I’m constantly being asked by my co-workers to support their kid’s school, group, or sports fundraisers. I feel uncomfortable declining, so more often than not, I get roped into supporting their kids endeavors, but it’s getting out of hand!

Elaine Varelas advises on how to handle solicitations in the workplace.

Q. My colleagues at work are constantly hitting me up for their kid’s fundraisers at schools or to buy raffle tickets, cookies, candles, wrapping paper, or items I don’t need that are overpriced. I hate saying no, but it’s not sustainable to say yes to every colleague to support their kids’ extra-curricular activities or schools. Why can’t there be a no soliciting policy at work? It’s really gotten out of hand.

A. You can always politely decline when these opportunities arise, but there can and most likely should be a no soliciting policy at work. Many of us enjoy the opportunity to buy Girl Scout cookies, but coming up to the holidays, we are not eager to spend money buying candles, wrapping paper, hoagies, raffle tickets, cookie dough, chocolate bars, flowers, etc. And yet many of us have done this repeatedly for many colleagues over the years.

The amount of financial support that individuals are asked to contribute is overwhelming, and saying no can become very uncomfortable and awkward for employees who have limited financial resources and for those who would just rather not. People can chose to make their own charitable contributions in ways that work for them, and being put in an uncomfortable position at work is unacceptable. Fundraising in the workplace can also lead to disruptions during the workday and productivity may be impacted.

This is a great opportunity to go to your Human Resources department or company leadership. If there isn’t already a no-soliciting policy in place, ask if one could be created and put into effect. Workable has a great HR template for a Solicitation Company Policy that is a great starting point for organizations. Instead of a no soliciting ban, an organization might instead create guidelines related to fundraising at work. For example, solicitation is only allowed during non-work time (lunch, breaks, etc.) and non-work areas (cafeteria, break room, etc.). These policies should be communicated to employees and included in the company’s employee manual.

Recognize that there will be employees who are interested in buying Girl Scout cookies or whatever else someone's children may be selling at that point. They should feel free to let their colleagues know that they are interested in supporting their kids when they have fundraisers. There are also passive ways to let your colleagues know when your kids have a fundraiser. For example, you could put a note on an office refrigerator about a fundraiser and ask that they contact you if interested, but not to have a sign-up sheet to show who has or has not taken an initiative to support your kids' activities in whatever they're interested in. You might also have the items on your desk with a small sign about the fundraiser.

Do that until HR makes it a policy that there'll be no employee solicitation of other employees. In the meantime, it's also a great opportunity to practice saying no. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and politely let them know that you have your own kids, relatives' kids, and neighbors that you choose to support in these endeavors as well.