Back to School...Let the Fundraising Begin

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Back to School...Let the Fundraising Begin

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The inevitable packet came home from school with my daughter last week. That same night, the doorbell started ringing signalling the beginning of the school fundraising season.

Whether you have school aged children, or you've experienced that knock at the door, you know what I mean. Kids trying to sell you products that you cannot possibly live without at an inflated price all in the name of helping their school.

The motivation given to the students is a ladder of prizes - the more you sell, the better the prize. 

Of course every student begins the fundraiser with hopes of earning that Nintendo DS, or the iPad - after all, Mom and Dad, I only have to sell 200 items to get the prize I want! 

Unfortunately, when it's all said and done, most kids end up with a water bottle or one of the other gems like the lighted mohawk wig or the giggling vibrating pig. They'll even throw in a package of silly bands for good measure. Super awesome, thanks!

We all know what usually happens, right? The packet specifically discourages door to door sales - at least the packet in our school district does. We start by asking family members, but then quickly realize that there's no way enough items can be sold with that customer pool to even get the giggling vibrating pig. 

The door to door sales start. You get "the looks" from the people that answer the door, but you trudge on. 

Then, the night before the packet is due, as a parent you pick out some number of meaningless products that you couldn't give a rip about just to get your kid into a prize bracket high enough to hopefully ease the disappointment of not getting that iPad.

Money wasted.

Believe me, I know. I've got a cupboard full of unused salad mixers, plastic pizza cutters, and microwave food covers.

Not this year. This year I'm saying, "NO!" to the cheese bread that tastes more like cardboard than anything that belongs in the appetizer food group. I'm saying "No thank you!" to the $8 bottle of meat seasoning that I can buy at Walmart for 94 cents. I'm even saying "No can do," to the suggested $40 donation if you choose not to sell product. 

I'm not going to spend the time and energy trying to sell products to friends and family that both of us know they don't want. I'm not going to give myself the stress of trying to get my kids to a prize bracket that may or may not make them happy. 

But don't I think schools are important?

Budget cuts are making schools increasingly dependent upon money raised through school fundraisers. What can I do? 

The fall fundraiser is just one of the ways that our local PTA raises money for the school. They have other events throughout the school year which need volunteers to help organize and execute. Instead of donating my time to selling products, I'm going to donate my skills and time to these efforts. 

They always have a hard time finding people to staff these events. I'm a hard worker, creative, and have great organizational skills. If that doesn't scream, "PTA volunteer," I don't know what does.

The best part is that it will also get me involved in the school. I'll get to interact with the teachers, the administrative staff, and other parents. I'll get to look under the hood and get a glimpse of how the schools my kids attend really operate.

If there's something going on in the school that I don't like, I'll then be connected to the right channels to at least raise the concern.

It's a win/win situation.

The school gets a talented, hardworking, involved parent, and I don't get a cupboard full of junk and an empty wallet.

Have you ever said, "No," to something even though it was for a good cause? Have you ever found a way to contribute to something important in a way besides money?

Travis Pizel, Debt Management Plan Customer with Leading Provider of Debt Relief Services, CareOne Services, Inc. Travis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the My Journey out of Debt and A Straight Talk on Debt blogs. He is also a very active member of the CareOne community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). Travis candidly shares his personal journey to pay off his debt and the tips he's learned along the way. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family. You can also read more from Travis on the Enemy of Debt blog, where he is a featured blogger. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

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  • Oh how I remember those days!!  Now the orders come to work!!  I have been able to say no but it is hard, because as you stated it is for a good cause.  I like your way of thinking.  Say no now for something you don't want or need and volunteer later when they need skills you have to offer.  Way to be creative,  :-)

  • My daughter goes to a Charter School and I just experience my first school fundraiser.  I could not believe they were selling cookie dough for $16.00!!!  Out of good measure, I shared it with the office staff and was able to fill the sheet, but I said NO way!!.  My daughter's school requires 30 hours of volunteer time from every family during the school year and like you I am on several committees and volunteered as room parent.  There is where my contributions will be.  

    I even said "No" to the school pictures.  I could not see paying $20.00 for 6 pictures and the largest picture was 5x7 when I could take her to Portraits Innovations and get 44 portraits for $14.99.

    If it seems reasonable, I have no problem supporting a cause financially, but sometimes I believe they are over doing it with the prices and the stuff they are selling.  

    Thanks for the post t_pizel.  I think you struck a nerve with me on this one. (smile)

  • Whether it's to my house, or at work, I've decided that I'm going to be selfish with my money.  I don't owe donating my money to if someone wants me to buy a product, it better be worth it.  For instance, one of the local sports teams came around selling a discount card that had among lots of discounts had two "buy one get one free" oil changes.  The card was $20....but I can get over $60 of value from just those two items.  Now THAT"S a fundraising product I snapped up!

  • You and I are on the same page, Zandra (MotherofOne).  No longer do I buy something, shrug my shoulders, and say "Standard fundraising prices apply."  If you want a donation, just ask for a donation.....don't hide behind selling me something WAY overpriced.  I will still choose to donate my time and talents.  :)

  • We all know what usually happens, right? We can't take help from . The package in particular discourages door-to-door sales - at least such a package in our school district. We start with a question from family members, but we quickly realize that it is not possible to sell enough items using this pool of customers to even get a giggling vibrating pig.

  • We all know what usually happens, right? The package specifically prevents sales at the door - at least a packet in our school district. Can he tell me about <a href="">this website</a> now? We start by asking family members, but then quickly realize that with this customer fund, it is not possible to sell enough items to even get a giggling vibrating piglet.

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