Jase went to a church-based preschool. There were never any fundraisers as tuition costs covered all activities. Then he went to elementary school, and the money quests began.
In the first few weeks of school, he came home with a coupon book that the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) wanted him to sell. We bought one and called it done.
But of course we weren’t done. There always seemed to be something going on – Jump Rope for Heart (American Heart Association), Pennies for Patients (Leukemia) and a Walk-a-thon (another fundraiser from the PTA).
A few years later, a change of principals created even more money donating options with a Fun-Run, McTeacher night (an event where the teachers run the local McDonalds for an evening), book fair, and a host of other food options that provided kick-backs for the school. This included Mom/Son or Daddy/Daughter dinners at a local restaurant, buying a snow cone from the Kona Ice truck after school or the food trucks they started bringing in for Family Night and Meet the Teacher events.
It now seems that there is something every month that either the school, the PTA or some other group at school wants our money. And this doesn’t even take into consideration that the Boy Scouts sell popcorn, the Girl Scouts have cookies and nuts, and a host of other extra-curricular activities raise funds with the sales of cookie dough or gift wrap.
Two years ago, I became an officer at the kids’ school PTA. We decided that to cut down the demand for money from parents that we would just hold one PTA fundraiser instead of two. We would hold a large festival in the Spring, and this would be our ONLY fundraiser to raise money for not only our programs but any gift to school we wanted to purchase.
Both years it was a success. We raised the needed money for our programs, which include bringing in science programs, theater performances and authors, but we also were able to fund a science lab and add amplification systems to all classrooms. (There systems allow the teachers to wear a microphone and allow all students to hear her/him no matter where the teacher or the students are located in the room.)
It was great. But there were those who complained about the price of the fundraiser. ($20 per person with food or $15 per person for the no-dinner option for a 4-hour event) And I do understand that the price can be prohibitive for larger families, but we offered ways for them to reduce their cost by volunteering at the event and even gave away tickets to families that were really strapped for cash (those families were chosen by the administration and remained anonymous.)
I much preferred this method of raising funds because it was fun. We had music, food, games, prizes, a silent auction, cake walk, and inflatables for a whole evening. It was billed as a community event, and it was better than having to sell something.
But then this year hit and the woman who was president of the PTA and the instigator of the festival/one fundraiser idea became in charge of fundraising. She decided that there was just too many complaints about the price of our festival, so we needed a SECOND fundraiser. She wanted us to sell chocolate.
I voiced my opinion – I don’t like selling. I don’t want my kids going door-to-door, and we don’t have a large family who is going to want to buy the chocolate. But she assured me and the rest of the school that this was an easy sell at a great $2 price point.
She envisioned every child selling at least one box of 30 chocolate bars. I warned her that not everyone would do it. She responded by saying that there would be kids selling more than one box, and that they would make up for the others who didn’t sell any.
Well, it looks like she was wrong. Instead of her high hopes of 75% participation, it has been closer to 25%. We have a lot of chocolate bars that didn’t get sold. I guess other parents agree with me that they don’t like selling. Or maybe they are just tired of raising money for the school. (Most parents don’t differentiate between a school fundraiser and a PTA fundraiser.)
I would prefer that both the school and PTA limit how much they demand additional money – shirts, photos, books, fundraisers. The list goes on and on. But I realize that I am dreaming. Fundraising is here to stay and my only option is to decide which ones I will spend my money on.