Mike2 and Mark
I'm new to your site and appreciating your combined insights.

I work in a religious/non-profit environment. People have been discussing "entitlement" lately and I'd like your (and that of the combined forum) input. I am not referring to it in the legal sense.

What, and how much, is acceptable when it comes to "expectations" and using the company account for things. I'll elaborate, if on a trip what do I "deserve" verses what's good and acceptable practice? Is a $4 latte a business expense on my way to the office? But, I deserve it... Or, stringent office hours (is there a difference between arriving at 8:00 or 8:10...if I get the work done and/or stay after?)... I'm not trying to be's just a really general thing...

Basically, that's what I'm referring to. My gut tells me that part of this is generational...depression era colleagues will tell me one thing, Gen X colleagues will defend another.

Another part of me says it is a corrupted understanding of what truly is acceptable...result, in part, from a lack of standards and/or accountability.

Mike, Mike and Mark...can you dispell the fog for me?

noahcampbell's picture

The answer is no. Staff members do not determine how the organization should allocate their resources unless it's defined by a policy or job description. Anything else is off limits.

If employees or volunteers are using resources of the organization, then they must have been granted specific allowances. These allowances are described in a Travel and Expense, T&E, policy.

There are also discretionary funds that each manager may have at their disposable. This money must be accounted for, but not in detail. It's also expected that this money is not abused or horded to get around another purchase process.

I would say that if a staff member is rationalizing an expensive because they "deserve it," you’re creating a conflict between the organization and YOU. Your manager won't care if you or your staff felt entitled or not, it was not an acceptable use of company resources.

If it's not clear or your organization doesn't have one, create one based on your obligations to the org and communicate it to your manager and get their approval first. Then you communicate the policy to your staff. Now the staff will know what they're allowed or entitled to.

JKos's picture

Frequently issues like these are because of unclear expectations. I'd have to agree with Noah that these things need to be spelled out. I'm 38 and also work for a "religious/non-profit" group. Maybe I'm boomer/builder-esque on this one, but I don't think I'm entitled to anything much when I'm on a business trip.

If I'm given a per diem I believe I can spend that on whatever food expenses I choose. If I'm submitted expenses I would submit meal receipts, but not a coffee I drank "just because." If I were taking a special contact, prospect, mentoree, etc out for coffee I would submit that expense if I thought it really contributed to the "business."

I guess I think all this is pretty common sense, but maybe it's not that common anymore.

rthibode's picture

I work at a large non-profit where these things are mostly spelled out.

When I travel for work, I'm entitled to a certain amount for meals (unless they're provided at the conference/meeting I'm attending, in which case I'm expected to eat there). The amounts are reasonable but certainly not extravagant (e.g., it's about $10 for breakfast).

I'm also entitled to taxis to and from the conference and any work-related outings. Finally, I can make a daily call home from the hotel. Other than that, I don't charge anything.

I know that some colleagues don't feel obliged to spend the entire time attending the conference. Often they take an entire morning and/or afternoon (e.g., at a 3- or 4-day conference) to go shopping. I don't consider this acceptable and never do it.

I agree this may be partly a generational issue.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

I'm sorry this has taken me so long. I regret my absence.

[b]You are "entitled" to nothing.[/b]

I wouldn't care to comment on what you deserve, but I can tell you what is the ethical, professional and always acceptable path. This applies to all organizations, and more so to non-profits.

1. Know the rules. If there are none, that's fine - get over your anger at the org, and THANK them for trusting you.

2. Do less than the rules.

3. Keep ASSIDUOUS notes and all receipts. Prepare documentation even if not asked.

4. If you're staying at home, spend your own money.

5. If you're traveling, it's reasonable to assume that ALL costs related to you GETTING to where you are going will be reimbursed. That assumes you will be frugal. Airfare, cabs, buses, tolls, etc. Tips that are reasonable as well.

6. Reasonable lodging is included. Do NOT stay at the Ritz. Stay somewhere that offers breakfast if you can.

7. Do not expect to be reimbursed for items you lose. (there's a great Dilbert story about this).

8. I don't think the company should buy you a latte while you are travelling unless you do that for yourself while at home. Get a grande coffee in a venti cup, and fill it with cream. Suck it up.

9. Give thanks to God that your organization can do this for you.

And, I don't know how the time you get in to work has anything to do with this, but getting in every day at 8:10 seems like a small thing to you... but not to those who get in on time. If it really ISN'T that big a deal, why not be in at 8?

The whole key: An honest man's conscience is his pillow. Set the example.

Again, my apologies.