Fundraisers ≠ Fun


What is it with schools and fundraisers?  I have my kids in the “free” public schools, but the reality is far from free.  It seems that each month the kids are asked to raise funds for one thing or another (and please don’t tell me how underfunded the schools/teachers are – I taught for 8 years and was quite satisfied with my salary.  I bought many things with my own money for my class/kids, not because I had to but because I wanted to thankyouverymuch).

The current plea is for gift baskets.  Each class is putting together a huge basket with a theme:  one daughter’s is “movie night”.  Okay, no biggie.  I’ll send in a box of microwave popcorn.  The other daughter’s is “gift cards”.  Now I’m torn:  do I go out and buy a  gift card to donate to this?  The baskets are then put at the school carnival (another fund raiser) to be bid on by parents to raise more funds.

Last month the kids were encouraged to sign up sponsors for the read-a-thon, to raise money for the playground.  How many times do we want to hit up friends and neighbors for contributions?  Despite the fact that we’re paying thousands in property taxes that goes directly to the schools, it is never enough.

I think what’s bothering me most about this is the sneaking suspicion that whoever is making the spending decisions with all these funds is not doing it wisely.

As an aside:  I am treasurer for a volunteer group at school.  I try to always keep foremost in my mind that we are funded by $15 memberships from parents.  With that in mind, when I need to send a letter to someone at one of the schools, I most often wait until I visit a school and put the letter into the (free) inter-school mail.  I do this to save the .42 stamp.  Now, this may seem like a small thing, but over the course of the year it adds up.  Every .42 I save the organization is more money we can put towards a scholarship or curriculum materials.

Are other school officials using this same approach?  Or, what about our government representatives?  I sure would appreciate a bit more (okay, a LOT more) frugality from our federal government.  Unfortunately, the sums at that level are so vast that I fear there’s very little detail being attended to.

Probably my least favorite fundraiser occurs in the fall.  This one was going on even when I taught 15 years ago.  The kids are taken out of class for an assembly where the salesman in charge basically holds a pep rally to get the kids excited about selling the crap high-quality gift wrap, ceramic doodads, etc. that his company is pedaling.  He shows them all the prizes they can win for selling, all the way from a lowly pencil for selling one item up to a BOOM BOX! (now I’m sure it’s a Wii or something similar) to the top seller!  The kids get so wound up, dreaming of that Wii and all the friendly neighbors who will help them earn it.

What’s your attitude on fund raisers?  Do your kids participate?

7 thoughts on “Fundraisers ≠ Fun

  1. I hate fundraisers, although I do love the Sally Foster wrapping paper. I do not like it at all that they take the kids out of the learning environment to get them pumped up about what they will get if they sell X amount of product.

    I do like the Book Fair, but I am a book person. I do not like it that they bring trinkets as well as books – not necessary and it distracts the kiddos from the books which was supposed to be the whole point.

    If I were in charge it just wouldn’t be done, guess that is why I’m not in charge.

    My son currently is doing the Diabetes Walk – a very worthy cause BUT he wants the IPOD Shuffle which he could get for $300.00 in donations. Grrrrrrr. Not happening.

    I wonder if you and I are the only ones?

  2. I, too, HATE fundraisers! If the funds are being raised for what we feel is a good cause or if it’s something that we have to contribute to, like our school’s 8th grade trip to Washington D.C. (which is another story all together!), we just write a check to the organization ourselves to avoid having our kids try to sell the overpriced whatever to our relatives and neighbors.

  3. My children are not school age yet, but each and every year I fall victim to this. Wrapping paper, candy, little candles, gifts, you name it.

    The latest one was my cousin who sent out an email pleading for donations to help build a playground for his children’s school.

    My husband and I are currently being sued (by my mother-in-law, don’t ask). Due to this he had to declare bankruptcy. Not to mention that this economy is not exactly conducive to a huge outpouring of cash to any charity drive.

    I guess I was irritated that this guy, who has a lucrative job with a defense contractor, building a stupid helicopter that is costing the taxpayer BILLIONS, who also has a house he can’t afford, who also gives a HUGE chunk of his salary and his wife’s salary to the church, is now coming to ME and asking for money? Are you kidding? Give me a break.

    If I have to choose between diapers and food for my children and a stupid playground for a bunch of kids 3000 miles away…uh sorry, no brainer.

    Sorry, I know this isn’t exactly what you were asking, it just bugged me so much! I hate being made to feel guilty if I am not willing to buy something I don’t need to boost these children’s egos, or fund something with the school that should be covered.

  4. I don’t remember having to raise one dime when I was in school AND the only thing I had to bring with me was a pencil box!! I don’t have any kids but think it’s insane. I’ve purchased school supplies to donate before and was amazed at the list of things you needed just to start the year! I can’t imagine all the extras you parents are asked to give along side our ever increasing tax dollars.

    P.S. I made Black Bean Quesadillas tonight. YUMMMMMM

  5. I left a l o n g comment here yesterday, but lost it. That seems to happen to me too often….

    A short version of what I said was that you and I could be the same person on this subject.

    I’ve homeschooled for years, but I still explain and complain about how much time and money it cost me for the ‘free’ public schools – in addition to our outrageous property tax rate that keeps increasing.

    But before we even got to the part of turning my shy elementary students into salespeople, there were the school supplies! UNBELIEVABLE!

    LIke Carol remembers, we used to show up with just what we needed.

    NOW, I am not kidding: it’s all the regular pens, glue, scissors, specific folders and notebooks, etc. , but it is also:

    (taken from a real supply list) ” 4 reams of copy paper, two large boxes of tissues, paper towels, freezer ziploc bags, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, and small ziploc bags (not snack size!), overhead markers, dry erase markers”, and so on and so on.

    I couldn’t stand it! I think I spend less homeschooling even after buying all the curriculum!

  6. I understand them but they sure do get out of hand! We have them not only for school but for the twins’ baseball/softball leagues. I “think” they all believe we are made of money, just like our children do.
    We just finished the Jump Rope for Heart and now it’s the Mathathon for St. Jude. Plus there is a pasta dinner for the PTA, raffle tickets, minor league ball game tickets, food fundraisers for little league, etc. It’s insane!!!
    I don’t have a problem giving I really don’t like how they promote it to the children and then you feel guilty if you don’t participate. Giving should come from your heart, not from guilt.
    Great topic!!

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