Nancy MitchellNancy R. Mitchell is an established protocol and etiquette consultant and advisor with more than 30 years of experience in the field. Currently, she is an adjunct faculty member at George Washington University, where she developed and teaches protocol courses to Event Management Certificate Program students in the School of Business and Public Management, and at Stratford University, Falls Church, VA. She serves also as protocol and special events consultant to the Library of Congress, the world’s largest library and cultural center. For 23 years, Mitchell was Director of Special Events and Public Programs at the Library of Congress where she and her staff were responsible for planning and managing over 400 events each year. She coordinated the institution’s major special events, visits of heads of state and other foreign dignitaries, fundraising galas, conferences and meetings. As the Library’s chief protocol advisor, she served as liaison to the White House, U.S Department of State, the Congress, the Supreme Court and other government agencies, foreign embassies, academia and corporations. Mitchell owns The Etiquette Advocate, Inc., a firm providing etiquette and protocol training to corporations, universities, embassies, government agencies, non-profit organizations and individuals. She is the etiquette consultant to Engaged! magazine, has been featured on Good Morning America, Fox 5 News, WTOP Radio and National Public Radio, and is quoted on matters of etiquette and protocol by the New York Times, Washington Business Journal, and the Washington Post. She is a co-owner of the firm, Protocol Partners-Washington Center for Protocol, Inc., and is a member of the Protocol and Diplomacy International Protocol Officers Association and the Women Business Owners of Montgomery Country (MD).
Host: What methods can offices do to avoid bombarding employees with request for money?
Nancy Mitchell: Many offices have come up with some very creative ideas, so that every week there are not making the rounds with employees and collecting for this or that gift. There are some that have determined that at the beginning of the year or twice a year, let us say in January and June, they will collect either a set amount from each employee or whatever people can donate and they set that aside for a fund that will cover gifts. Those gifts can be for anniversaries of service to the company, they can be for retirements, they can be for condolence, they can be for baby, showers, weddings, whatever, flowers sent on an occasion of an illness. This really, really helps people in that, whoever controls the fund, when they immediately know something is coming up, they can send those flowers, they can choose that gift.
Other offices have used the money to once a month; celebrate the birthdays of everybody in that office. They will buy cake, they will buy bagels and coffee for a little morning get-together or something. Everybody comes in celebrates the four-five birthdays for that month and all bases are covered, the money that is in that account can also then be used for flowers for these other occasions when something needs to be sent out of the office.
So think creatively, think how you can make this work for people. It can be less work in the long run, it can be less embarrassing when people can not afford to give at a particular time during the year and it means that you can respond quickly to celebrate or to share your sympathy with someone when they have an unfortunate occurrence in their life.