When my daughter first started Kindergarten I was determined to be one of those amazing parents who manages to be involved in everything and participates in everything, including the school fundraisers. The school needs funds raised? I’m your girl! My daughter and I would hit the neighborhood streets peddling everything from cookie dough to gift wrap. All of which we knew was crazy overpriced, but would rationalize it by saying “It’s for a good cause”, because what could be better than our children’s education?? Nothing, that’s what!
I managed to maintain this level of commitment and enthusiasm through Kindergarten and first grade, and then when we rolled into second grade my daughter began participating in Brownies/Girl Scouts, so that meant we were automatically involved in fundraisers there, too. That first year of being involved in more than one thing I immediately realized we have a limited pool of people to
beg from sell to, meaning if we participate in multiple fundraisers we are asking the same friends, family and neighbors to purchase items each time.
That year my daughter also began participating in dance and the studio offers a fundraiser to help offset the costs of purchasing costumes, etc. At this point is when I made a decision that we would shift our focus to participating in the fundraisers that more closely benefit us directly. The Girl Scouts funds went directly into an account for the troop to use for supplies, field trips, etc. The dance fundraiser offsets costs I would otherwise pay out of my own pocket. It seemed simple enough to me.
Apparently about this same time my daughter became old enough to understand the hype that the school put out about the fundraisers. She would come home with flyers promoting prizes she could win including really exciting things like trips to McDonald’s in a limousine with the principal. I mean, what kid doesn’t want that, right? (What??)
Over the years the prizes and the hype have only increased! This weekend my son came home excited about the school’s third fundraiser of the year–yes, third and it’s only October!–because if he sells 150 items he can win his very own XBox! That’s a long way from a Happy Meal with the principal. He was very upset that I told him we weren’t going to sell the stuff in the fundraiser this time because we just got information for the first dance team fundraiser of the year, the funds from that go directly to pay for choreography, costumes, entry fees, and workshops for my daughter. Therefore they benefit my family to a greater extent than the school fundraiser which is not even telling us where the funds are going!
About the time that my daughter was beginning to fall prey to the hype and wanting to win the prizes I also served two years as the school’s PTA President, which meant I was in charge of organizing two fundraisers for those two years. I was shocked to learn some of what the funds were actually slotted to be used for and that they actually had thousands of dollars balance in the accounts from previous years of fundraisers that had never been used! I also learned that other things that weren’t labeled as fundraisers to parents & students were actually raising money for the school and the PTA. Things like school pictures, other things they collect directly from the kids. Today my son asked for $.50 for popcorn during recess, other days he has asked for $.25 here and $1.00 there, etc.
I value my children’s education and I realize that in these lean economic times the schools are feeling the pinch, but so are we here at home and asking my children to peddle things over and over isn’t the solution. We no longer participate in any school fundraisers. I don’t want my children selling overpriced junk to neighbors and grandparents for the money to go into a slush fund account that isn’t going directly to benefit their education. I send in cash for the parties, and whenever there’s a special project. I attend the Spaghetti Dinner, and if there’s a car wash I always have a dirty car. I’m not, however, selling candles, or car deodorizers, or crazily expensive wrapping paper anymore!
Do you support your children’s school fundraisers? What are your thoughts on the subject? I’d love to hear from you!
Originally posted at Angela’s blog.