Wednesday, October 10, 2012

There's No 'Fun' in Fundraising

If you're a parent of a school-aged child, you are already nodding and groaning. Thinking 'You got that right, woman.' Feel free to skip along, or stay for the rant. Totally up to you. And I understand if you need to go - you've got some wrapping paper to sell. 

So here it goes. I've got to get this off my chest.

 J started kindergarten this year. He's been in for 5 1/2 weeks at this point. And we have been asked for money at least 8 times. At this rate, we're looking at probably 60 or more requests per school year. Times 2 kids, times years to graduation... Oh, somewhere north of 1,500 asks.

I think the worst are the guilt factor ones... If you don't send $5, your child won't be able to go with the rest of his class. (But they don't tell you the alternative, leaving you to envision him stuck in the corner of the kitchen scrubbing pots. He'd probably be allowed to run wild on the playground while one indifferent parent volunteer peruses Facebook on her phone. He actually wishes I wouldn't send the $5.)

And then they lay it on thicker - If you could possibly send an extra $5, another child whose family cannot afford fun things will be able to join us, too! Oh, hell - here's a $20. I need to be able to live with myself.

But the ones that really piss me off are the sales of crap. No one wants this stuff, yet every child in the country is selling it - all at the same time. The odds of J getting anyone to buy this shit are slim. Even if he were the best salesman on the planet. But remember, they know the guilt part works. (See above.) So they also point out that if your child doesn't approach complete strangers in his effort to sell this stuff, he won't be eligible for the fabulous prizes the other kids will all be earning...

As a parent, you have two choices:
1. Take it to work. Here there are only 100 other parents offering the same cheap wares, and more than 100 employees who don't yet have children of their own, so you stand a chance. This works particularly well for food products - selling candy bars to office workers is like shooting fish in a barrel.

2. Pay up.  They always include the 'buy out' somewhere in the letter (i.e. 'In lieu of selling product, we suggest a donation of $150 per child.) Yeah, my kid wouldn't sell $150 worth, here's $50, you scored.

I'm both lazy and cheap. I go for #2 every time.

But let me save all of us - the school(s) and me - some time. Just tell me how much you want. Tell me the whole total for the whole damn year. Tell me why. Tell me what you'll do with the money. And then tell me by when you'd like to receive the check. (As a side note, it would be nice if you would accept American Express. I may as well get some points for this.)

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