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I live in France. One of my coworkers is leaving soon and some other coworkers decided to collect money for him (in order to buy this coworker a gift).

I was wondering, is there any formal etiquette regarding when (if) someone has to give money and how much the person should give?

Note that (I believe that) the donations are mostly anonymous since only the planner knows who give money and how much.

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    Specific to france? – XtremeBaumer May 23 at 9:14
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    @XtremeBaumer I figure the etiquette might be different depending on the country. I don't mind having answers from other countries but they should clearly state that "this is an answer from country X". – Ælis May 23 at 9:15
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I've seen this from both sides - as card-signer & giver of cash; and as recipient of the card and gift. I've also worked in the OP's country and other places in western Europe, and as far as I can tell the expected behaviour is pretty similar everywhere that I have experience of. I have not heard of any companies preventing coworkers collecting money for a small gift for someone who is leaving; nor have I seen any company-mandated protocol on this. In any case, there does not appear to be any formal etiquette in the matter

As card-signer and potential giver of cash, what I have usually done is take a look at the card first and see if I know who they are. If I've no clue who they are, I'll pass the card on unsigned. If I know who they are, I'll write in the card. As for giving cash, I tend to give more to very close friends, but I'm also not embarrassed to give nothing if I don't know them that well. If I'm going to donate something, a good guide I use is to take a peek in the envelope and judge what the average donation is. Some people might have been generous, maybe others gave nothing, but €20 and 20 greetings in the card suggest about €1 is "about right" for a donation for a departing colleague.

As recipient of a card and a gift, my most recent experience was when I left my job in the Netherlands. On that occasion out of ~40 people (who I presume might have had the card passed to them), around 30 signed the card, and the gift had a value of around €30. This, kind of, confirmed in my mind that perhaps I wasn't being particularly stingy by giving €0 - €2 when I was the one doing the donating.

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Answer from germany here.

In germany there is no hard need to participate in money giving. This is entirely your decision if you want to participate or not. I personally only participate in such things, if I know the person a bit more and like them. Because why would I randomly give money to people I don't like?

Though following it to be considered: If you never or only rarely participate, don't expect anything when you leave. It is giving and getting. Though you also shouldn't expect something only because you always participated either. In my opinion, it is just a way to say thank you to the person leaving.

Also you might not have the sum of money you want to give at hand, in that case you can ask if you can participate in a few days when you have the proper amount at hand.

Overall I'd say that its entirely up to you. No matter if you participate or not, don't expect anything in return and only give money if you feel like it.

  • My experience in Germany is slightly different. We usually pass a card and collect money, but only those giving money can sign the card. Those who give money often ask what the others are giving and then give about the average. There seems to be a bit of social pressure involved, even though in principle it is completely up to the ones making the gift. It may depend on the working environment a bit. – Trilarion May 23 at 15:39
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Over here (The Netherlands), one form of general 'etiquette' advice is to follow company culture:

In het boek “Etiquette voor Dummies” wordt geadviseerd de bedrijfscultuur te laten bepalen hoeveel je geeft.

The book "Etiquette voor Dummies" advises to let company culture determine how much you give.

I don't own a Dutch copy of that book, so I'm taking the site's word for it.

This isn't a very formal form of etiquette, but it is one I personally feel very comfortable with. Whenever I'm asked to chip in for a gift, and I want to but I'm unsure how much to give, I use a direct reply like:

  • Of course, I want to/don't mind to chip in. What do people usually put in around here?
  • I'd love to! Just to be sure, what kind of amount were you thinking of?

You can even dress it up with a little small-talk, like asking if they already know what kind of gift they are planning to get.

My advice to you would be to contact the person that's in charge of planning the gift, and just state that you would like to participate, express that you're unsure about how much is customary to give according to company culture, and then give something near the average.

  • I live in the US, and can confirm DaveG's US answer matches my experience, but I have personally found this guidance to be more helpful and easier to follow. At least for this particular person who is known to be a bit awkward, I do not recall ever received any negative consequences from asking like you're suggesting. – Ed Grimm May 25 at 4:40
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In the United States, when a coworker departs or has some other major event like birth of a child, a large card and envelope are passed around that everyone can sign. If you feel like contributing, you can put money in the envelope with the card. But that tends to be private, usually someone passes the card to the desk next to theirs. So generally everyone signs, and people who know the coworker well contribute money, but no one is keeping track in any way as to "this person contributed or not".

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