The Fundraising Breakdown
Once upon a time I was very involved with the kids’ school. I volunteered to be a room mom, go on every field trip, went to PTA meetings. You name it, I was gung-ho about it.
Even and especially fundraising. I talked the hubby into buying everything from wrapping paper to kitchen gadgets.
Then I had two more kids who entered school and it all got very overwhelming. It felt like we were constantly buying something or being asked to buy. Every time I turned around there was a new fundraiser popping up and we didn’t just receive one; we received three because three kids in the same elementary school meant everything in triplicate. At first I tried to space out our fundraising purchases by only ordering one thing from each child but then we had to take the forms to our family members and that got tedious quickly. I could feel the stares of hatred and revenge resting on my back as I showed each family member the same fundraising form three times. It was then that I began to have a love hate relationship with the fundraising process.
I didn’t understand why the school just couldn’t send home one form for all three children. It was like they had conveniently forgotten that they were sending the same thing home three times. I finally got fed up and boycotted fundraising altogether; or at least the pesky forms that came home three different times (times three) every year. I was tired of seeing the disappointment on my children’s faces when they didn’t reach the threshold to get a dollar store quality prize for their fundraising efforts. I had to explain it to them that family and friends weren’t willing or often able to buy enough from each of them to fill their quota and that included mom and dad too.
Yes, at first I had guilt over it. I felt like I was letting our school down, and that it didn’t make me much of a school supporter or team player. But then I had to realize our limits and our limits did not include going broke and buy a number of things we didn’t need nor want. But then I quickly got fine with it because in the big scheme of mommy guilt, this was small potatoes.
I had to get more selective with the fundraisers we participated in and the kids had to understand that we couldn’t buy everything. It took some time but they finally understood.
Today, I inform family that we have a fundraiser and the family with children in school like ours will trade forms (just one thankyouverymuch) and we’ll look it over and choose what we might want. I also recruit box tops and the labels for education from our own home and those of family to send in to school for those fundraising drives. I also love to participate in the school’s book fair. My kids get something that I know they will enjoy and won’t lose its value in a year or two (books are often read and re-read in our house), there’s no pressure for family to buy anything and the school makes a profit on the sales. It is by far my favorite way to support our elementary school. Thankfully when our oldest moved through middle school and now into high school we discovered a number of different ways to fund-raise and support the schools.
I think that when schools send out the same fundraisers year after year they run the risk of not only exhausting their parents but they also saturate the process and because parents expect the same thing year after year it desensitizes us and reduces participation. If you want to get the attention of parents and raise money for your school or organization, it becomes necessary at some point to think outside the box and find new ways to raise money instead of playing the same tune over and over because eventually people will grow tired and stop dancing to it; at least that’s what happened in our case.
How do you feel about school fundraising? Do feel overwhelmed like I did or do you think your school could be fundraising more?