Workshop: Personal Trainer

The staff union group has requested that management pay for the Christmas party. I don't think it is appropriate use of charity funds. What is my answer?

I think this is an entirely legitimate request and one you should think carefully about. I see no reason at all why you shouldn't make a contribution - depending on what you are being asked, of course.

Obviously, if the union has in mind a reception at the Ritz furnished with Krug, then I suspect questions would be asked. If, however, it is a modest contribution that demonstrates the organisation's thanks to its staff, then surely that has to be appropriate. Indeed, it is a request I would agree to personally. I really don't think the Charity Commission will be raiding your premises to complain.

Do remember that it is often through quite simple gestures that we can show that we value the commitment staff bring to us. People in our sector don't just work for the money - how could they on the salaries we pay as compared to other sectors? We have some enormously talented people who give hugely of their time and effort, whether they be staff or volunteers.

Many could earn far better salaries by pursuing careers in the private or public sectors. Compared to other requests the union might make, I would have thought this was a relatively modest one for you to consider.

We often forget to say thank you. Christmas is one of those occasions at which we can make a positive gesture that shows the leadership of the organisation really appreciates the hard work of all who have made the organisation successful. You should certainly avoid the downside of turning this request down - being seen as a Scrooge-like figure. Surely this is a small sum given all the good it is likely to engender.

And it shouldn't be just Christmas that makes us think about what the organisation can do to show that it values hard work. This can range from flexible working arrangements to providing a cafeteria and ground coffee rather than one of those nasty large catering tins of instant. Don't just think it is only at Christmas that you can show your thanks. Do you have a summer party? Do you have occasional get-togethers with staff groups or staff away-days?

And while we are on the subject of Christmas, I presume that you will have already bought in a stock of your own Christmas cards and that you will be personally sending a card to every member of your staff?

Stephen Bubb is chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo). Send your questions to:

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