Not So Fun-draisers

Dear yayas,

The school year has started again and the fundraisers are in full swing. How can schools even make these “mandatory?” I’m tired of asking family and coworkers for more money for useless things. And now my one daughter’s preschool is making us sell over $200 in raffle tickets no matter what. If we don’t sell them, WE have to buy them. I didn’t budget for all of this not-so-fun fundraising. I’m ready to just refuse to participate, but I know it’s good for the kids. But where do we draw the line? What do you think?
p.s. Do you all want to buy a candybar or 10? lol!

– Out of Money in Missouri

Not fun at all. I work for a school and know that expectations like these need to be stated in writing prior to signing your student up. If this un-fun fundraiser expectation was not disclosed before starting you need to speak with the director. Everyone has different amounts of time and money to personally support the school in selling goods/tickets. I’m sorry the pressure to supplement your school’s budget has been placed on yourself and other parents. – Bernie

I have no idea how they make that mandatory! Why not just raise tuition? As a homeschooling mom, this is one thing I’m thankful I do not have to do every year. I think it’s absolutely reasonable to ask the director how it is mandatory without you being told before signing up and telling her your family was not budgeted to participate in a $200 extra billing cycle. I am sure you are not the only parent who doesn’t enjoy asking your coworkers and neighbors to purchase something else! Good luck! – Cortney

I can totally relate to this and I do not agree that school fundraisers should be mandatory. My husband and I actually pushed back on the last fundraiser where our daughter’s preschool requested that we sell $500 worth of tickets. I think it is unreasonable to require parents who are busy with work life balance to find the time to sell things for the school. If this is written into your contract I am not sure of way to avoid it unless you can find another school without this requirement. However if you feel this strongly I would most certainly have a discussion with the school. At least you spoke your mind and made the school aware that this is an issue that parents do face. – Nadia

This is definitely an issue for our family! We own our own business and felt we could not ask customers or our coworkers because we are the bosses. And, we live in a small rural neighborhood. After a few fundraisers we decided it was time for a plan. We made a deal with a few close friends that we’d support each other’s fundraisers. This gave our kids a chance to participate but didn’t burden our neighbors with constant requests. When there was a sales quota to meet we would ask what percentage of the sales the organization kept. We’d them do the math and make a contribution. And, we always asked the grandparents to participate. This struck a nice balance for us and we didn’t end up with a closet full of items we didn’t need. – Karen

I dislike fundraisers so much that, unless it is something I actually want to buy, I am more likely to donate money directly. The school gets more money that way and I don’t end up with a bunch of overpriced things! Between my 3 boys, I’ve been in this situation now for almost 20 years combined because my kids never attend the same school! My favorite fundraisers are the ones some of our schools in our district have done called a “no fuss fundraiser”. They literally explain that per family, if each family contributes so much, it’s usually something like $60, then the fundraising is done for the school year. Our public schools however provide information each year regarding how this money was spent. It often helps provide extra resources or technology to our classrooms. But, knowing how the money is spent makes me more likely and happy to contribute. I’d definitely ask your school where this money is going. When my kids went to a private Montessori for preschool we were asked to contribute to the annual fund, but there was no minimum amount for contributing, and it was explained to me after several years that it helps schools to get outside funding and grants for improvements to the school or special projects that benefit the school if the school gets a significant amount of participation. When applying for funding, this is something outside donors and organizations look for. So, these are things you may want to discuss with the school administration or PTA/PSO and see if they have other options that might be less stressful for parents, as well as ask them to make clear how this money is being spent. Also, this will help the school to be aware that this is an issue for parents and that they might need to revisit how they fundraise. It sounds like the fundraising situation is less than ideal. I’m hoping your school is able to make changes in the future. – Lorelei

This is a hard call to make, because you know the intentions are well-meaning, though fundraisers are a significant time and sometimes financial commitment. I think at the end of the day, it’s a call you have to make for yourself – if it’s not worth the stress and time, don’t do it. If you find a way to make it (somewhat) fun and a learning experience, then participate. Whatever your decision, move forward with confidence in your choice. We all have strengths and talents and ways to contribute – and participating in this fundraiser may or may not be the way for you. – Diana

That is literally no fun. I feel like we get asked to buy buy buy all the time–and every request is for a good cause or from someone we care about. The guilt associated with it is a bit much at times. If you genuinely cannot afford it, I would privately approach the school/program about it and be honest. Financial circumstances change for families all the time, surely there is some understanding of that fact. Perhaps you could offer to volunteer instead? “Help” doesn’t have to look like dollar bills. Also, don’t put much weight on people’s reactions. More and more people are getting asked to buy things and we’re being asked to get more comfortable with our answers–you can always ask and then trust that they are giving you an honest answer of yes or no. And if you’re the one being asked, give a short, honest answer of “yes, please” or “no, thank you.” Both are acceptable. – Lori Beth

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