Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Taking the Fun Out of Fundraisers

Next spring Lizzie will be treated to a two night stay at a local camp that bills itself as the gold standard for outdoor education. The camping experience is part of the Fifth grade curriculum and falls under "Outdoor Education." At our last school, the cost for the fifth grade trip was borne almost entirely by the school. This time around, we're at a different, slightly less affluent school and we've been called upon to fundraise.

I have no qualms with fundraising unlike so many other folks. It can be fun and its for a good cause. We're the first ones to pick up our order forms and we enthusiastically set out to sell the most cookies/entertainment books/wrapping paper to unknowing friends and neigbors. This year, though, I am dreading fundraising.

The cost for the trip is $160 but the tricky part is that we don't have to just sell enough to cover Lizzie's part. We must sell as much as we can in case the lazy parents down the block - who want their kid to go to Outdoor Ed - decide to just sit on their asses. Yep, the goal for all fifth grades is 11k. So, if only three kids sell 11k, then everyone still gets to go. It's unlikely that this will happen but I have known a Girl Scout to sell over $5,000 in cookies. Is this fair?

I'm not worried about my kid selling enough to cover her part. Heck, I'd rather just write a check for the $160 than peddle cookie dough (who came up with that idea so close to GS cookie season?). The issue I do have is that there were other better suggestions for fundraising that didn't require our kids to prey on friends and neighbors - like a yard sale or talent show - yet this is the idea chosen because, well, it worked so well for us two years ago. Yeah, and I'm sure that all those people who bought eighteen thousand dollars worth of cookie dough still have it sitting in their freezer and will probably not be too keen on buying any more. Just a thought.

But, like dutiful parents, we will take our order forms to work and convince co-workers, overweight or diabetic, that no family dinner is complete without a three pound tub of Snickerdoodle dough.

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