Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Can't Find the "Fun" in Fundraising

If I tried to support myself by selling Amway, I would die of starvation - and I don't feel like that's a bad thing.

It's that time of year again, when my kids' school does their big fundraiser. Where the students and parents are encouraged to hit up their friends, neighbors, and family for money in exchange for overpriced crap in the name of education. All I can say is, I'm glad my family lives far away, my neighbors already hate us for being the noisiest house on the block, and I don't have any local friends - because I am terrible at sales!

I absolutely loath begging people for money, which is basically what fundraising is because in all honesty, who pays $11 for a roll of wrapping paper, $15 for a tub of cookie dough, or $20 for a set of coasters printed with whimiscal cats? I hate putting people in the awkward position of really wanting to say no but having coming up with a polite way to do so. So what I end up doing is paying for all the junk myself and giving it away as Christmas presents. Better to be a tacky gift-giver than an annoying panhandler.

I remember one of Ambie's teenage daughters was given the task of pre-selling rubber wristbands in her school colors. She asked if I would buy one and when I said "no thanks" she flopped on my couch and every 10 minutes or so, would ask me again. "Raaaaaayyyy", I'd hear in a low hissing voice I imagine Satan would have, "buy a bracelet from me. Raaaaaayyy." I ended up buying two just to get her off the couch. With my money safely in her pocket she then commenced telling me how she's the number one seller in her class. Effective. I just can't do that.

My problem is I now have 3 school kids and the amount of selling we have to do has gone up and I just don't need that many cat coasters. What to do? Risk the few acquaintances I do have to push sales? Pay to ship useless stuff my family doesn't need but who are willing to support us? Fork over more of my own money (like paying 5 digit tuition isn't enough)? Or shall I just drop the fundraising ball altogether and hope it doesn't reflect in my childrens' transcripts?

No wonder I never made it as a Girl Scout.


Cheryl said...

Right on! I feel the same way about fundraising! With 6 kids in school at once, you can imagine the horror of the kick off day That is why I was so surprised that I agreed to the jail and bail thing. I really surprised myself on that one!

Actually, I really like the wrapping paper company. If only they would add a shop online feature to their system so that they could ship things directly to the customers, I'd buy some things!

About Me said...

Oh, the fun of fall! What would back to school mean without the obligatory fundraising plea in the backpack? If you get tired of the selection in your kid's brochures, we're selling up here in MA (with about as much enthusiasm!). And by the way, we do have an online shopping feature. . . . just in case :). Love the post, Ray.

Tim said...

At least with the modern fund raisers, you get something. I remember the days when kids would come by and ask whether we'd sponsor them in a run. For every lap they run around a track, you pledge to give them something. Those never made sense, like, what's in it for me?

The best fundraising items from the recipients' perspective are the Entertainment books (the ones full of discounts and coupons). Those usually pay out.

Oh, did I mention Kristen is selling Entertainment books?

ray said...

Hang on a sec...cheryl has a criminal record?!?! Well, this changes everything!

Jillyn, good to see you on the blog. Online shopping seems much less invasive/desperate. Just send an email with a link and you're done. Nice. I wonder why they don't do that in Hawaii. It's like everyone's family is all on the island or something.

hah, Tim! We're selling entertainment books too. Do yours have a 2 for 1 plate lunch special at L&L?

Mama Mia said...

I am incharge of the PTO Fundraising at our Elementary. We just ask for cash donations. That way all the money spent goes to the SCHOOL not to some cookie dough company.:) We also don't want to have our kids going door to door. We have a contest (Pizza Party) for the grade level that has the most PARTICIPATION(not the most money donated). One donation ($20 +) per family and it counts for each of the kids! A bonus for those like you who are multipling and replentishing the earth.:) NO costers for me please. Those Happenings books are crap as well. BRUCE bought one from a neighbor and it has nothing I can use in it. They are all obscure places to eat and shop!

Ambie said...

We call this 'family obligation sales" because the parents always end up buying so their kids won't feel bad.

things I will be buying this year
wrapping paper
cookie dough
subway cards
pizza cards
etc. etc. etc.

Cheryl said...

Can we still be friends??

**(This is totally off the subject, so forgive me.) Ambie-I put Luke's school picture on my blog so have the girls check it out. He is pretty cute! (WEll......handsome!)

Nathan & Michelle Watabe said...

Ray, as to your laundry sorting comment, my mom calls them "coloreds" now that's Birmingham!

Happy The Man said...

Great post, I feel exactly the same way. I'm one of those few people that doesn't think all that much of girl scout cookies.