J2 Content – Perspectives

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Selling Overload: Children and Fundraisers

It is well into the 2nd semester of my son’s 4th grade year, but I was not surprised when he came home with paperwork for yet another fundraiser.

“Be sure to sponsor your son/daughter [insert name of child here] in the annual Jog-A-Thon. Top prizes include a free year book and lunch with the principal!”

This latest fundraiser involves the children collecting money for the quantity of laps they travel around the school’s basketball courts in 20 minutes. Basically, if I pledge $1 per lap and my son completed 10 laps, I would have to pay $10 to the cause. (I have to give them creative points for this one as it at least encourages kids to exercise.)

I fully acknowledge that the public school system is strapped for cash. I understand that a school facing budget cuts will usually cut extra-curricular activities such as the student government or chess club. I also know this, too often, is followed by severe cuts to art or music. Fundraisers are championed as a potential solution in order to pay for these programs.

However, anyone who knows me already knows that I have issues with fundraisers.

The fundraiser ‘events’ all seem to start off in the same way: an assembly is called, and whomever is running the fundraiser (usually the PTA), rallies the kids into a sales frenzy by enticing them with prizes for the top sellers. Even though I could purchase most of these ‘top prizes’ at the local discount store, the kids get hooked and they are off to the races, intent on being the top seller so they can bring home the glow in the dark yo-yo before anyone else.

This creates a dilemma for parents, such as myself, whose friends all have children of their own. Thanks to the rule of reciprocity, if my child approaches them about a fundraiser, I can expect a knock at my door from their child the next time around.

Another issue that I have with fundraisers is the sheer quantity of them. Let’s take my son as an example: between non-school activities and the school itself, we are given at least one fundraiser to participate in every month. I can’t help but wonder if my son is simply learning to be a salesperson. Not to say that sales is a bad career path; however, it is not the best fit for every child.) Most importantly, not every family can dish out the cash for this volume of fundraisers.

Children should not be peer pressured by their school system or the PTA to participate in these fundraising ‘events,’ but they are. Similarly, parents should not be put into the uncomfortable situation of having to explain to their child about why they can’t sponsor them (again) for the latest fundraiser, but we sometimes are. There has to be a better way to meet the financial needs of programs than to pressure our children to so frequently sell so many items for which most people have so little use.

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One Response to “Selling Overload: Children and Fundraisers”

  1. Rosemary
    on Apr 13th, 2011
    @ 8:52 pm

    I totally agree!!!!!!!!!!!

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