then when their kid needs something, you chip in. Is this all ethically dubious? Yeah, but it’s not like somone is breathing down the necks of the entire company demanding they open their wallets.

      2. Antilles*

        Yeah, I don’t understand why LW would donate given that “we’re not directly connected on LinkedIn and the CIO couldn’t pick me out of a lineup”. LW could literally do nothing and it would never come up.

    6. Generic Name*

      Wow, what a cynical attitude. “Everyone is being shady, so you might as well join them.” Ugh

    7. TechWorker*

      Even if you believe the company is fully corrupt, if this is a huge company there’s no way they’re tracking employee donations. The CIO doesn’t even know who LW is!! Zero reason to donate.

    8. Siege*

      What a weirdly grim take. And why on earth should LW agree to participate in an appeal they received solely by algorithm? (I mean, they shouldn’t anyway, but you seem to be interpreting this as a personal request received directly by the LW, where there could be more pressure to contribute.)

      It’s most likely, to me, that the people liking the post aren’t thinking of it through their job lens. They absolutely should be, but “fundraising for my kid – college project version” probably feels a lot closer to “fundraising for my kid – scout cookie variety” than “vendor giving thank you gifts – racketeering lite version”. (Racketeering is overdramatic, I’m sure, but when I had to do that training pre-2010 it was described as such and regulated by my company on the dollar value plus whether a gift went to an individual or a team. I now work in an industry popularly believed to engage in racketeering and other crimes historically, so I suppose that training would look different now.)

    9. A Simple Narwhal*

      Why should LW contribute? This isn’t their vindictive boss hounding them at their desk to give $5 to the birthday cake fund, where a relatively small amount will make their lives demonstrably easier. I see no benefit to LW giving money.

    10. nnn*

      I don’t think OP needs to donate to save face – in the extremely unlikely event anyone asks them why they haven’t donated, they could use any or all of the reasons they listed above to make the argument of “I didn’t think I was the target audience of the post”.

      Examples: “I never imagined CIO would have intended to pressure his subordinates to find his kid’s education!” “I thought it was smishing – it seemed an awful lot like the kind of thing that came up in our training.” “Given that CIO is above me hierarchically, it seemed like something that would violate our company’s gift policy”

    11. Daisy-dog*

      I know some letters do take a few weeks/months to show up on the site, but I wrote in once and Alison answered my letter the next day. It all depends on what other types of questions have been sent in, length of letters, etc. I would not assume that an issue that requires a quick response is beyond fixing.

      Also, LW – do not donate.

    12. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      What?! The OP should *not* contribute. The fact that you jumped there makes me think you didn’t read the letter at all.

      I get a certain level of cynicism, but you are part of the problem when you encourage others to participate. If you don’t like what’s going on, at least step away instead of actively participating with the excuse that “everyone does it”. <–This attitude, btw, is how we got here. If you actually care, stop making excuses for crappy behavior.

    13. RussianInTexas*

      Why should the LW contribute? I wouldn’t. I would probably not raise the issue with anyone, but I absolutely would not donate.

    14. Keymaster in absentia*

      As one who turned whistleblower to the authorities about a former employer I couldn’t disagree more!

      Why on earth should LW donate any money to this ridiculous fund? I say report it up the chain and then wash their hands of it.

    15. Lenora Rose*

      I see zero reason for the LW to contribute.

      I suspect the justification for putting it on LinkedIn is that it IS an external location, not a part of the company’s own site, and thus was seen by the exec as having a firewall between the internal “hey, please donate a chunk of your liver to me” Exec misbehaviour directed at employees and the much more ordinary and acceptable social media crowdfunding campaigns a lot of folks engage in outside their workplace.

      LW pointing out that the firewall actually *isn’t* there if it’s going to accounts of lower-tier employees is important, but there’s absolutely nothing here to indicate LW is obliged to contribute, or their lack of contribution will be noticed.

    16. Jules the 3rd*

      I disagree. My employer also has integrity as a core of their brand, and I actually believe them (mostly). I have seen VP level execs fired for revenue games. This, I’d expect just a reprimand, but it is a useful reminder not to just go along.

    17. LisaD*

      Where did you find the CIO’s age in this letter? I looked twice and didn’t see it. Never mind how you decided their age is the cause of their behavior…

      1. Lobstermn*

        The CIO is a senior corporate officer with an adult kid, which has a fairly restricted age range.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Not that restricted, especially since the kid is in college so most likely around 20-22. The CIO could easily be as young as 40.

    18. Yes Anastasia*

      Mostly beside the point, but it’s pretty weird to assume that the LW itemizes their taxes. This is someone in an entry-level position; they don’t need to “play the game” in this way (unless in a highly visible position, which LW explicitly is not the case).

      1. Lexie*

        I assume you’re referencing the comment about writing it off. I don’t think it can be written off. Even though the word “donation” is used I sincerely doubt this would be considered a charitable donation. Unless the kid’s project is setting up a nonprofit.

    19. Elizabeth West*

      Why on earth would they need to donate to this? This is a trip on the Nope train right to I-Don’t-Think-So-ville.

    20. Laura*

      um, no. There’s no reason to contribute to this at all. OP doesn’t even know the CIO and this is a huge company, so it’s not like CIO is keeping track of who gives and who doesn’t.

    21. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Why would LW donate? The CIO has no idea who LW is. Better to just delete it and move on.

    1. Lucia Pacciola*

      “I reported it anonymously and nothing happened. I also didn’t donate, and also nothing happened.”

      1. Norm Peterson*

        I’m confused how an hourly entry level person could have already had a run in with the c suite to know how HR handles things…

        1. Nina*

          ‘Hey everyone, the CFO just came across a situation where a professional contact offered her box tickets to [major sporting event], and in line with [policy], she consulted our corporate attorneys, who told her it wouldn’t be appropriate to accept the tickets. Remember to read [policy] and reach out to HR or your manager if you have any questions!’

          ‘Hey everyone, our chief counsel wanted to share a lesson about [policy]. She was out having dinner with a personal friend, and after the friend picked up the bill, the friend’s spouse approached her as a professional contact and tried to ask for extra favors from [Company]. Chief Counsel reported the situation to HR immediately and made it clear to Friend’s Spouse that their behavior wasn’t something we accept. Be careful about accepting gifts even from family of professional contacts, and reach out to HR or your manager if you have any questions about [policy]!’

          idk, I’ve worked in places where the C-suite made a point of modeling good behavior and this kind of message would be shared at standup meetings occasionally.

        2. LW*

          Norm Peterson: I’d share, but the details are too identifiable. All I can do is reiterate that there was a run-in and that HR handled it well (above and beyond what I expected, to be honest).

  2. wondermint*

    Oooof. I went to film school and everyone had a gofundme for their film thesis project (I ended up switching majors and did not making, or fundraising for, a thesis myself). The reality of pursuing arts often requires fundraising – but that should left to the student to spearhead. It’s not their parent’s place to get involved.

    1. Sloanicota*

      In most cases I think it would be okay, just annoying. It crosses the line only because of all the ethics stuff in OPs company. Sadly, it often seems rules only apply to the little people.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Usually, sure, but if this company really does have strong mandatory ethics guidelines about accepting gifts, it would certainly be something to think about, as this is a fairly obvious loophole. And when I worked at a place like that, they said just the appearance of impropriety is as important to manage as actual conflicts of interest.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            I think it would still be fine for them to solicit funding on their personal account on their personal time as long as it was not directed anywhere near their work/employees.

            Someone (not necessarily LW, though they can if they wish) needs to point out that Linked In has professional connotations.

            1. metadata minion*

              Agree — unless they’re in a government role or similar position where you really can’t separate someone’s personal and professional lives, this rule shouldn’t bar employees from fundraising through their social networks and accepting gifts from non-employees (or employees’ families, etc.).

              Disclaimer: not a lawyer!

              1. Klondike*

                Alison wrote:
                The company has a strict policy against employees, especially executives, taking gifts and donations of any kind for themselves or close family members. This is an obvious violation of that.

                With due respect, this opinion is highly conclusory — you can’t arrive at that judgment without having read the conflict of interest (COI) policy. I can think of any number of caveats — and reasonable caveats, at that — that could apply:

                – The COI policy may require that the gift bear some reasonable nexus to work. (Here, the executive has broadcast a crowdfunding request across a social network; while presumably there are some employees following him, the bulk of his contacts are unlikely to be employees.)

                – Gifts under a certain size might be exempt as de minimis.

                – There might be exceptions for charitable contributions, or artistic or scholarly endeavors.

                – The appeal benefits the executive’s daughter; she may even be running it, and he reposted it. (Admittedly, this is the weakest possible reposte; corporate gifts policies often cover relatives. But then again sometimes this is limited to live-in relatives, and the daughter is in college. Again, you need to see the actual policy before drawing conclusions.)

                – The nature of the industry in question may play a role. Government contractors obviously have stricter standards than non-government contractors, for instance.

                In my own view of what is reasonable, (and again, this, too, is not necessarily consistent with the actual policy), most of these factors would militate against this being the serious breach OP is alleging.

                I actually see the girl scout cookie example as being worse than the CIO’s conduct. Selling girl scout cookies in the office is narrowcasting to a captive audience. The audience consists of employees, many of whom are likely to be subordinates. The purchaser’s transaction is highly visible, so there is social pressure to participate. The seller presumably knows who has participate and who hasn’t. All of these are much less likely to be true of a crowdfunding appeal.

                Finally, to be clear, the company should not retaliate against OP for bringing the matter up with HR or the ethics hotline: you want employees to be comfortable reporting ethics violations.

                1. Sacred Ground*

                  When I buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies for a coworker’s kid, the money raised goes to the GSA or to the local troop. If I buy band candy, that money goes to the school’s band.

                  The money doesn’t go to the coworker or to their kid, it goes to a community organization and benefits everyone in it. And it’s not even a donation, it’s a purchase. I’m buying cookies or candy from a non-profit, not donating money to them.

                  If I donate to an executive’s family’s GoFundMe, I’m making a donation directly to the executive’s family for something that benefits nobody other than the executive’s family. This donation is being solicited from a high-level executive from an entry-level employee. But somehow, this is ok but the girl scout cookies aren’t?

                  The same vendor who’s forbidden to buy a pizza lunch for my team, none of whom make any purchasing decisions, due to the appearance of an ethical conflict could nevertheless donate up to $10K to the family member of a CIO and that’s perfectly fine?

                  Make that make sense.

                2. Klondike*

                  If I donate to an executive’s family’s GoFundMe, I’m making a donation directly to the executive’s family for something that benefits nobody other than the executive’s family.

                  You don’t know that. We don’t know what the student’s senior thesis consists of; but if it advances scholarly knowledge, or produces worthwhile art, that’s a tangible benefit, and arguably one that’s more impactful than financing a Brownie troop.

                  This donation is being solicited from a high-level executive from an entry-level employee.

                  Except it’s *not* being solicited from an entry-level employee. The communication was not directed towards employees in general, much less OP in particular. Indeed, OP concedes that she isn’t even connected to the executive on LinkedIn.

                  The same vendor who’s forbidden to buy a pizza lunch for my team, none of whom make any purchasing decisions, due to the appearance of an ethical conflict could nevertheless donate up to $10K to the family member of a CIO and that’s perfectly fine?

                  We don’t know who is contributing to the crowdfunding appeal. For instance, the executive might turn down responses from direct vendors to the company or lower-level employees, and accept responses from other contacts. (I’ll also refer to my original point: the answer to your question depends what the policy says, and whether there are exceptions to it that apply.)

          2. BubbleTea*

            A no-gifts policy can’t apply as a blanket across an entire life. That would mean people weren’t allowed to accept birthday presents from friends. I can see a rule about not having work contacts as social media friends, but you can’t have a policy that doesn’t allow people to communicate with their friends or accept gifts from people entirely unrelated to work.

            1. Sloanicota*

              But you can certainly require people to report them. Many systems do require disclosing personal gifts above a certain amount, even in your private life (presumably with an exception for family members?) or what you feel is your private life – see, politicians who get caught with kickbacks on home renovation projects or luxury gifts for their wives or whatever. What makes this a weird loophole – and not an uncommon one in politics – is having the gift theoretically go to a non-spouse-family member. Not a great look. However, I don’t think OP is in any position to report or police it, and it seems like the people she might report it to are already aware of it.

            2. Cranky-saurus Rex*

              I used to work for the corporate offices of a family-owned chain of retail stores. The son of the CEO/founder was, at the time, a senior VP and rumor had it was being groomed to be the next CEO, though several of his siblings were also in high-level roles at the company. The company also had a strict policy against gifts from vendors. Son got married during this time frame and invited a couple vendor employees who happened to be friends to the wedding, and those vendor-friends brought wedding gifts. VP son was very publicly fired by his father during the reception. Admittedly, that place was completely full of bees, but even outside a truly strictly regulated industry, this can be A THING.

              1. Lenora Rose*

                That sounds seriously like a misapplication of the rules, as well as like deliberate sabotage … and also like something the dad could have headed off ahead of time with a word if he wasn’t looking for an excuse to publicly humiliate his child.

          3. TeapotNinja*

            It would be ok only if the CIO declines donations from connected people like current or potential customers, vendors and policy makers regulating the industry the company is in. I bet he’s not going to do that.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        The other thing that makes is odious, although not strictly unethical, is the CIO’s salary. I earned far less than the exec in this situation and I could have funded my kid’s project at the level described. If I’d decided not to give her the money I would have expected her to figure out an alternative. If she started her own Kickstarter campaign I would post it on Facebook in part because I do not connect with co-workers on social media. I knew I was one of the highest earners in every setting I worked in (I’m an MD, now retired) and I would not have ever ever in my life solicited money from my co-workers for anything. Never. When my kid had school fund-raisers I bought the wrapping paper or cookie dough or whatever it was myself and sent the info to family and friends. I never brought the order sheets to work for just this reason.

        I realize this wasn’t posted at work and agree with the other comments that LinkedIn is distinct from FB and Insta because it’s designed and primarily used by our professional networks. It’s still wrong at every level.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          YES, THANK YOU. The parent is well-positioned to cover the cost. Leave fundraisers for situations when people legit cannot afford things.

          1. Daisy-dog*

            Meh, high salary does not equal liquid funds. He could have all his savings tied up in investments that have tax penalties for withdrawals. And his paychecks are fully going toward extremely high bills related to the kid’s expensive college, multiple homes, etc. Sure, he should be smarter with his money at that salary level doesn’t mean he is.

            Or the kid is just doing what everyone else in her class is doing and Dad doesn’t want to rock the boat.

        2. Sloanicota*

          Eh, if it wasn’t for the ethics thing, that would be a judgement call for me. Yes, I’d roll my eyes and I wouldn’t donate, but other people’s discretionary income choices aren’t my business honestly. Or maybe the son is supposed to crowdraise for his project as part of the assignment, or something.

          1. Sacred Ground*

            If the son is supposed to be crowdfunding on his own, using his father’s business contacts like this is pretty shady, imo. I’m guessing not every art student at that school is doing such an expensive project or has wealthy parents. So this seems to put the son’s academic integrity in question as well as the father’s business ethics.

        3. Your former password resetter*

          Yeah, this project sounds like it’s less than 1% of their annual salary. If you have that much money, you don’t need to pass the hat around like you’re barely making ends meet.

        4. LadyVet*


          Also, the post isn’t just showing up on the CIO’s contacts’ feeds. It’s showing up on the feeds of people following the company. That’s not good!

          1. Phony Genius*

            If an important client of the company sees it, and they are bothered by it, they will probably say something to somebody. And that somebody will listen.

      2. AnonInCanada*

        Bingo! “Do as I say, not as I do.” The mantra of the C-suite executive almost everywhere.

    2. PK*

      My first thought when reading this letter is that it’s short film for film school. I’m not saying that makes it ok- in fact, this is exactly why mostly only privileged people can attend or be successful in film school and in a potential career, particularly in a directing emphasis. Yes, it’s possible to make a senior thesis on the cheap, but that won’t get the same kind of attention or be submitted to festivals.

    3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      But it sounds like the parent has the money to just fund the thing, unlike most parents. I think it’s gross when rich people ask other people for money to do things they can already afford to do.

    4. StarTrek Nutcase*

      This CIO’s ethics suck. And geeze, at 21 or so, in college I would have had a fit if either parent did this. This CIO shouldn’t be involved at all in their adult kid’s thesis project. Even forking over the dollars to their adult kid is a step too far. IME For many thesis projects that require funding, the acquisition of that funding is a component of the educational process (similar to the scout not the parent selling the cookies).

  3. Boss Scaggs*

    Hmm, I guess I *do* think it’s similar to the girl scout cookie example. If it were me I’d just ignore and move on.

    1. Just Another Zebra*

      I think for me the difference is that with the GS cookies, I get something tangible out of the transaction. I’m exchanging money for a good. If the order form is left on the table or pinned to a bulletin board, it’s up to me to decide to order or not. And the optics of “help girls fundraise and learn business management” vs “help my privileged kid do this privileged thing” are massively different.

      1. ENFP in Texas*

        Exactly. While “buy something from me and get something in return” is still icky when it comes from the C-Suite, it’s a lot better than “Donate money to me for my kid.”

        1. Hannah Lee*

          Plus there’s a difference in my mind anyway of a parent using their work network to help out out a 10 or 11 year old selling stuff to fund raise for a group (where there is benefit to the person receiving the goods, even if they are overpriced Thin Mints, and there is benefit to the child who is learning about business, fundraising and there is benefit to others in the community by supporting a *children’s* group, plus the kids are too young to work for pay themselves, or apply for grants or scholarships, so they’ve got limited paths to fund this group’s activities) and a parent using their work network to ask for cash donations for an adult/near-adult son/daughter for coursework that it is the ‘kid’s” actual responsibility to figure out and complete, and the adult/near-adult is old enough to actually work for pay (even if it’s hard to juggle with school) and old enough to apply for scholarships, grants, loans and other financial assistance to fund their own project.

          And that’s before we even get into the fact that it’s someone in likely the top group of of earners, certainly at the company they are at, who already has access to their own financial resources, putting their hand out to people who make a small % of what they make asking for money to benefit their already very well-positioned offspring.

          And *that’s* before we even get into the obvious conflict with the employer’s ethics/donation policies.

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Exactly. There is a difference between buying a thing and just handing over money.

      3. Sacred Ground*

        Your purchase is just that, a purchase of an item from a company that will donate some of the profit from that sale to an organization. That’s all. It’s not a donation.

        And the money doesn’t go to the coworker or the kid selling the item.

        This is not that. This is a solicitation of donations from lower paid employees, offering nothing in return, from a highly paid executive that benefits his own family and nobody else.

        Honestly, if I were in this position, I’d write an anonymous letter to the company’s HR outlining my concerns. Let them follow up or not, not my problem. I’d be tempted to donate money to an actually financially struggling student at the same school but NEVER to the family member of my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss’s boss.

        1. Lab Boss*

          “It’s not a donation”

          That got me curious about how it’s considered by the IRS so I did a little Googling and got conflicting answers. One source said it’s NOT a donation (referring to Girl Scout cookies in particular) because you’re paying a firm market price for the item, even if that is a higher price than you might pay for a comparable cookie elsewhere. Another couple sources (referring to Boy Scout popcorn) suggests that you actually CAN consider part of the purchase price a donation, and deduct a portion of the purchase price on your tax return- either the amount in excess of fair market value, or the amount the popcorn company declares goes to the Scouts (~70%).

          That’s not directly applicable to LW’s question, as the workplace difference of a direct cash donation vs buying charity cookies aren’t directly tied to what the IRS says, I just thought it was interesting.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I’m not surprised, considering their respective prices. Girl scout cookies are on the expensive side for cookies. Boy scout popcorn is on the expensive side for filet mignon.

            It’s pretty clear the Girl Scouts are trying to teach sales, while the Boy Scouts are asking for donations and if you give enough you get some free popcorn.

      4. Clare*

        I’m exchanging money for a good.

        This is the only reason why the girl scouts don’t fall under the same ‘No donations rules’. It’s not that the cookies are fine and the request for flat donations is borderline. The cookies are borderline and the CIO’s fund-raiser is just straight up not ok to be shared in a network where your staff can see it. Email your friends directly or use a private LinkedIn for peers only if you want to solicit for donations.

    2. ferrina*

      Even if it were just cookies, I would still feel uncomfortable with my CEO gently requesting my money. The power dynamic is just way too off. Plus it’s just annoying that someone making a LOT more than me and who controls my paycheck now wants my money. And there’s a big issue of visibility- the CEO doesn’t know the whole company, but they’ll know the person that donated a lot to their kid. And that person will get a little more face time. And a little face time can make a big difference.

      1. HonorBox*

        I’d feel uncomfortable if it was a high-level exec who was asking about cookies on their child’s behalf, but as Just Another Zebra points out, there’s an exchange of goods for money. And just playing it out… what if the high-level exec was the only one in the office whose child was selling cookies. I don’t have any heartburn if they throw out the order form and let people buy or not. If they step on someone else’s opportunity to do so, then there are issues. But in this case, there’s nothing that the donors are receiving.

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Yup. I commented on this in the thread above – I was at the top of the hierarchy and one of the highest earners in my office and I never brought fund-raiser order sheets for work. It’s a bad look, if nothing else, and I was afraid people would feel compelled to buy.

        1. I Have RBF*

          See, I have always been an IC. When I was in the office, I’d look for who has the GS cookies for sale, and yes, I’d blow $50. It didn’t really matter who, I usually didn’t even pay attention to the name, just placed my order and set aside the cash. It wouldn’t make a difference in how much I ordered if it was the receptionist or the CEO, I just wanted by cookies.

          The college student thesis fundraiser would hit different, especially if it was a C-suite kid. I wouldn’t donate to that unless I knew the kid.

          1. Boss Scaggs*

            I wouldn’t donate either, but I also wouldn’t bother with reporting it or anything – for me this would be delete and forget

    3. Looper*

      I think this is even less than the cookie form because it seems like the CIO posted this on their own LinkedIn profile separate from work and geared towards people he connects with on that platform. It isn’t clear to me that this crowd fund us aimed at his coworkers, it seems like it’s for his professional network outside of his company.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        If he’s soliciting donations from professional contacts outside his company, that seems like it would violate the “no gifts” policy even more.

        1. Miette*

          This. As a CIO for a major company, this person has ultimate authority over a budget of probably millions per year. That’s why this is uncool–not whether it’s smishing or whatever.

          1. Klondike*

            By this standard, no high net-worth individual could ever fundraise for any charitable cause, or any political campaign, ever.

            And the reality is this: that is how a *lot* of fundraising gets done. It’s why political candidates establish “finance committees,” or why museums have walls with donors’ names displayed, or why colleges have “class officers” tasked with pestering friends for gifts.

            Your standard would have the effect of effectively defunding plenty of charitable

            It may very well be that the executive has broadcast an appeal on LinkedIn, but that when it actually comes to processing responses, he declines donations from within the company, or from major vendors to the company, but accepts donations from other sources in his network — and that this setup is perfectly consistent with the conflicts of interest policy.

            1. Klondike*

              Your standard would have the effect of effectively defunding plenty of charitable

              *charitable endeavors

            2. nnn*

              That’s not consistent with any conflict of interest policy I’ve ever seen.

              Soliciting donations for your kid is a different thing that fundraising for charity.

            3. Electric sheep*

              My conflict of interest policy says we have to avoid conflict of interest and also the *perception* of conflict of interest, and even if there is no actual conflict of I put myself in a perceived situation that’s still a breach. I’d be shocked if that wasn’t in this company’s policy as well. So even if you privately turn down conflicting donations that’s still a policy fail.

              1. Mianaai*

                Same with my org. Perception of COI is a *huge* part of our policies and trainings. Honestly, I appreciate it in part because it reduces the focus on *intent* and focuses on potential impact. Like, it doesn’t matter if you *meant* to have that potential client see your thing and send money, the fact that someone could look at that and be like “huh that doesn’t seem above-board” is also a huge problem.

      2. Banana Pyjamas*

        A lot of people follow the companies they work for on LinkedIn, so a lot of people lower in the corporate ladder are going to receive the same notification as LW and be inappropriately pressured to donate.

      3. Dawn*

        Ok but it’s LinkedIn, not Instagram. By its very nature, it cannot be “separate from work” – probably the majority of the people he’s connected with on that platform are his current coworkers (because you don’t usually just step into a position like CIO.)

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          Exactly. The whole point of LinkedIn is to have a place where you can publicize your professional cred/experience and connect with others; it’s not meant to be like The Artist Formerly Known As Twitter, which thrives on (often) anonymous people dropping whatever weird stuff boils up in their brainpan. It’s a social network, to be sure, but it’s a professional social network.

        2. Sacred Ground*

          Coworkers, and mostly subordinates at that. Also vendors and clients.

          What will CIO do if he gets a $5,ooo donation from a supplier sales rep?

    4. The Prettiest Curse*

      Plus, I think parents helping out with Girl Scout cookie sales is a bit more understandable because the kids involved are pretty young. (I’ve had multiple colleagues who did the cookie sales, but with no pressure to donate, which is the way it should be.) If the kid has graduated high school, they should take on the primary responsibility for their fundraising activities.

      1. Elizabeth West*


        I’ve no objection to kids’ fundraisers as long as I don’t get hounded to buy things. GS cookies are worked into my yearly budget. :) But adult coworkers’ MLMs*, or stuff like this, nah.

        *except for like, TWO Avon items

    5. Earlk*

      I agree, it’s almost as if there’s an argument that no offspring of adults in well-paying jobs can fundraise for anything.

      I could see a problem if it was sent round in a company-wide email but this is just an adult posting about their child on social media.

      1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        Yes, I think that is the argument. Well paid adults don’t need to “fundraise”. They already have the money.

        Frankly, also, this is the “entitled rich kid with helicopter parents” perfectly encapsulated. Why can’t the college kid – who is an adult – fundraise for themselves?

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          It sounds like the kid IS the one fundraising and the dad shared the existing campaign with his network. I’m not saying it’s the right choice on dad’s part given the optics, but it does sound like the son is the one actually fundraising.

        2. Klondike*

          Well paid adults don’t need to “fundraise”. They already have the money.

          Again, I hate to break it to you, but that’s how a lot of fundraising — I suspect the vast majority, actually — gets done. Well-paid people solicit donations from other well-paid people, and social media is a convenient way of reaching them. “Bundling” is a thing.

          1. nnn*

            For charity.

            This is the second comment where you have conflated fundraising for charity with fundraising for your kid. You really don’t see the difference? Come on…

            1. Klondike*

              Except the point I’m responding to is “but wealthy people shouldn’t be fundraising”; the people making that point are arguing it as a general principle, not caveated by the fact they’re fundraising for the child’s senior thesis project.

              In any case, I don’t think the recipient’s status is relevant. Wealthy people are allowed to fundraise for projects undertaken by their children. The executive fully disclosed the nature of the project and his family relationship to the researcher.

              1. Joron Twiner*

                “Wealthy people are allowed to fundraise for projects undertaken by their children.”

                If they want to be gauche, sure.
                They certainly shouldn’t be asking their employees poorer than them!

                1. Klondike*

                  They certainly shouldn’t be asking their employees poorer than them!

                  I quite agree; thankfully, that’s not what the fundraiser in LW’s case did.

      2. JHunz*

        It’s not the well-paying part that matters, it’s being in a position of leadership or supervision over people you’re fundraising from. That matters.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          But that’s not what the dad did here. He posted it to his professional network (his peers), not to his employees.

          1. Silver Robin*

            I am absolutely connected with folks above me in the hierarchy on LinkedIn, including the Executive Director. LinkedIn is not inherently him talking to to his peers.

            1. Jennifer Strange*

              I know it’s not, but the point is he shared it on LinkedIn to a broad swath of folks (most of whom he probably thinks of as his peers), not in an email to his company (which would be all subordinates). Even the LW says they aren’t connected with the CIO, it just popped up because they are connected to the organization and LinkedIn’s algorithm probably suggested the post to them. I’m not saying it was the right choice, but it doesn’t carry the same implication as specifically sending it to your employees.

              1. Banana Pyjamas*

                A lot of people follow the companies they work for on LinkedIn, so a lot of people lower in the corporate ladder are going to receive the same notification as LW and be inappropriately pressured to donate.

                1. Jennifer Strange*

                  But getting a notification isn’t the same as a targeted email. The CIO likely doesn’t know that any who follows the company is going to get a notification, just those he’s connected to (that would be my assumption).

            2. Klondike*

              I am absolutely connected with folks above me in the hierarchy on LinkedIn, including the Executive Director.

              That does not mean the request is directed specifically at you. You are free to ignore it, or indeed not even to read it, and no one (well, no one other than the social media company!) is tracking your response.

              1. Silver Robin*

                So who is it directed to? The void? Like I get that not everything on social media is personally directed to me, but it is directed towards the “audience”, of which I am one. And there are rules in place for OP’s workplace about this kind of behavior and it does not pass the smell test according to those policies.

          2. Anandatic*

            Except that the post still hit his employees, and it’s not unreasonable to assume that this was the predictable outcome of his posting.

            1. Jennifer Strange*

              Why would he assume it would go to anyone other than those he’s connected to? I certainly wouldn’t think that.

          3. Elitist Semicolon*

            Yes, and the company’s rules dictate the kinds of interactions he can have with his professional network, which includes not accepting gifts on behalf of a family member. That’s the problem.

          4. Sacred Ground*

            Somehow his professional network doesn’t include employees at his company? And does the group of “peers” include, say, vendors with whom he negotiates contracts?

          5. MigraineMonth*

            I’m assuming his professional network contains a few categories of people from whom he should not be soliciting gifts according to his company’s ethics policy. (This is *not* comparable to requesting donations to a charity; he is asking for a gift of money to his close family.)

            Soliciting gifts from subordinates is probably *less* problematic from the standpoint of the ethics policy than being seen asking for gifts from a network that includes vendors, contractors, competitors, etc. If OP’s industry is as highly regulated as they say, and the company cares as much about its reputation as it proclaims, this is a quagmire the CIO should never have waded into.

      3. Silver Robin*

        I really do think that the fact that this is LinkedIn and not Facebook or Instagram or Twitter makes a difference. LinkedIn is expressly for your professional network, which means the CIO is leveraging their position to make this appeal. If I had seen something similar on Facebook I would roll my eyes at it since it seems tactless to me, but I would not say anything. The usage of LinkedIn does make it feel different.

      4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I think the bigger issue here is that the adult in a well-paying job (with a very strict policy on issues like gift giving and ethics) is fundraising on behalf of his offspring and is using his professional network to do it. LW is not concerned that the guy’s kid set up a crowdfunding account, but rather that the CIO parent is soliciting donations for it through LinkedIn.

    6. AnonInCanada*

      Not really. At least with Girl Guide/Scout cookies, you’re getting something tangible in return. Something delicious, I may add. Especially the chocolate mint wafer. OP’s example smacks of double-standards, entitlement, and yet another example of how the rich get richer. “Hey, peons, send your pittance wages to me, so my entitled kid can complete his entitled artsy thesis.” Your “reward:” You may get to keep your job come performance review time.

      Kind of reminds you of a certain business person-cum-politician whose name shall not be uttered. And let’s leave it at that.

    7. Over Analyst*

      That comparison was pretty interesting to me, because I work in a field with a lot of ethics concerns and rules around that and we’re explicitly *not* allowed to put out girl scout order forms, as a violation of our solicitation rules.
      Kind of a bummer because I feel like the girl scouts are doing ME the favor getting me those cookies.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Ok, I am all for ethics, but it is totally unethical to put any obstacles in the path of my getting my hands on some thin mints!!!! LOL

  4. kristinyc*

    As a (former) GSUSA employee, I beg of you all: Buy Girl Scout cookies from Girl Scouts, not their parents. It’s a fundraiser, yes, but it’s also an educational program meant to teach girls business skills like goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics. The girl misses out on opportunities to develop those skills if her parents are just bringing an order form to work (or posting their link on their social media pages). So, in that respect – I would say no on placing the order form in the breakroom. :)

    If a girl tries to sell cookies to me, I literally always buy them. But never if it’s her parent doing the selling. (If you’re a parent of a girl selling this year – there are lots of ways to do this! If she’s younger and doing Digital Cookie, you can still have her call or Facetime your friends/relatives so she’s the one telling them about the cookies and making the sale, even if you’re helping facilitate the logistics of it).

    1. DeskApple*

      I love this perspective and never considered it as these activities always turned into parent competitions. love love love!!

    2. Generic Name*

      I agree, but apparently troops don’t allow girls to go door-to-door in many areas anymore. In my area, they tend to set up tables outside grocery stores, and I’ll buy there. I haven’t seen a single table this year so far. Do you have any suggestions how I can purchase from a Girl Scout directly?

        1. Filosofickle*

          It depends on the area. Friends in a few states are already selling. In my area, they usually hit in March.

      1. Casper Lives*

        I wish I had an answer for you. My neighbor’s daughter sends out the emails for digital sales. I know she’s doing it because I know them. I think there are ways you can look up a troop near you to buy from but I haven’t done it since I’ve got my hookup. :)

      2. kristinyc*

        The tables are fine, and there should be Girl Scouts working there!
        Each council picks their own cookie season dates, so they may not have started yet for you!

        You can enter your zip code on this site to see when your cookie season is and find where booths will be:

        (And when you’re there – ask the girls to tell you about the different cookies, ask them what their troop’s goal is, ask them they’re favorite cookie, etc! They’ve been trained on all of that and should be able to answer those questions)

        1. Zombeyonce*

          Here I was, casually scrolling through comments on AAM, trying desperately to scroll faster once I saw a thread about where to buy Girl Scout cookies to avoid eating approximately 1,800 boxes of Thin Mints. Then WHAM!, you add a link that’s impossible to miss and now I know the exact date my local grocery store will have a cookie booth. Damn you, kristinyc!


          1. kristinyc*

            If you’re trying to avoid eating them but still want to support them – you can buy them as gifts for other people, or most troops have a donate option where you can buy some to be donated (sometimes that’s to troops overseas, sometimes food pantries, or any other group that might want them).

            1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

              Last year, I was walking past a GS table of cookies, and someone had just bought a bunch of boxes and was asking the girl scouts to hand them out to others. So I scored a free box of Trefoils (more of shortbread fan than Thin Mints)

            2. BubbleTea*

              Yes! I’m in the UK and bought some which my friend’s daughter took to the local women’s refuge.

        2. Generic Name*

          Ooh, thanks! Looks like they’ll set up in Feb. A friend of mine on facebook is hyping them early, I guess. :)

          1. JR 17*

            It’s just completely regional. Our local groups are 10 days into pre-orders. Cookies will come late Feb and booths mostly in March. (Maybe cookies ordered online come right away? Not sure.) But we ordered from a friend in a different state and received those cookies a few weeks ago.

          2. Lizzo*

            Different councils sell at slightly different times. I suspect it’s to spread out the work for the bakeries that are fulfilling the orders. (Did you know there are two different Girl Scout cookie bakers, and that will impact the names and the availability of cookies in your particular area?)

      3. new old friend*

        Your local Girl Scout district might have a site to list events and locations where cookies will be sold! I’m in Colorado and they have one here, at least.

      4. Beth*

        It’s early for cookie season this year! I usually don’t see the grocery store tables until mid February.

        But if you still can’t find cookies in person then, it’s easy to order online these days.

      5. Daisy-dog*

        Depending on your local council, this is usually the season for placing order with a Girl Scout directly, but not yet time for the booth sales outside grocery stores. (Back in my day, we used to sell outside Blockbuster. Movie snacks!!) Also, if you have a local council office in your area, they may have some for sale and will still directly benefit the local GSs.

        My mom will buy from every teenager that she sees selling cookies because she knows how expensive it was for me as a teen – I took 2 “Destination” trips and led several community service activities that needed $upplie$.

        1. JustaTech*

          A few years back when weed stores first opened in my state there was a teen scout who set up a table near a weed store (with two adults as backup) and she made *bank*.

          I always try to buy from the oldest scouts I can find because I remember being a middle-school scout freezing my tail off at the grocery store (our season was late fall) and having people say things like “aren’t you kind of old for Girl Scouts?” or otherwise blow us off because we weren’t cute little Brownies.

          1. Jay (no, the other one)*

            That is brilliant. When I worked in an office I bought from the tables and took them to work. Now I realize I can buy and send them with my husband to the community art studio where he blows glass. Starving artists love cookies!

          2. The Dude Abides*

            When I was in college, there was a student-led “holiday” that involved copious amounts of drinking allllllll day.

            One year, I saw a table set up in the heart of campus, and they were making similar bank.

      6. Irish Girl*

        Its is area specific. My troop just had a booth this weekend as it was the first weekend we could. Other areas might not start until Feb. We will be out and about for the next month or so at Walmart’s and grocery stores. We post on town pages and mom groups to get people to come out and buy. Also the main Girl Scout website has a find cookies area where you can put your zip code in.

        I had my daughter create a whole video asking people to buy with her whole talk track so we could use online.

      7. Quinalla*

        Booths won’t start until February FYI!

        Most councils/troops are fine with girls selling door to door, but encourage it more with neighbors they at know at least a little and to have a parent with them until they are older (forget the age).

        As far as girls vs parents selling – I mean I’m going to share the link with folks at my work, but yes I agree the girls should do the bulk of what they can do. I always have her do the delivery with me of cookies and send thank yous to folks and share links with her friends/family. I haven’t done the paper form since they implemented the online, who has time/energy to keep track of paper and cash/checks!

        1. Lizzo*

          I always buy online, but I have to hear the sales pitch first from the kid over the phone before I receive the link. (Those are the rules, according to Troop Leader Mom!)

      8. ExThinMint*

        Tangentially, can I just say how much times have changed from when I was selling Girl Scout cookies 15 years ago? Back then we had to go door to door or face to face, and were strictly prohibited from using email or other online methods for sales. Now that’s the default, and it makes me feel old!

    3. new old friend*

      I did a lot of door-to-door selling as a kid, but at a couple of workplaces my dad came home and requested my form to bring to the office– those folks wanted their cookies!

      And yes, I also follow the policy of always buying at least one box from any kid who asks– being a kid doing fundraisers is tough, I’ll always be supportive! I have sold many a box of cookies and See’s candy bar in my day…

      1. uncivil servant*

        I think it’s a case where they’re almost too successful for their own good. It’s hard to teach kids salesmanship and work ethic when the product just flies off the shelf!

        However, they also get the PR boost from having a product people love, and didn’t get lumped in with the other culturally despised people who knock on our doors (cable companies, looking at you).

        I assume the scarcity principle is at play, too, so it’s not like the kids can just sell endlessly at the grocery store while their parents take the order forms to work. I find that there’s usually one or two events scheduled in my city every year and they’re sold out.

    4. Jessie Spano*

      Girl Scouts aren’t allowed to go door-to-door in my city (or that’s the troop policy, as I understand it). The only way I know how to get cookies is via their parents posting a link to order on social media. Do they even have paper forms anymore?

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        They still set up tables in front of grocery stores and similar places. When I was still commuting in to work, they would set up tables in the train station and I’d hear the not-so-dulcet little girl screams/siren song of “Girl Scout cookies!!!” through my headphones.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          I love seeing middle school girls hocking cookies at the store. It’s always a mix of very gregarious girls waving cookies at you and calling loudly and girls that stay at the table to do change and can barely meet your eye. It takes me back to those awkward years and how we all supported each other! (And now I need to go rewatch Troop Beverly Hills.)

        2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          The most lucrative cookie table I ever saw was some Girl Scouts who set up their wares next to the parking lot shuttle at a ski resort at the end of the ski day. Folks who had been skiing all day and were a captive audience as they waited for the shuttle – EVERYONE was buying boxes of cookies and eating them then and there!

      2. JR 17*

        We still have paper forms! We spent a few rainy hours this weekend and last knocking on neighbors doors.

    5. Purpleshark*

      I worked in elementary school counseling for many years at the beginning of my career. I had to set a limit of one box per student because the kiddos were so “good and sincere” in selling. After one particularly high sales year, I vowed I wasn’t buying another box from anyone. Then my doorbell rang at home and I kid you not this little muffin with blond ringlets and a lisp asked me if I wanted to buy cookies while her mom waited at the curb. I bought 2 boxes. I don’t even like the cookies.

      1. pally*

        Yeah, I don’t want the cookies myself.
        But I will buy many boxes for the Operation Thin Mints program they have.

      2. CommanderBanana*

        It is impossible to resist the giant boogly eyes of the Girl Scouts peddling cookies outside my neighborhood grocery store. The new chocolates they have are great, too, and even if I’m not going to eat them, I bring them to work and they disappear.

        1. the cat's ass*

          as a long time GS leader with a kid who will age out this year, THANK YOU for supporting Girl Scouts! (that actually goes to ALL of you)

    6. Kyrielle*

      When my kids were doing elementary-school fund raisers, I did use my (personal, not on LinkedIn!) social media…to post a video of them making the ask. (Yes, locked down to just my friends.)

      1. Boy Scouts Sell Popcorn*

        I do the same, and I will bring sales forms in to my office only after whichever kid is selling has made a sign with details about what is being sold, who the sale will sponsor, how someone can get in touch with them, and whatever decorations they feel are fitting. This is on top of all the other selling activities they do.

    7. Colette*

      As a Girl Guide leader, I’d like to point out that buying from the parents does not mean that the kids aren’t also selling – they just aren’t in the workplace to hit that market.

      1. AL*

        That may be true, but a huge part of the cookie sale is to teach the scouts how to sell something, and to increase their confidence in their abilities to do so.
        If someone is buying from a parent, sure, the money still goes to help the troop, but the Scout is missing out on the lesson they are supposed to get out of it.

        1. DEJ*

          Selling doesn’t have to be the only lesson though. In the days before the internet and my parents took the form to work, I helped with sorting and packaging the cookies after we received them, so I was getting lessons in organization. My friend’s daughter who I have bought from didn’t sell me the cookies, but she did drop them off and we had a good conversation at that point.

        2. Colette*

          Sometimes the lesson is “it takes money to do things”.

          Maybe GSUSA has a different goal, but my national organization’s reason for being is not to produce sales people. Yes, you can learn sales skills by selling cookies – but without the sales, you miss out on opportunities to learn other things as well.

          1. I Have RBF*

            Yeah. I was in Camp Fire. We sold candy. I learned really young that I don’t like selling, I don’t do well at it, and it makes me feel slimy. So my contributions always came in last. My dad did not take the forms to work.

            Some folks are not meant to sell things. For me it’s so far out of my comfort zone it might as well be in the next galaxy. I can write ad copy, I can do light marketing, but I can’t close fort shit, don’t ask me to. If I had to sell stuff or starve, I’d end up starving, I’m that bad at it.

            There is more to selling GS cookies than “selling”. Order fulfillment, cash handling, logistics, etc. Don’t insist that everybody “sell”.

            1. ECHM*

              Same here! I remember going door to door trying to sell Girl Scout Cookies and making some of the following statements:
              -Hi, my name is Girl Scout Cookies and I’m trying to sell [my actual name]
              -Buy the shortbreads, they’re a better value for your money

              I would not touch a sales job with a 10-foot pole at this point.

    8. ThursdaysGeek*

      That’s where I come down too: I’ll buy from the kid, but not the parent. And if the parent approaches me, I tell them to send their kid to me.

    9. Frankie*

      PSA to say Troop 6000 in NYC is for girl scouts who live in homeless shelters, if you don’t have a troop near you from which to purchase.

    10. kiki*

      It frustrated me when I was a girl scout that so many of the top cookie sellers in my troop really just had well-connected parents. It continued to frustrate me in college when fellow students could manage to fundraise thousands of dollars in a couple days for projects because their parents knew people with money. It can be hard when you know and like the parents, but in general, I try to only donate when the kid is somebody I know and they’re actually fundraising for themselves, not just passing along an e-form to their parents to distribute.

      1. AL*

        I felt this frustration when I was a Girl Scout too! The kids whose parents took the forms into their offices would always be the top sellers, which got them better prizes and other extras. As a kid whose parents worked from home, it felt very unfair that the other girls were winning while doing much less work.
        Although I suppose that was an early lesson for me about nepotism & capitalism.

        The point of the cookie sales is for the Scouts to learn about sales and increase their confidence in “business” transactions at a young age. It’s unfortunate that some parents don’t lean into that opportunity.

        1. Taketombo*

          “Twist me and turn me and show me the elf, I looked in the water and saw myself.”

          Girl Scouts also teaches you that all of the terrible jobs are just going to fall on you and if you go looking for help you’re just going to find yourself. I thought it a horrible rhyme as an elementary student, and an unfortunately true one as an adult.

      2. Quinalla*

        I hear you, but the nice thing now is you can forgo the prizes as a troop and just get more $$ for the troop. I love it cause I hate the crappy, cheap prizes and it takes away the weird competitiveness from it and just makes it a team effort to sell as many cookies as possible!

      3. Small prizes only*

        Yes! My parents were likewise unable to sell (airline pilot and SAHM), and it was always so demotivating to sit through the awards when everyone had put in similar amounts of work on door to door stuff but only those with well-connected parents raked in the top prizes. The main lesson I took away from that was that selling wasn’t worth it, for either me or the troop… I stopped putting any effort into cookie-selling despite remaining active in my troop (I participated in all the other hands-on fundraisers — with much better profit ratios, I might add—to earn my keep). To this day, I will only buy from the girls themselves, no middle men/women (and no, designing a nice sign doesn’t count).

        1. HistorianNina*

          This is exactly why we underplay the handing out of prizes in my troops. They receive awards at meetings usually because that’s when we’re all together, but we tend to bag them fairly discreetly and hand them out alongside badge sheets. And we never talk about “top sellers” or anything like that. We want them to learn something and set and make their own personal goals, not compete with each other for prizes.

    11. Constance Lloyd*

      My dad would set my cookie sheet outside of his office (before he was promoted to management), but I always had to make a little poster to go with it listing my fundraising goal, the activities my troop were hoping to do, things we did last year, and cookie descriptions. As an adult I don’t think I would bring my kid’s fundraising form to work, but I appreciate that he made sure I still had ownership of the fundraiser even when I wasn’t physically there.

      1. MsM*

        As a professional fundraiser who supplies people with what they need to make asks rather than doing the asks myself most of the time, I love and endorse this as teaching equally valuable skills.

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          I also bundled orders myself when the cookies came in and labeled them with each coworker’s name and added a handwritten thank you note! (All of these sales occurred before I turned 10, so I like to think I was more endearing than obnoxious).

    12. Problem!*

      My neighbor would always go out and hit up the whole neighborhood before the official start date for cookie sales so when I, the little rule follower, went out on the official start date every house would be “no sorry we already bought from [neighbor kid]” so my only way to sell anything was through my parents at work. I guess it was an early lesson in how no one plays by the rules and folks cheat to get ahead.

    13. GarlicBreadAfficianado*

      As a former troop leader, and cookie coordinator, I can say that it’s a lovely thought, but the reality is, the amount of cookies a troop needs to move in order for it to make a financial difference, really does require the assistance of parents, especially at the Daisy and Brownie level. Daisies and first year brownies were not eligible for booth sales in my council so that wiped out those options.

      My daughter and I made flyers and we walked our neighborhood putting them in the mailboxes. She was sent out to deliver them and to say thank you. I made her collect the money and do change so she learned. But 5, 6, 7 and 8 year olds don’t have phones, social media or email so it’s really parent wrangling. And don’t even get me started on the baloney that was the Raspberry Rally fiasco last year

      But if parent’s dont sell, we’re left with CASES of cookies in my house.

    14. PleaseNo*

      Please help the kids learn life skills — I asked questions of one Scout about the sugar content and if there was any diabetic-friendly ones and I just got a blank stare. [I looked it up and there are no GS cookies that have low-enough sugar to qualify so until they sell healthier things I am out of luck.]

      You gotta know your product!

      1. Student*

        That’s asking a lot of a child. I think you’re way off base with your expectations.

        It’s totally reasonable of you to wish there were diabetic-friendly offerings and to only buy products that match your health needs!

        However, most girl scouts are not going to know what diabetes is, to start with. If they do know a bit about it, they aren’t going to be familiar with what that means for your specific personal medical food restrictions and preferences, so they won’t be able to apply that to the info on the cookie nutrition label. You’re asking them to make calls that belong with you as an adult, your medical team, and/or a professional nutrition specialist.

        These kids don’t have a high school (middle school, grade school…) diploma yet, so you should not be expecting them to help you navigate your medical nutrition needs.

        Thinking back, I first met a kid who would talk about diabetes to me in high school. Adults would mention diabetes occasionally around me, but would never explain it to kids – it sounded like some vague aging thing, like joint pain and going deaf, that seemed inevitable but far off and survivable.

        The kid had an insulin pump. Her main pitch about diabetes to the rest of us was that she had cool terminator-like cyborg parts, the pump would let her eat nearly whatever she wanted, and so we shouldn’t worry about any specific dietary needs. She’d deal with the edge cases and her medical needs, thank you very much, just treat her like everyone else.

        I learned that wasn’t the way all diabetics worked much later in my life, as friends started getting diabetes and doctors started bringing up checks for diabetes in annual exams. Seeing someone start falling into a diabetic coma was quite eye-opening.

      2. Elitist Semicolon*

        I mean, that’s a higher-order question in the first place and especially for a kid who may not have been provided with that level of detail. Was the nutritional info on the side of the box not enough for you to judge whether you could eat them?

      3. Pierrot*

        Someone did this to me when I was a 7 year old Girl Scout and mentioned one that was sold as low sugar (or low fat?), then she chastised me about how unhealthy Girl Scout Cookies are. She could have just said no thank you. I don’t know how old the girl you asked these questions to was, but when I was in Girl Scouts, I was not memorizing the sugar content of all varieties of Girl Scout Cookie and did not know what “diabetic friendly” meant until I was a teenager.

  5. bea*

    I think the key point here is that this is on linkedin, not on an internal work network. This guy didn’t email it directly into your inbox, it’s not in the break room (to use the comparison). It’s on linkedin, which is work-related but outside of work. He won’t be able to know who’s seen it or not, who’s decided not to give, and you will experience no repercussions for not donating. I imagine this guy thought he was sharing it with peers, rather than subordinates, and that is much more legitimate. I think you’re having a very large reaction to this, and honestly, it probably has more to do with your own relationship to your company and work than this guy. Ignore it and move on.

    1. Roeslein*

      Usually most people donating to these types of fundraisers do leave their names. Our CEO posts them a few times a year (thankfully for charity, not his kids’ education, and although it might not be the charity I would personally choose to support there is nothing wrong with it) – since this is a mid-size company and I do know him personally I do feel pressure the donate an amount that is “appropriate” for my job title.

      1. bea*

        this is a gofundme posted on linkedin – gofundme has an anonymous function, and it was shared on linkedin, where this CIO almost certainly has an audience of 100s of people. there is no way they know if the OP has seen this post, and therefore hasn’t chosen to donate, so there’s no way they’d even be able to retaliate (assuming they even know OP exists). I’d suggest you stop donating to your CEO’s fundraiser too if it’s posted on linkedin! you can always say you’ve not seen it!

        1. Cress*

          But vendors who want to curry favour likely have the option to donate with their names visible, which is another ethics problem that the company’s policy is designed to rule out.

    2. ferrina*

      He’ll be able to see. Many fundraisers do collect donor names, and even if it’s somehow anonymous, any donor could go to the CEO and say “I gave your kid a thousand dollars!”

      I agree that it’s probably not an issue that will impact OP’s daily life, but it’s still not a good move for the CEO to do. There’s too much appearance of impropriety. If a contractor donates and the CEO renews the contract for another year, is the renewal due because the contractor donated or because the contractor is the best option?

      1. bea*

        My point is that he will not be able to see that you HAVEN’T donated. It’s not like a work email where he would KNOW you’ve seen the email and have chosen not to donate. This guy almost certainly has 100s if not 1000s of people on his linkedin, he has no idea OP is this obsessed with his post.

        1. ferrina*

          Yeah, I don’t think the OP is in any danger here. I don’t think this will impact OP’s daily life either way.

          I do think the CIO made a bad decision here. This isn’t keeping with the ethical standards and has too much risk of looking like a quid pro quo (or being an actual quid pro quo, even if the CIO doesn’t originally intend it that way)

        2. Cress*

          Yes — the CIO may have dodged the problem of knowing which employees didn’t donate, but that’s not enough to put her in the clear if she could easily know the vendors who *did* donate.

      2. desdemona*

        A key question I have is- who owns the fundraiser on gofundme? Is it the CIO, or his kid?
        If it’s his kid running it (and it should be, for a thesis), then CIO may not be watching donors at all. And won’t be able to see the anon names unless the kid tells him.

        1. JHunz*

          But why wouldn’t the kid tell him that one of his work contacts donated a bunch of money because of his outreach? That’s certainly the kind of thing I would appreciate enough to mention to someone close to me, if I were in that kind of situation.

          1. desdemona*

            Maybe this is different because I was older, and in grad school, not undergrad.

            But I had a GoFundMe to fund my thesis project, but I didn’t keep my parents apprised of who was donating, especially if that person was anonymous. It wasn’t really their business beyond life-updates of “the fundraiser is/is not going well”.

            My parents didn’t advertise it to their networks, either.

    3. crookedglasses*

      That’s my read on it as well. Yes, LI is business related and folks are going to have lots of contacts that they currently work with. But it’s a social media site. I’d also be curious about an update though!

      1. Golden*

        Also in the camp of LI being just another social media site. I’m sure the original intent was a workplace networking venue, but all it seems to be nowadays is influencer content.

        Last time I participated in an icebreaker (bingo style – find someone who did X), my square for “find someone who has ever used a dating site” was filled out by someone who earnestly claims to use LinkedIn for dating. It’s just another social media.

        1. Banana Pyjamas*

          That person is misusing the site, but that doesn’t mean the site isn’t for professional purposes.

    4. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I strongly disagree, OP is not having a “very large reaction” to this. It is definitely something the company should be aware of since it seems to violate their ethical policies. Even if it’s not a true ethical violation, it’s definitely an etiquette violation; people who make six or seven figure salaries should not be asking people in their professional network to donate to their child’s education fund, especially not in a public post that can be seen by anyone in their professional circles. Now, would it be okay for this CIO to privately ask their network contacts to donate to the fund? I think probably also no (see: ethical concerns), but if they were doing it only to people who they knew were in their same salary bracket and on the same hierarchy level as they are, then mayyyyyybe, but it’s still pretty odd.

      1. HonorBox*

        Agreed! The reaction is not to the request as much as it is what the request represents. The request the CIO is making flies in the face of what the company (and their department) preaches to employees and directly violates company policy. The vehicle (LinkedIn) isn’t appropriate because it could raise ethical concerns. If the CIO wanted to get this out to their network, Facebook would be the better social media platform.

    5. ZSD*

      I think it would be perfectly fine for him to post this on Facebook, where he’s connected to friends and relatives. But posting it on LinkedIn, which is for professional connections, is inappropriate.

    6. Khatul Madame*

      Wrong. He is not just sharing it with peers. If vendors donate to the CIO’s child, AND the parent contracts with them at some point in the future, it is a grave breach of ethics.
      Ditto if a subordinate makes a donation and gets promoted.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Agreed, the CIO should be taking steps to avoid violating their company’s ethics policy. This includes *not* soliciting gifts or donations from professional contacts since that includes subordinates, vendors, contractors, etc.

    7. Annony*

      While I agree that this was not aimed at OP and OP will almost certainly receive no negative repercussions from not donating, I do think it is a problem and violates the companies policy. Asking for donations to your child from business contacts is just as bad if not worse than accepting a gift card from a vendor. At the very least, it gives the perception of asking for bribes. At worst, it is asking for bribes. My guess is that no one really thought this through and once someone brings it up he will take the post down.

      1. Klondike*

        I do think it is a problem and violates the companies policy.

        Unless you’ve actually read the company’s policy, you have no way of knowing this definitively.

        1. hbc*

          If it doesn’t violate their policy, then their policy is worthless. “Hey, people who can be financially impacted by my decisions, feel free to give money to my son!” Heck, even if there are impenetrable firewalls* such that he will never know who made a donation, the appearance is enough that it’s awful.

          *Has someone come up with a firewall that prevents someone from saying, “Let me know how that project comes out, I threw some money Junior’s way and would like to see the result”?

        2. Cress*

          There’s so much we can’t know definitively without sacrificing word count and/or anonymity, which means that this kind of website can’t offer that kind of certainty and expect people to write in. Instead, we’re asked to believe letter writers, and this one wrote:

          For example, I have to take regularly scheduled training modules created by this person’s team that inform me that the company has no tolerance for employees (especially executives) taking gifts, loans, kickbacks, donations, or any kind of financial reward not specifically approved by the company.

          Is that enough for a court of law or a decision to fire the CIO? Of course not. That’s not what we’re doing here. It is enough, at least for me, to conclude that the CIO is likely enough to be breaking the company’s rules that it’s worth hashing out the issues under that premise.

          It’s good to remember that we don’t have the full picture, but having the full picture can’t be the standard for this conversation.

      1. To Think She Could Have Been Mr. Collins's Wife By Now*

        Thank you! I’m not the one you responded to, but this made me check my biases. Upon rereading, the poster is very careful to use they/them pronouns, but I’d assumed it was a man.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          And the college aged child is both referred to by posters a son and daughter.

          I had to reread because I was picturing the CIO as a woman and got a jolt seeing “he”. So I still had a biased assumption too, just a different one.

    8. Banana Pyjamas*

      No, I think LW is spot on in their assessment. A lot of people follow the companies they work for on LinkedIn, so a lot of people lower in the corporate ladder are going to receive the same notification as LW and be inappropriately pressured to donate.

      1. Sales SVP*

        I think reading a LinkedIn post as pressure is an overreach, though I totally agree that this is gauche. I mean, the CIO doesn’t even have any way of knowing who say it, so how would they exert pressure?

    9. TPS Reporter*

      I think it’s wrong what the CIO is doing but reporting could actually be detrimental to the OP.

      I would say the OP has to report if the CIO is directly soliciting them or if the OP is in a certain leadership role. But not in this case. Why risk your job for this? Yeah it’s gross and unethical and annoying but again what does it do for OP to report.

    10. mreasy*

      Yeah he will for sure be able to see who donated, unless they expressly choose to be anonymous. The default on GFM is that your name shows up.

    11. sep1914*

      Totally agree. The LW is actually asking two questions here: 1) is the CIO being unethical in doing this?, and 2) am I right for being outraged by this? While I can see people saying ‘yes’ to 1), I can’t possibly understand saying ‘yes’ to 2). it’s something that has absolutely zero impact on LW’s life or career (they’re not even connected on Linkedin). It’s not like someone is breaking the law. there has to be more issues at play here.

      Also, for me putting put up a form for GS cookies would be so much worse, because in that case the person would know exactly who did or didn’t buy the cookies, paving way for all sorts of retaliation

    12. PuzzledAustralian*

      Completely agree. I actually read the submission and thought ‘you’re wildly overreacting here, it’s on a networking site not a work site’ and was very surprised to see the answer agree with the submission. Maybe there’s a bigger culture gap between Aus and USA than I thought, but I’m struggling with why it wouldn’t be OK. I can think of loads of examples of things like this happening. I’m in upper management and do not blink about posting outside of work (but still relevant/industry related/education related) on Linked in such as fundraising for committees I’m affiliated in outside of work or friends are affiliate with, or on higher-level management than myself doing the same. I don’t see it being different because its a family member affiliated.

      1. Pseudo Anon*

        I’m the same – the CIO is not personally going up to the LW asking for a donation, they’re not even using a work related platform to advertise. it’s not a personal appeal, it’s a quick appeal across the network. LW should perhaps try to see this as the impersonal thing that it is and donate the 0 dollars they want to and move on.

        The ethics and potential for impropriety is a different story- CIO posts this, vendor A donates, and mentions it on the next lunch meeting … even if it doesn’t influence the decision making it opens CIO up for accusations of behaving improper.

        what I also find interesting is that LW had a problem with another C-suite person that was serious enough to go to HR. perhaps this company is not the best fit for LW?

  6. Burton Guster*

    I’m dealing with the actual Girl Scout cookie example. I work for my family’s business, which has about 100 employees. I don’t supervise anybody, and it’s very unlikely that I ever will. Everybody pretty much knows I landed here because my other career didn’t work out, and I don’t make any decisions that affect anyone else’s job (I am doing a real job and am producing good work, it’s just very much not my field and it wouldn’t have been available to me if I wasn’t part of the family. I’m aware of the privilege here). My daughter is selling GS cookies, and I know people would buy them if I left the form in the breakroom. But my last name is on the side of the building and so I just don’t feel comfortable with it.

    1. desperately seeking thin mints now*

      Slightly different, but my dad had a small company (like, under 15 employees) when I was growing up and he never, ever made that kind of pitch to his employees and my parents were clear about that (because I asked – other parents were doing it and I was competitive). There was too much weirdness, even for a box of cookies that cost $2.50. Had to go door-to-door in my neighborhood instead. Uphill, both ways in the show, if I recall correctly :)

      To the LW, I think Alison’s point that this ask, put on a network for professional contacts, is out of line given the company’s policy is spot on.

  7. Alan*

    I think the unfortunate reality is that the rules don’t apply to the people at the top. My employer has a values statement (e.g. transparency, innovation, etc.) which appears to be ignored often in actual policy. Every year we sign an ethics thing about not taking credit for other people’s work but someone higher up did that to me just this year and when I complained to her management I just got shrugs. Many policies are just to defend against litigation. They’re not intended to be followed.

    1. Retail Dalliance*

      This is so utterly depressing, but so utterly true. As I have moved up in my organization I see how poorly behaved some of the ‘execs’ are in their day-t0-day work. Stuff that I, or anyone below me, would instantly be fired for, just being allowed to continue unabated. It’s just…they’re higher ups. No consequences. For the rest of us…best of luck. :(

      1. StarTrek Nutcase*

        Yeah, as a staff asst. at a major university, I had to do frequent training and follow explicit rules when interviewing staff candidates. But professors (1 or 2 were always part of the hiring team) only seemed to ask the illegal questions. HR never did anything about the professors but held staff accountable. As a candidate myself there for different jobs, professors always for ex. asked my marital status; where married could be bad cause kids, single could be bad cause partying – a female couldn’t win.

    2. CommanderBanana*

      ^^ Ugh, this. Learned this the hard way when I reported a sexual assault at an event at my last organization, in compliance with their own policies on reporting assault/harassment. I got yanked off of assignments in retaliation and eventually placed on a PIP (after years of stellar reviews) and ended up quitting.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          Thank you! I was able to wrangle a severance even though I’d quit – in retrospect, I should have sued, but just didn’t have the wherewithal to go through a lengthy legal process with them. I did find another job really quickly, so it worked out okay. But it’s an ongoing, systemic issue with this organization and it’s really disgusting.

    3. Alternative Person*

      Yeah, I got screwed over recently because my job decided that proper procedure didn’t matter when it came to protecting management.

  8. Irish Teacher.*

    I think there is a difference between doing something for charity and doing something for oneself/a family member. If the kid was crowdfunding for cancer research or something, I would consider that a bit different. We don’t have Girl Scout cookies here, but I presume the kid selling them doesn’t keep the money for themself.

    I think “contribute to my kid’s charity collection” is quite a bit different than “contribute to my kid’s own education.” Peddling candy bars for the kid’s school fund is one thing. Peddling candy bars that the kid is selling in the hopes of earning the money for a new bike is quite another.

    I also see a difference, though this is a bit more subjective, for extaordinary situations, like if the CIO’s kid was seriously ill and needed a life-saving treatment, though even in that case, I think it would come better from another member of staff, rather than the CIO asking him or herself.

    1. Retail Dalliance*

      I agree with all but your very last point. Someone making 800k – 1 million (ish, by the LW’s estimation) annually, would not need a crowdfunding initiative to secure life-saving medical care for their child! That’s why it went over so poorly when Kylie Jenner asked fans to contribute to a Go Fund Me for her makeup artist who needed medical care. Kylie. Fund it 100% yourself. You can.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Yeah, you’re right. I was thinking of situations where people have contributed to colleagues’ families for extreme need, but…those people were not in that earning bracket.

      2. doreen*

        It’s true that people earning close to a million annually shouldn’t need a Go Fund Me for medical care – but the idea that “fundraising for my personal benefit” is inappropriate isn’t limited to to very wealthy people. I’m pretty sure my kids hated me for the things they missed out on as kids because I don’t believe in asking for donation at intersections to go to some tournament or asking friends or relatives for money to go to a foreign country for a week to play some sport with kids from around the worlds. If I couldn’t pay for it ( either because I couldn’t afford it or because the organization didn’t allow it) , they didn’t participate.

      3. Annony*

        Even assuming that the exec made less money and couldn’t afford it, I don’t think that it belongs on LinkedIn. Don’t ask business contacts to fund your child’s medical care. That would create a clear conflict of interest.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      We don’t have Girl Scout cookies here, but I presume the kid selling them doesn’t keep the money for themself.

      You’re correct about this. The money raised by selling cookies goes to the Girl Scout troop to fund activities for the troop. It’s much more similar to “sell candy bars to raise money for the school fund” than “sell candy bars to buy myself a new bike.”

        1. doreen*

          Almost all the money that doesn’t go to the cost of the cookies go to either the council or the troop , not to national. It probably differs a bit by council but it’s about 50% to the council ( for programs, events, volunteer training, financial assistance for scouts) , around 25% to the troop and 25% to the cost of the cookies. There’s a small percentage (2-3%) that goes to the costs of the cookie program.

        2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          Even though some of it goes to the troop and thus benefits the kid, it also benefits a bunch of other kids. So it’s like “I’m selling candy bars to help my school raise money to redo the playground, which I will play on along with all my classmates” rather than “I’m selling candy bars so I can buy a swingset for my own backyard.” And troops/schools/etc fundraising can help with equity – so the activities a given troop gets to do aren’t just based on the income of the parents of the kids in that troop. (It’s not perfect; kids fundraising in an affluent neighborhood where they live will raise more money than kids fundraising in a poorer neighborhood. Which is why it’s aggravating to me that sometimes substantive things in public schools are covered by fundraising. My kid shouldn’t have a better playground just because the parents at the school make more than parents at a school in the next town over.)

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I do wonder if that’s what’s at the heart of this. I don’t really take issue with the CIO sharing the link, but I think the GFM itself feels a bit icky. It sounds like the CIO makes at least $10k per week! Just pay for the project, CIO!

      But if the GFM was for something more altruistic, I wonder if LW would feel as strongly about all this. Maybe they would, but I feel like a lot of people wouldn’t see it as a major cybsersecurity or workplace ethics issue if it was for saving the rainforest or implementing water infrastructure in drought ridden countries, etc.

      1. Zarniwoop*

        Giving to someone’s favorite charity vs. giving money to their child looks a lot less like a plain old bribe.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          I agree, but since there are a few responses here that seem really black and white that this is an ethical faux pas regardless of what kind of GFM it is (because for them it’s the ask itself, not the contents, that is the ethical question), it’s something for the LW to consider for themselves and their own reaction.

      2. Lenora Rose*

        I wonder if the CIO is reasoning that the student should run the Gofundme so it’s their own project and money (learn to do it on your own, not use Mommy/Daddy’s Money for everything – which frankly is something rich peoples’ kids do need to learn), but then also reasons that they’d flag the fundraising for other contacts in a similar way and thus should do so for this. Which is an inconsistent lesson, but well, parents aren’t always logical.

        1. RegBarclay*

          Maybe, but asking people for money isn’t really the same as earning it yourself, so I’m not sure it’s a good way to learn that lesson. Even without roping in all your parents’ contacts.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            But fundraising is a real work task, especially in the arts. (Although I argue there should be some damn classes about that, rather than making it something where your final result and possibly your graduation depends on how many friends and strangers toss in some cash.)

  9. Casper Lives*

    I work in a heavily regulated industry in a large corporation. Not cybersecurity though. Our company handbook explicitly exempts the C Suite & spouses from rules about accepting gifts, throwing parties, etc. as it’s expected for them to take business associates on lavish lunches, etc.

    I commend my company for putting in writing what everyone already knows! I’d double check that your executives don’t have the same exemptions.

    I’m not commenting on whether it’s a good practice. It’s just reality for many.

    1. RunShaker*

      I’ve been lucky as well that my prior company & current company take something like this serious. I’ve seen employees of all ranks get in trouble for crossing this type of line. I think the OP should report as Alison suggested. Just because you’re an entry level (or lower side) employee doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference.

    2. Rectilinear Propagation*

      Oh, that’s interesting!

      You know, I have to agree. It’s better to explicitly state that there are exceptions/exemptions rather than expecting people to just somehow *know* that the C Suite isn’t going to get in trouble for this. It saves people the stress of wondering what to do in LW’s situation.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I can see the exemption for ‘lavish lunches etc’ as they are for business reasons and it’s the expected norm for a C-suiter to “woo” clients or whatever, but I doubt that exemption is as broad as allowing C-suiters to solicit donations for their kid’s project…

      If the kid can’t afford it without his parent hitting up his professional connections – perhaps he (the kid) should have chosen a less elaborate project or a different field. Or perhaps mummy/daddy should have paid for it personally if it is so important – they can’t be short of money!

      The whole thing is disgusting, no wonder there is so much corruption when people go into the working world as young adults being taught that things like this are normal and acceptable.

  10. DeskApple*

    I’m sure the exec thinks it’s coming off as him/the company being “a patron of the arts” but there should be a dedicated company fund for that (with strings, of course). Just using your name to send it into cyberspace is cheap.

    1. Casper Lives*

      That’s a charitable interpretation. I’m thinking his kid will get the money raised off of daddy’s connections, then both can brag about how much of a go-getter self-starter junior is. Without acknowledging the privilege. Despite junior having daddy heavily assist as per usual without allowing junior to fail on his/her own.

  11. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    Report it to the cybersecurity people (not the ethics hotline) as a suspected “smishing” attempt…

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a smishing test…it seems unlikely but not outside the realm of possibility given the CIO’s very recent article about it. And reporting it that way isn’t the worst idea I’ve ever heard….

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          We get random test emails all the time from our cybersecurity systems. Doing it as a LinkedIn post is next level but probably not unheard of.

    2. Generic Name*

      Seriously. You can be all wide-eyed about how the CIO’s account MUST have been hacked because you know he’d never be this unethical. (har har)

    3. Festively Dressed Earl*

      My thought as well. How does LW know it isn’t a very well done smishing attempt?

  12. ecnaseener*

    I was surprised by this point:

    the appeal landed in my notifications (which is something this person should have known, given their work in cybersecurity)

    I wouldn’t think working in cybersecurity makes one particularly more likely to know how LinkedIn’s notification feed works, am I missing something there?

    1. Rectilinear Propagation*

      LW is assuming that working in cybersecurity would make one more aware of and careful about their privacy settings in general. You have some control over who sees your posts on LinkedIn (Everyone, connections only, specific groups). She is assuming that someone who’s team is regularly sending out messages like “Be careful what you post online” is also being careful about what they post online.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      I thought the point of that was they ought to know that somebody would get notifications from the post, and since the same person who posted it very recently told all staff to avoid smishing attempts – specifically mentioning the donations thing as a No No – if the post is them legit plugging the crowdfunding and breaking the rules, they should realize they’d be found out. If the post is intentionally there to lure people into breaking the rule as a gotcha, then OP getting the notification is a feature not a bug.

  13. old curmudgeon*

    The Machiavellian side of me wonders if the executive is actually testing the company’s employees to see if they flag the post as inappropriate. The fact that the executive’s group just released messages warning about smishing caught my eye; where I work, this is the sort of thing our IT security folks would do just to see how many employees would take the bait, with negative consequences issued to the ones who fall for the scam.

    Or, of course, it could always just be a greedy exec who doesn’t think the rules apply to them. That’s a far, far more common reason. I’m just thinking with the sneaky side of my brain.

    1. anchovy*

      how on earth would the company know if someone has flagged a post on linkedin as suspicious?? this isn’t posting on a work internal comms platform or an email. this is the corporate version of a facebook post.

      1. old curmudgeon*

        By reporting it to the company’s existing system for either ethical concerns and/or IT security issues. Flagging it to LinkedIn is pointless, of course, but if the exec is trying to see who catches/reports it to the company vs. who rises to the bait of contributing in response to a smishing attempt, this could be an effective test.

        As I said, that’s an unlikely outcome, and it’s far, far likelier to be a simple case of combined greed and the attitude that “rules are for little people,” but it’s not impossible.

      2. birb*

        Our policy is to report immediately to OUR IT as well in these situations, through our internal processes. People regularly target leadership’s accounts. There are fake social accounts for our local HS Principal and lots of spoofed emails from them make it to official channels, with hilariously misspelled urgent subject lines.

        It WOULD be really funny to report it as a smishing attempt to IT. “Glad we had that training or I’d never have caught this clearly fake account in clear violation of our policies. You’re welcome!” but I have no sense of self-preservation and consider pettiness its own reward.

      3. Lenora Rose*

        If I get an email to my work address, there’s a button I can click to flag it to my own workplace’s internal IT department to report it as phishing – regardless of where it comes from. This is different from flagging it as suspicious on LinkedIn

    2. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

      I don’t get the “smishing” angle here. Isn’t smishing SMS phishing, i.e. phishing via text messages?

    3. Antilles*

      How would it be a test though? This is OP’s personal LinkedIn, from a person she’s not even connected to. There’s not even any reason to expect that it would pop up in OP’s feed since there’s no connection, nor is there any expectation that OP would be checking the CIO’s page regularly to find this out. There’s probably plenty of employees at the company who literally wouldn’t even see the post because the algorithm doesn’t make it pop in your Notifications feed…or because they just flat out aren’t checking LinkedIn frequently anyways.

      A phishing email test sent to your corporate email address works as a test because the company has a clear expectation that employees will be checking email regularly and so you’ll run across the test (and either pass or fail it). This doesn’t, because there isn’t that expectation.

    4. Slow Gin Lizz*

      NGL, that was actually my first thought too. It is pretty elaborate for a smishing test but perhaps that’s the point. And it does seem less likely than other possilibities named so far but still…not outside the realm.

    5. ICantRememberMyPreviousName*

      I had the exact same thought! The recent email combined with this notification = a test.

      My company sent everyone pretty legit looking fake emails last year, and anyone who clicked through got a message about messing up and needing to review our cybersecurity training. I think this is the new approach since the typical video trainings aren’t super effective.

    6. Your Mate in Oz*

      Given the problem with an email that says “this is your monthly phishing test. Do not click this link: ….” and a terrifying percentage of staff click the link, I’d be impressed with a company had had worked so far down the list that “C-suiter posts a gofundme link on linkedin” was even thought of.

  14. alex*

    Keep scrolling, ignore it and move on. The CIO is not making a direct appeal to you for a donation and is using a personal platform to make an appeal to his or her personal network. Maybe it’s a little squishy ethics-wise, but it’s not your problem. It’s not affecting your job, your work, your responsibilities, or your paycheck. Time to let this one go.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      Yeah, this is where I land. It would be different if there a company-wide email that was obviously meant to go to employees, but while it’s not the best look, I would just ignore it.

      1. GDUB*

        Yup. A lot of people who make more money and have more responsibilities than OP have already seen this.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      That’s where I’m landing too. The LW says the only reason they saw it was because of how LinkedIn annoyingly shares stuff from people you *don’t* follow. LW was not the CIO’s target audience for this!

      I do appreciate the points about cybersecurity and industry regulator rules, but I feel like those are separate complaints from the main issue here, which is that LW seems to think they were personally targeted for a mandatory donation and it doesn’t seem like that’s what actually happened at all.

    3. Beth**

      I agree. I work for an employer that has a super tight ethical code of conduct and I can’t see how this would be a problem. Nor can I see how it’s smidhing/phishing/cyber risk inducing.

      No one is making the OP donate or even asking them directly to do so. The CIO is not using company resources in the solicitation.

      Just ignore and move on.

    4. Casper Lives*

      This is what I’d do if I saw it. I might be angry if there’s other issues at work, or roll my eyes at someone asking for money he easily has, or make a joke. I wouldn’t donate. I’d find out if I could change my notifications to avoid updates that annoyed me haha. And I’d move along.

      That said. If LW wants to make an anonymous complaint, I think it’s fine. Maybe she will feel better.

    5. Bunny Lake Is Found*

      This is where I am at. The LW put a lot of mental energy into this that just didn’t need to be expended that, to me, reads more like they are upset generally at the job situation and it is just manifesting in being REALLY invested in this totally banal bit of social networking notification detris.

    6. TPS Reporter*

      agree and I would still be wary of an “anonymous” complaint.

      If the OP was in the direct receipt of this solicitation then yes complain. But here it’s not worth the OP’s job security at their level.

    7. LW*

      I know the CIO didn’t intend to make a direct appeal. I also know that this doesn’t affect me directly. But the ethics (and optics) are more than just “a little squishy.”

      I wouldn’t blame anyone else who chooses not to play David to a company Goliath. Everyone has to make the choice that seems right to them. But the “eh, who cares—mind your own business” attitude is precisely at the root of a lot of problems in today’s world.

  15. JaneDough(not)*

    LW, even before you posted anything about the co.’s policies and about cybersecurity, I was enraged.

    1. Someone at the top of an org should NEVER ask those below to cough up funds. NEVER.
    2. Someone who “earns” — or, more accurately, receives — the kind of salary that such people receive should NEVER ask others to fund ANYTHING in their life, especially given the $50 TRILLION wealth heist over the past 40+ years that has benefited these people and harmed everyone else. (Please read Robert Reich’s 11-14-20 column in The Guardian, with then-recent RAND stats, including the fact that anyone then earning 72K or less was earning only 60% — 60% ! — of what they *would* be earning had the economic policies of 1945-75 been kept in place.)

    I am enraged about this, and I hope you’ll decide to report this to HR.

    1. econobiker*

      #2….”the kind of salary that such people receive should NEVER ask others to fund ANYTHING in their life”

      This is basically how the financial manipulations of ultra wealthy for their benefits works. Estate sized “hobby farms” that reduce property taxes due to agricultural land use, tax loss write offs to reduce income tax responsibilities, using “company owned commercial” vehicles for personal use because they own/work for the company, writing off vacations because of “work reasons” like investigating real estate or attending conferences etc.

      And to include getting friends and coworkers to crowd fund their child’s higher education project…

    1. Desk job plz*

      It’s pretty easy to figure out where a link is going to, especially when social media posts show a preview of the linked page. I think the smishing concern is a big stretch.

      1. Your Mate in Oz*

        Lots of things wrap links these days. I get an awful lot of work emails where the first unwrap gets me out of the company network, the second one is to a generic data broker (“free email list manager”), the third level is the senders internal marketing/tracking people, then eventually I get some kind of “I posted this on facebook” link.

        This applies even to stuff like a supplier has a new product that I had previously asked about which has finally become available. I assume they’re trying to boost click rates on their facebook posts to hit their social media KPIs.

  16. Lucia Pacciola*

    “So. Does your company’s ethics reporting system allow for anonymous reports? If so, that might be the easiest way to address it.”

    Strictly speaking, the easiest way to address it would be to do nothing. LW is doing entry-level work for a multinational corporation. One of the C-level execs appears to be flouting the rules against gifts and whatnot. Is the exec in the wrong? Almost certainly, according to the information we have. Does LW *need* to address it any way other than to ignore it? Absolutely not.

    Does LW expect that the other executives and senior department heads don’t already know about this activity? That they’ll take action to shut it down, if only LW brings it to their attention? I think those are obviously unrealistic expectations.

    I’d say “pick your battles”, but this isn’t even a battle. Just shouting into the void about a problem that you can’t solve and don’t have anyway. LW should focus on their relationship to their work and their own supervisor, and to their relationship with the life they live outside of the office. Leave the CIO and his shenanigans to people much higher up the food chain.

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Strictly speaking, the word “address” means do something. So no, doing nothing would not be “addressing” it. Your whole post is an amazing pile of imaginative fiction though.

      Stop yourself from making excuses for the execs and imagining what total strangers know or don’t. The company has an ethics hotline. This is what it’s for – if they determine there’s no problem, cool. If they determine there is a problem, also cool. But the LW wants to take action. Stop telling them not to care and not to act.

      I am amazed at the number of people here willing to make excuses for the poor behavior of total strangers and discourage the LW from taking any action at all. And always with the supposed certainty that nothing will happen if you do speak up, so why bother? If you don’t try, that is definitely true. If you do try, something might happen.

      Speaking from experience here – our company’s ethics hotline was called about an HR violation and it was *immediately* addressed the next day. There was a weeklong investigation. People got back pay. HR rep was nearly fired, I assume she was put on a PIP. If no one had called, the abuses would have continued.

      1. Insurance person*

        Wage and hour violations are a completely different ethics topic than a sort of smarmy charitable appeal on a platform that’s about business networking. I’m willing to look the other way if I see something like this because what it warrants from me in my position is an eye roll.

    2. Zombeyonce*

      “the easiest way to address it would be to do nothing”

      This is the opposite of addressing it, it’s ignoring it. Not that it’s not an option, but that wouldn’t be addressing it in any way.

  17. The Person from the Resume*

    I never look at LinkedIn and certainly don’t look through my LinkedIn notifications or recieve emails about them. I think it is so very easy to ignore something posted on LinkedIn. You can ignore it and pretend you never saw it and not donte to it.

    I don’t think anything posted on LinkedIn worth this level of vitriol because I don’t devote any attention to LinkedIn notifications or posts. I do agree that this is not ethical and the CEO shouldn’t have done it, but why care so much? Are there other things going on in the LW’s company that this is a stand-in for?

    And also I think that that this student made a mistep to choose a thesis that requires $10,000 in crowdfunding but if it’s a good product that people want, it could get the funding. But I won’t be funding it.

  18. Retail Dalliance*

    Well, LW, part of the reason you wrote in was to find out if other people are as galled by this as you are. I am here to tell you that this behavior bothers me on a moral, ethical level at LEAST as much, if not more, than it bothers you. This is so gross! Good luck reporting it!

  19. Desk job plz*

    I agree. It was an external social media site, not a communication to their employees and OP would never have known if not for the way their notifications were set up, yet OP seems to be treating this as a direct request.

    I see the point about large donors and the potential for conflict if interest but that’s the organization’s problem, not OP’s. This is an ‘eyeroll and move on’ situation. The smishing criticism in particular feels like a stretch. There was no direct message asking for money like they warn about in trainings. Just posting about or sharing a fundraising link isn’t a cybersecurity risk, and is a pretty common thing to do.

    I have to think letter writer has some other beefs with the employment that are getting misdirected to this issue. That was a long letter to write about this.

    1. Ellen Ripley*

      Agreed. The LW wrote: “We were warned not to trust messages sent through social media platforms purporting to be from trusted figures in the company. If we responded to such messages, our cybersecurity (and, potentially, the company’s cybersecurity) could be compromised. And here’s the CIO engaging in activity that could arguably be considered a form of smishing.”.

      But that’s like saying you shouldn’t send emails after doing a phishing training because it’s could be phishing and could compromise the company. It’s a weird argument.

    2. k*

      The smishing criticism makes me wonder if OP really understood the security training in question. The CIO is definitely not engaging in an activity that could “arguably” be considered a form of smishing… because he actually is the CIO and it’s his actual kid.

      1. Orange Line Avenger*

        Agreed. Smishing is when a scammer pretending to be c-suite texts you to buy gift cards and send them the code on the back. Smishing is not the c-suite posting a link to a fundraiser that (presumably) has details that can be easily cross-referenced/verified with Google.

      2. Zarniwoop*

        “The CIO is definitely not engaging in an activity that could “arguably” be considered a form of smishing… because he actually is the CIO and it’s his actual kid.”
        Unless it isn’t really the CIO’s account, and really is smishing.

        1. k*

          That seems very unlikely given the details in the letter. And hopefully the IT training was robust enough that OP is capable of identifying a fake GoFundMe link.

    3. mskyle*

      Yeah, would people be this concerned if it was on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter? I do think it’s tacky, but a lot of people use LinkedIn as their primary social network (which I also think is kinda weird!). LinkedIn is work-focused but it’s not “at work.”

      1. A person*

        I agree… it’s just a public social media post… maybe if they were directly emailing it? But it just showing up in your “this person posted a thing” notifications… just ignore it and move on. They’re not asking you directly, they’re asking “the public”. Likely there are tons of connections this person has on linked in that have nothing to do with their work. Getting a donation from someone on your linked in network (especially depending on how you use linked in), doesn’t automatically mean it’s shady business dealings. I have a ton of linked in “connections” that have absolutely nothing to do with my job. If I got money for something from one of them for something non-work related it would be quite a stretch to tie it to me as unethical work practices.

  20. cardigarden*

    LW, the reason this really resonates with me is it feels like hypocrisy of the CIO’s actions in relation to your company’s stated ethics/values is what’s really at issue here. And if that’s the case, I totally get it. I’m dealing with the same thing trying to wrangle my maternity leave (my company says all the right things about valuing the employee, yet I have to do all the benefits coordination on my own and they are misrepresenting in their own favor the amount of protected time off I’m entitled to).

    So I get it: hypocrisy sends me to the stratosphere, and your CIO is acting incredible hypocritical. Mostly, I’d recommend acknowledging to yourself “yeah that’s f’d up” and move on. That’s probably still your best move in your situation, even with the regulatory complications CIO’s actions open up. Unless you can be certain that any reporting feature is truly anonymous, more heat than you want could land back on you.

  21. wanda*

    I also imagine that this guy thinks that he’s posting it to his friends and peers who he is actually connected to on LinkedIn. After all, if he intentionally wanted to ask everyone in the company to donate, he would have used the company’s internal systems. Many people don’t have a LinkedIn or check it regularly, so it would be a poor way to reach everyone in the company. (Honestly, he may not even know that he is broadcasting it to everyone in his organization.) I think the letter writer can safely ignore this message, especially because he’s not even directly connected with this guy.

    1. Urp*

      I think this is a key point. LinkedIn often blurs the line between professional, work-related communication and social media, and different people use it in different ways. I think it’s still really tone deaf and inappropriate for the guy to post this, but unless his posted in an internal company forum or used company email to contact employees, I wouldn’t think it’s something the company ethics investigators would get involved with.

      1. Urp*

        After reading the post again and reflecting more, I do think this would be a concern if the optics of who he is soliciting from in his”peer network” are potential customers or others who might have influence over business with the company. I think that’s more grounds for an investigation than “I happened to see this on LinkedIn even though we aren’t connected and he makes more money than me.”

        1. Cress*

          Yes!!! The potential for donations to be — or appear to be — a kickback is what takes this from gross to actionable (if the letter writer wants to act).

  22. One Phish Two Phish*

    I wonder if this is an attempt to test if employees actually read that article the CIO’s team sent out on spotting smishing a few weeks before the crowd funding post went up. The timing seems a bit too coincidental (unless CIO is THAT oblivious to the optics). At my company they sometimes send out fake phishing emails to test whether or not employees spot the suspicious signs and report the email, instead of responding or clicking the links. The past two times they’ve done this it was a few weeks after sending out reminders on how to spot phishing scams.
    In any case reporting it to someone is a good idea; if it’s a test then you pass, if it’s for real then you can see how your company responds and go from there.

  23. learnedthehardway*

    Does your company have an anonymous ethics hotline? If so, report it.

    Write something like, “The CIO is soliciting donations on behalf of their adult child on a social media site. This appears to be a violation of X regulation, which prohibits employees from using their position to benefit themselves or their family. Because LinkedIn is a professional networking site and the CIO is identified in their profile as an employee of XYZ Company, there is a risk that vendors and employees could feel pressured to donate, and a risk that donators may be viewed more favourably in future interactions than people who do not donate.”

  24. The Bill Murray Disagreement*

    I agree that the optics aren’t great, but I think LW is overreacting and reporting the post through the anonymous channel will likely not yield results. This isn’t an actual cybersecurity issue and it’s not smishing. It’s asking a network of colleagues to contribute to a fundraising effort, and if this were a more traditional charity request, I doubt the LW would have blinked at it.

    Also, the CEO did not target employees; this was a post on LinkedIn that found its way in the LW’s feed / notifications, which is super common when you’ve got connections in common.

    1. Artemesia*

      It is a company that doesn’t allow anyone to accept even modest gifts in their roll with the company and this guy is using professional contacts to shake down colleagues on behalf of his family. THE KID is not crowdfunding — Daddy is.

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        I didn’t read it like that–it sounds like it’s the kid’s crowdfunding page and the dad is sharing it. I don’t think sharing a crowdfunding page rises to the level of “shaking down colleagues.”

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          That’s how I read it too. Merely sharing the link doesn’t make you the crowdfunder, otherwise I’m guessing LW has a ton of other colleagues who are similarly also engaging in crowdfunding every time they share a link from someone they know.

      2. The Bill Murray Disagreement*

        I remain unconvinced that this comes close to the level of shakedown and it’s unclear how the crowdfunding is working, much less that it’s truly shady and going directly to the parent.

        1. Cress*

          I agree that “shakedown” is hyperbole, but it’s common for ethics rules to forbid gifts to close family members. Maybe this company allows it, but the money going to the kid is far from a guarantee that the CIO is in the clear.

    2. Menace to Sobriety*

      I disagree. Our large govt contracting company has an anoymous ethics hotline. It has stepped in and stepped up on several thing, whether it was to shut something down, or say, “No, this is fine, but thanks for letting us know.” It’s done thru secure messaging and you get assigned a “case number” to check the status of the ongoing ethics investigation and subsequent outcome, if you choose to remain anonymous. If not, your identity is strictly protected. So, if nothing else a report would generate them looking into it and making ultimately an OK/Not Ok decision and the OP would at least feel less icky about the whole thing.

      1. The Bill Murray Disagreement*

        Oh, yes – that’s very fair. I was referring more to how I doubt that there would be any actionable finding the hotline would uncover.

  25. Artemesia*

    I’d go to the public library or some other hopefully anonymous computer site and report this to HR CC to CEO if there is not an anonymous hot line. Absolutely report this. You can’t keep a Christmas ham from a vendor but the CIO is allowed to shake everyone down. Wow.

    And lie low at work on this. Do not go to HR personally — there is no ‘discreet’ possible or at least guaranteed.

  26. Fishwife*

    I would hesitate to report this in any way it could be traced to you.

    If you feel you must report it, make a paper screen shot , magic marker out anything that would identify you. Photocopy that and send the photo copy to HR anonymously in plant mail.

    In a perfect world the writer would be safe, but I wouldn’t trust them, especially if it is the second time in a few months.

    Yes, I am cynical.

  27. FashionablyEvil*

    LW, are you otherwise happy with your job? Your level of reaction suggests to me that maybe there’s more going on that’s not in your letter.

    1. Lisa B*

      This is exactly where I went too – OP, you seem DEEPLY personally offended at this. I have to wonder if there are other things been bothering you and this was the proverbial straw? “I’m underpaid and here you are asking me to donate…..” “We can’t keep our customer satisfaction scores up and this is the thing you’re spending time on….” “We already hired your unskilled nephew into the prestigious internship and here you are again asking for favors….”

  28. Too Many Birds*

    Am I the only one who is appalled at the notion that a college thesis should require an outlay of $$, much less one in the multiple thousands of dollars?! I used to teach at the college level in the humanities and this is mind-boggling.

    1. Ssssssssssssssssssssss*

      Nope! I was very confused as to what kind of thesis would require 10K for a project on top of tuition. It is mentioned much further up that film students are in this category and they all set up Gofundme pages to fund their films. And I’m thinking, if the tuition is insufficient to cover this kind of project, maybe something is not quite right in how this system works.

      And if you don’t get a lot of success in your Gofundme page, will that result in a lower grade on your project despite your best efforts and talents? If mom and dad can cough up 10K without having to wait for the funds to trickle in, giving that student more time to work on their project, that’s also not fair, not for a thesis project.

      My kid is in an arts program and her tuition paid for all of the required art supplies. It was like Xmas morning last September when she got her package of art goodies including a light box.

      1. Boof*

        I imagine the logic is, in filming you have to get your budget, and work within what you can do with the budget you can raise. I’ve never been to Film school though, so It’s all wild speculation. I’m not super offended at the idea, grad students have to find projects and funding all the time. I’m a little confused about how much LinkedIn is a personal sharing platform versus a professional one. I kind of hate it. That also colors my perceptions in thinking, maybe this was not meant to be shared as widely as it was. In my experience, LinkedIn tends to be super naggy even though I’ve done zero with it.
        It might not be worth LW social capital, but since there is a strict gift policy. It wouldn’t be completely unreasonable to notify someone. I wouldn’t assume the worst, however.

      2. Your Mate in Oz*

        Sculpture can also fall into this category, and more or less any of the fine arts. Think of painting – a single bare canvas can be $100 with no frame or stretcher, or for that matter any paint on it. So you might think “oh, 20 paintings for a graduate exhibition” but that could be $5000 in raw materials. There’s a reason so many “ancient masterpieces” are painted over the top of a painting that’s over the top of a painting…

        But depending on how rich the school is, engineering projects can run way over $10k. My undergrad project used a truck with a generator on it that the school already had, then some steel fabrication and a few thousand dollars of electronics. But it’s engineering, I didn’t pay any of that, and the school wasn’t short of money because there were companies almost queuing up for the chance to pick over the graduating students, let alone get some free R&D done (if only 5% of the undergrad projects were useful you could also look at that as 95% of the companies contributing ideas didn’t have to spend their engineer time to find that out)

    2. Dancing Otter*

      My SIL spent a year overseas to research her dissertation, which wasn’t cheap. Anthropology, sigh.

    3. Musicmajor*

      In both my undergrad senior recital and my graduate thesis recital there were financial costs solely on me to make them happen. My degrees are in music, and required live recitals. Which also required me to hire musicians and arrange rehearsals for the recitals. There is no additional funding provided for the musicians I needed for my recital and so had a dozen performers to pay for the thesis rectial and about eight for my undergrad rectial. We were required to pay, ethically and at industry-rate, our performers for their time. So outside of tuition costs is common in many fields in the arts.

  29. Ann O'Nemity*

    If I were the LW, I’d ignore the posts and move on.

    Still, it’s interesting to peel back the ethical layers here.

    #1 The student who needs to come up with $10k of funding for a thesis project! I know this is increasingly common, especially in some of the arts degrees, but wowza. Is it really ethical for schools to require such expensive projects?

    #2 Because the CIO can afford it, should they fund their kid’s project? I’d argue that if this kind of fundraising is the norm in the field, it’s probably more ethical that the student is fundraising.

    #3 Should the CIO avoid utilizing their own network to support their child’s fundraising? What about other parents similarly helping their kids? Does the CIO’s power and prominence make this an unfair advantage? What’s an appropriate level of parental support and promotion for kids’ fundraising efforts?

    Like I said, interesting to consider from all angles!

      1. Ethics_is_hard*

        I agree that this is setting up into a discussion that senior leaders can never fundraise because of the risk that they use their influence improperly. For example (and this is a real event), a senior C-suite executive at a former employer host a fundraising event annual to solicit donations for a non-profit that supports kids cancer. H/She knows who donated by the folks that attended the event. Is it unethical for him/her to sponsor the event and post about it on Linked-In? H/She knows who will donate and could conceivably give preferential treatment to those that attend (although I do not believe that ever happened). My former employer also was in a regulated industry with no gifts allowed.

        Does it matter if she isn’t getting a direct financial benefit? What about non-financial benefits such as “praise” from the non-profit, a Board seat in an influential non-profit, positive press, parties with other influential donors, and someday an excellent obituary that she was an exceptionally upstanding citizen?

        1. Ccbac*

          agreed! I also think that the comment section here sometimes doesn’t do a great job recognizing that “senior leadership” can mean very different things at different companies depending on size etc. While there is almost always going to be a salary difference, it’s not always (or often) going to be hundreds of thousands of dollars. especially at smaller firms. ex. there’s a pretty big difference between a Logan Roy/Rupert Murdoch type and a CFO of a 25 person company

    1. PK*

      IME schools don’t require a project to be 10k, but for those with the means (aka a CEO dad who can petition his network), a rich or uniquely resourceful student will absolutely choose to spend more to make a better looking project just because it looks good to have it and they can maybe pitch it to festivals or student contests, show it to people in the industry. For the school itself, however, then the thesis isn’t graded on “how expensive is this film,” but an expensive thesis can be used to launch a career potentially. So it’s still an unfair advantage to those without the means even if it doesn’t affect someone’s letter grade. At least, this is how it was when I went for undergrad 20 years ago, I don’t know if things have changed since. Digital has made things more accessible in general but it’s still plenty expensive to make a good looking short film.

    2. Student*

      My first reaction to crowd-funding a thesis was this:

      Some professor has found a very clever way to artificially inflate the number of works they are credited in.

      I wonder if the university leadership is aware this is happening, and approved it – or is just looking the other way. How is this $10,000 being reported for income, for example, and to whom?

  30. Lisa B*

    I agree with both you and Alison that it’s not appropriate…. but do want to say that you seem DEEPLY offended at this. It’s against policy but not so far from reality to warrant the reaction you seem to have. I have to wonder if there are other things been bothering you and this was the proverbial straw? “I’m underpaid and here you are asking me to donate…..” “We can’t keep our customer satisfaction scores up and this is the thing you’re spending time on….” “We already hired your unskilled nephew into the prestigious internship and here you are again asking for favors….”

    1. SGPB*

      When you are at the very bottom making less than you are worth and and someone at the top is making 7 figures and being a huge hypocrite… I fully understand. I would have the same reaction I think.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I will say, flat out: If you earn seven figures and your college student needs $10K to do their project, it’s reasonable to give it to them. It’s reasonable to tell them they have to figure out the funding on their own if that is in some way a rule. (Either of the project, or of the family re how much they will put toward your college and what you need to cover by working.) Sending out the donation opportunity to your network is tone deaf on a lot of levels. (If I am a peer in salary, I am definitely thinking “wtf dude, you can give your kid the money yourself.”)

    2. Yeah...*

      They wrote an anonymous letter expressing all their feelings and asked a question they probably would not have asked if they had so sign their name to it. This is not bad.

  31. fish in the sea*

    The conspiratorial thinking in some threads is honestly concerning. No, your company’s CIO is not making completely normal posts on LI in an attempt to see if you paid attention in your mandatory phishing learning.

    1. Ccbac*

      yes, I agree. I find it hard to believe that OP knows more about the ethics/regulations of their industry than the cio and several corporate attorneys…. I feel like op took a very basic training and is now looking for any potential issues no matter how much of a reach.

      And the people up-thread describing the LinkedIn post as a “shakedown” are a bit much. Optically, idk. I don’t think it’s great, but I also think so much depends on what the post said (was it a share of the kid’s own post with a “hey, check out the cool project my kid is working on” or was it a “please donate to my kid or else.” )

    2. Happy meal with extra happy*

      This was my thought too! I think people just crave excitement in these comment sections and love to imagine the most bizarre case scenarios.

  32. H3llifiknow*

    So, the only way I could see this as not completely unethical is if the kid’s thesis involves creating a project “from the ground up” including obtaining funding via crowdsourcing, to show how this plays out in today’s internet marketspace. But, then I’d expect the KID to be he one soliciting donations via the appropriate source, not the Dad. But, if I were inclined to give the CEO the benefit of ANY doubt, it’d only really be in such a circumstance as this, and Dad just thinks he’s being helpful. Having said all of that, though: If the OP feels super strongly that it’s wrong (and she seems to), she *might* do an anonymous email to the ethics hotline asking for a sanity check.

    1. SGPB*

      yeah… the reason for the fundraising is completely irrelevant. it 100% changes nothing what the kid’s motivation is since it is the actions of the parent that are unethical.

    2. Katie Impact*

      It’s hard to draw a firm line when it comes to “legitimate” vs “illegitimate” ways of crowdfunding, because for the most part having wealthy connections *is* how people get big crowdfunding projects off the ground. “Hope you have a rich family” is not a very fair lesson about how to succeed in the arts, but it’s mostly an accurate one.

  33. Molly Millions*

    This seems like an error in judgement rather than deliberate abuse of power, IMO. Some businesspeople use LinkedIn as if it’s Facebook and he may not have thought twice about sharing his son’s work with his contacts.

    I say this because the OP might have better luck with HR if they focus on the salient facts rather than their personal reaction to it. The fundraising request really wasn’t directed at them – they’re not connected on LinkedIn, and I’m not sure it’s fair to assume that because the boss is a cybersecurity expert, he automatically knows how social media algorithms work. Those seem like two very different areas of computer science.

    The issue here isn’t the boss pressuring employees to contribute, but whether it violates company policy or industry regulations on gifts.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I’ve had to hide/unfollow a few former colleagues because they insisted on posting on LinkedIn like it was Facebook. There was a reason I deleted Facebook!

    2. mreasy*

      The effect isn’t different, though, if a quid pro quo is implied, whether it was bad judgment or deliberate. And honestly I’d be alarmed if a member of my company’s C-suite didn’t think this was a problem.

      1. Ccbac*

        was quid pro quo implied though? I don’t see that in OP’s letter (without doing mental gymnastics OP is doing about this)

        1. Urp*

          After reading the post again and reflecting more, I do think this would be a concern if the optics of who he is soliciting from in his”peer network” are potential customers or others who might have influence over business with the company. I think that’s more grounds for an investigation than “I happened to see this on LinkedIn even though we aren’t connected and he makes more money than me.”

          1. Urp*

            oops, that was supposed to be a reply elsewhere, but the thoughts are relevant here. Hard to know if the quid pro quo is implied without knowing the wording of the post, the reputation of the exec, etc.

          2. Molly Millions*

            That was my thought exactly – it may well be against the rules, depending on how they’re worded (and ethics rules often prohibit you from accepting things *indirectly* as well).

            If it was an honest misunderstanding, the boss can quite easily rectify it by removing the post (and if necessary, having his son refund any questionable contributions). That’s why I think intent does matter.

  34. AnotherOne*

    the girl scout cookie example is an interesting one. i work in a private university and my boss won’t ask- or let anyone know- that his kids are fundraising for school.

    he interprets it as an improper power dynamic- and i assume- against university policy.

    we can ask him if his daughter is selling girl scout cookies and buy them if she is. and other co-workers, on the same level as us, can email out that their child/grandchild/whoever is selling cookies.

    but not upper management.

  35. BellyButton*

    I think I have posted this before. Many years ago, my former grand boss, who was head of HR for a large university, would walk her kids around, desk by desk, and have them ask people if they wanted to buy things from their school’s fund raiser. You know, the crappy wrapping paper or buckets of cookie dough. I was so appalled. We had a fair number of part time student workers, and a lot of hourly workers who weren’t making even $35k a year.

  36. TotesMaGoats*

    If the dad had messaged you directly asking for support, even in a BC type of way–then let it hit the fan. Report it in all the ways.

    But he didn’t. It still rankles though and I think Alison is correct and you should report it.

    This is clearly a step above shilling for your kids’ activity in the breakroom but I instituted a rule that I wouldn’t buy anything from anyone unless their kid asked me directly. The rule applied to my own niece who had to ask me in person to buy (popcorn, that was really good) for her competitive dance studio. I love her dearly. I helped decorate dance outfits. I’m #danceaunt but I’m not buying just because my sister puts the link on FB. I would buy something from every kid I know if they just ask me directly. Although I’m more inclined to support the public school band than the elite travel sportsball team that you are already paying a ton of money to do in the first place.

    1. Menace to Sobriety*

      Yes to this. I’m a sucker for any kid (even the teen band members selling bags of oranges) who shows up at my door selling whatever, but no, I will NOT sign an order form left in the office breakroom. Sorry.

  37. Troop Cookie Manager*

    Just want to say that I appreciate Alison supporting the Girl Scouts during cookie season while still giving good advice. :)

  38. John*

    This is about companies having different sets of rules for the rank and file and leadership.

    A sad fact of (most) corporate life.

  39. NewManagerNoFilter*

    I would suggest doing whatever the CIOs department trained you to do regarding smishing. I actually wondered if it was a trap tbh.

  40. Anne Elliot*

    This may not be as ethically cut and dried as it seems Alison and the LW believe it is. The LW says “The kid is in college and working on their thesis, which involves the creation of an expensive project. The kid needs the money to complete the project (and, presumably, the thesis).” So it is extremely relevant whether the crowdfunding is for THE KID or for THE PROJECT. A donation to the project is not the same as a donation to the child of the CIO. It will not be “an obvious violation” of the rule that executive are barred from “taking gifts and donations of any kind for themselves or close family members” if the money goes to the project and not the student.

    And it doesn’t matter if the project is to applique daisies on the backsides of public statutes, or if it is building wells in areas with no present water access — the value of the project is irrelevant to the issue of whether an employee may ethically solicit donations to it, or contribute to it. You very likely will not be able to do so at work — but the CIO isn’t doing it at work, only through LinkedIn.

    This is not to say the ethical issues completely disappear. The potential still remains for persons to donate to a project so closely connected to the CIO in order to curry favor or potential future positive consideration. But this is more complicated than the original letter and the answer seem to construe.

    Now, I may be wrong, and it may truly be seeking donations directly to the kid, but I highly doubt Legal would have endorsed it if so.

    1. BellyButton*

      To add to this, I doubt the CIO would have access to who donated. If he son created the page, then presumably he is the only one who can see who gave money and how much.

      1. mreasy*

        In GoFundMe specifically, you can see the names of everyone who contributed on the public page, unless they specify they want to be anonymous .

    2. Abogado Avocado*

      I would agree with Anne Elliot if the kid, not the CIO, posted the fundraising appeal on LinkedIn. But the CIO posted it and allowed LinkedIn to amplify it across the CIO’s network. Unless he’s the world’s dimmest CIO, he had to know that his network would see his name attached to this appeal and feel feelings based on their relationship to the CIO.

      Further, to the extent he’s not having to fund his kid’s expensive project, the CIO benefits when others — including those from his business network — fund project.

      LW is right: this appeal is icky all around. And if HR doesn’t have an anonymous reporting portal, LW can still print this appeal, remove all references to herself, photocopy it, and then snail-mail it anonymously to HR. (And, if her corporation is publicly traded, she also can anonymously snail-mail it to the Board of Directors.)

    3. Electric sheep*

      This is such a weird take – the project is directly benefiting the kid who needs to do it to graduate, but it’s somehow not benefiting the kid?

      Anyway it’s irrelevant, the conflict of interest is the CIO seeing the names of his contracts giving money to his kids project and then feeling warm and favourable to them – even if he doesn’t, the perception is there and that’s enough for a COI breach.

  41. Good Enough For Government Work*

    This is almost entirely not relevant, but:

    Man, I wish I could try girl scout cookies sometime.

      1. Good Enough For Government Work*

        Hmm. I’m not sure I want to pay $21+ just on shipping for cookies, but it’s an intriguing prospect…

        1. Anonychick*

          There are often sales where if you buy a certain number of boxes (five, maybe?), the shipping is free.

          And, keeping in the spirit of this conversation, I won’t suggest my niece’s troop (joking! I wouldn’t anyway), but I will say that, if you don’t have a Girl Scout in your life, Troop 6000 is an NYC-area troop made up entirely of kids in the shelter system, who often have fewer options than others when it comes to direct sales. I believe the link was posted above, but I’ll add it below, too, so it doesn’t risk this post getting eaten.

          1. Good Enough For Government Work*

            Unfortunately, the reason I have never tried them is that I am one of the literally dozens of people on the internet who are not from North America…

        2. Nana Kathie*

          So sorry that you’re one of the benighted few unable to access Girl Scout cookies directly. Allison, I’d be glad to contribute to a GoFundMe to send a box or three to Good Enough.
          It would be in memory of my dear mother (In the olden days, she bought one box from every scout who came to our door…and we were close to the city line, so we got twice the scouts other neighborhoods did)

  42. anecdata*

    Honestly, I would let this one go. It is already public, if Legal/Accounting/Ethics wants to do something about it, they can. And I wish it didn’t work this way but – you have already filed 1 ethics complaint about the c-suite, and filing more risks you being “that guy”

    (If the CIO were asking for advice about whether to do this, I’d recommend against it for all the reasons above! But for you, not my circus, is the best approach)

  43. Llama lamma workplace drama*

    I would report it anonymously and post a link to this site! They can see all of us that are agreeing that it really is out of place and in violation of their own policies!

    1. Allonge*

      This is not a popularity thing. What CIO did is either compliant or not with the company’s ethics guidelines; nobody in charge of deciding on that will go by a bunch of anonymous commenters’ opinions if they have any sense.

  44. BellyButton*

    If it is in direct violation of the rules, then fine. But the moral outrage seems a bit much. I think a lot of people use LinkedIn for their peers and not so much for vendors and their employees. Most of my LinkedIn contacts are people who are in the same line of work as I am, similar level, and people I have met through networking and conferences.

    1. TX_Trucker*

      +1 on this. I’m C-Suite and I doubt any of my staff follows “me” on LinkedIn as opposed to our company page. Other company execs (and our attorneys and marketing staff) might be connected to me, but not our front-line employees. Even the OP says they are not connected to their CIO. It would be a waste of time for staff to follow me on LI, since there are company channels where they can get info from me and other executives quicker.

  45. Green Goose*

    I worked at a nonprofit where there was a pretty big discrepancy between how much the top people were paid and how little the entry level people made (and it has gotten worse). One of our chiefs was from a very wealthy background before coming to the nonprofit and was pretty out of touch, and talked to a lot of employees as if we were also in the same socioeconomic status as her (no one was).
    I remember her talking about which private high school she was going to send her child to and they ultimately picked one that was almost $60k a year. I would have been pretty appalled if she had created a go fund me for it but it almost would not have surprised me.

  46. Nomic*

    OP, if you choose to go to HR, be sure that you are NOT pointing out C-suite hypocrisy. Instead you are worried about the optics for the company. You are just looking out for the company’s best interests here.

  47. Selina Luna*

    If this project is for college, the kid might be violating the college funding requirements. I don’t know about every college, but when I did my thesis, I was required to report ALL funding sources, and I would have been required to report each individual in a crowdfunding situation. My school allowed “Bank of Mom and Dad” as thesis funding, but if my parents had done something like this, it would explicitly not have been allowed because it would have given their business “undue influence” in my results. And my parents’ jobs are in completely different sectors than what I was getting my thesis in. In this situation, I might report the kid to the funding oversight committee at their school.
    In case you’re wondering, I didn’t need funding to complete my thesis; everything I used was a freely available tool that literally any human can access, and I was not allowed to pay my subjects. No funding required.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      How would it give the business undue influence? The CIO posted this to LinkedIn; they didn’t solicit at work or through work communication channels.

    2. Ferret*

      Were you in the sciences? Because your post doesn’t make much sense for something like a film project which seems much more likely, and indeed most arts projects

      1. Selina Luna*

        Education, which tries to treat itself as a science, but often does science badly.
        If it’s an arts project, I could see where I could be wrong, though. I hadn’t even considered that, even though I know that arts projects can be expensive. I had only considered a thesis study, not a thesis art project.

    3. Ccbac*

      so if you created a gofundme type campaign and your parents shared it on social media, the sharing by your parents on social media would be the issue? but not the creation of the campaign?

      1. Selina Luna*

        Plausibly, if they were specifically using their business network to bring money to the thing. Crowdfunding was touchy for us anyway.

      2. Selina Luna*

        I’m replying a second time to say that I had not considered an art project. The funding requirements for those would definitely be very different than the ones I was required to undergo, where bias and perceived bias were huge issues and I had to explain in no fewer than 4 sections how I was avoiding bias.

  48. CookieMonster*

    Great, now I had to use the in-office chat to ask if anyone has a kid selling Girl Scout Cookies! :P

  49. Dawn*

    Please, please, please report this to your ethics line; if they’re like other ethics lines they’re run by a third-party and are completely anonymous and exist for precisely this reason.

  50. Keymaster in absentia*

    If there is a way to report this to your ethics lot and not have your name get leaked go for it. You’ve had good history with them in the past.

    It’s not ethical what he’s doing, but the saving grace is he’s very unlikely to find out it was you who reported it given it was an open post.

    (I work for a mostly government funded firm – if any of our execs did this the BBC would be all over it)

  51. Angstrom*

    Find a way to report it anonymously.

    It is not unethical for the CIO to ask *personal* friends for help. But donations from anyone in his reporting chain, or any current or potential vendors or partners, would be a clear violation of the company ethics policy. Someone should be watching.

  52. DannyG*

    Two related stories: in college my Organic Medicinal Chemistry professor would bring his daughter through the dorms selling Girl Scout cookies. She was # 1 in the state every year. During residency some years later I did an administrative rotation. The hospital CEO’s wife was chair of the local United Way that year. The CEO announced his goal (750 bed university affiliated hospital with associated clinics) was 100% participation. The department head I was working under made my job for the month to be the enforcer. I have not given to United Way since.

  53. AG*

    I agree with LW in general, but not as much with some of the bullet points… The LI post is not OK, sure, but if it lands in my notifications without me even being linked to the CIO, and the CIO doesn’t know me from Adam, where is the pressure? Maybe LW is thinking of the people that are more connected/visible to the CIO, but as it is written I thought it was a bit of a stretch.
    Also, that’s not smishing. That is SO not smishing (Was there even an SMS involved?). However, that bullet point is still a very good point! It’s not related to the real problem, but having genuine calls for favors like this makes any actual scams more believable if they do happen. So, bad practice (besides the original problem).

  54. She of Many Hats*

    Definitely want a follow-up on this one! The potential fall out could make for an excellent text book example for those security training videos.

  55. SaraMan34*

    LW: I had this exact same situation at a former org about 6 years ago. In this case, the exec was asking for donations for their daughter to travel to Nepal and “volunteer” in an orphanage. My coworker was outraged and complained to HR, who agreed with her and said they would handle it. The exec was offended and blew up at HR for suggesting that HIS PRECIOUS DAUGHTER wasn’t saving the world with a tourist trip to Nepal. Not only did he not remove the post, he sent an angry email to the entire staff berating “whoever complained about this”, because HR wouldn’t tell him.

    A couple of months later, the HR person left, and were replaced with a much more junior, less serious person who would just do whatever this exec said. That was that. I would really encourage you to be careful how you approach this – take Alison’s advice to only mention the conflict issue, and do so in the spirit of, “I wanted to make sure the company was aware”, and then do not do anything else. If this exec is tone-deaf enough to think this message is OK, they will NOT respond well to criticism, and the fact that so many people who know them already liked and shared it…stay out of it.

    1. john*

      This is a complicated issue but I don’t agree it’s entirely equivalent to the original question. The voluntourism thing is a sad but maybe a necessary tool NGOs use. The fact is that volunteer work that untrained volunteers can provide in the third world are minimal, and the ‘volunteer’ fees are what actually help the organization. When I was looking for volunteering opportunities in S America I sifted through everything and found an org that looked genuine because they only charged $100 per week to pay for board (others charged thousands). I paid for it myself as a college kid and did the conservation work, which was hard manual work. But I after arriving I realized even this $100 was still clearly the biggest contribution I was making. And by the way, volunteering at an orphanage is serious work usually and not exactly fun most of the time, at least according to some people I talked to who did that. And the fee covers at least some real donation to an NGO to do good, so I don’t think this is the same as the ‘pay my kid to graduate’ category, more like activism for the NGO which I think is more ethically defensible. It’s still poor taste to solicit funds from employees, not arguing with that.

  56. Small mind*

    I think there needs to be a re-evaluation to what is happening here. A crowdfunder is not a donation. It’s usually a business initiative where backers receive goods in exchange for their payment (think of it as a purchase). Remove the idea of ‘donation’. Also, to me, I see Linkedin as more of a social network/channel (even if it is geared towards professional lives) than someone requesting funds at work. There are privacy laws around crowdfunders – the CIO shouldn’t have any access to the crowdfunder/kickstarter data and on those sites, no one’s names appear publicly. It would be illegal for the daughter to share backer names.

    I can’t help but disagree with the LW and AAM on this one. I think the LW has their knickers in a bit of a twist over this and wants something to be annoyed about.

  57. NY Sceptic*

    Me, I be very tempted to write this up anonymously and send it snail mail to a local newspaper and the head of whatever board regulates the industry and let the chips fall where they may. What they are doing is wrong and to not call it out perpetuates and condones the behavior. Just be untraceable!
    And certainly not contribute.

  58. Anon for this*

    The girl scout cookie reference is funny, because as far as my office is concerned, girl scout cookies are the best, and we’re quite happy to buy our yearly cookie fix from anyone’s daughter. It doesn’t matter whose kid it is, as long as they 1) have the order form and 2) aren’t so scatterbrained they forget to bring their kid to deliver the cookies for months (I’m fairly certain I won favor points with HR for driving to this offender’s house to retrieve said cookies and bringing it in to them one year)

  59. Electric sheep*

    LW, my office has a strict COI policy too (eg if you win a random door prize at a conference you cannot keep it, all gifts have to be declared, etc) and I would also seriously side eye a situation like this.

  60. Orv*

    I actually disagree about the Girl Scout cookies. I’ve been in that situation where I knew it was my boss’s kid and I always felt obligated to buy so I’d look like a “team player.”

  61. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    He is skating the very edge of the rules his office issued
    At best he seems unaware of the bad optics and anxiety this causes to those he has power over.
    At worst, he doesn’t care

  62. kmd*

    Any chance this is your CIO’s very misguided attempt to bring light the issue of smishing, since it is less known than regular phishing campaigns? Sort of like when companies internally send you a fake phishing email, and you click through and get chastised (or worse), but instead if you cluck on his link tomake a donation, might you get a “You’ve fallen for a smishing scam!” and that’s why other bigwigs and lawyers are loving on it? It makes more sense to me for this to be coming from a cybersecurity expert, reaching out to his professional contacts, that this is more likely meant to be educational, rather than an actual plea for money for his kid.

  63. Luna*

    I’d probably just laugh this off and ignore it. It’s not my business to pay for your child’s project or anything like that, that’s the responsibility of the parent or the child themself, depending on age.

  64. eatmorepita*

    What? There is no way the company’s anti-corruption policy prohibits the CIO from ever receiving gifts. There are surely people in his LinkedIn network he can’t accept gifts from under that policy, and likely many more from whom he can.

    That said, I do agree that LinkedIn gofundme-ing by a c-level employee doesn’t look great.

    1. Anonymous For Now*

      Of course he can receive gifts from his family and friends but since when does anyone post their “wish list” on LinkedIn, which is a business networking site?

  65. Anonymous For Now*

    If I were this guy’s CEO and I found out about his little foray into personal fundraising, I’d tell him that unless he wants to be transferred to a new job with the title of CJO (Chief Janitorial Officer) he’d better delete this post haste and return any “donations” he received!

    I’d also want him to go to a refresher course on corporate ethics, one with an emphasis on how the rules apply to everyone regardless of title or position in the company.

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