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Why I Refuse to Do (Most) School Fundraisers

Thursday, October 25, 2012   (0 Comments)
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Why I Refuse to Do (Most) School Fundraisers

Source:  Richard Masoner via Flickr/Creative Commons

Like Circle of Moms member Tara K., I dread seeing fundraising envelopes come home from school. Tara says she’s bothered by the competitive nature of these types of fundraisers and I couldn’t agree more.

Not only are my children being told they should go door-to-door selling things, they are also sitting in assemblies being shown what kind of perks they get if the sell enough knickknacks and tchokes. When did fundraising become a "what’s in it for me” endeavor?

I’m tired of the overpriced catalogs of items nobody really needs and I hate that I’m the one who ends up trying to sell the stuff. So much so, in fact, that I refuse to do them anymore.

It’s bad enough that these fundraising "packets" come with stipulations of what percentage of the sales actually goes to the school, but there are also warnings and – even worse – incentives.

It used to be that fundraising was an attempt to raise funds for a specific cause, one in which kids were invested, but lately it seems as though my kids don’t even know where the money goes. Apparently, they’re not the only ones.

One Circle of Moms member named Holly says the parents in her school district pay for kids to go on field trips, for after school events, and even school supplies. "Where does the fundraiser money go?" she asks. She adds that like me, she will no longer be participating in fundraisers until she can get an answer to this question.

Fundraising Should Be a Cooperative Experience

What happened to car washes, cake walks, collecting pennies or spaghetti suppers prepared and served by our children? Those are the kind of fundraisers I would get behind. As Tara says, "They also teach teamwork, cooperation and accountability in a way that doesn't line the pockets of some overpriced importer and doesn't pit one kid against another."

Not only do these types of events make fundraisers fun, they give kids a chance to be real participants by brainstorming ways to make money and they build a sense of community. After all, if we’re trying to raise money for a community of people, shouldn’t we all feel like we’re part of that community?

Fundraisers Worth Supporting

There are some great fundraising ideas that I would support and though I’m a little afraid if I enumerate them may get roped into running the next one at my child’s school, I’m willing to take the risk!

  • Talent Shows: Charge parents admission to see what they love – their children and their children’s friends taking pride in what they do well.
  • Basket Auctions: Let each classroom pick a theme for their basket and write letters to parents and local businesses asking for theme-related donations. Once the baskets are filled, they can be auctioned off to parents, either as part of a bigger auction or as a stand-alone.
  • Schoolyard Sale: Think yard sale, but in the school yard. It gives your children an opportunity to really think about what they’re willing to sacrifice to raise a little money and it’s a great way to swap toys, clothes and books out for new (to you) ones.
  • Recipe Books: As mom Jodi explains, "Parents contribute their favorite recipes, it gets collated and published, and then sold." My daughter’s school did this one year. Ten years later, I still have the book and make recipes from it almost weekly.

Okay, so maybe I wouldn’t refuse to do all fundraisers, just the ones where the parents have to do all the work for an unspecified cause so kids can earn dinky prizes. Anything else, I’m willing to consider.



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