Cookie Dough and Gift Wrap - School Fundraisers

Updated on February 23, 2008
D.V. asks from Colton, OR
39 answers

I work hard with fundraising for our schools, but I don't care to purchase fundraising items from students knowing that the companies benefit far more than the schools. However, I always feel really bad when I have to say that I am not interested in their products. How do you say, "No"?

On the other hand when my kids want to sell fundraiser items; we live in the country and do not have any family close by. Our friends also have kids in the same schools. How do you help your school with fundraisers and gaining funds to enable teachers to purchase needed items for their classrooms?

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for your comments about school fundraisers! I needed to know that parents want alternatives to school fundraisers as I do. I keep hearing the same theme in your replies that giving directly to the school is an effective and direct way to support your school. I also liked the ideas of community events rather than student sales to raise funds. I greatly appreciate your comments and knowing that you do want to give directly to schools. I find your comments encouraging to me to expand my secure donation website, www.Donate2Educate.com, not only to give teachers a voice for what their classroom wishes and needs are, but also to give families a view of what is needed in their child(ren)s classrooms. Your comments also gave me ideas for fundraising events for my childrens school and to offer as suggestions for other schools! Thank you very much, what a great group of Moms!

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J.F.

answers from Portland on

I generally just give a cash donation straight to the PSO or PTA. They get 100% of the funds that way.

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S.L.

answers from Portland on

I suggest just giving a donation. If it's not about you not having the money, just say "I'd rather not buy cookie dough, but I'll give you a $10 donation," I'd say that's support enough!

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K.G.

answers from Seattle on

I was a PTO President for my children's school out in Hawaii. I had a lot of parents come to me with the same concerns. They wanted to help but didn't want to give half their money to the companies. They would just make a monetary donation in whatever amount to the PTO instead of participating in the fundraiser. It was nice and was still a way to support the teachers, other staff, PTO, and their child at the same time.

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B.B.

answers from Portland on

Try and work with the school fundraiser chairperson to do projects that don't require items to be purchased such as a Jog-a-thon or Wal-mart has a program for recycling plastic bags and schools can earn $ for it.

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C.B.

answers from Portland on

Here is my experience. I have 2 daughters who also have school fundraising as well as sports. We opt out of the sports fundraising by paying extra for registration. I am on the pta board for my youngest school. I allow my youngest to sell if she wants, but have implemented several programs that do not require selling of items. The best one we have at our school is the escrip program. This is a web based site that allows parents and family of the students to register their
Safeway club card and name our school as the school to donate to. Then every time they use their club card at the store for their regular shopping, escrip tracks this and automatically deposit the donation amount into our account monthly. Our little school (less than 500 students, and lower income school) earns at least $3600 for the year. I encourage your school to look into this program if they don't have it already. You can find the info at www.escrip.com .
We also have the recycling program at our school, and Dollars for Schollars where the parents can just write a check to our school.

R.S.

answers from Portland on

If you think a fund raiser is benefiting a company more than the school, then I wouldn't buy the item. If you really want to donate to the school than write a small check to the school itself, explaining to the child you are not interested in the item, but want to help the school. You could tell the child maybe next time but not now thank you if you don't want to give anything at all.

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J.F.

answers from Seattle on

Our school calculatd out what they would receive from a certain number of items sold. The parents then had the opportunity to cut a check for that amount or to sell the items. For $25.00 I think it equaled ten items, and so on. It took the stress out of my fundraising. I just needed to make sure we only helped one or two times a year. It seemed like the PTSA, the fourth graders, the sports team and the sixth graders all started having their own fund raisers.

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K.C.

answers from Portland on

donate your money directly to the school and don't buy anything. My kids school has that listed as an option for parents who want to help but do not want to buy the products.

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C.L.

answers from Medford on

I also spent a lot of time on fundraisers for our kids as they grew up. We found the same problem with not receiving enough money from selling items to actually warrant the effort of our children. We developed a relationship with a company that made discount cards. All it cost us was the cost to make the card. We sold sponsor ads to the community that enabled us to sponsor their business also along with making money for our schools.

Ads were for 2 for the cost of 1 dinners, Free drinks with purchase of meals, Money off on hair cuts and more.

I believe we made over 85% profit on the cards we sold. I thing we sold each card for $5 to $10 dollars.

I hope this helps you

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M.D.

answers from Seattle on

Well, when my kids were in school (we home school now) I would ask the teacher what was needed and donat that. Also some fundrasers will give u the option of jsut money and not having to buy anything.

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C.H.

answers from Portland on

We never sold anything. We sometimes bought things and distributed them as small Christmas gifts to neighbors etc. with an honest description of the "other" reason we bought it.

The exception was candy. My husband worked in a building with no vending machines so everyone took turns leeaving candy for sale in the break rooms on the honor suystem.

Remember that you can always give a check directly to a school funraiser of any sort and it is tax deductible.

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M.K.

answers from Portland on

Hi D.!

One thing I do instead of purchasing those type of items is write a check directly to the school. That way kids don't go away feeling rejected and I'm not supporting something I don't believe in nor adding to my collection of junk :)

I have to add that I worked for a non-profit elementary school for five years. We did A LOT of fundraising and never once did we buy into those candy bar/gift wrap/junk items for a fundraiser. We hosted dances, Festivals, book sales, Vacation Raffles and all sorts of really fun events that had meaning. It was always busy and a lot of work but it was a blast!

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P.E.

answers from Anchorage on

I don't insist, or even encourage, my kids to sell catalogue items for any purpose. I simply donate checks from myself and family members in lieu of the order form. Also, I'd rather donate one good sized check once a year than multiple small orders (where, as you pointed out, the school does not get a very big percent).
This year, my kids are in a new school which does not use this method for fundraising. They have family fun days/fairs instead. The only money spent there is to play games, make crafts, or buy snacks. This does raise a lot of money for the school yet it costs very little for any individual family to participate. and... its fun!
As far as options for what to do when others ask for your financial support for their school...
1) say thank you for thinking of me, however, I am already donating all my extra funds to my own children's school AND good luck with your fund raising project! 2) offer to write a check directly to the school (even $5 to the school is helpful)
3) offer to donate through another source such as Escript or a local store which will give a percent of what you spend to the school you designate
4)offer to donate your time and skills to their school instead of money. It is more personal to the child if you come read a story to her class than if you order from some catalogue.
We can all give encouragement and some type of support. Here's a quick list of ideas off the top of my head: volunteer on the playground; watch a class for 15 minutes so the teacher can have a coffee break; send a jumbo pack of wet wipes to help a class keep their room clean; bake homemade bread for snack time(or buy some from a bakery) ; volunteer in the school library; help a teacher grade papers; share your favorite poem with a class or during assembly.
Support comes in many colors besides green ;-)

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P.S.

answers from Portland on

i don't say no. I give them the price of the cookie dough or gift wrap so they can donate it to their school. I write a check and add "donation" to the front. this way their school gets the whole amount.

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S.K.

answers from Medford on

Hi Darlene,
My children are grown, but I get plenty of requests to purchase items to help the schools of grandchildren, nieces and nephews. The last request was to purchase magazines that would give the school 40-cents for each subscription sold. I didn't want the magazines, so I wrote a check directly to the school with "donation" written in the memo field. We have taken items that are needed to the schools along with a small donation check. Without the middle man, the schools get all we can afford to give. A little from everyone can go a very long way. - Sandy K.

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S.S.

answers from Portland on

I am a self-employed mother of four. I have a personalization business that I run from my home. I can do candy bars, mintbooks (like a matchbook, but w/ a mint), waterbottles, granola bars, etc, etc. We can even do a candy bar wrapper as a coloring sheet and include markers w/ the candy bar inside the pouch. I don't know if you would be interested but if you are, I do the same as one of the previous people listed in that I take a reduced profit. The school sells the chocolate bars (or bottled water) at say $2 and then after all the funds are in they pay me 50% that way there is no loss to them, and with it being a food/beverage they are actually going to get something for their money. :)

I agree however that the donations straight to the school are a fantastic idea! I also will periodically call or email the teachers and ask what they are low on and then I send it to school with my kids.

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C.B.

answers from Seattle on

For now, I buy from others... but our school did a neat thing. The PTA did "freedom from fundraisers." At the beginning of the year we were asked to give $50 for each child (I have 2 there) at the school. It's over. It's done. It's nice. You could ask your school to try it!

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S.P.

answers from Portland on

It's always hard to say no. If i have to say no what I do is tell them I'm really sorry but I can't right now. They are knocking on your door not knowing what to expect. If you say no they won't be crushed. After all they are still moving on to the next door.

As far as selling, I used to have to sell wrapping paper and candy when I was in grade school and one thing that helped the most is that my family stepped in to help. My dad took my packet to work and the guys jumped all over the candy. That year I got so many cool prizes. It never hurts for you to help your child with this kind of thing.

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T.V.

answers from Seattle on

There is nothing wrong with a straight donation to the school. Our school does a walk a thon in the fall where all the money goes to the school. They hold a picnic and raffle donated prizes too. If you are a member of the PTA this might be worth mentioning at the next meeting.

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B.L.

answers from Seattle on

Our school's PTSA has a basket raffle each year. Each class decides on a theme and then collects items together just within that class. Then we have a spaghetti feed for $3.00 a plate and basket raffle evening. You buy tickets from the PTSA for $1.00 a piece and put them in the baskets you hope to win. At the end of the night a winner is drawn for each basket. There are usually 50 baskets so it raises alot of money that the teachers can then access through the PTSA for their class. They are assured at least the amount of what their basket pulled in. THe spaghetti feed money goes into the general PTSA coffers that the teachers can request for special outings and/or supplies.

It is a great way that our community get together. Good Luck.

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A.W.

answers from Bellingham on

I've taught high school in the past, and with 150+ students passing through the door, I knew there wasn't a chance of my being able to say 'yes' to all of them. So, I only kind of say 'no'. I tell students that they have to come back at the end of the day (which serves two functions - it weeds out all but the most determined, and also makes it a little more fair for my 6th period students) and then I also let them know that it's first come first serve. That's led to me only having a couple of candle sets and cookies sets that are the best options out of a selection of items that I'm not really interested in. It doesn't solve the issue of any issues you may have with the companies themselves, but it would limit the amount of money you send to them, while letting your students feel a little more supported.

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C.S.

answers from Spokane on

I can only speak about the fundraisers that I do through my home business. The company that I'm associated with believes in fundraising worthy causes and helping schools, organizations and the community. They have been in business over 50 years and encourage fundraising as part of the total business. 50% of all sales go to the organization. The price of the product is not inflated, the company and I take a reduction in profit. I have purchased lots of gift wrap, pizzas, pies, etc. over the years and continue to do so because I want the schools to profit from their venture. Some of the fundraisers really give you very little for your money! If you have influence in your school and can investigate the fundraisers, I know you will find many out there that give value and profit to the school.

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L.M.

answers from Anchorage on

Find a Home Interiors representative. I did a fundraiser through them for my youth group. You get 50% of all sales plus they have great stuff.

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K.S.

answers from Portland on

You don't have to buy things you don't need from a fundraiser just so that you can help the school a little bit. You can make a general donation to the school. Go to the school office and ask about it. Good Luck!

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D.K.

answers from Bellingham on

We sell cookies for girl scouts and popcorn for boyscouts every year. We homeschool so we don't have to sell for school, but it is basically the same thing.

First, don't feel bad for saying no, if they are really out there selling, plenty of people will say yes! I promise! We never think badly of someone that says no. Most of the time, I can't afford to buy what I am selling, why would everyone else be able to! Just say "I'm sorry, I'd love to, but I just can't right now"

If you don't want to buy the product only because they product company get most of the money, tell them you don't want the product, but you will happily donate money to their cause,... we always take donations.

If the problem is that the people available to ask are all people that have kids selling the same thing... go out in the county a couple of evenings per week, yes you have to drive to each door, but those people never get hit up for buying stuff so they are not exhausted by it, and sometimes they are happily surprised to have the opportunity to support you! I speak from a LOT of experience!

D.
[email protected]____.com

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J.S.

answers from Portland on

Our school sends a slip of paper with the fundraisers that states clearly if they don't want to buy, they can still donate money through a check made out directly to the school. Two of our neighbors (one elderly, one without kids) actually prefer to do this and they don't even look through the fundraiser catalogs anymore. Giving $5 directly to the school is better than ordering $20 of stuff you don't want/need and probably provides more to the school.

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D.F.

answers from Eugene on

This is an interesting discussion for me because I find myself on both sides of this fence: a mom of three involved with my own children's school fundraisers, and a musician who has created my own school fundraising program with my award-winning Instrumental Piano CDs. From my experience on both sides of the fence, I'm SO done with wrapping paper / candy bar fundraisers, that are just not worth it for the school or organization, let alone the children. My passion to truly give parents / schools / organizations the ability to earn significant funds quickly, is one of the reasons I developed my own fundraising program.

For what it's worth, I have discovered that people enjoy knowing they are contributing to the quality of their children's education, improving the quality of the atmosphere of their home, inspiring their artistic children to dream (good instrumental music does this!) which indirectly contributes to the arts program at the school, and selling products that are home-made in North America that they are not embarrased to flog at their work places -- in a program where the school actually makes more than me! In fact, if only 100 kids / parents sell 10 CDs each, the school can make up to $8,000 in one week. (Even though I don't make as much as the school, the added exposure usually makes up for it in time.) Hope nobody minds if I put my little two-cents worth in there... Bless you all, and let me know if you have any questions.

DEB :)

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M.N.

answers from Yakima on

My daughter attends a small private school and we have a way to fundraise that isn't having the kids out there selling stuff. One we recycle printer cartridges for money. Everyone has them and throws them out so we donate them to the school. One program we also use is the Scrip program. So instead of buying gift cards at the store we get them from the school. When I go to buy groceries at the store i purchase a Scrip gift card and the school gets a percentage when I use the card. We get our groceries ,gas, clothes , or whatever and it also raises money for the school. That way the kids aren't out selling things people may not need or want. My older children attend school where they sold things and I didn't like it. This system works so much better for me. I am using money already in the budget for needed thigs and the school also benefits.
I hope this has been helpful.

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K.G.

answers from Seattle on

I read through the others first... lots of great ideas. One I didn't see was the box tops for education. It is just a matter of reminding the families to cut out the label and send it to school. You could volunteer to send them in periodically.

Also, in my previous live as a teacher, sometimes a sincere thank you can be just as nice (and sometimes more needed) than more money. I think schools ALWAYS need more money because there are always new and improved materials, workshops for improved methods, technology....but generally, if your teachers are happy and appreciated, they will be able to make-do with a smile on their face. In addition, our PTA organized meals for us on nights we stayed late for parent conferences. I felt appreciated and more content heading into a long evening. Teacher survival packs are cool too. (a nice gift bag with things like travel size lotion, band-aids, chapstick, tylenol if allowed, tissues and maybe a gift card for a local coffee shop...)

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M.S.

answers from Portland on

VERY easy solution. When they ask you to buy something from the catalog, tell them you are not interested in any of the items, but you would like to write a check for the school. Just write on the check on the memo line "school donation". You can do like $5 per child so they can all bring something back to the school.

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D.M.

answers from Anchorage on

I have explained to my kids that I will only buy items that I want/need. I think this is teaching them financial responcibility. Nobody should be giving money to everyone that asks! As for other peoples children I do the same thing. I look over the catolog and if I don't see anything I want then I say "no thank you". They have never been pushy about it the most I have ever heard was "it is for a good cause." My responce is simply that I don't have it right now but I will make a donation if and when I can.
You can donate directly to the school. You local PTA probably has a list of projects they are working on and you should be able to designate specificaly what you want to donate to or donate items instead of cash. My kids come home with so many fundraisers that it's just unreal. Every once in a while I do take them somewhere to sell so they can get the expirence but that is it.

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A.D.

answers from Portland on

D.,
I feel your pain. Our school does this too and it makes me angry. They have an assembly, get all the kids jacked up on winning prizes for having the most sold and send home the stuff. I find it quite a burdon. We live in the country too. Next year I will have two children in school so we will get twice the stuff. For now, I always ask family even though all of them are in California. They always help out by getting something. Next year will change and I'm going to have to say "no". We also have a great PTA which does a lot of fundraising for the school. Next year will be difficult, but once we get through that year I feel that everything will go okay. I will read the responses you got to help me too. Take care.

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E.F.

answers from Portland on

Hi D.,
How about simply saying that you do not want the product, but would be glad to give them a donation directly to the school? When your kids want to participate, can you have them ask at church (if you go)? My son does lots of his fundraisers that way, by going around at coffee hour. I would also ask them to offer the same alternative (i.e. you can buy a product or you can simply donate). Good luck!
E.

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D.D.

answers from Seattle on

As the teachers what they need, and donate the items. Maybe go in with the friends and purchase the bigger more expensive items. That may be the best way to help.

By the way, no one says you HAVE to purchase the items the kids sell.

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K.R.

answers from Portland on

D.--not sure how close Colton is to Tigard, but in Tigard there is a scrip clearinghouse that sells scripcards to about 100 stores, and the cards can be used online.

Scrip works like this:

Parents order scripcards, which work EXACTLY like gift cards, to stores they know they are going to spend money at (or for gifts for holidays!), and give the school their order and the face-value of the cards.

The school buys the scrip cards at a discount (4%-15%, usually), gives the cards to the parents, and pockets the difference. (Well, and the "how close to Tigard" question--somebody needs to drive to Tigard to pick up the actual cards, because they aren't QUITE advanced enough to email the cards ;) ... but I think we email the order! It's about a two-day turnaround. And most schools keep the most popular scrip on hand for parents who forgot to order and want to shop That Day.)

The parents use them at the store or online just as if they were gift cards (cash) for that amount.

The "spare" money that the schools are pocketing is because the stores can spend less advertising, can create goodwill/customer loyalty--and because sometimes people lose or forget to use their scripcards. They've figured out what percentage they can "give" without losing lots of profit.

I sometimes use New Seasons scrip $400/whack, which means $20 (5%), goes to the school. The only weirdness I've run into is that at New Seasons the computers will only take 4 cards, so I have to have 4 $100 cards and not 8 $50 cards ... but then I can just run $200 off the cards, debit the remainder, and put the other $200 of leftover cards into my next-time budget.

We have 140ish families and not that many participate (SIGH), because many are unfamiliar, but already this year we have over $4000, from people spending what they would spend anyway, at stores they already do business with.

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T.R.

answers from Eugene on

my kids are all grown up.. but I remember that being such a problem.. my solution was to just donate a dollar ammount to the school... like 20 bucks or something.. just give 20 dollars and skip buying the stupid stuff.. they don't get the full 20 if you buy stuff in the amount of 20 so I just liked to donate the money and skip the selling useless things.. we used to have wrapping paper fundraisers... the wrapping paper was like 12 dollars... good stuff.. but who pays 12 dollars for wrapping paper.. that is something we buy after christmas for less than a buck... so just try donating... and skipping the selling.. my kids didn't ever sell much.. I know kids compete to see who can sell the most.. but my kids are all grown up now, and they don't seem to be affected by the fact that they never won any prizes for selling the most... good luck.Tammie

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L.H.

answers from Seattle on

Good morning D....Just tell the student that you don't wish to make any purchases but you will make a donation directly to their school/pta. Write a check to the ABC School PTA (or whoever is behind the fundraiser) and just put "donation" on the memo line. The school/pta then gets to keep 100% of the money you wrote the check for!

L.

P.S. SAHM to 8 and 5 year old girls. I've been married for 10 years and am currently the treasurer on our elementary school's pta.

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S.O.

answers from Portland on

I agree with you 100%. Instead of buying cookie dough for $12.00 (knowing that the school only gets about $4). You could make a donation directly to the school. Then the school gets the full amount donated. And you don't have cookie dough in the fridge that you might eat by the spoonful. LOL - That's what I do. Put your check or cash in a seperate envelope to have the student turn in to the office when they turn in their fundraiser.

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M.P.

answers from Medford on

I feel the same way about you regarding NOT liking to purchase items where the schools get minimum return, but the companies prosper. I make a cash (check) donation to the organization instead so they get 100% of it. Even a $10 donation gives them more money than a $25 Gold Canyon Candle or a $15 tub of cookie dough!

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