School fundraising: I’m embarrassed to ask friends for money

Our school’s one and only fundraiser is this Thursday and while I want to support our school, I am embarrassed to hit up our neighbors, friends and relatives for money in such a terrible economy.

I know the school needs extra funds because the money from the state and the county is tight, however, I hate to ask anyone for money with so many people losing jobs and taking pay cuts.

Our school is doing the Boosterthon Fun Run again this year. The kids ask for pledges and then run laps. They are paid per lap or a flat fee. My mother has learned to take the flat fee. You never know how many laps these kids will do. The contributors don’t get anything in return other than a tax deduction.

I feel so uncomfortable about asking neighbors and friends for money that I’ve only allowed the kids to ask my parents, Michael’s Dad and us for donations.

The other catch to this is the school doesn’t get all of that money. The company that puts on the Boosterthon takes a cut too. So you could write a check straight to the school and they would get to keep more of that money but then your kid wouldn’t take home the valuable prizes for getting donors – like wrist bands and iPods Shuffle for the high achievers. Poor Walsh! He’s all about the prizes.

Walsh would have happily circled the block and probably convinced some neighbors to donate, but I would be embarrassed to stand there while he asked.

I kind of minded asking for donations in the past but not this much. The depth of this embarrassment stems from the bad economy.

What do you think: Is your school in need of more donations this year than in other years? Are you willing to ask co-workers, neighbors or friends? Are you embarrassed to ask knowing so many people have lost jobs and taken pay cuts? Should I let my kids solicit the neighbors? (We could still go out and ask if you guys think I’m being overly sensitive on this.)

72 comments Add your comment

lakerat

September 2nd, 2009
7:23 am

Then don’t ask the neighbors – with those you list that you will ask (family members) Walsh will still get some positive prize, and you will feel better about yourself.

I agree that it is difficult to ask neighbors for donations, not just in this economy but always! Back when my kids were in school we would always just make a contribution to the fundraiser and not make the kids bother the neighbors (fortunately we were able to fund these without a hit to our bottomline – since you seem to be in the same situation, just go on and do what you have planned, and don’t feel obligated). There are many “born salesmen” parents still out there, and they can take up that mantle. I hate it when my co-workers hit me up for stuff, too, but that is part of life and you just have to get used to it for the next 16 years (until your baby is out of HS)!

JJ

September 2nd, 2009
7:34 am

I would support a run like this, where the kids are outside, getting exercise, rather than selling wrapping paper. I’ll happily donate to a fundraiser that gets kids off their butts.

motherjanegoose

September 2nd, 2009
7:42 am

I am with JJ ( glad she joined us today as I was wondering where she was) the exercise will be good.
I HATE the wrapping paper, cookie cough, candy and candle fundraisers. I just write a donation check for my daughter and she visits those whom we have purchased from…kind of a reciprocal arrangement.

Is it just me or would anyone else prefer to buy a fresh pie from Costco or Sam’s Cub for less than $10 than a frozen one from school for $18. I would rather just donate than eat something I do not enjoy,,out of obligation.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 2nd, 2009
8:00 am

Lakerat — this particular year I hate to ask friends and relatives too because many have contributed to my brother’s medical fund for his heart transplant. Also with school mom friends you just end up swapping checks — and my kids run slower than most so I end up paying out more than the other parents.

JJ

September 2nd, 2009
8:04 am

MJG – I haven’t been interested in the topics lately and haven’t had any comments to post (no offense to Theresa!!!!)….but I have been lurking…..

Kathy

September 2nd, 2009
8:19 am

I like the idea of a fitness fundraiser. I hate the wrapping paper and magazines, but I always look forward to the month of September when the Boy Scout in our neighborhood comes to the door with the popcorn form!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE that popcorn!!!

Photius

September 2nd, 2009
8:22 am

I can’t stand it when the parent asks for money – especially the boss at work. Somehow over the last 30 years the shift has been transfered away from the child doing the fund raising towards mom/dad doing shake downs on everyone she knows. What I love is when the child bangs on my door or calls me up, very impressive and it takes guts! If any kids asks me directly, I give no matter what – and I usually give more!

AATL

September 2nd, 2009
8:28 am

We’re doing Sally Foster again this year, and I just bring it to work and leave it out for anyone who is interested. So, no hard sells, and we don’t sell a ton, but I think it’s one of those things that some people look for, like Girl Scout cookies. I used to order before I had kids from other people because I liked the products, and I think people do mostly the same thing.

JJ

September 2nd, 2009
8:29 am

I agree with Photius, and we are not allowed to bring fundraiser stuff to our office. If you buy from one parent, you have to buy from them all. So we just don’t allow that here.

And I love the Boy Scouts Popcorn too.

Me too

September 2nd, 2009
8:29 am

Would it help to know how the money will be spent? This Boosterthon business bugged me too until I saw the budget and realized how much of it spent in the classroom and on teacher support. Teachers didn’t get their much needed “Sonny money” this year and there are cuts everywhere. The PTA has been able to replace the cuts, thank goodness.

Also, the parents at our elementary school HATED (there was a survey) the wrapping paper sales. No one was sorry to see it go.

Prayshia

September 2nd, 2009
8:36 am

I honestly have not felt comfortable with asking anyone for money. My son plays basketball, football, and baseball and for football we had to do a bucket drop. I am from Alabama and have never seen this done, but kids on the streets ask for money. When I grew up we sold candy and had car washes. Well, I don’t let my son participate in the bucket drop or solicit funds from neighbors and so forth. Even more so because we are all in these hard times. I forgo eating out and passing on shoes so I can just donate myself to the school or his particular sport.

motherjanegoose

September 2nd, 2009
8:40 am

HAHA…I do not like the Boy Scouts popcorn but I love the magazines…different strokes for different folks.

I also will buy just about ANY fundraiser that has coupons to restaurants in our area…bring ‘em on!
This helps the local economy as the money is spent right here.

@Me too….what about those whose doors the kids are knocking on…they may not have gotten a paycheck in weeks? I adore teachers and will help whenever I can but things are different now.

RJ

September 2nd, 2009
8:40 am

About 2 years ago I just decided to stop doing fundraisers. I was asking for money for two different kids at different schools. It got to be too much. So, I just give a $100 donation and am done with it.

RJ

September 2nd, 2009
8:43 am

Prayshia, I do not give money to kids on the street. It’s one of my pet peeves. Why do parents risk their children’s safety for a couple of bucks? My son plays sports as well, but I when someone suggests that as a way to get money I let them know how I feel. I will purchase something from a legitimate group that has a table at Wal-Mart.

Andrea

September 2nd, 2009
8:45 am

I am the fundraising guru! We always try to think of different ways to raise money for our schools. We don’t do the wrapping paper fundraisers and we don’t do the candy fundraisers either. The only thing that makes it successful for us are the parents that really get out and get behind these fundraisers. We only do 3 per year. One at the beginning of school, one in December and one in the spring. All of our other funds come from our corporate partners. Even in the lean economy, our corporate sponsors are still willing to donate.

It absolutely helps that the parents know where every penny is spent. I think the transparency has given us credibility and the parents were more willing to help out.

My son is not a salesman so we always have to directly contribute his part but my daughter is a natural and she gets out there and asks for the sale. Most people will give to her just because she asked them directly. So, I agree with Photius on that point.

BShepCarlin

September 2nd, 2009
8:54 am

Great topic today! We have just entered the fundraising era has my oldest started kindergarten this year. I am not having him go door to door selling the Sally Foster junk. I don’t want to have our neighbors feel like they must buy from him. I am not turning my kid into a pimp for the school.

What is so frustrating to me about stuff like this is that all the n’hood kids go to the same school…so they are all selling the same stuff to the same people. Makes no sense to me. We are going to make a monetary donation directly to the school foundation, that way I know exactly where the money has gone.

Prayshia

September 2nd, 2009
8:56 am

@BShepCarlin. I am dying at your “I am not turning my kid into a pimp for the school.” That is too funny!

Prayshia

September 2nd, 2009
8:57 am

@BshepCarlin: I am dying laughing at your “I am not turning my kid into a pimp for the school.” That is too funny!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 2nd, 2009
8:58 am

Our school did send out a letter from the principal telling exactly where the money would be spent. She was very specific about what they want to buy with it. They do split the money between the school and PTA after the company takes its cut.

New Step Mom

September 2nd, 2009
9:01 am

Our school does wreaths and garland for Christmas. It is really nice stuff, but the parents do more than the kids. I like the “exercise” fundraising ideas. We sold wrapping paper for church youth group and my mom and I always loved that, but I am the only one I know that still actually wraps all of the Christmas gifts we give (no gift bags at our house-yes I am a little OCD).

My dad was the most senior person in his office for the last 6 years I was at home. He would not take any fundraising materials to work, for obvious reasons. So my brother and I actually had to do the work ourselves. Now when I get hit up at work by anyone, I really appreciate that my dad did not put that pressure on folks. Now days, I will ask my mom and dad to buy girls scout cookies but that is about the only outreach we do because of the economic times.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 2nd, 2009
9:03 am

I don’t mind selling Girl scout Cookies because the neighbors really want those — They always say we were wondering when you were going to come — we have several buy like 20 boxes last year!!

Becky

September 2nd, 2009
9:07 am

My coworkers will bring the fundraiser stuff in and if you want to buy, thats fine, if not, thats fine also..If and when I do buy, I tell them right up front that I will buy the cheapest thing in there..Then I usually give it as a stocking stuffer..

Like MJG, I never buy the wrapping paper & other stuff like that..I have a coworker that always wants to sell a case of soft drinks for $18.00..No way in hades..I don’t drink soft drinks that much and even if I did, that is way to much even if it is for school..

Prayshia

September 2nd, 2009
9:11 am

I don’t know what it is about those girl scout cookies. Once I start getting the feeling it’s that time of the year, I’m always on the hunt for someone selling girl scout cookies. I believe that is about the only thing you can sell to me at work ;-)

New Step Mom

September 2nd, 2009
9:11 am

I do not mind selling the Girl Scout Cookies either, but folks have to ask me about them, I do not openly solicit sales at work. If people know I have a step daughter that is in girl scouts and they come to me, then I will sell. I guess maybe I am weird that way.

Raqi

September 2nd, 2009
9:11 am

Theresa I was so glad when my boys got to the age that they didn’t want to participate in the school fund raisers because I never liked asking people for money like that. And like you stated it usually just got to a point where checks were being swapped. At that point I stopped asking people and just starting writing a check myself to donate or I bought whatever was being sold to help my kids get the prizes and just gave the stuff away.

Raqi

September 2nd, 2009
9:13 am

Another thing I hate is when I would help out 3 or 4 parents in the office with their kid’s school fundraisers but could not get the same participation with mine.

Patrick

September 2nd, 2009
9:14 am

I’d much more support a fundraiser like that one than one selling candy or wrapping paper, both of which you can purchase at a very large fraction of what it would cost if ordered from your kid or the neighbor’s kid at any mass merchandise retailer.

At work there’s already a couple of lists for fundraisers. One woman put out two lists selling the same product for both of her kids, as they are both in the band. Another co-worker put out the list and catalog featuring the wrapping paper samples, candy, dry mixes, and other stuff. I have no intentions of buying any of that stuff, no matter how good it looks.

When I was a kid I did a few fundraisers. I remember having to do the wrapping paper one, but I never got “wrapped up” in that one. I remember in 6th grade we had to sell World’s Finest Chocolate candy bars. I can still remember sitting in the school’s theater, listening to the spiel they presented to us, showing off all the prizes we could win (trot out the bike, but you end up with the stickyball) if we sold the candy bars. I think I would have sold more if we had been given a variety to sell, not just milk chocolate with almonds. Not everyone likes almonds. I probably would have ended up with the bike. My mom took half the case to work, while I tried to sell the other half. I ended up selling only one case, so I got a twisty straw, stickyball (throw it up against the wall, watch it leave a grease mark, and it will ooze down the wall), and some other cheap prize. I think the most anyone got in my class was a duffel bag that probably only lasted a month.

Raqi

September 2nd, 2009
9:15 am

New Step Mom girl scout cookies are never a problem. I like them, my husband and son loves them. If no one in the office is selling them I usually can find them being sold outside of the Walmart that I frequent.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 2nd, 2009
9:17 am

I did $2 a lap for each kid which will probably end up being $60 a kid or $120 total from mom and dad!!! they got a $20 flat fee from my mom and .50 a lap from m’s dad so about $15 more — so $95 for each kid — I’m done!!

FCM

September 2nd, 2009
9:19 am

We had ours last week. Both sets of Grands, both parents, one close friend….that’s it. That’s all we ask.

Yes the booster people (and PTA) psych the kids up….My kids were just excited to say they ran ‘x’ number of laps.

Becky

September 2nd, 2009
9:19 am

I’ll never forget when I was in the fifth grade (long, long time ago), we were selling little fragrance packages..Well, my older sister (went with me door to door) told me when someone answered the door to ask for the lady of the house..She didn’t tell me what to do when I was told that there was no lady of the house..Turned out ok, because the guy bought some for his mother an d apologized for making me turn bright red..

Lady Strange

September 2nd, 2009
9:24 am

I will buy Girl Scout cookies but that is all. I don’t remember having all these fundraiser things when I was in school. I don’t plan on my son participating in these things when he goes to school. I think a donation made directly to the school is the best idea.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 2nd, 2009
9:46 am

A friend left this on my facebook page:
At curriculum night at one of our schools, they handed out the “I hate Sally Foster” contribution form. It was a good idea, and I will gladly write a check directly to the school. In fact, I’ve been doing that for years–the Sally Foster packet goes directly from my kid’s backpack to the recycling bin.

Also she says they use the Friends of XXX School and parents just make straight donations.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 2nd, 2009
9:50 am

Hey Guys — this is of interest to you from Jamie’s blog about stuff to do in and around Atlanta — the Decatur Book Festival is seeking Stylish Moms for a Fashion Show — here is the link!!

http://blogs.ajc.com/inside-access/2009/09/01/decatur-book-festival-seeks-stylish-moms-for-fashion-show/?cxntfid=blogs_inside_access

YUKI

September 2nd, 2009
9:55 am

My son is not there yet, but it won’t be long I’m sure before I will be trying to sell this junk for him. I don’t mind if somebody puts out something at work, the no pressure approach like if you want to buy it, here it is. We have bought the coupon books from a few kids in our neighborhood and actually end up using some of them to eat out, etc. I’d rather buy things I might actually use than some junk from that Sally Foster stuff.

And i remember selling the world’s finest chocolate bars as well, those were yummy! I probably ate more than I sold!

new mom

September 2nd, 2009
9:59 am

I think I’ll be more inclined to make straight donations to a school, and find out what our teachers, librarians, etc. need and buy it for them as we can. When I taught, I always appreciated the random case of copy paper or new pack of dry erase markers from thoughtful parents and I plan to keep that going. ;) We have had years of being harrassed for sales by family, one aunt in particular, who was always so anxious to get our money, just so my husband’s spoiled cousin could ride in a limo (insert eye roll) but she she would take forever to get our junky order to us. I just don’t want to be that person!

I have worked places that allow employees to solicit sales for their kids, and the best way I’ve seen this handled is by creating a page on a company intranet for sales, like a classified section. That way, if you’re interested in buying (say GS cookies, etc) you can check that page and see what’s for sale.

Theresa, I saw that blog this morning and laughed at the idea of me waddling down some fashion show runway! ;) But it is a cute idea to promote a book like that.

deidre_NC

September 2nd, 2009
10:18 am

im with jj…i will always fund any outside activity–at my kids school here in the mountains..a REALLY small school…here are the fundraisers we had
1) 4H always had a bike-a-thon…people pledged so much money (their choice) per bicycle lap)
2) the school had a harvest sale…people and stores in the community donate items, anything from home canned goodies to furniture to a load of gravel–gift certificates-all kinds of stuff that the kids would go get–that money goes to various school activities-
3) school always has a spring fling-again…donations from businesses tht are raffled off plus each classroom has games like a fair type thing…they have a jail where people get locked up and they have to get so much $ in donations to get out…a game where you throw mashed potatoes at someone and pay for each mash potato lump lol..stuff like that…
4) they used to sell item from some catalog…cant remember the name of it…that was ok but not the biggest seller..

every fund raiser i mentioned above was great fun…people even not from this school come to these events…and lots of money is always made and 100% of it goes to the different school functions that are the purpose of these events—the only fund raiser that any part of the money goes to someoen else is when they have donkey basketball…parents and students ride the donkeys and play basketball..its hilarious…

i usually just donated money unless it was for a raffle of some item i would like to buy…but the way ti worked…if i donated or bought 100$ worth of raffle tickets…my child got that money to put to where he/she was needing the money for…school end of year trip–prom..classroom stuff..whatever..so each child and classroom had a bank and the ones who didnt participate didnt get as much as the ones who did…the kids could also earn points/money for helping with with events so ones who didnt have much money or people to sell to still could earn there money…win win for all…and as i said these events are so much fun you cant believe it…

Ok, you waddlers, Theresa said...

September 2nd, 2009
10:23 am

…”the Decatur Book Festival is seeking STYLISH Moms for a Fashion Show” – no waddlers allowed! And, the best I can tell from what you folks write, there seems to be only about 3 of you who can qualify as stylish.

pd

September 2nd, 2009
10:27 am

When I was a kid, I used to go door to door soliciting donations adn selling whatever the school had me peddling. I always wanted to win the bicycle. I never did cause some other kid would get his wealthy family to donate more than I could collect. Oh well. It was a life lesson for me.

My son’s school wants him to sell wrapping paper. He is only 6 and I am not having him go door to door. I also will not sell it for him. When he gets a couple of years older, he can participate.

Prayshia

September 2nd, 2009
10:31 am

Now…I am definitely sending an email to participate! I love the idea of this! Stylish moms for a Fashion Show. Simply cute.

JJ

September 2nd, 2009
10:41 am

When my child was in elementary school, we lived in a neighborhood FULL of kids. When the Sally Foster packets came home, we all waited to see who would be out the door the fasted, and who could get the most neighbors to buy. It was a fierce competition, but it was all in fun. It was a small neighborhood, and we all knew each other, and everyone had kids!!!!!

I don’t remember having to do fundraising when I was in school, back in the 60’s and 70’s. I don’t think schools were hurting as much financially back then.

Once my child go out of Elementary school, we stopped participating in the fund raisers.

Valstake

September 2nd, 2009
11:12 am

I can’t remember any school fundraisers and I attended schools in NY, FL and CT. I think schools did not have all the “bells and whistles” that they have now; that’s where so much of public education funds are allocated, in addition to pensions and health care for school employees. This is just my opinion.

wow

September 2nd, 2009
11:13 am

A man slapped a two year old for yelling in WalMart!!! As much as people’s screaming kids get on my nerves, I could never touch someone else’s child and if I did I would expect to be knocked out by the mother.

BelieveJay

September 2nd, 2009
11:34 am

It’s really sad to hear all these comments. Getting parents to write those contribution checks is an uphill battle where everyone says they would be willing to participate and then conveniently never get around to writing the checks.

That is why the product fundraisers you all hate so much work so well – they encourage people to contribute on the spot and extend beyond just the contributions of the parents. They also encourage and incentivise parents and students and in many cases teachers.

The gross profits with these fundraisers far exceed anything else schools are doing presently. If there is any competition for these types of sales, it’s events that require a ton of volunteer hours or community involvement and that is often hard to organize.

There is no question people are quick to dismiss the product fundraisers but there are no alternatives that raise those funds without the volunteers and donations required of auctions and other events.

For those of you that trash the packets the minute they arrive – you are not only creating a need for more and more fundraisers to take place at your school but also undermine the fundraising companies ability to bring you quality products at lower prices.

You all see in the news how critical the cuts are this year. Please do your part in whatever way you can. Tell government to stop the cuts, purchase a fundraising product or donate time at your school. This really is the year to put little issues aside and support the kids – it’s not about the products or prices or how you support the school but rather that you do.

DB

September 2nd, 2009
11:36 am

It’s one of those things where if you feel comfortable doing it — do it. If you don’t — don’t. I’m with MJG – most seemed to enjoy just a direct donation instead of an order! My daughter loved selling Girl Scout cookies (even though we are in a neighborhood brimming with Girl Scouts!) I contributed to the school in many other volunteer capacities, so I didn’t waste time feeling guilty if I wasn’t in a position to throw any more money at ‘em than I already had.

Actually, the fundraiser that our high school kids enjoyed the most was the “Man Cakes” at Valentine’s, for one of the school organizations. The deal was that the guys made a cake, and it was auctioned by the girls bidding on the cakes. The cake sales ended up raising up to $2,000, and there were some of the most interesting cakes you’ve ever seen — and some surprisingly good ones. The rule was that the cake had to be made entirely by the guy :-)

Becky

September 2nd, 2009
11:36 am

wow, what I would like to know is how the man got close enough to the kid to slap it.. I agree that screaming kids can get on your nerves, but if that had of been my child, he would of never have been able to get that close..And you are right, if he had of, I would of decked him big time..

JJ

September 2nd, 2009
12:12 pm

Oh yea, lay a hand on my kid, and you deal with me.

And you don’t slap a two year old. That’s just crazy….

Ann

September 2nd, 2009
12:33 pm

I’m new to the school system here so excuse what might be an ignorant question, but exactly how are the funds raised with these fundraisers used?

Jane Pennells

September 2nd, 2009
12:53 pm

School fundraisers are tricky – here’s a way to raise money for any school in the US: I own an e-commerce website, selling home accessories, gifts, jewelry, kitchenwares etc. I started the business in order to provide customers a way to give back to organizations that mean the most to them – we do this by giving back 10% of the purchase value to our customers in the form of a GoodCard – which is a gift card for charity. This gift card is used at NetworkForGood dot org and can be donated to any registered non-profit in the usa. Most schools and PTA’s are registered 501c3. I am currently working with a local school to host a holiday market fundraiser, but the same can be done by shopping online at the site. Customers get to purchase the things they want to buy anyway and providing they spend $100 or more, we give back 10%. It’s a win-win! The website is LavishGiving (dot) com We are also doing a special fundraiser on line in October for Breast Cancer Awareness month – we’ll be matching our customers donations. Sorry if this comes across as a solicitation. I guess it is, but your readers might be interested in knowing about this way of raising money effortlessly for their schools.

Lefty

September 2nd, 2009
12:58 pm

The Boosterthon is coming to my kid’s school this year and I’m not participating. I plan on writing a check directly to the PTA. It’s my understanding that the Boosterthon folks visit each class with a cart of goodies that the kids can earn when they bring in more pledges. Interrupting class time with trinkets and trash that only kids from well-to-do homes have any hope of getting isn’t right.

I’m suffering from school fundraising fatigue myself. What does it say about your school when the first speaker at Curriculum Night is the Sally Foster chairperson? Nothing good.