Fundraising for your kids with chocolate?


When did we start having to become chocolate sales people so that our kids could do their after-school sports?


Considering the obesity problems facing ours and other nations, chocolate seems like a particularly odd choice to sell and promote in order to fund-raise for sporting clubs that are on the other hand promoting healthy lifestyles for our kids.



But it's not just the chocolate that is the problem with fund raising these days, it's the whole attitude towards it and what it has become.



Endless requests for money
Simply saying the word - 'volunteer' or 'fund-raise' is enough to strike fear in the heart of many parents. 


Having kids at school means that each term you are subjected to more and more forms brought home asking you to sponsor your child to read books, or handed a book or raffle tickets to sell, and "return the money to your child's class teacher by next week.", and then there is being asked several times a term for a gold coin donation so that your child can get out of wearing their uniform for the day; all for a good cause of course. But I find the constant push for you to give more and ask others to give is getting out of hand.  




The Merry-Go-Round of donations

When you end up with raffle tickets or chocolate to sell for you kids school or sporting team, who do you sell them to? - your family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues.   Many of them will buy a bar of chocolate or raffle ticket not because they particularly want to, but because they feel 'obliged'.  Then the next week, they will bring their own kids' fund raising thing to  you, and the obligation will be returned when you also buy something you don't particularly want or need.  


Little by little, we are all donating money to each other's schools, clubs and organisations, pushing up the overall cost to us as parents of our kids getting involved in sports and team activities.



The alternative to this, is what many people, including myself do. That is to purchase the goods you are being asked to sell for yourself. This isn't so bad if it is something you would buy anyway. For example I'm quite happy to buy the school raffle tickets each year as the prizes are very good and I would love one day to win one. The amount paid for this is relatively small too.




However, sometimes things become more expensive - a large box of chocolate bars for example is not something I would buy for myself and my family, so to be asked to do this to fund raise for a club feels like I'm being asked for a straight financial donation. Not the way fund-raising should be done in my opinion.




But isn't fundraising necessary?


Yes, I understand the need to fund-raise.  For these sporting teams to buy equipment, pay coaches, travel expenses, membership fees etc, they rely on donations, fund raising and sponsorship. 


 I worked as volunteer president of our daughters' kindergarten for two years. That Kindy was run by volunteers and relied largely upon donations and fund raising to survive and grow.  I have seen the benefits gained from efficient fundraising, but also the resentment and negative feelings seeded from badly organised fundraising that leaves people feeling obliged to give more and more money themselves. Budgets are stretched, and keeping your kids in clubs and sporting teams becomes more of a financial strain.




So what should be done?

Since fund raising is a necessary part of sporting clubs, schools and organisations, how can it be done in a way that people are happy to participate in?


My memories of fundraising when I was a child involve the occasional mornings spent at our gymnastics club with all my friends and their families there together, setting up and running a mini fete - with stalls, raffles and games.  Everyone was involved and it was as much a social event as a fundraiser.  Fun was had by all, and money was raised for the club in the process.




Building team and community spirit

For people to want to give their time, effort and money to support a club, they need to feel like the are a part of that club and gain something from it.  


I believe the best fundraisers are 'events'. Things that get the whole school or club involved - the children as much as the parents, because let's face it, it's all for our kids anyway.  Fundraising is a great opportunity to teach our kids about working together as a team for a result that is going to benefit them all. To learn to have pride in their team. club or organisation and want to help raise money to make it bigger, better, or buy more equipment.



A recent fundraiser we were involved in was a car wash.  The kids from the club all joined in and had a wonderful time washing cars together, talking to people, and generally working as a team.  We were providing a service, rather than just asking for money from people. Everyone had fun, and a good amount of money was raised.  The people who paid for the car wash, chose to drive in, and received a service for their money.



The key factors for those who gave money were that it was their choice to give the money, and they gained something from it.  



Fundraising is not easy - you don't get money for nothing.





Using strengths and interests

Another aspect that I feel is important to remember in fundraising is that everyone has different opinions, views and interests. One fundraising method will suit some people, a different one others.  Perhaps some people are happy to buy a large box of chocolates just for their family to consume, so giving the money to their club rather than the supermarket seems like a good idea.


That's fine.  Just don't try to force everyone into the same box.



Fundraising should be an option available for people to help out where they feel they best can. Some people can give more time, other people money, and others skills.  



I believe that people are generally happy to help out - in a way that they are comfortable and confident with.  



As an example, both our girls are keen swimmers , and each year they now take part in a Swimathon to raise money for MS. We've chosen to encourage them to participate in this, not because we know people with this particular disease, or have any significant connection with it, but largely because of our girls' interest in and love for swimming.  To help them learn that they can use their skills, talents and likes to help others is an important lesson for them. 





Fund-raise for our club not the big companies

There are plenty of companies making a profit from fundraising. Kids are asked to sell things to their family and friends. The school receives a small portion of the sale price, and the kids get bonus prizes for selling more and more things, but the largest portion of the profit goes to the big company.


Perhaps for these big companies that run these fundraising ideas - it's cheaper to pay schools and clubs a small part of the profit for each item, than to pay for large adverts and displays in shops and expecting the public to buy things because they actually want the product - not just buying it because they feel obliged to in order to help their kids or friend's kids.



Personally, I would much rather give money to a fund-raiser that rewarded the club or school for an effort they have made, rather than helped to promote a large company just as much or more by buying their products.





I believe fundraising should



1. Make everyone feel like a valuable member of the team - by utilising their particular skills, talents or connections. Remembering that everyone is different.



2. Involve the kids who we are fundraising for.  



3. Not make people feel obliged to give more of their own money, on top of paying club fees, buying their own kids equipment, uniforms etc.  



4. Make those who give the money feel like they are gaining something from that - whether it's a service,  product or a sense of satisfaction for helping out a deserving club.





What about you?  



What fundraising have you been asked to do for your child's school or team? 



What fundraising do you remember doing when you were a kid?



What method of fundraising do you most dislike?



and finally...



Are you a fan of the chocolate drive?







78 comments:

  1. I dread fundraising at the school we are at right now. My daughter is going to a private school with quite a few wealthy people and I feel like we are judged sometimes when we can't afford to purchase things or don't sale much at all. Heck we can barely afford to send her to the school! lol

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    1. I sometimes feel the same Rebecca. I think people just assume that if you send your kids to private school that you are rich. For us and a lot of others to send our kids to a private school involves many sacrifices in other areas of our lives. Fundraising on top of school fees is a 'hidden' cost that many just can't afford!

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  2. I haven't had to do this for my kids yet, but it reminds me of something else I struggle with: donating to charity. Now, don't get me wrong. I love to help out charities and those in need. But sometimes I find that a charity does not support my moral beliefs or the misappropriate funds. It is so hard to tell a kid that you can't donate to something because you don't agree with how they run their show :(

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    1. I agree Jenna. We're constantly asked to donate to every different charity there is - and you hear so many stories about how little money actually makes it to the cause itself. It's hard to know who to give to and know that you're actually making a difference.

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  3. I have to enter into the world of fundraising. My kids are too little, but my husband is always coming home asking what type of girl scout cookies or chocolate would I like. I love chocolate, so it is a win win for me and we are helping support the kids

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    1. Ha Ha! Sounds like a chocolate drive is going to suit you just fine Jen! :)

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  4. I always dreaded the mandatory fundraising for schools. I felt that the school's administration should have just tacked on the 'fee' to the tuition since it is usually the parents that have to take care of it.

    Rachel recently posted Are You Still Marketing?

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    1. I think a lot of parents feel the same - that the fundraising is a 'hidden' cost in school fees and would rather the school was upfront about what parents are 'expected' to contribute!

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  5. I think the idea of a fete is a great one for fundraising, as you are raising money from the community and not just family and friends. I hate the chocolate bars too....they seem to be never ending!

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    1. Thanks Catherine. People are happier to spend their money at a fete as they are getting entertainment and don't just feel like they're giving money.

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  6. Have you brought these ideas up to your school board? They're really good ideas. If fundraisers could be more like events the donations would come from those who WANTED to donate instead of those who felt OBLIGATED to donate. It wouldn't be as much as a financial suck either.

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    1. I think some of the problems comes from the people on the board who organise the fundraising each year do what suits them, and it's never going to suit everyone. A chocolate drive seems like an easy option to the person organising the fundraising as they themselves don't have to do the work - the hard sell is put onto the parents instead!

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  7. I don't have kids yet who have to do fundraisers, but I have nieces and nephews, and always feel obliged to give them money. Those coupon books are the worst because you can usually get them cheaper elsewhere, but feel obligated to purchase at a higher price because it is going towards something 'better'. At least with the chocolate drives, it's usually only a couple of dollars!

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    1. I think that's one thing that frustrates people a lot - is that what they're being asked to buy, they can get cheaper elsewhere!

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  8. The schools my kids attend do an "opt out". Which means you can pay a certain amount to the cause if you don't want to do the fundraising. I sometimes don't like that either since I'm pretty strapped financially as well, but I do think it is a great option. All of us parents understand the need for fundraising, it's just such a hassle.

    Great post!

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    1. That 'opt out' sounds like a great option to offer parents. I wish all schools and clubs had that!

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  9. OMGosh - you've really hit a nerve with this one. Having raised 10 children, I'm dealt with enough fundraising to last a dozen lifetimes. What really irritated me, was the stupid 2 bit incentives that they would get the little ones all riled up over. Grrrrr. We finally got to the point where we would just send back the fundraising forms and brochures with a small check for whatever amount we could afford at the time. I would then take what I felt was the amount that I "saved" from purchasing a ton of candy, cookie dough, or wrapping paper, and take the kids out to McDonalds and a trip to the dollar store. I think that the school probably made more from our "donation" that they would from whatever percentage that they got from the particular fundraiser, my kids got a fun night out, and I didn't have to wash dishes. Win-Win

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    1. Wow - with 10 kids the fundraising things you must have received would have been impossible! I think you dealt with it in the perfect way! Thanks for sharing this!

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  10. When my kids were in preschool, we had to sell candy. Either you could make a donation or sell the candy. The first year we ended up buying most of the candy ourselves. After that we ended up always making the donation because it was cheaper and because I didn't really want us eating all that candy.

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    1. At least you were given the option Jeryl! And it seems to be cheaper for everyone just to give a donation rather than sell things, and it saves the hassle too!

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  11. I have to agree; the fundraising thing has been done to death. My kids are grown but now the grandchildren are starting school. This year I had football players at my door selling coupon books before school even started and the little ones bring their fund raising forms home with them on the first day of school. It would seem to me that a donation would be better and in the long run would be less hassle for the teachers and the schools.

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    1. The door to door from kids you don't even know adds even more doesn't it - after you've felt obliged to help your own kids and other ones you know!

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  12. I completely understand about the constant money raising, its tiresome and I know its needed but REALLY?! Great post!

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    1. Thanks Trista - I think this post has confirmed how much everyone is fed up with how far fundraising has gone!

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  13. I love when kids try to fundraise for trips abroad... umm can I go too?

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    1. Ha Ha! You're right, it feels like we might as well all just try fundraising for our own holidays!

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  14. I went to a small private school. We did a "Thing-A-Thon" where we got pledges for doing things like 2000 jumping jacks or playing piano for 4 hours. Although some people weren't thrilled with the "useless" activities, it turned into a great family event for everyone and thousands were raised in one day. It developed a sense of community that selling M&Ms (another fundraiser) never did.

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    1. That event sounds like fun - it may have been silly things that the kids did, but at least it brought people together and provided entertainment!

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  15. This is great information. I will be passing it onto our staff at my church. We have had to do fundraising in the past and I am sure we will be doing it again in the future. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks Ali! Hope it can be of some help for future fundraisers!

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  16. I use to work at a private institution so parents had to pay for the kids education. With that said, parents and children did not have to do any fundraising. But they were once or twice a year bake sale that went to charitable causes.

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    1. Our kids go to a private school, but we still have to do fundraising as well! There always seems to be something more that is needed, and never enough money to go around!

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  17. We homeschool so I don't have anything to do with any fundraising. If my kids were in school and I was forced into something like this, I'm sure I would be the renegade outcast the teachers hated because I refused to hawk chocolate or buy obligatory teacher gifts. Yuck.

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    1. Thanks Jesi! - another advantage to homeschooling!! :)

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  18. Chocolate is definitely not an appropriate fundraiser for a sports club. My sons school does not ask often for donations so it's not too bad but I could see myself getting fed up if it happened all the time xx

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    1. Thanks Linsey! Yes, just a few times would be ok - it's just when it's constant that it becomes a real issue!

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  19. I don't have children myself, but I remember doing a little fundraising when I was a child. Nothing compared to what kids nowadays have to do though! My sister and I didn't really participate much in these sorts of fundraising events, and our school(s) didn't force it. I hate selling stuff as an adult and didn't like it much as a child! Girl Scout cookie season was pretty much the only exception...

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    1. It was the same when I was at school Sarah - not much fundraising at all that I remember. But nowadays it's just gone a bit crazy!

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  20. I'm with you on this... fundraisers at our school are constant and frustratingly always asking my kids to "sell something" in hopes to fund our school's activites. I am never comfortable with my kids going door to door asking for donations, never.

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    1. We never ask our kids to go door to door either - in fact our school doesn't allow it! - a note is always sent with the fundraisers asking you not to sell in this way!

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  21. I dread FR season. it started with only one a year but now its up to four a year. Co workers do not buy and i end up forking out over 400.00 a year so my sons goals can be met on all the different FR.

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    1. Oh my goodness Crisi - that's too much! This really has hit a nerve with people and it seems like an issue that needs addressing sooner rather than later!

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  22. I don't like fundraising, but it's necessary. All activities require it, we have not done chocolate, its almost just donations please. We write letters and ask friends and family. I don't feel comfortable letting my daughter go out and my son just wont do it. So we do it as a family.

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    1. I agree it's necessary, that's a good idea to do it as a family.

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  23. Ha, as a teacher.....I'm so SICK of the chocolate drive!

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    1. Thanks Carly! It's such a shame - neither parents nor teachers are happy with the way fundraising is these days. Something has got to change!

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  24. This will be our first year with fundraisers for boyscouts and I already HATE it! I am not the parent who will just buy my kid's stuff, and I hate the thought of making my neighbors feel obligated to shell out money to my kid. I really wish they could do an "event" fundraiser instead.

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    1. Events are definitely the preferred method Michelle - we all need to stand up and tell the committees and schools this to try and get things changed I think!

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  25. I believe in fund raising and I agree with you. The kids/club who are receiving the money should be a part of the work that goes into it. It's also a valuable lesson to learn, you don't get something for nothing. I don't mind the chocolate. I usually don't buy chocolate, so if I know it's going to help my son and his school, I'm ok with it.
    Great post!

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    1. Thanks Lluchia - yes, it's really not so bad if it's something that you would buy anyway. But you'd never be able to find something that would suit everybody!

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  26. My kiddos are too little, but I worked for a non profit for ten years and helped kids raise money for camp trips. I always have them perform a service - washing cars, raking leaves, etc, so that the kid is doing the work instead of the parent taking the candy bars to work to sell.

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    1. Thanks Becca. Yes, everyone is so much happier to pay for a 'service' rather than just fork out donations!

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  27. Great post! Over the years I've been asked to do these Fundraisers: Magazine Drive, Christmas Wrapping Paper and Bows, T-shirt drive, Tupperware, Partylite, Chocolate Bars and Munson's Chocolates (I like chocolate)but prefer Munson's (assorted selection) over the bars! I did the magazine drive for fundraiser when I was younger. I disliked when the kid(s) had not great prizes to choose from depending on the sales of their products that they sold, they were really cheap :(
    Some Fundraisers I participated in involved the parent's and the kids at the school: an Ice-Cream Social Fundraiser Event (in the cafeteria) Assembly line for the Ice-cream and you pick your toppings and or whipped cream! Waffles cones or IC Cones. (2 different prices) n the kids and parents had a lot of FUN!
    Or the other one that I really liked was when it was P'Jama and movie night at the school. The kids come to the school dressed in their pj's, the vendors set up shop in the gym, each vendor has to donate a gift from their business that is KID Orientated. Raffle tickets are bought for these gifts and b4 the movie starts, the lucky # (kid) gets that chosen gift! The Kids would all be so excited to get a great gift they could use!

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    1. Wow - you've done a lot of fundraisers over the years! That Pyjama movie night sounds like awesome fun! Thanks for sharing that!

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  28. ugggg....I dread fundraising. It feels like a constant revolving door of kids asking for money at times! I like your approach. We have done similar things. And....on a side note, I was a gymnast too! We didn't really do any fundraising though!

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    1. You're right Danielle, it's never ending!

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  29. I remember fundraising when I was a senior in high school for my trip to France. We sold the chocolate bars. Unfortunately, I probably ate more than I sold...darn those creamy caramel bars. I did sell quite a few. My nieces and nephews now sell things and of course it does feel like an obligation. My husband will frequently at the beginning of the school year come home and say that he bought something from someone on his team. This is regardless of the fact that solicitation is not allowed at work.

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    1. Selling chocolate is definitely too much of a temptation as a fundraiser. You either spend too much money or eat too much chocolate, or both! - there has to be a better way!

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  30. We've done the general merch & christmas sales, cookie sales, and entertainment book sales. Last year they successfully ran a school carnival, which we really enjoyed. I'd much rather buy "ride/game/activity" tickets and food than my own tub of cookies. The part I HATE about fundraisers...how they offer the kids prizes for sales. Our school had a big "auditorium" presentation of all the cool things they could win! Hated it!

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    1. I agree - the rewards for kids for sales is wrong. The money spent on those comes out of the money raised! So we're raising money for more junk for our kids! Crazy!

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  31. My oldest just started preschool this year, so I haven't run into this yet, but I know what you're talking about from the perspective of the co-worker who's constantly being asked to buy stuff I don't want or need. I would much prefer a fundraising event like you've described!

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    1. Thanks Olivia! Hopefully when your fundraising experiences start they'll be events rather than sales!

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  32. I don't like to do any of the fundraisers. I get why the schools do them, but the fundraisers our school does I'm not a fan. I always ask the teachers what they need the most and then go buy it for them.

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    1. That sounds like a much better way to help the school out Megan!

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  33. I think it's daunting to have coworkers push their kid's fundraising at work. I know it's all for a good cause, but like you, I don't need chocolate or scented candles, or whatever... I used to have to go door-to-door myself when I was a kid. My parents wouldn't do it for me. But I'm more than happy to pay for a carwash or something like that, where the kids work for their fundraising.

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    1. Thanks Renee. My kids were even happy to wash my car at our fundraiser and the money go to their club! they usually wash it at home and keep the money for themselves! Events like fetes or car washes are definitely the way to go!

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  34. Yes, I HATE the school fundraising, and I never try to help my daughter sell. I'd rather give directly to the school, events sound much more fun. Chocolate sounds fine, I wish I would stop getting the "Christmas Catalogues"!

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    1. Thanks Aubrey - events have overwhelmingly got the vote here!!

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  35. Great post Jill! My kids are just in preschool, and I was amazed to discover that they hit us up for various fundraisers on a regular basis. Just paying for the school is practically a mortgage expense. The one fundraiser we can get behind is photos. A few times a year they have photographers come in and take photos of the kids. As we love photos, but never want to pay the fee for a photographer (just take them ourselves), we enjoy these photos. They're usually timed well-- i.e. around Christmas time when I'd like to include a pic of the boys in the Christmas cards of certain family members.

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    1. Yes, the photos always seem to be a popular option Jennifer. Again it's finding something that parents would want to buy anyway that is the key I think!

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  36. My kids are in 2nd grade and Kindergarten and the only "fundraiser" I can recall my daughter doing thus far (the 2nd grader) is donation type fundraisers. They did penny wars which was so much fun for everyone (although now that I'm thinking about it, I'm not sure why the money was being raised). For the penny wars, each grade was given a big jar. Each penny was one point, but silver was negative points. My daughter wrangled up all the pennies she could to get her 1st grade class into first place and when the other grades caught up, she'd use her silver coin to deduct points from the other grades. It was fun and it was learning! The only other fundraiser I recall is jump roping for the heart which is a fun, active way to raise money!

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    1. Thanks Leila! That penny war jar fundraiser sounds like a great idea - I hadn't heard of that before. And Jump Rope for Heart is another great active one yes!

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  37. Our kids are still young, so we haven't had any fundraisers to do for them yet. But I remember doing pledge drives for swim team....we got people to pledge a certain amount for every lap we could swim in an hour or something like that.

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    1. Yes Lora! I remember that - people sponsoring you to run or swim so many laps, or read so many books, so the harder you worked or tried, the more money you got. Nowadays it just seems to be that you get asked for money regardless of the effort put in.

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  38. You could not have started with a better opening--the selling and donation requests are definitely unavoidable. We have to be very tight with our money since literally everyone in the home is in school and scheduling is a constant struggle. Needless to say volunteering and donating is tough for us. One way I get around this is by supporting programs that help me contribute in other ways. For example, using my Target Redcard donates to the school of my choice--my nephew's elementary school :)

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    1. Thanks adAstra! There are some great programmes out there for supporting schools and clubs through local businesses. We have the same with our local supermarket!

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  39. You are right that it is unavoidable. I am OK with a little bit of fundraising if it helps provide things for my school or my child's school. I just don't enjoy the constant requests from the same people over and over again. Nice post.

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    1. Thanks Jen. I definitely think that people aren't against the principle of fundraising for their kids schools and clubs, it's just the way it's done and the scale to which it's grown to that's the problem.

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