Over the weekend I got a hand addressed letter from my 7th grade niece. Within it was a request for me to support her middle school by buying a magazine from the enclosed catalog. The letter disclosed that the school would receive 40% of the sales generated through its campaign. I want to support her educational institution, but knew immediately that I would not be buying a magazine.
Days before her letter arrived I’d read Frustration with School Fundraisers on Northern Cheapskate. With Christina’s permission I am reprinting her article below and then will tell you what I decided to do for my niece’s school.
My kindergartener has been in school about 6 weeks.
In that time, we have gotten repeated solicitations for 3 different school fundraising campaigns and one for a community group.
But the one that really frustrated me was the request for my 5-year old to sell things for the annual school fundraiser. He was sent home with two glossy catalogs full of overpriced wrapping paper, cookie dough, and knickknacks and a sheet of instructions on how and when to collect the money from family and friends.
Now, before I get lots of angry comments from parent groups, let me say this: I know that our schools are grossly underfunded. I know that these fundraisers provide the means for the schools to pay for everything from cultural activities to technology to books.
And I know that there are lessons to be learned in showing a child how to sell things, collect money, and distribute the items.
But these kids are five. Let’s be real. How much of this work will the parents end up doing for this fundraiser? I’m willing to bet most of it.
And I’m not making my 5-year-old guilt my friends and family (many of whom are unemployed or underemployed) into buying overpriced stuff they don’t need (and can’t afford) so that some company can take 60 percent of the sales.
It’s not worth it.
Instead, I will be writing a check to my school – a check that they will be able to use 100 percent on anything they want. And I will continue to volunteer my time and donate other items the school needs as often as I can.
While I won’t be teaching my son sales skills (at least not yet), I will be teaching him to question where the money goes in these fundraisers, to determine what is the best way to help.
Please join me in this quest to end ridiculous school fundraisers in which we sell things no one really wants to buy for ridiculous prices and lackluster results.
Encourage your school’s parent-teacher associations to think of new ways to fundraise that don’t involve selling something.
Christina’s wise suggestion to write a check to the school where 100% of the contribution will be used to fund the school’s needs resonated with me. That is how I will respond to my niece’s request. But, I suspect she is part of a contest or will earn prizes if she sells a certain level of magazine. To that end, I plan to call the school, ask about the rewards she would earn if she generated $25 worth of profit and be sure that she will receive credit for the check I send directly to the principal.
Prior to reading Christina’s article I would not have thought to invest directly into the school, but would have purchased a magazine I didn’t want or need. Now I feel like I am making a more valuable contribution to the school fundraiser and being a better steward of my money. Thanks Christina for opening my eyes to this better idea.
Your turn: How do you handle and participate in school fundraisers?