Sarah 4Comment

They come slowly. in the first few days of school, that time when you’re super excited to see anything in your child’s folder, so you don’t really pay attention to what it’s asking.

We still need extra tissues, ziplock bags, pencils! We’d so appreciate any extra you have!!

So you send them in. You’ve got some extra. No problem.

And then, a few days go by, and you get the first fundraiser packet in the folder. Selling cookie dough, popcorn, donuts, magazines…whatever. And there’s a sweet note attached, saying that they don’t want the kids going door to door. But go ahead and ask family and friends! We’re trying to reach our class goal! And if you’re anything like me, you go to toss it. I’m happy to volunteer my time, (I’m a room mom) and send in extra supplies, but I draw the line at school fundraisers. Especially because I have more than one kid and that shit gets expensive.

But then I see it…the “incentive” all wrapped up with a pretty bow at the bottom of the saccharine letter. If your child sells five popcorns, cookies, hula hoops, balls of yarn…they get to go to a pizza party! (And the between the lines analysis reads like this: If your child doesn’t sell the minimum amount, they will not be invited. But there is a strong possibility everyone else in his class will, and he will be the only one sitting at his seat working on handwriting while the rest of his class gets a jelly donut.)

So I buy five unnecessary bags of jelly beans because I don’t want my son to be left out. This is annoying because now, when my other children reach school age, I will have more than one child who is put in this completely unfair, economic quandry. Five jelly bean bags = $12 x 3 kids = way too much money so my kids can eat donuts with their class.

And let’s not even get started with that bullshit peer pressure. What about families who can’t afford to pay these astronomical prices for one or two or three children? Or families who would rather put any extra money toward, I don’t know…a family night out? soccer fees? new shoes? Their kids are left out? I don’t know about you, but school fundraising is not in my monthly budget.

But wait, there’s more! That is not the only fundraiser! A few weeks go by, and now they’re asking for small donations to reach 100% class enrollment for the PTA…again with a party incentive for the class. And who wants their kid to be the only reason the class doesn’t get a party? So you send in the money.

And then it’s the holidays and there’s a class gift for the teachers. And then there’s teacher appreciation week and end of the year gifts and the book fair and before you know it, you’ve been asked for at least $150 per child. That is a lot. A lot. And I’m so so over it.

Now, before you start thinking I’m a sad little person with no generosity, I actually don’t mind helping the schools. I’m happy to volunteer my time. I enjoy getting little gifts for the teachers at the holidays or end of the year. But I don’t want to be constantly pressured to participate in fundraisers. Send them home…great. But please do away with these manipulative “prizes” that really just guilt the parents into participating. It isn’t teaching the kids anything except the fact that if their parents pay for it, they get a prize.

That cannot be the goal. It just can’t.

I wish I could say I’m out…that I’m not participating.

But then my kid can’t can’t go to the party.

And that’s just not fair.

Funny how these things work out, isn’t it? What a perfect little system.


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photo credit: Kodamakitty Spunky Dunkers Donuts via photopin (license)

4 thoughts on “Dear Elementary School, Your Manipulative, Underhanded Fundraising Strategy is Unacceptable.

  1. While I totally agree with all you are saying. It is a hard situation. The fact is most schools and classes rely on these types of fundraisers. I personally have gotten used to it. I feel like participate or don’t. But it isn’t going to go away. I think that the schools just need to be balanced. And also think about smaller things that are financially manageable. I like walk a thons or bike a thons. They create school spirit and have no overhead. But it is what it is. I don’t disagree but feel like maybe you should look at it from the other side. Maybe there is something that they are raising for. Or get involved in the process.

  2. I am a long-time teacher and I know schools rely on fundraisers for important purchases like traveling educational programs and field trips, but I strongly disagree with the incentives schools are using to pressure children and their families with prizes, parties, etc. It is absolutely true that these fundraisers are a hardship for many families who are just trying to make ends meet and may not even be able to provide the school supplies their child needs to start the year. Not to mention families with multiple children attending school! Should a child whose family is struggling be penalized for not participating? I think not. Incentives should be enjoyable experiences that all students can share in like an extra outdoor playtime, a movie viewing, a pep rally, etc.

    I would ask to speak to my child’s teacher or an administrator about the fundraising incentive practices used at your child’s school.

  3. I could not agree more! My son is now being left out of a special assembly because I just can’t keep up with all the fundraisers and it’s terrible. My two kids are each involved with one extra-curricular activity as well, and so far there have been 10 fundraisers between the two of them and it’s not even the end of October.

    It’s also terrible the schools don’t have the funding to get what they need and they have to rely on fundraisers, and I understand the need for them. But these incentives in particular, that end up excluding kids that are unable to participate for whatever reason, are horrible. I will be complaining.

  4. Our school PTA does a direct donation drive in the beginning of the year so that we don’t have to do fundraisers and guilt parents. The families in our elementary school come from a mix of income levels and we ask parents to give what they can with suggestions for $20, $50, $100, etc. Some families give $10 and others give $250. Direct donations make up 95% of our annual budget and we pull in a pretty heft sum. (It helps that all donations are 100% tax deductible.)
    It takes the pressure off the parents to sell junk made in China or unhealthy food/candy and focuses on the PTA programs. I can’t imagine it any other way so I feel your pain here. That would annoy me to no end.

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