Charity begins at home . . . and ought to stay there most of the time

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The Wall Street Journal had a good article this week about Girl Scout cookie sales at the workplace and how much charitable solicitation (if any) should go on at work.

Before I say another word, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I am 100 percent pro-charity. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have incomes ought to be as generous as possible in supporting our communities and those who are in need. I also think it's admirable that employers want to be good corporate citizens.

I have no problem with individual co-workers helping their kids sell whatever overpriced product they have to sell to keep their schools solvent (wrapping paper, pizza dough, whatever), or with putting their kids' Girl Scout cookie order forms in the break room. I had school-age kids once myself, and I was always grateful to get some help from my co-workers so that my kids could meet their various sales quotas. Now that my kids are grown, I am happy to return the favor by purchasing from the next generation. (Plus, that school wrapping paper totally rules, man.)

What I do think employers should be careful about is other charitable or political solicitations, and especially those made by persons in authority. The reason is simple -- just because you support a given cause doesn't mean that your employees do, and because you're the boss they may feel pressure to do your bidding anyway. Here are four reasons I would be cautious about soliciting for charities at work:

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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