Time to fight back on school fundraising?
As any parent can tell you, school fundraising is an expensive fact of life.
Public school, private school – it doesn’t matter. Budgets are tight and, from kindergarten on, families are subject to an unceasing barrage of chocolate bars, grapefruit, frozen blueberries and wrapping paper to foist on unsuspecting relatives.
But it’s time for parents and principals to wise up and fight back, says CBS Moneywatch’s Sarah Butler – and, in many cases, that means simply writing that cheque.
Her list of "bad" fundraisers to be avoided include restaurant deals that kick back 10 or 15 per cent of your bill; cookie dough or candle sales that net a few cents on the dollar; and silent auctions – particularly if you end up buying the items yourself rather than digging up donations.
In almost every instance, she maintains, the school would do better off if you simply wrote a cheque for the net amount.
Katherine Wertheim, a professional fundraiser in Ventura, California, agrees. Here's her rant.
“I want to urge more families to just drop out. Refuse to participate. Ask the schools to stop the sales of pizza dough, gift wrap, magazines, special popcorn, candy and holiday wreaths.
Tell the after-school clubs to stop making us bake cookies for the bake sales, where we spend an hour of our time and $3 on ingredients so they can sell $10 of cookies.
Stop the car washes that take eight hours and ten people, and they end up making less money than minimum wage.
Stop having the guy who comes to the school to play hip-hop music (during school instruction time!) to make the sales program seem exciting, and who tells the kids if they sell enough crap they can get the limo to take the whole class to Hometown Buffet. Just stop it."
Her ultimate solution: "Just teach the kids to ask for the money."
What do you think? Has school fundraising gotten out of hand? Are you a cheque writer or a reluctant volunteer?
By Gordon Powers, MSN Money
Posted by: Yancy | Dec 2, 2021 10:15:06 AM
this is so true i was just saying this to my wife the other day this article hit the nail on the head.our school is famous for raping every ones pocket of any extra cach seems theres somthing to dish out for every week im sick of it and so are many of the kids our school finaly raised money for a climbing wall but nobody can use it because there not certified so all the effort is sitting there plus the kids have to raise a1000$ worth to get a fancy pencil worth 20 cents so they really know how to take the fun out uf it for eneryone.
Posted by: tenacious otter | Dec 2, 2021 3:24:56 PM
Why won't schools do returnable container drives. If they'd just set up a place to drop them off at the local school, I would drop them off.
Posted by: Lou | Dec 2, 2021 7:38:52 PM
It is a hard decision...on one hand I want to just write the school a cheque. I have felt this way since the first day of jr kd my daughter showed up at home with a box of chocolate she had to sell which she could barely even carry.
But, on the other hand if I write a cheque to the school who control where the money goes and who says the school needs that much. Does the child who's parents can afford to give $200 verses the parents who can only afford $5 get more privledges.
Today as a society we feel that people owe us. We are always looking for womething for free and we seem to feel more often that we are getting riped off.
I used to give the school a cheque for $100. Marched into the principal's office the first day of school and said okay her is my donation for the school year don't send anything home with my child. It was not a lot but it was what I could afford.
Posted by: betsy | Dec 3, 2021 12:21:04 AM
You have no control over where the money from sales go, either. Who's to say that the top fund-raiser who sells the most 'whatever' doesn't get more privileges? I agree with the 'write a cheque if you can' idea. Especially when it's the same neighbours/co-workers constantly getting hit up for 'sales'. Has anyone else read 'The Chocolate War' by Robert Cormier? A YA novel about a (ficitonalized - I hope) school fundraising plan gone bad.
Posted by: Sherril | Dec 3, 2021 1:25:15 AM
Parents need to become creative and cut the middle man out in fundraising. As the president of our local schools PTA I negotiated agreements with the 4 major grocery chains to sell grocery gift cards in bulk for a discount. We deal direct with the head offices and get all the profit. Parents simply purchase there gift cards for groceries through us with either cash/checks or credit cards. They buy a $100 gift card and get $100 value for it at the store. We bought the card at a discount and have our funds immediately. The parents love this program because they have to buy groceries anyways. It costs them nothing and they do not have a house full of things they don't want. Results from this program are lucurative and worthwhile. You cannot complain when you raise $50K per year and not one parent paid a cent to do it.
Posted by: schoolsecretary | Dec 3, 2021 7:08:49 AM
I have worked at elementary schools from "rich" communities and from "poor" communities and can tell you that those children who are expected to fundraise from the poorer areas suffer twice - first, their families can't provide the luxuries on a daily basis and, second, they have no one to sell the over priced fundraising items to since all their neighbours and friends are poor too!!! It makes me so sad to see these children suffer twice - while we can't do much about their homes, we should not have the school add the pressure to fundraise (supposedly so that those without money can raise it by doing extra fundraising) knowing that there is no reasonable possibility of success. When children come from a home where there is barely enough food each day and all clothes are from charities, who do you think they know that will buy their fundraising??
Posted by: Sarah | Dec 3, 2021 1:03:47 PM
I agree that not everyone is the financial position to be doing fundraising for school. It is sad to see it come down to this on top of paying education taxes to be asked to fundraise because of cuts. There are many who can't afford to write a cheque...or purchase products for fundraising. And they have the right to a quality education iregardless. As a democratic country ALL have the right to a quality education iregardless of financial differences, that is one of the greatest things about Canada.
The bottom line is learning to say 'no' and keeping the wallet CLOSED. Being selective on what is given and for what. We are under no obligation to contribute to fundraising if it doesnot benefit our children or only a few. With education cutbacks teachers wages continue to increase and they teach less than ever before. Cutting wages in the teacher departments to equal the amount of time they do teach is what needs to be done. Paying taxes is enough for the people of Canada, some government cutback spending would also help.
Be wise, most of us are having to teach our children at home, or hire tutors to take care of the slack by teachers whose teaching time is less and holiday times increased. Our family keeps our wallets closed to ALL fundraising unless it is for somethig very much needed. Handing over a cheque a definite no no.
Posted by: bonk | Dec 4, 2021 11:24:59 AM
be wise, fundraising for schools is NOT happening because teachers are getting more holidays and teaching less. contrary to media spin.
it is happening because funds for education have been cut back. yes, yes, i know our taxes have not decreased. long before the money gets to the peons, it is dipped into by the bureaucracy. try dumping on the people we give the taxes to, not the people who get what's left.
Posted by: DJB123 | Dec 4, 2021 4:29:28 PM
I remember reading that China and Japan combined, have more "A" level students than North America has students!!! I am guessing not much time, if any, is spent on student fundraising in their school systems. Their focus is on studying, and only studying. Of course, we don't have to follow their example, but if we don't, we will be paying for our lack of competitiveness (if we aren't already) in the long run.
Posted by: cam | Dec 4, 2021 6:15:07 PM
Fundraising - we said no about 10 years ago in hockey. We were expected to sell 100 chocolate bars so the team could make $100 per player. I said no and offered to write a chq for $100 and be done with it. The comments and snipes were incredible but funny enough some parents agreed. In the end some simply wrote cheques (even though others deemed us "bad" parents). Some sold chocolates. I agree with the rant in the article, do a cost beneifet and determine if there is enough bang for the buck
Posted by: norma cleverdon | Dec 4, 2021 6:23:54 PM
I agree with you its time the schools just started to write the cheques .after all they school board gets thousands of dollars every year ,from us tax payers and some of us don't even have kids in thier school,but they expect us to buy from them. get aliife and write the cheque
Posted by: Molly | Dec 4, 2021 7:51:40 PM
I agree that we should be peddling and buying less assorted items that we don't really and that the main party benefiting from this system is probably the supplier of whatever the fundraising item is.
Although I have seen that some people are arguing that this fundraising isn't really necessary some of the things it goes to pay for really are nice, if not necessary. New uniforms for sports teams, better playgrounds, supplementation for music groups to travel and perform are not necessary to a school experience but certainly enhance it.
Sports involvement and physical activity are constantly being touted as beneficial for students physical, mental and emotional well being and the participating in the arts really provides a more rounded educational experience and can help kids that maybe don't fit in the mainstream find social and skill set niches where they can excel.
The problem, of course, is that not all parents can afford these same opportunities and if we accept, as I think we should, that all children should have access to these activities, then fundraising becomes the big equalizer.
Maybe there is room for writing a cheque with the understanding that you pay what you can and are willing to part with and that some people will pay more and others will pay less. Along with this I believe it is reasonable to expect a higher level of accountability in how money is spent, that you should be able to donate to a purpose and not necessarily for general use if that is not what you want to do.
Having said this, we have found at our school that auctions (silent, online or otherwise) have been really excellent fundraisiers. Items and services are ALWAYS donated and there is always a very specific goal for the fundraiser with volunteers staffing the event and refreshments having been donated as well. These have proven to be wildly profitable. No time comes out of regularly scheduled classes for this activity, the venue is in the school and there are no hall rental costs associated with the even because of this.
Maybe fundraising should be done in smarter ways and it should be acceptable for parents to expect a higher level of transparency in the way donated and fundraised money is spent.
Posted by: Ellen | Dec 4, 2021 11:53:29 PM
Oh mah gosh!!! I am not alone in this world!!! I was made to feel like an inadeqate parent because I refused to purchase two books of coupons for $40 each (two children in the same school) Then they brain washed all the children with expectations that the class that sells the most coupon books will get a pizza party. My children felt cheated because mom wasn't buying into the fundraising craze! For many years, the schools used revenue from casinos and bingos to supliment their programs, but our local Catholic Bishop has put a stop to the gambling fundraising as a moral issue. Perhaps he should increase HIS donations to the schools in his Diosease.
I feel that being forced by our children to spend $40 twice for a book of coupons that we would not even use 15% of AND having to sell to our neighbours and relatives...who I might add are also having to sell the same coupon books is just ridiculous!!! Thank you for making me feel in control and sane again. Bless you all!
Remember the good ole days when the schools and the churches just had garage sales and everyone donated to the cause?
Posted by: T to the Roy to the... | Dec 6, 2021 9:17:13 AM
I didn't read through all of the posts... But did anyone stop to think of the lessons of responsibility and fiscal management that needing to fund-raise teaches these kids? I was talking to a parent that had several early-teen girls out collecting bottles for their soccer team. We laughed that the amount of bottles in the truck may have been enough to pay for the gas to take the girls around. "Yeah," he said, "but the GIRLS don't realize that. They think they're out working hard to get the money they need to what they want. It's more of a lesson than if you handed them a cheque just because they asked..."
Posted by: Cliff | Dec 7, 2021 10:12:07 AM
As a non-parent, parents should stop all of this so called fund raising for schools. Do not know for what and where this monies go to but if is becoming rediculous. I have friends who state that every week there is another fund raising thing for their kids school. Beginning of the year there is mony request for school pictures, etc.
What are the schools doing with the money from tuitions and money from the pool for public schools? What is so important that these kids need all of this extra stuff at school but never use it or use it very little.
Thanks I do not have kids because I would be in the face of the teachers and principals demanding that this practice stops.
All of these fundraising should be volunteered by the kids and parents and not mandatory. The excuse, your kids education will suffer is pure bull****. Education is to teach them the laguages, math, sciences. They need this to get into university or college.
Stop these fundraising. Use money provided to provide proper education and extra nonsense that the kids will never use.
Posted by: ukhotdeals | Dec 8, 2021 4:40:17 AM
Great (helpful) article that’s very applicable to the times we live in.
Posted by: Melissa | Dec 9, 2021 9:35:20 AM
I'm Ok with some of the fundraising but they need to outline at the beginning of the school year what they plan to do in terms of activities and the associated costs. There could be a meeting with the all the parents for each class and they can identify in a priority order what activities should be chosen. Their should be an educational benefit to them. For instance, we live in Sudbury. My children have gone 4 consecutive years on class trips to Science North and Bowling. Are these repeated activities really necessary? Doing once or twice maybe but not every year. Each school decides what they feel best serves them That's why a meeting with parents can best identify new activities and how to lower the cost of them. Lastly, selling any type of food for fundraising should be outlawed.
Posted by: Clay Boggess | Jan 7, 2022 5:59:36 AM
Simply asking people for money has been tried for years. So why aren’t more schools doing it? It’s because it has limited success and hasn’t been that effective. Schools get tired of it because it and end up going back to standard fundraising because the can raise more money in less time. Although not perfect, fundraising programs like catalog sales, cookie dough, discount cards etc. provide a ‘fundraising system’ for schools that has worked for a long time. Having students actively participate in them is optional.