Dear Frugal Upstate,
I love your blog, tips and advice. I have one I don’t think I’ve seen on here before.
How do you handle all the fundraising at school? We have money to donate things to the school, but we are currently trying to pay debt off and I swear it seems like we are currently bombarded with send money for this and that.
Now they are doing a huge fundraiser and are really pushing it on the kids to get your parents, family, etc. to donate and I think it’s too much, but b/c my daughter is 6 she wants to participate.
Ohhh, fundraisers! I think as school budgets continue to be cut and family budgets get tighter this is going to be more and more of an issue. S thank you for bringing the topic up.
Personally, I really hate school fundraisers that include selling things from some sort of catalog. Let’s face it-mostly it’s the parents who wind up doing the selling. I’m not going to let my 8 yr old wander up and down the street selling things. . . and with several hundred kids in a smallish community all selling the same stuff, it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t already been sold to. So the only way to really sell things is for the parents to take the catalogs into work.
And once I’ve asked YOU to buy some overpriced stuff that you don’t really want. . . then I feel obliged to buy YOUR kids overpriced stuff that I don’t want the next time around. The end result? We both end up with things we don’t want, weren’t in the budget, and the school only gets a percentage of the money anyway.
Besides that philosophical conundrum, we are on the main residential drag of our village with the nice sidewalks and streetlights where older kids can easily walk around and, well, we get hit up for every bottle drive, canned food drive and fundraiser that comes down the pike. Once you buy from one kid in one fundraiser you feel obliged to buy from every one that knocks on the door. . .
So how do I handle it? Well-ever since my kids have been in school I have refused to let them participate.
Yup. I’m one of those moms.
The only “corporate” things we sell are Girl Scout cookies and Boyscout popcorn-and that’s because people actually ask us and want to buy them.
The first few years of school I sent in notes to the teacher and principal stating that I don’t participate in those types of fundraisers but that I would be sending in a donation for the school. Then I do send in about $20 per fundraiser.
If anyone come to the door at our house asking us to buy things I can just say “no thank you” with a completely clear conscience because I know I haven’t asked anyone in their family to buy stuff from my kids.
I sit here every day trying to help you all save money and telling folks to live a good life on a budget, not to spend more than they can afford, not to buy things that they don’t need. . . so I’m just philosophically opposed to buying something I don’t want just because it’s for a “good cause”. I’m even more opposed to being the one ASKING someone to buy something they don’t want, don’t need or possibly even can’t afford.
Now, if it’s a fundraiser where folks are doing something or providing something-a bake sale, a hotdog sale, a car wash, special fairs or festivals with entrance fees, buying concessions at events. . . I’m happy to participate and purchase.
I’ve also happily purchased those local “coupon books” where you can get discounts at local retailers and restaurants because I feel that I get my value from them.
As for your particular situation Stephanie-I’m willing to bet the reason you 6 yr old is so hot to participate is because there are prizes given to the kids based on the amounts sold. Most of it is really inexpensive junk until the kids have gotten to the really high sales amounts.
If it were me, here is what I’d do.
I’d explain to my daughter that Mom doesn’t want to ask friends to buy things, because then when THEIR kids are selling things you’d feel like you had to buy from them. Instead explain that you are sending in a donation of money to help the school, and that instead of getting the prize for the sale you are going to take her to the dollar store next time you are in town and let her pick out any ONE thing she wants.
Yeah-it’s a bit like bribery. And you are spending a dollar you don’t “need” to. And typically I’m a person who doesn’t believe in buying kids presents for “no” reason. . . but it’s HARD to understand these things when you are 6. It’s hard to be the only kid not selling, it’s hard to be the one not getting a prize. I just think that spending a buck to make things a little easier to swallow is worth it.
And hey, by the time she is 10 like Princess she’ll probably just shrug and roll her eyes at you when you say “we aren’t going to participate in that–but next time they have a bake sale we can make a huge batch of cookies together for it”.
What do you guys think? Is that an appropriate way to deal with the situation? What kind of fundraisers do you happily support, and what do YOU do about the ones you don’t?