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9.28.2010

The Official Magazine Fundraiser Rant

Consider yourself warned. I am about to make full use of the "it's my blog, I'll scream if I want to" clause.

I detest the annual magazine fundraiser that our school conducts. Wait. Detest may not actually be a strong enough term to adequately describe how much I loathe this concept, but my thesaurus us downstairs, so detest and loathe will have to do.

Grey is 7 and in the second grade. He loves his school. He's a good student and is truly enjoying his educational experience at NCS. This is his third year there. 

On the third day of school this year, the talk of the big magazine fundraiser started. He came home chirping enthusiastically about the prospect of prizes and rewards that could be achieved by selling magazine subscriptions. He was hyped, thanks to the school-wide pep talk that had happened that day. This is my first and second complaint to the existence of the magazine sale and to fundraisers in general--Objection #1--precious school hours are wasted on this endeavor, hours that could be used for far more vital, useful, *educational* things. Objection #2--the hyping of students, especially the younger ones on the *stuff I can win* mentality. Stuff stuff stuff. I need more stuff. Must have stuff.

No. Don't squander the time my child should be using to learn educational concepts.
No. Don't bribe him with stuff. Don't dangle "rewards" in front of him and make me be the bad mom who won't let him "achieve".
Selling magazine subscriptions does not an achievement make.

Objection #3--the competitiveness...the pitting of friends and classmates against each other for the title of "who can bully the most people into buying magazines". Really? Is this the picture of Christ's love we want our youngest children emulating? All for the purpose of magazine sales? Really? I think not. (And for the record, I do believe that competitiveness has it's place...just not here.)

Objection #4--the use of students as fundraisers. My child is not a salesman. I do not want him thinking it's his responsibility to contribute money to his school. I do that. His father does that. It's not his responsibility. He is a child. He will feel financial pressure soon enough in his life and it's our role to prepare him for handling it properly. We will do that, in our own time, without school.

I also don't want him trading on his cuteness. Who can look at a second grader who loves his school and not want to say yes. It's an unfair advantage. :)

Objection #5--The fundraiser primarily supports the magazine company...we're supposed to be impressed that a whopping 40% of the proceeds of this sale actually comes to our school. Really? I'm supposed to ask my friends and family to purchase a product to support my school and then I send more than half their dollars to the company providing the magazines. Wouldn't it be more fiscally responsible to ask them to make a smaller donation and actually *use 100%* of their money to better the school, instead of bettering a magazine subscription company?

Objection #6--Magazines. I don't know about your house, but in my house magazines become clutter. They can be recycled...something we do often, but in an economy that's questionable, is this really the best use of our money?

Objection #7--Ask your grandparents. After all, grandparents are a goldmine, and should never say no to the angelic grands requests for fundraising support. A good grandparent always has an open wallet, right. Um, no. Supporting my child's schooling is not the responsibility of his grandparents...all of whom, I might point out, live in different states. And all of whom have other grandchildren. I sincerely doubt that the grandparents in this family *could* support the many fundraisers that *all* their grandchildren are possibly participating in...not that I would put them in that position.

Objection #8--Parents can easily ask friends and co-workers to support our fundraisers. While this may be true for some, it's not true for us. Most of our friends have children and those children come with their own fundraisers. (It's a vicious cycle.) Participating in their fundraising becomes this big reciprocating money exchange...you buy from mine, I'll buy from yours...yadda yaddah yada. Hate that. Not doing it.

Those who don't have children--well, about this time every year, they get bombarded with requests...at the office, in the neighborhood, etc. Sorry. Not doing that to my friends who don't have children either.

Neither Joal or I have "an office" or traditional "co-workers".

Objection #9--Responsibility. Greyson belong to Joal and I, and the continuing responsibility for his well being falls squarely upon his father and myself. His schooling is part of that responsibility. We pay tuition for the services of this private, Christian school. That's our choice and our responsibility. We take that very seriously, to the point of sacrifice, at times...we don't pawn it off on others.

Objection #10--Citizenship. "Mom, I love my school, I *have* to sell magazines to make it better." His little heart was aching because I had declared that we would not be participating in the big magazine fundraiser and he was striving to reconcile how to be a "good school citizen" without pissing off his mom. This is precisely why children have no business being bombarded with the issues of fundraising. It's stressful for him...his value in the school community should not be based on what he brings into the school in a fundraiser. He should not perceive that he is less than a good school citizen because he doesn't participate in a magazine sale, but even at 6, he felt the pull of divided loyalties. And knowing that made me ill.

Our school nets $50,000 for the Parent-Teacher organization through the magazine fundraiser. Divided out, that's about $57 per student. Why don't we just tack about $57 onto the tuition bill and be done with this hassle? I would gladly pay an extra hundred dollars to *not* have to think about this...to not have my child be stressed or concerned about money...to avoid having his love for his school called into question...to eliminate the expectation that I enjoy nagging, bullying, harassing my friends, family and co-workers.

Alternatively, give parents the option of mass, non-participation. Make the "write a check" option OK in the community. I require no rewards, beyond the tax deduction. No magazines required. No selling, bullying, coercion, or manipulation required. No hassle. And Grey doesn't even have to know.

For what it's worth, we wrote a check. Made the donation. Covered his "responsibility".
The school gets to use 100% of the donated dollars. Grey was given the "reward" candy, the dollar store glasses, the privilege of wearing jeans for a week and invited to the reward picnic in a few days at a local park. I'm still not sure how I feel about that...

Ahhh, yes, I do feel better now. :)

Coming tomorrow...the Popcorn Rant.

7 comments:

Kim said...

You know I agree with you 100%!!!!!!

I'm good with passive fundraisers like Box Tops for Education or even my own photobook option or even things like the Entertainment Books that practically sell themselves because you save far more than you paid for it. But, children don't have a JOB to support the school. Our public middle school cut classes back to 35 minutes each this week so they could spend 90 minutes on a school-wide magazine fundraiser assembly. I'm seething....

Leigh Ann Scott said...

I also get so weary of fundraisers, and have opted out of participating in a few things this year. I know of at least one (public) elementary school that has an "invest in your child" program where they ask for $50 per family and do no fundraisers. Sounds like heaven! That being said, I am always happy to buy a Smart Card each year from the first person to ask. It more than pays for itself.

Good to see you blogging again! Miss hanging out with you. Wish I'd thought about the Dover LSS when we went through there last weekend (we camped at LBL).

Anonymous said...

You make good points. I'm a grandparent, and my grandkids have asked me to contribute to fundraisers.

For any grandparents reading this, I wanted to mention a new resource for grandparents. You can learn more information here: www.preparingmyheart.net. As grandparents, we have an important role!

Blessings,

Lydia Harris (aka Grandma Tea)

Mimi said...

Rant away, I just write a check.

Anita said...

Well said, Sarah! Of course, you are so elequent in your phraseology!I also struggled with these issues and often when approached will just write a check and let the child know 100% goes to his class, troop or whatever the case. I feel better and so does the child.

tnscrapper said...

Amen Sarah!

Marilyn C.

Anonymous said...

Our schools have ditched this type of fundraiser and the replacement while not cancelling all the items you listed is doable for us. They have a walk-a-thon. Each class walks for 30 minutes on the designated day. During this walk, they have fun stations set up around the track for the kids (plus they get out of class). We do pledge money for them and can get donations from others but it does allow the school to get almost all the money (there are prizes but they are raffled donated prizes)rather than cheap prizes. The top 3 classes get extra recess as a prize and are pretty happy with that. It is so much easier to write a check to the school than try to find something in those wrapping paper catalogs to buy knowing I could buy it way cheaper somewhere else and that not all the money goes to the school. peri