I *Don't Heart* Begging Fundraising

The following post comes from Dionne over at Pot Liquor. I have to say, I can really relate to her feelings. How about you?

I need to vent...

I hate school fundraisers!

A bit hypocritical, I know. I am, after all, a teacher. I guess you could say I represent the very institutions that endorse this kind of exploitation, which underpins much of public schools' enrichment programs. I realize that the budget is lean and that earnings from fundraisers directly prop-up underfunded arts programs. Parents' pocket books are perhaps a direct lifeline to most of the enrichment that takes place in public education today. Nevertheless, my scorn towards fundsponging simmers and I'm sure it will be at full boil come fundraiser's end.
My kindergartner has been in school for all of 14 days and already her school is sending home the dreaded beggar's dossiers. I oppose this kind of manipulation: fundraising that basically amounts to pimping out children to mega corporations in the name of subsidizing public school enrichment programs. But truth be told, our children are not really the ones being pimped, are they?

Let's face facts: I am the one that's really on the hoe stroll here. Since Sadia is only 4 years old, I am the one literally wading through tupperware/ portrait/ wrapping paper/ pizza stick/ calendar/ magazine/ candy sale booklets. I am the one who will put friends/ neighbors/ family members/ co-workers in the awkward position of having to dodge the sales pitch. I am the one who has to study the catalogues, do all of the accounting, reconcile each line item, promote the consumption of ridiculously overpriced products, and pound the pavement. I am the one who has to get on the phone and "remind" gracious donors who neglect to pony up. Then, I am the one who has to drag out my purse when it comes time to underwrite that big fat conciliatory check to balance lopsided calculations. And if I am the one that has to do all of the work, then what the heck is the point?

You know that circus performer who balances spinning plates on sticks, and juggles pins all while he balances on a unicycle? That's how my child's school fundraiser makes me feel.

I am frustrated by those bogus incentive schemes that lean on mother daughter relationships. Cheap, brightly-colored, plastic toys in no way justify what children across the nation are being asked to do: panhandle. How do I explain things like "overhead" and "profit margins" to a 4 year-old-- who values nickels over dollars because nickels are "shinnier"?

I can't win pitted against the guilt laiden rants that result when kids don't get to ride in the limo because they didn't meet a sales quota. I simply won't compete with the brainwashing that promotes toys like the Shake Wobbler Noise Pen, that can only be redeemed if children sell $199.99 worth of junk.

I don't mind giving money to my child's school. At the start of the year, I bought school supplies to help off set Sadia's teacher's out of pocket costs. What's great about this kind of giving is I know 100% of my money goes directly to the school, whereas with fundraisers only a fraction of the proceeds go to schools.

What about you? Where do you stand on the issue of children fundraising for schools? Are you buying in to it?


  1. I agree! It's always fun when more than one of your kids are brining home the same fundraiser. As if we need to spend $14 on a tub of cookie dough.. Walmart carries it for $5!! Even my high schooler seems upset when I say..... why dont I just donate money for your trip, if I buy the cookies, you only get 40%. Unfortunately, this is becuase of the many years of fundraiser "pep ralleys" where kids are ampped up with silly gadgets and whosie whats for being "top sellers"......... I should just bribe my kids with $100 bucks at the beginning of the school year if they promise not to participate in any fundraising!! (I think I could definetely be saving money that way)

  2. We send our son to a Christian school, so we're already paying tuition and then they send home these fundraisers for candles and cookie dough and I don't know exactly where they think we're going to come up with the cash. My son knows he's not going to participate. I am all about fundraisers that actually benefit the school AND the parents/people who pay the money. So I cheerfully volunteer at the annual garage sale, where everything pretty much is a dollar and 100% of the profits go to the school. This year we made $4000. And no guilt trips to relatives were required.

  3. YAY!!!!! Im so glad this was posted! I have been so stressed over this. We NEVER participate in fundraisers because 1.) the stuff is OVER priced and 2.) my kids are not old enough to sell the stuff themselves so it is me working my tail off to sell and deliver it all. I dont do it. And what I hate more is that our school has a party or special activity for sellers, during school hours, and the kids who dont sell have to sit out which really sucks!

    We do sell girl scout cookies(who doesnt love girl scout cookies?)

  4. HATE them. SOOOOOO much. Seriously, I have 3 kids in elementary school.. how much sh*t am I supposed to sell? I'm not doing it. I buy as much of the garbage as I can to get my kids off the hook, and that's it. Then when the neighborhood kids come around with their booklets, I just give them the evil eye.

    Unless they're selling Krispy Kremes. Little buggers get me every time.


  5. I agree completely. Luckily, so does our PTA. We just write a check at the beginning of the year and are done with it. They do still sell t-shirts & supply kits to those who want them (because people do), but they don't mark them up and try to make their budget that way.

  6. I am also a teacher and couldn't agree more because I see what it does to my students. We actually take time out of the instructional day to convene in the gymnasium so that a sales professional can show clips of the Harlem Globetrotters touting the value of magazine and gift wrap sales. Kids see shiny prizes flown around the room and are bribed in every way imaginable. They get to dress out of uniform for a whole week with 10 sales items, and every sales item gets them a chance to draw for a cash prize- prizes from a quarter to $50. One kid wrote in his journal that day- I just know I'm going to win the iPhone this year. All i have to do is sell $500 worth. Easy. I'm starting tonight. Sad. My students are 8th graders.

    From the perspective of a parent, I would much rather know what specific needs there are in my child's school and purchase items that are needed- even if that means candy or prizes that teachers can use as incentives.

    My son's school DID do a Fair trade fundraiser last year. I didn't complain about that one because at least some of the money went to developing nations and farmers.

  7. I understand the frustration with feeling like you have to sell overpriced crap. However, at my child's school, the booster club (that coordinates such dreaded fundraisers) funds all of the programs with that money. If we didn't have the fundraiser, there would be no art, computers, aides, supplies, music, or PE. Literally. They would have nothing. Yes I agree that its a little creepy with the corporate backing, but not everyone can donate money out of their own pockets. Selling stuff is a way they can contribute. Would you rather your child not recieve the benefits of the programs that are being funded?

  8. I agree - especially since I have 2 children at the same elementary school. Our PTA started giving parents an option to simply make a donation if they wanted to do so. Many do. Our PTA relies heavily on the fundraiser to pay for all field trips, enrichments, family nights, etc.


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