School Fundraising DO’s and DON’Ts

Oh, for the love of school fundraising! I’d rather eat glass than have my kids sell chocolate bars to our friends.

However, there are quite a few learning lessons and life skills kids can learn from school fundraising if it’s done the right way.

Just this year alone, I have been on the receiving end of excellent fundraising etiquette – as well as the not-so-excellent fundraising etiquette.

Excellent example:

Jackson, a high school boy who plays tennis with my daughter, was raising money to build a backboard for his high school tennis courts as part of his Eagle Scout project. He texted me and asked to come to our house at a particular time to talk to us about his project. Jackson came to our house one evening, sharply dressed with his Eagle Scout uniform on, and shared with us about his fundraising. He did all of the talking while his dad waited in the car. As a result, we were very impressed and wrote him a check for $150.

Not-so-excellent example:

Every year a mom who lives walking distance from our house sends a mass email “Jenni is selling _______ to raise money for ________. Click on the link below to support her team.” Her daughter is in high school, yet the mother is doing all of the work for her. If the daughter would simply come knock on our door, I would buy from her in a heartbeat. Until then…..

School Fundraising Don’ts

  • Helicopter parents, stay out of it. Little Jenni and Billy are raising money for their basketball team and their Girl Scout troop – not your basketball team. Your child needs to take ownership of their fundraising and have skin in the game.
  • Don’t do the talking, selling or promoting for your child. They need to learn to say “Hello, my name is _________. I’m a member of the ____________ group/club/organization and I’m raising money for my group.”
  • Don’t blast your child’s fundraising on social media, email or text messaging. Get out and talk to people face-to-face. ** The one exception to this rule: Our good friends have a daughter named Tutu who is confined to a wheelchair. The mom filmed Tutu talking about how she was selling Girl Scout cookies. Tutu did all of the talking – and it was adorable! As a result, we bought several boxes of cookies from her.

School Fundraising Do’s

  • Drive your child house-to-house or to a friend’s house, but wait in the car. Your child should do all of the talking.
  • Teach your child how to give a good handshake and introduce themselves.
  • Teach your child how to give a short presentation of what products they are selling.
  • Teach them how to be responsible with the money they collect and how to organize it.
  • Teach them how to say “thank you” to every person who buys from them.

School fundraising can be a big burden to parents. I get it. If you are not able to drive your child around your community asking people to buy, be honest with your coordinator.

I have seen many parents (including myself) who have said “We want to support our team the best way we can, but since I work full-time I do not have the extra time needed to help Jenni sell chocolate bars, can I just write a check directly to the team and pitch in that way?”

Many schools have ditched fundraising in lieu of parents all contributing $100.

At the end of the day, it is an extremely valuable lesson for kids to learn how to do business. Support entrepreneurial skills any way you can. If your kids don’t participate in school fundraising, encourage them to have lemonade stands, bake sales or sell crafts on Etsy.

Most importantly, don’t do the work for them. Teach them a few basic skills and soon they will be off to the races!


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