Sep 20, 2008

School Fundraising

So today my daughter really wanted to try her hand at fundraising, and here I was really excited that this year they were accepting donations in lieu of fundraising. I was prepared to donate $100 - $50/school-aged kid, which is more than the kids can earn the school via the fundraiser, but they can’t have both my time and my donation. Fitting in the time for a fundraiser is hard work around here, especially considering the goods are delivered in November when the sun goes down around 5:30 p.m., I have a little one napping ‘til around that time or later, and I’m the sole caregiver most nights. We have one hour a day to distribute deliveries, which can take weeks to accomplish due to those who placed the orders keeping various schedules and never being home.

When I was a kid, fundraising wasn’t an issue for me until I was technically old enough to handle peddling the stuff on my own, around the age of 12, which I gladly did time and time again, and I could go ‘til the sun went down for days on end in an attempt to win the grand prize the top seller was eligible for. It definitely was never an issue for my parents. My parents had only to help me pick up the order. Delivery was, again, my responsibility. Granted times are different now, as far as feeling comfortable letting even a 12-year-old go door-to-door, but a 12-year-old can handle all the steps in between independently.

Apparently things are different now. Earnings for each school are based on the individual sales of each school within the district, so now you have the poor-selling neighborhood schools upset about how unfair the new equipment the top-selling neighborhood school was able to earn. They feel like the district “step-child.”

I feel bad for my kids in this department. The fundraisers always clearly indicate children should NOT go door-to-door and that parents should hit up family, friends, and coworkers out of “safety for the children.” These people get sick of being hit up year after year after year, especially when it’s coming from multiple sources at the same time. I actually feel mostly guilty knowing that all of my neighbors living on fixed incomes repeatedly buy from my children simply because they feel obligated and because they like us. For us, it is further compounded by the fact that I have no coworkers being a WAHM and by the fact that DH only has 13 coworkers whose children are all selling items at the same time.

Let’s face it – the school hardly makes any money and everyone feels they’ve been had when they pay $10 for 6 tiny chocolate-covered peanut butter bears (I think at last check the school received 5%). Even if you stick them to the roof of your mouth to let them melt as slowly as you can, it still doesn’t seem to be worth $10 ($0.50 for the school).

They take these kids into an assembly and get them completely psyched out of their little minds about possibly winning an X-Box 360 when they all wind up with that same plastic crap they buy with tickets at places like Chuck E Cheese’s that never gets touched again after its extraction from the prize box. The worst of it is that they include even the kindergartners who don’t even have a clue and never hear anything beyond “Win this prize and that prize!” Suddenly, by not aiding them in their attempt to win the master prize, even if it is because you have limited contacts and live in a small neighborhood where 16 other children are also selling the same items, you become the bad guy and they feel sad and a little like a failure the day the grand prizes are awarded to those few lucky children who have parents working in large companies.

It is also really hard to get excited about foodstuff fundraising after being stuck with hundreds of dollars worth of overpriced frozen/keep-refrigerated food when DH picked up the fundraiser orders and set them under a table in the family room that had become the catchall/temporary holding place of everything during a kitchen remodel for me to discover 11 days later! I noticed them one day as I sat trying to locate some of my ovenware to make dinner one night and said “What’s in those boxes under here?”

I was only comfortable letting my daughter sell alone on our street where we know everyone, so when she was done, she came back to get me.

What I didn’t know as we walked out the door, and as I mustered up the most enthusiasm I could about doing it, was that she had invited 2 other children to join us. They had both been selling with her on our street as well, which I discovered when reviewing my daughter’s order form and she turned up with 2 checks and yet no matching orders for them. It took a couple of minutes to figure out which girl took what order and which payment went where. Both of these other girls are 6 years old and spend much time with us at our house. My daughter is almost 9.

So as we proceed down the street passing each of the other girls’ homes so they can pick up their packets on the way, and as I’m trying to just forget about the provisional patent application draft waiting for my review on my desk, all of the regular work I’m facing tonight, and that we will be having a very late dinner, one girl’s mom calls her back to the house after giving her permission to join us indicating her dad wanted her home. We reached the point where we are walking slowly in front of her house to find out if she would still be able to come along when suddenly, speeding down the driveway and straight past us on a mission at warp speed with noses down, helmets on, and all the exertion they could muster, (everything minus the evil laugh), they just rip on by and keep going heading to the last house on the street that we had not yet hit…..not a word to us – nothing.

I’m scratchin’ my head wondering what on earth that was all about. It soon became obvious dad had turned it into a competition and had decided I must have no intention of being fair. How odd. My husband is competitive, but only when he is playing a game or a sport, and never with the kids’ activities. We round the corner and there they stand soliciting an outdoor dinner party, all the while looking over their shoulders at us as if to say “Ha, ha!” We just picked the next street and continued on, never to see them again. In the end, it worked out better for us, I assigned each girl to a side of the street, which is hit or miss for both, but it also meant faster coverage. When I told DH today’s story about my daughter’s friend’s father, he said “Okay, Bob (name changed), Game on Beeyatch.”

Lessons learned in fundraising so far:

1. It is actually a plus to take 2 kids at once on opposite sides of the street – it saves time;

2. Make sure you record the street number and name, even though there is no room to do so, because you will NEVER find these people by name again when the items are delivered;

3. Pickup of the goods usually happens during the time your youngest is napping and you are home alone with him/her;

4. NEVER just assume that if your spouse happens to be home that day that he will remember there were food items in those boxes or that he will even open the boxes to double check the orders, let alone realize items need refrigeration.

5. Don’t knock on your neighbor’s door after dark to make a delivery, especially the old ones who live alone – it scares the crap out of them.

6. It could take up to 6 years before your child comes to the realization that being a top seller is near impossible for most kids and decides on his own that he/she does not want to participate – maybe longer.

7. Be prepared to foot the bill for those who "will pay upon arrival" until then.

7. If you don’t have a story like mine today to share with your competitive husband, make one up, as now I don’t have to fundraise tomorrow because DH made it his personal mission to womp Bob in sales!

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