I received this question recently:
Dear The Rebbetzin's Husband,
In the shul I attend, a man who receives an aliyah (is called up to the Torah) is handed a card listing various sums of money. Via a paper clip attached to the card, he is expected to inform the gabbai of the sum he is donating to the shul, in response to his aliyah. Lest one think this is on the honour system, the shul's bookkeeping office will send a note that week, reminding him of his pledge.
Here is my question: What do you do when the gabbai calls you for an aliyah unbidden? Try to decline, and the gabbai insists – and now you are required to make a donation, for an honour you never sought.
What do you do?
Held Up in Shul
Dear Held Up,
I recognize the problem, certainly.
I believe strongly in shuls raising funds beyond dues; it's a necessity. In line with this, I understand and accept the practice of soliciting donations for aliyos; shuls need money to pay salaries, keep the lights on, and support programs. The reality of Jewish communal life is that people donate to chesed organizations and schools far more readily than they do to a shul, and so shuls need to fundraise in awkward ways.
On the other hand, it seems to me that gabbaim should recognize the problem here, and hand out cards only when the oleh (person ascending to the Torah) actually requests the aliyah, such as for a yahrtzeit.
I would recommend an off-line conversation with the gabbai, and if necessary the Rabbi and president, at a time other than the aliyah itself, to discuss the policy. I do find shul officials to be open to this sort of discussion, in general.
Best wishes for a כתיבה וחתימה טובה,
The Rebbetzin's Husband
PS You are not the only one – In one shul I visited I was once asked, last-minute, to fill in for a haftorah, and then handed a donation card for the honour of receiving maftir!