This could totally get me kicked out of the PTA . . .

You know what I hate? And, yes, I know hate is a very strong word. But I mean it — hate, hate, hate.

You know what I hate?


Which is pretty funny considering I was in full-time missions for four years and had to raise all the funds to cover our living expenses. But we didn’t call that fundraising. We called it friend-raising (seriously, there’s a book called that) or partnership development. Whatever we called it, I stunk at it. So did my husband. We hated asking people for money. When we visited churches or spoke to groups or talked one-on-one with people about missions, we barely ever mentioned money. That’s probably why we lived well below the poverty threshold during those four years.

If I hated raising the funds for groceries for my children, then I certainly hate raising funds for iPads for a bunch of middle schoolers. And I hate raising funds for the sake of fundraising, which it seems to me is what my sons’ school does – though I’m sure there must be a very good reason I’m supposed to help convince everyone I know they need to buy something from the catalog my sons brought home a couple weeks ago.

That catalog had everything in it from gift wrap to cookie dough to folksy decor to snowman-shaped serving tongs. And one catalog per family wasn’t enough. I have four sons in the school, so we had four catalogs and order forms.

Out of those four catalogs, guess how many items we sold.


I know, I know — I’m not a team-player. I’d probably be kicked out of the PTA if they didn’t want to keep my five dollars in dues. But I just can’t send my kids around the neighborhood as miniature door-to-door salesman — even though they sure are adorable and would probably make some sales. I hate the guilt-inducing pleas of schoolchildren’s fundraisers, and I don’t really want to subject other people to that.

The middle school also kicked off the school year with a fundraiser. They were selling sets of plastic cups with sports’ teams logos on them. Spirit Cups – the catalog was labeled. But I told my daughter I’d only beg my Facebook friends to buy the things if I could call them Sports Cups or Athletic Cups.

Alas, I never even mentioned it on Facebook. Most of my friends have children or nieces or nephews or neighbors or someone who is also selling something nobody needs in order to raise money for their schools. And I sure don’t want to feel obligated to buy something from them! So I’m not asking them to buy something from my kids.

Heck, I didn’t even buy anything from my kids. I don’t need a sports cup — of any kind. And I don’t need snowmen-shaped serving tongs. And I don’t need a Christmas CD — hello? Have these people heard of iTunes? And I buy my kitchen wall calendar at the bookstore the first week of January when it’s half-priced. And I buy chocolate candy on impulse in the grocery store because it seems easier to justify impulse, bad-day chocolate than pre-meditated, from a catalog chocolate.

So I chaperone field trips and I help five classrooms of kindergarteners do a craft on their big spring activity day. I enthusiastically cheer on groups of fourth graders at Field Day and I serve ice cream toppings to the entire second grade. I deliver cookies and cake pops on birthdays and I chaperone the eighth grade dance. Ok, my motives weren’t completely pure and selfless on that one. I was a spy dressed as a mom serving punch.

I even cut and save Boxtops and volunteered to coordinate that program for the whole school. Which may be my way of overcompensating for refusing to sell anything during any other fundraiser my children do. Oh, alright – I don’t even actually cut those Boxtops myself. But I provide the scissors and the Ziploc baggie hanging on the side of the fridge that my kids stick them in. And I let my kids dig the boxes back out of the trash after I accidentally throw away the frozen pizza boxes that have double boxtops on them. And I convince myself I am teaching them responsibility by allowing them to take ownership of this whole Boxtop project! 

I love my kids. I love their teachers. I love their schools. I just really, really, really hate fundraisers.

Please, please tell me I’m not alone. Do you hate fundraisers? Have you ever thrown away a Boxtop or a Campbell’s Soup Label? Would you buy snowman-shaped serving tongs for your child? What about a Barry Manilow Christmas CD? Isn’t he Jewish? And don’t you think the middle schoolers would be more motivated to ask people to buy those things if they really were called Sports Cups? 

20 thoughts on “This could totally get me kicked out of the PTA . . .

  1. I also deplore fundraising. That said, I adore my kids’ school which could not exist without extensive fundraising – and not to buy iPads, either, but simply to make budget so the teachers can be paid their meager salaries. I think it is terribly sad that public schools have to fundraise. They get my tax money and my school gets nothing. The money certainly isn’t going to teachers either, so where is it going? Pardon me while I step down off my soapbox. I’ll remain quiet now.


    1. Those are the exact things I was ranting about the other day when they brought home the fundraising stuff. The teachers aren’t paid enough. Positions have been cut. My fifth-grader and his classmates felt so sorry that the librarian’s aide position was eliminated that they offered to have a giant bake sale to raise money to pay an aide for her! Bless their little hearts!


  2. I also HATE fundraisers. I’d rather give a lump sum – which we do anyhow. Also hate all the $2 or $1 or $5 or even $10 donations towards this project and that project or field trip. For 3 kids AT LEAST once a month, it adds up over the year. I can’t imagine how much it’ll add up for your family. Also HATE when teachers have your child decorate a t-shirt that you, pretty much, HAVE to buy, even if you really don’t have the extra $ right then. Cuz who else is going to buy and wear the t-shirt your child just hand painted. I totally get your frustrations. Instead of volunteering in each classroom, I’m opting to volunteer in the library 2 days a week. This way I can see my kids at school.


  3. Nope, you are not alone. I hate doing them and hate telling the sweet children that come to my door, “No.” Sigh…And I have the same issue as Shannon. My tax dollars are also going to the public schools — and my children are not, so I doubly hate those fund raisers. Ugh! Such a problem!


    1. Yeah. I was just thinking the other day — the best thing about homeschooling was no fundraisers. 🙂 What if I had sent my little homeschoolers around the neighborhood selling cookies to raise money for curriculum? lol


  4. Oh Jen, I am right there with you. And what’s worse, as the county 4-H Agent, part of my job is to help clubs coordinate fundraising opportunities. Ugh.

    During the elementary school years, our school had a great alternative. If you made a donation at the start of the year (don’t remember the amount, but I’m guessing it was like $50) they wouldn’t even send the catalogs, forms, etc. home with the kids. Another version of arm-twisting, to be sure. But well worth the price to avoid the guilt of sending back an empty order form…..


  5. Definitely agree with you!! I have always hated to ask people for money! A friend of mine from Blacksburg High asked me to buy frozen cookie dough and I told her I would give her $16 but I didn’t want the cookie dough. I told her I prefer my own homemade cookies from scratch anyway. 🙂 I let my oldest sell those “spirit cups” – but we have been calling them sports team cups! – as long as he did all the work. He just wants to have lunch in a limo! Wait a minute … how much money is this lunch in a limo going to cost out of the money he made for the fundraiser!! Ridiculous! I would rather donate time and money in other ways. It seems wasteful to try to sell things from catalogs that will barely make enough money to pay for the paper used for the fundraising. I will say, though, that fundraising for boy scouts has always been great. They get a large percentage of the money directly into their own account and I have never had to pay dues for either boy because of that.


    1. Lisa, I really think it depends on the type of fundraiser. Some really do give a high percentage of the proceeds to the schools or organization. But you’re right — once you factor in the prizes and the cost of the catalogs and order forms, how much money actually goes to the school?


      1. Right — to me, some are more worthwhile than others as far as what proceeds go back to the organization that needs the funds. I also dislike the portrait company that does school portraits sending out the portraits to each student whether they ordered them or not. I figure they’re hoping they’ll get more families to decide to buy them when they see them right there in front of them, but it seems to me that it’s a huge waste if people do not buy them. I have been trying to leave behind a smaller amount of waste than I used to, and things like that have been standing out to me.


  6. Yes, this is a major dislike. The last school system we were in voted to just donate a set amount and forgo fundraising altogether. PTA parents voted unanimously and just on PTA member’s donations, made more money than previous year of peddling wares.
    Another major dislike is when parents use a bible study, Facebook, or other group to advertise that their child is selling. Although my child is ALSO trying to earn a silly prize, her mother finds peddling to friends to be tacky.


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