School (and other) fundraisers

Cloud asks (on her twitter, but we’re going to answer here anyway):

Clearly it is time to come up w/my personal policy on buying random crap from coworkers’ kids. So, twitter? Do I buy the gift wrap?

#1:  My policy is to ignore it unless personally asked, which I realize leads to bad motivation if I don’t want to be asked for money, as it rewards people bothering me.  But I’m only human and bad at saying no to good causes, especially education-related.  I never buy the crap unless I really want girl scout cookies, and the past few years I actually haven’t.  But I will give a cash donation.  I never have cash on me, so it’s always a two part process in which I say, I will give you cash tomorrow if you remind me.  Then at home I get cash from my partner.  Then I completely forget I have it the next day and the person never reminds me.  But on day 3, I remember, generally after fishing the cash out of my pocket the night before and feeling embarrassed, and money exchanges hands.

I never ask my coworkers for money for my various causes (well, unless they offer first).  If the school wants to do a fundraiser I just give them the money and don’t sell the crap.  Schools get so little from these fundraisers compared to what you buy, and the chocolate is so bad (unless it’s See’s, but it isn’t See’s here), that if I give $5 instead of spending $15 on something I don’t want, we’re all better off.  Except the companies that make money off of this whole facade.

#2:  I do not buy from kid fundraisers, not even in my own family.  I’m a bitch like that.

What do you do when your coworkers ask for donations/fundraising orders?  Do you ask your coworkers to buy things?

24 Responses to “School (and other) fundraisers”

  1. Louise Says:

    No, don’t buy the crap, ( I don’t) kids need to learn to hear ‘no’ from someone!

  2. Renee — ramblecrunch Says:

    Right now I’m homeschooling and most of my friends are homeschoolers (secular, FYI), so I don’t have to deal with this too often. However shortly before we left on our trip, the son of a good friend (a friend who always includes my daughter in everything and is extremely kind to us) hit me up via email for a magazine subscription. Didn’t want to do it for three reasons: I detest magazines lying around the house, we were about to leave for a year-long trip, and if I’m going to donate, I’d rather give cash to the school.

    Well I did it but it was stupid: $75 for 6 or 8 issues of a “high quality” kids mag. Didn’t give cash because the whole fundraiser was through mag subscriptions and I wanted the boy (and myself, I suppose) to get credit. Grrrrrrrrrr. Burns me up just thinking about it. Not mad at the kid or my friend, or course, just at myself for not handling the situation better.

    Was biggest waste of money ever and will never do it again. If I’m inspired, I’ll offer cash. That’s it.

    I do buy girl scout cookies from as many little girls as I can. Am not a monster after all….

    Husband gets this at work sometimes but doesn’t buy much other than the occasional piece of chocolate.

  3. First gen american Says:

    That’s another side benefit from having a home office. I dont get hit up at work anymore. Just door to door. Although sometimes I am tempted to give to the kid gutsy enough to go door to door.

    I only give cash to the school fundraisers. I don’t want overpriced junk. I’d rather it all go to the school. You can make a check right out to the pto. The only downside is your kid doesn’t get recognition that way.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      The recognition argument makes it even worse for me! I don’t want to teach my kid to become a tool for overpriced corporations in exchange for recognition and crap prizes in one of these marketing schemes. Ze’s got to learn to avoid multi-level marketing schemes at some point in hir life, and even though fundraisers aren’t MLMs, they’ve got a lot of similarities.

  4. julier Says:

    I don’t buy anything except Girl Scout cookies, and I only buy them from girls – never from parents or random sheets at work.

    Now that my girls are in elementary school, I mostly just give money. I may change my tune as the year progresses, but I usually don’t want to buy the stuff they are selling.

  5. Alyssa Says:

    I had a post about this a few weeks ago ( – both DH and I do not like the idea of hitting our family, friends, and co-workers up for cash. We also don’t like having to buy things we don’t need/want. So, our policy is to donate cash.

    As for us buying crap from other people – I haven’t encountered this yet (I know!). DH has only one co-worker that does this REGULARLY. The first couple of times he did buy something, but now says no every time.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Wow, starting age 1… that is pretty young for fundraising. Though I guess our preschools had it too, in addition to all the things the teachers would try to sell to make money for themselves rather than the school.

  6. Cloud Says:

    Thanks for posting this! I’ll be reading with interest. So far no softies….

    My previous employer had a policy against this, so I haven’t had to deal with this for awhile, and I find I’ve gotten softer from lack of practice.

    So I’ve bought some candy I sort of wanted, but passed on the wrapping paper.

    You’re absolutely right about the price vs. amount of money to the school/cause ratio.

    I do tend to give $25 or so to random coworkers doing fundraising runs, as long as I think the cause is acceptable.

  7. bloggerclarissa Says:

    I always wimp out and agree to buy the crap. What a truly weird tradition this is, to my foreign eyes. :-)

  8. hush Says:

    I’d buy only if the item/service being hawked were something I wanted (i.e. girl scout cookies – as long as they’re made with real girl scouts), and it was in fact a true bargain. This actually happened the other day when I got a text from a friend about a family pictures fundraiser for her kid’s school. We ended up getting a great deal on a Xmas card photo session by a great photographer, including a CD with all print rights. This was something that would have cost at least 10 times more than we paid had we not gotten in on the fundraiser deal. That said, I can’t think of much else in the world of school fundraising that’s a true bargain.

  9. GMP Says:

    I only give cash. I feel really bad that the public schools are reduced to depending on charity, but the minuscule percentage they get from selling crap is even more distressing. Really, it’s completely shameful how underfunded schools are even in relatively affluent neighborhood, and especially at a place with such high property taxes as mine. So when there’s a drive to buy something at my kids’ schools, I simply use it as a reminder to write a check for a donation.
    I never bought anything from a coworker.

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  11. Kellen Says:

    At our office, they discourage sending of these emails, but occasionally we get some. One woman sends out an email that her sons popcorn/chocolates/whatever are on her desk and we can stop by to buy some. But her office is really out of the way and separate from the rest of us, so it’s not hard to ignore that.
    I’m a big fan of the “give cash instead of buy crap” response – if the school is not set up to appreciate that well… that’s a problem.

    My elementary school did a fundraiser with a “Spaghetti Supper” each year. The school cafeteria was used to cook spaghetti, the kids had to go door to door to sell tickets, and also we had to act as servers at the actual function. It was a fun town event where parents all got to see each other and meet teachers. More effort than just signing up for a magazine you’ll just toss in the trash each month though.

  12. Debbie M Says:

    I don’t buy the stuff, not even Girl Scout cookies, and even when I did occasionally do so, I would never buy from the parents.

    I used to sell cookies and I ran a race where you had to collect sponsors, but I never do that anymore. I even sign a lot of online petitions, after which they always beg you to tell all your friends, but I won’t unless it’s a really big deal or occasionally if I know someone who has that issue.

    I don’t like asking for help, and I don’t like paying too much for stuff. (I don’t even buy more affordable cookies at the store–I tell myself I can make them cheaper, and then I usually don’t make them, so that’s good for my waistline). I did used to be a little tempted by the cookie dough buckets, but now that I’m into whole grains, it’s a lot easier to say no.

    Thank goodness no one asks me this stuff anymore. Well, occasionally the tamale lady comes by, but that’s a business, not a fund raiser, and the prices and tamales are good. I do contribute to retirement gifts at work, though. Someone drops off an envelope with a checklist of people and you put money in if you want and then check off your name and pass it on to someone else on the list. Unless you’re one of the first few people on the list, no one knows if you gave “too little” (or “too much”), so that’s cool.

    If anyone wants to harass me, I could say that I choose my causes at the beginning of the year and that I am fighting poverty, abuse, and environmental destruction (to put things into perspective), but I’ve never actually done that. Even the firefighters calling on the phone–I just say, “Sorry, I’m not interested; you may as well move on to the next person on your list. Good luck, though.”

  13. bogart Says:

    I echo a lot of the reactions and concerns raised above but not, in my behaviors, in a very systematic way. I’m not tremendously prone to buying stuff, especially overpriced unneeded stuff, so I don’t buy if not asked. I do like GS cookies and will buy some though it depends on where I am both budgetarily and dietarily. I will generally buy stuff from school aged kids who go door to door because, I suppose, I want to promote interactions and entrepreneurship (even though it’s via some dreadful corporate fund-raising ick I hope there’s still some useful lesson for the kids somewhere there). My coworkers rarely if ever (touch wood) solicit directly, so I’m usually OK there.

    I give modest amounts to those who participate in fundraising walks, rides, etc. I’m not a huge fan of the mode, but I’m willing to respect/support their participation.

  14. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    #2 would like to point out that I *do* buy GS cookies because they are good. That is the only thing I buy, though. And I have one pre-arranged place to buy them from: my friend’s daughter. She doesn’t hit me up, I hit her up. “Is it time to place cookie orders yet?” That is my only exception. Otherwise, cash or nothing.

    I will often donate to friends who are doing a thing for a cause, like run 5k to help India or something, or a bike ride against asthma, or a run to support cancer research, if they make it easy on me (send me a link). But again — not with buying crap.

    o, p.s. You can freeze GS cookies for later in the year — I do.

    • Donna Freedman Says:

      The trouble with freezing them is that they taste just as good frozen as they do at room temp. Thus I’d just eat WAY too many if I bought extras.
      I don’t do that any longer. I just give them a couple of dollars and wish them luck.

  15. Molly (Mike and Molly's House) Says:

    One year the kids school asked the parents and community for cash donations. They explained the more they got the less wrapping paper would need to get sold. I loved the concept!
    My oldest is selling plants right now. I give her my friends # and let her call them. I think it teaches her perseverance and follow through. I don’t expect people say yes- what kind of lesson would that teach her? Not much in my book!
    Last year I bought some girl scout cookies from a friends kid. She called me to tell me I could pick them up. I told her she could deliver if she wanted her $! I’m kind of a hard ass when it comes to this sort of thing.

  16. oilandgarlic Says:

    I think school fundraising should be banned in the workplace unless you do it discreetly (email, no in-person pressure). I usually smile and say politely “no” but sometimes I get suckered in. I also think it’s good for the kids to hear no once in a while. I’m mean, I know!

    • Donna Freedman Says:

      One year a co-worker’s daughter came by my desk selling wrapping paper or some damn thing. I said, “No, thank you.” She burst into tears. I mean literally started crying.
      Some kids need to hear “no” a little earlier in their lives than they’re apparently hearing it now.

  17. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    I love the word “cash”.

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