Whose Fundraiser Is It, Anyway?

I got out of bed this morning with feet that ached so badly, I had to “hobble” across the bedroom floor. Was it age finally setting in? No, just fundraiser burnout.  I worked 3 ½ hours yesterday morning at a drill team bake sale, 4 ½ hours in the afternoon at the elementary school carnival/auction, and an hour and a half selling “latecomer” tickets at a high school choir concert. I definitely wore the wrong shoes.


I’ve been thinking a lot about fundraisers lately, and not just because my feet are screaming at me. In fact, every year, most parents mull the pros and cons of fundraising if they have children involved in anything outside of the family. Scouts, sports teams, bands, church youth, public school, private school- every group associated with kids is raising money, fall and spring, all over America, usually at the same time.  Just this month, the Boy Scouts have been selling popcorn; football players are selling coupon books; the high school band had a march-a–thon; there’s a fundraising car wash and garage sale just about every weekend; and numerous groups have been having fundraising nights at local eateries—in addition to carnivals, auctions, bazaars, home tours, and bake sales. Each girl on Allison’s drill team was recently required to sell 50 $1 sweepstakes tickets; each family was responsible for soliciting three $10 gift card/certificate donations for the sweepstakes; each family had to bake (and I mean bake—no store-bought items allowed) six large items for the bake sale (and we were given a sheet of instructions as to what the definition of “large” is) and each parent and drill team member was required to work two three-hour shifts at this weekend’s arts and crafts bazaar/bake sale (Andy is grateful one of his shifts involved doing something “manly”, marking off vendor booth space with electrical tape.) Oh, and each family was required to shop for, and donate, 72 bottles/cans of water and soda.  If parents don’t do their part, their daughter receives a demerit (a.k.a. point deduction that can eventually lead to the girl getting kicked off the team.)  When I asked someone in charge what happens if the child doesn’t sell 50 sweepstakes tickets (Allison only sold 6), I was told we had to write a check for the difference.  “But make sure to put your name on all those ticket stubs if you do!” I had to smile as I turned in my baked goods and the bake sale chairperson said, “Great! That will be one merit for your daughter.” Drill team members earn merits (points added) when they do something good. Um, I took off a whole day of work to bake those 36 chocolate chunk cookies, 12 blueberry-flax muffins, 12 giant peanut butter cups, 2 pans of Banana Nut Cheerios bars and 1 chocolate chip cookie pie…don’t I get a merit, too?


I’ve got to honestly admit that it never occurred to me to ask Allison, or require Allison, to help me bake those items.  I’ve always looked at most fundraisers as something kids don’t have time to do any more—with homework and extracurriculars, if my kids have extra time, I want them to be cleaning their rooms or doing something else to help around the house.  Also, I figure funds for drill team uniforms and choir trips are going to eventually come out of my pocket, so what’s wrong with me doing most of the fundraising work in order to save a buck?


Plenty, I’m starting to realize.  It just worsens that sense of entitlement so many teens have these days, which is crippling to their future adulthood, and hurts their character.  And I’ve been feeling a “teen entitlement wave” coming at me from Allison a lot lately.  There’s been a lot of “do this-buy that-drive me here-take me there” attitude without much in return.

Chores are being half-done, if at all; clothes from vacation are still mounded in a pile on her bedroom floor three weeks later; grades in science and math are dismal; sass and back talk have reached new levels of cut-to-the-core viciousness.  Meanwhile, her school choir is planning an optional trip to Disney World for April and they recently had an Innisbrook gift sale…her one customer was me, and it took me a half hour just to input the order online.


As luck would have it, I just happened to be talking to a wise parent last weekend, a seasoned AFS host mom, also with two girls of her own, who long ago got fed up and decided that if her kids expected to go on expensive band or choir trips, they would be required to earn a certain percentage of the cost through the fundraisers provided and through doing odd jobs. Wow– why didn’t no-nonsense anti-helicopter me think of that?  Suddenly, all those magazine and cookie dough fundraisers I used to despise looked a whole lot better.  Because it doesn’t matter if you like what they’re selling or if your kid is “too busy to sell”.  If they really want to go, they’ll find a way to “move the product”, if it’s a requirement.  And in the age of modern technology, it’s not that time-consuming for them to send a mass e-mail to friends and family, a mass text, or (No way, Mom!) personal phone calls.  Just like with any sale, they just might learn something about goal setting, marketing and promotions.  And if the kid doesn’t want to put forth the effort toward raising part of the cost, then they really don’t want to go that badly, and the parents can save money. (And, if the product doesn’t sell, then the organization needs to re-think its fundraising efforts—with input from the kids!!)


At first I thought this newfound strategy would be wasted regarding the choir trip, since the Innisbrook fundraiser has ended (and we don’t have many lucrative “odd jobs” for Allison to do). But, God bless ‘em, the choir booster club moms just announced another fundraiser—fresh poinsettias.  And I’ve already told Allison that she has to sell 15 in order to go on the Disney trip. 


So far, no effort has been made on her part, and the orders are due Friday.  I don’t think she thinks I’m serious.  But I am.  Because if anyone in this family should be “entitled” to something right now, it’s not her– it’s me.