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?