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School Fundraising Burnout, Anyone?

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I love my son's school, but does the fundraising have to have the same aggression as a political campaign??

Tired looking mom

Dani Klein Modisett: My first grader goes to a Los Angeles public school -- an amazing jewel of a place nestled in the hills of Bel Air and run by this tireless, force-of-nature woman who is the principal. It's a magnet school, and you enter a lottery to get in. When my son was accepted, it didn't only "feel" like we'd won the lottery -- we actually had. So let me begin by saying that in the area of education, my family has been blessed. And the timing could not have been better, because although we had strongly considered private school, in the current economic climate (meaning that both me and my husband are making noticeably less money now than a few years ago), the fact that we don't have to worry about paying an institution to teach my son to read and write is a gift from God, or at least LAUSD.

Having acknowledged all that, can I also say that my eyeballs are red and my hair is falling out from the most aggressive fundraising I have ever experienced? I mean, bless them for coming at it from every angle, but do we really need to charge grandparents for coming to Grandparents Day? We have already had candy sales, magazine sales, pizza sales, books fairs, a school-supplies fest, a sweetheart dance and, most recently, a "readathon" where my son had to solicit people to sponsor him reading pages -- $1 for every one he reads in a month. I can't complain too much about this one, since he's plowing through books to stay ahead of his buddies. And there was even a "mustache-farming" fundraiser (I told you the principal was tireless). Participants took pledges for who could grow the most impressive mustache in a month. I enjoyed this one wholeheartedly, and realized why as I was sitting in the auditorium applauding the winner.

I couldn't compete in it. At least not with a chance at winning. No feelings of guilt washed over me for not having done more. I love this school and would giddily hand them a check for $100,000 myself if I had it, or even a lot less. This is the part, I think, that bothers me most. Every time the school puts its figurative hand out, I am reminded of how tight the reins are pulled in on our family right now, and it breaks my heart a little bit for all of us.

Of course, if they were interested in a chin-hair contest ....

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6 comments so far | Post a comment now
patsy April 2, 2010, 10:55 AM

I totally understand what you are saying and felt that way when we first began elementary school. Then, I realized how much our PTA pays for that the school district does not cover and now I’m on the board so I can help direct the type of fundraising we are doing.

~ Pat April 4, 2010, 7:24 PM

Our schools used to be like that but after much parental angst and revolt, we moved to an annual “Pass the Hat” Campaign with the promise that there would be no more fundraisers for the rest of the school year if enough funds were raised.

At the start of each year, the PTSA calculates how much each family would have to donate to meet the PTSA projected budget and then asks families to donate that amount or whatever is comfortable. Some families donate more, some less, but we have met the budget, and then some, every year for the past six years.

As a parent, I love writing one check and knowing that my *financial* support is done for the year… As a PTSA board member, I also love knowing up front whether the budget will work or not:)

Loreli April 5, 2010, 9:18 AM

I’d rather donate money than be forced to sell that cheap fund raising crap!

K April 5, 2010, 12:49 PM

It gets even worse - in my cousins’ school district, they don’t even FUNDRAISE for the school anymore! They’re in a very affluent district and manage to have ample funding for their programs even amidst the economic downturn. So they find other causes to fundraise for. They’re doing one of the ASPCA right now, and while it’s really nice that they’re doing it, it’s kind of annoying, too! My mother is happy to support my cousins’ schools through fundraisers if she can, but to find out after the fact that the money isn’t going to the kids at all really burned her butt, as our budget at home is pretty strained right now.

BelieveJay April 5, 2010, 2:38 PM

As financing in schools worsen, I’m sure schools are very tempted to create additional fundraisers to make up the difference. The thing is, it turns folks off and leads to exactly what you are talking about.

I think it’s best to have less fundraisers and make a much bigger deal out of them. Really let the parents know that this is one that they have to support and then don’t have another one right around the corner… Spend the time and effort producing results out of the fundraisers that profit most.

There just won’t be the same need to have so many fundraisers if that were the case.

SoHappy April 5, 2010, 7:09 PM

Glad my daughter is out of school and I don’t have to deal with it anymore.

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