Wednesday, September 24, 2008

There is no "fun" in fundraising

I understand that there is a shortage of funding for schools and education. I understand that schools need to raise extra money - as much as possible - to help make ends meet and that they constantly have to do more with less. I understand all of this, and yet I cringe when fundraising time comes around, no matter how worthy the cause. I'm not new to the world of school fundraisers; the preschool Kiddo attended last year had several. Well, we now have the first fundraiser for her elementary school sitting downstairs on the kitchen table.

It isn't that I object to fundraisers in general, but I do strenuously dislike the "catalog" fundraisers, like the one presently buried under a pile of coupon inserts I have yet to sort through and clip. My problem is that these are little kids, these supposed salespeople. Kids who really don't have the wherewithal to sell things via a catalog to their nearest and dearest, much less to strangers in the neighborhood. So, to whom does it fall to hit up friends-n-relations to buy overpriced, teensy rolls of wrapping paper or ridiculously expensive, tiny boxes of chocolate? To the parents. Of course.

Now, I did my share of fundraising when I was a kid. I didn't rely solely upon my dad taking the order form into work and passing it around, either (though he did sell more than any other parent and even won an award for that one year at his office, hee hee).
I went door-to-door with Girl Scout Cookies and that ridiculous 4-H Goat's Milk Fudge sale (which I thought I'd blogged about, but I can't find in my archives - I'll have to tell you that story another time). I'd even dress my little sister up in my old Brownie uniform (complete with adorable pigtails done by my mom under the beanie) and take her with me. She was shy as heck and didn't say a word beyond maybe a mumbled "hello" but I only needed her for the cuteness factor. She was the "awwww, look how cute" and I was the huckster, pushing the cookies on the folks with my charm and persistence. But still, I wasn't five. I was maybe seven or eight by the time I started my fundraising days. You know, the Girl Scouts get it - they don't allow the girls Kiddo's age (who are now "Daisies" which didn't exist back in my Scouting days) to even sell cookies yet. Not so much for the schools, though.

I hate asking people for money. I hate having them feel obligated to buy something that they don't particularly want just to support Kiddo. Not to mention there's always a glut of fundraisers at any one time - you can't chitchat over a cup of lemonade at church on any given Sunday without being hit up to buy cases of fruit or magazine subscriptions or ginormous tins of popcorn. And nine times out of ten, it's the parent who is waving the form, not the student in question.

Part of me feels like "Okay, I have bought stuff from YOUR kid(s) for years, now it's payback time." That's the part that doesn't mind pushing the catalog on someone else. (I'll even admit there were times when I supported some kid's band trip fundraiser or Scouting troop or what-have-you with the precise thought in my mind that one day, it would be Kiddo's turn.) But the other part of me still cringes. Blech. I wish I could feel firmly enough in my convictions - catalog sales by kindergartners are ridiculous and wrong! - to just not do the dang fundraiser. I learned from helping out with fundraising at Kiddo's preschool last year that plenty of parents just ignore such things entirely and don't think twice, but I just can't do it. I can't NOT help. (This would be why I joined the PTA and am already chairing a special event for Halloween next month...) Last year when the dreaded catalog fundraiser came home, I took a picture of Kiddo holding the catalog and sent a low-pressure email out to our family and friends (oh yeah, that's another problem - most of the folks that we would hit up for such things live out of state) and a few folks did order some stuff via the catalog's website, for which I was profoundly grateful. (A word of warning - I'll probably do that again this year...) I'm pretty sure that Hubby's company has a rule against bringing in the forms and leaving them in the break room or passing them around, which I can appreciate as someone who felt obliged to buy stuff from each sheet handed to me by a coworker myself, though now that I'm on the selling instead of the buying end of things, I wish his company allowed it just for the ease of effort that would entail.

According to the PTA ladies who chose this fundraiser, this catalog - Kathryn Beich - is really fantastic. The stuff is really high quality - made by the same manufacturers who make things for Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel and LL Bean, supposedly.
The PTA ladies positively raved about how delicious the humongous tubs of gourmet cookie dough are, in particular. The prices, well, they're what you'd expect for a catalog of this sort, and yes, along with the cool, funky things there are those dang rolls of giftwrap and boxes of chocolate. They have an online ordering site, too. So, if anyone out there in the blogosphere has a hankering for tubs of gourmet cookie dough, wrapping paper, candy or any other fundraiser type item, give me a shout and I'll happily supply you with the link and code to order things on behalf of Kiddo's school. Of course, you probably are dealing with your own fundraisers yourself, aren't you?

Ah well, at least this is the only catalog fundraiser on this year's schedule for our school. Whew!


Carrie said...

Preschoolers and Kindergarteners?? Seriously?? Yet another reason to think about homeschooling. " )

Ummmm, goat's milk fudge. All I have to say about that is ewww. You need to post that story!

When the honk did you start tweeting?? I'm so following you!

momto1 said...

I have seen your smiling face every morning on SITS( you can't see mine though, which I realize is unfair--I'll be posting a pic soon) ...and you crack me up with your comments! Just today, however, I have decided to stop on over and visit. My little one isn't napping, but should be, and I SHOULD go check to see what he is doing, but I wanted to say hi. You remind me of someone I know IRL...and pretty much take the words right out of my head! Have a great Wednesday and I'll be checking by to read-all-about you when Stink is fast asleep!

Hot Tub Lizzy said...

You know what I do? When those things come home, I contact the grandparents and tell them, they send checks made out TO the PTA for the amount they WOULD have spent from the catalog, and then the PTA gets ALL of it, not whatever percentage, and the grandparents don't have to deal with more crap.

~Trish~ said...

Ugh I know, I just got hit up by my 7th grader for magazine subscriptions. At least those last for alittle while longer than candy :)

suzi said...

I totally agree with you. My daughter (in kindergarten) brought home this enormous catalog of cr#p for us to try and sell. Really? She was so excited about having to go out and try to sell this stuff. Her dad and I were just mortified. Our whole neighborhood attends the same elementary school--so that means they will ALL be selling the same stuff. Ugh. I'd almost prefer they be blunt and tell us to hand over a check for $50 and we'll call it a day.

~Trish~ said...

pssst...check out my 4 things post :)