Fundraiser Fundamentals: Yes, no, and be nice!

fundraiserThis article appears in the October 2013 issue of Parent News. Be sure to pick up a copy today!

Since school started just about a month ago I’ve been handed fundraisers from all directions. Each of them is for a worthy cause, but how many rolls of wrapping paper or cookie dough does anyone need? And who has a personal network large enough to sell all of this stuff to without annoying everyone?

Before saying yes, there are a few factors I always consider:      

  1. How much time and effort does it require? –Like you, I’m busy. The bummer is that my kids aren’t old enough to manage these fundraisers on their own. So who does the work? You’re looking at her and I’m pretty analytical when deciding whether or not to do it. In almost all cases, if we have to go door-to-door to sell, I’m out. It’s also important to think about the delivery details. Are you required to pick up, sort, package, and deliver those orders when they come in? Once a year my kitchen is filled with boxes of Girl Scouts cookies and I spend an insane amount of time trying to match those cookies to their owners without eating too many. I’m committed to the cause but it can be a bit labor intensive and I’m realistic about it.
  2. How is the quality of the product? – If I’m going to hit my friends, family, and neighbors up to buy it, it better be good. They know where I live!
  3. What’s the cost and when will the products be delivered? – I make it a policy to over-explain how much the items cost, the quantity that has been ordered, and when they will be delivered. I’ve definitely decided against participating when the cost-per-item was too high.
  4. How much will your organization get from the sale? – You’d be surprised to learn just how little schools/clubs/teams sometimes make from fundraisers. Even if the quality is good, I’ve been known to say things like, “The kids’ club makes only 10% of your purchase. The $20 item that you don’t really want anyway equals only $2 for us.” The result is usually a $5 donation that saves the purchaser money and is more meaningful to the organization.
  5. What happens if I say no? – We do no more than two fundraisers a season, no matter how many we’re asked to participate in. In some cases, there is no repercussion. In others, you’re responsible for a contribution. When fundraising is used to pay for an activity, such as camping, we’re tasked with a $100 trip cost. If we can raise money towards than, our personal bottom line is less. If we choose to just write a check, there is no need to sell, sell, sell. I do, however, typically require extra chores towards the cost we’re raising funds for.

At this very moment, my children are participating in two fundraisers. One I believe to be of good value and I’m happy to offer it for sale. The second one is virtual. I plug in the email addresses of friends and family who may be interested, they place an online order, and our organization gets a portion. I don’t have to collect the money or deliver the products. Jackpot! A third we turned down because while the products are very nice, they’re widely available in retail stores at a better price.

Now once a fundraiser has made it through my strict selection process, I do actually try to make it fun. It’s a great way for kids, who are old enough, to gain confidence while pitching the product, feeling pride when they get a sale, understanding money management, and working with their teammates to accomplish a goal. So when a little someone knocks on your door with an order form, please be kind. Accept the crayon-colored “business card” and listen to the presentation that took a day to create. There’s no pressure to buy, but we sure do appreciate your willingness to consider it!

Photo credit: Flickr

Want to read more? Check out the latest on the Myrtle Beach for Families blog.

About Melissa Byers

My name is Melissa Byers and I've been a Grand Strand resident for 13 years. I love living and raising my family here! We're all about the events, activities, discounts, RVing, travel, and crab cakes.

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