Here's something I wrote when my child was at the age where fundraising never ended.
October 5, 1999
It’s that time of year when we are besieged by pint-sized salespeople raising money for their school, club, or sport, and I feel the need to blow off a little steam. So I offer my review of various fund-raising methods.
The convoluted campaign. Once upon a time a psychotic PTA president with too much time on her hands was approached by a slick sales rep from the Jun-Key Merchandise company who had figured out a way to legally use child labor to sell his goods. Evidently the school made a lot of money, because 30 years later your kindergartner comes home from school with 3 catalogs of merchandise, a prize list, order forms, and 2 pages of instructions including order due date, delivery date, money-due date, and distribution procedures. As you stare in bewilderment, you realize that it is not your 5-year-old who will be selling this stuff, rather you will become a parasite on your fellow employees for the next 13 years. Try not to be too embarrassed when you ask your workmate to hand over $10 for 3 ounces of stale chocolate. After all, you are now obligated to buy something from each of her children next time they are selling. And together we make the Jun-Key Merchandise company very rich.
Socially acceptable begging. At the opposite extreme of complexity, a more straightforward little league coach once devised this brilliant fund-raising plan – give the kids each a can and drop them off in front of a popular store to beg for handouts. Hence, we can hardly walk into Walmart without being accosted by these junior pan-handlers who look as embarrassed as we feel. I ask you, what does this teach our children about how to make a buck?
The American work ethic. I truly admire a group of kids willing to work – not just sell – to earn money for their cause. They wash cars, they make sandwiches, cook hot dogs, fry potatoes, boil spaghetti. They’re not asking for a donation; they give you something for your money. Three cheers!!
The simple transaction. This is my absolute favorite! Hand me a candy bar [or sandwich coupon]; I’ll hand you a buck. Transaction complete – beautiful in its simplicity. I don’t mind buying them; I don’t mind selling them. I implore HSA members and coaches everywhere – think candy bars.