How do schools like Head Royce, Redwood, Bentley and the like run their fundraisers that are parent run?. Are they actually run solely by the parents or are these events driven by the development staff? How much leeway do the parents have? ANy information that you can supply as to the mechanics of these events is appreciated. Curious
At Redwood, our big fundraising event is an auction that is run by a committee of parents under the umbrella of the PGA (Parent and Guardians association). Parents run the auction the way they want to. The PGA is a separate entity from the school. The development office, to my knowledge, has nothing to do with the auction, and the money raised goes to the PGA, not the school (although the PGA then donates the money to the school). Liz
Hi there, I have been very involved with the auction for the last several years at Redwood (even co-chaired it). Our PGA (parent and guardian association) is a legally separate entity from our school, so this may be a difference for us. Our auction is solely run by the parents, while coordinating with the school. The school helps by allowing us to email parents, post signs/posters/banners, include write-ups in the ''Friday Folder'' and such. They also help by accepting and watching over the donations until we can pick them up, printing up labels, stuffing the catalogs in the backpacks and the like. We do try to coordinate a bit with the Development staff so as not to send requests for donations the same time they are sending requests for the Annual fund. There has been some back and forth about this in the past, but currently the parents really run it.
I'd be happy to answer specific questions if you'd like to get my email from the moderators. An Auction Hack
As the budget crisis in California gets worse, the job market continues to show no signs of improvement, and education becomes the next item on the chopping block for additional cuts- I continue to be baffled by the process of fund raising in public schools. People don't want their kids to grow up to pan handlers or buskers, yet it's suddenly acceptable to sell chocolate door to door? Where is the outrage? Where is the commitment to furthering education? It's not enough that I explain to my child that the school will get more money if I write a check than if she sells candy. She goes to sales rallies in the auditorium. There are big posters on the windows. Kids compare sales. They win prizes. She is not and feels extremely left out.
I am an unemployed graduate student. It is BECAUSE I have less money that I despise waste. The school will get 50% of the sales- pretty high by some standards. In addition, parents are encouraged to purchase items requested by teachers at retail prices. When I made the point in a PTA meeting that parents were paying too much (1.29 for 8 crayons vs. .05 wholesale), the response was that parents don't like to just write a check. I want ALL of my money to go to the school. I feel cheated when it is not- I'm not even sure the other parents are aware.
Candy sales promote poor eating habits- the do as I say not as I do approach to a problem. Imagine a school fundraiser with cigarettes, or alcohol? It is abhorrent because we agree on the harm these things do- not just because it's illegal. Physicians have proven that sugar is just as harmful- isn't this sufficient? Or do we need a law here too?
I welcome any information on the best practices for school fund raising. If everyone is doing it there must be discussion panels somewhere. Isn't there a larger entity in the administration that promotes gifts to schools and educating parents on the best use of funds? Any research to show the economic benefits that the business community reaps as a consequence of reduced school funding? Ready to raise a fuss...
This is my pet peeve too! Trying to be a better steward of our earth, I too deplore the sale of gift wrap paper, junky accessories, candy, in a word, junk - all in the name of raising money for the school. I do think that people are more motivated when they feel that they are part of something bigger and so you may want to explore alternative ways of raising money and engaging the school community. We started an online auction for our school and raised a LOT of money this way - we found a website called biddingforgood.com, that charges a percentage of the sale amount and it's very easy to post items and manage the entire sale.
Many families cleaned out their closets to donate items, teacher donations were also popular (go to the movies with Ms. So and So) and if you have any connections to showbiz, those items (backstage passes, set visits) are popular with people outside of the community.
It does take a committee to run the thing but it can be very rewarding.
I should have started with this advice though - if you want to change things at your school, you must get involved with the PTA or Booster Club. Be the change you want to see. Good luck! Gizella
Hi there, I don't have any advice, but I am eager to read any responses you get and I am in TOTAL agreement. As an elementary school teacher, I am OUTRAGED and DISGUSTED by these fundraisers. There is so much waste, as you note, and we are basically asking the students to pressure their parents to buy crap (in our case it's not only candy but loads of other terrible stuff) which they don't need in order that the school can get some money, while the company organizing the fundraiser gets the majority. The assemblies at which the fundraisers are kicked off are almost parodic in the way the facilitator whips the kids up into hysteria over the awful junk they can win if they only sell enough awful junk.
As a teacher I tell my kids that I do not agree with this way of raising money but they may participate if they wish; I have expressed my opinion to the principal and to the fund raiser liaison as well.
As a parent, I will NEVER support my children's schools through this means.
I'm happy to give to the schools and would support more grass roots, possibly less lucrative efforts such as bake sales. But the idea that our students/children should sell junk in order to have adequate supplies is indeed abhorrent.
In my case, at a school which receives a lot of title 1 funds, we seem to be reluctant to ask the families to contribute, but we don't mind asking their kids to be excited about junk. I feel that families want to invest in the school, and were we to ask for a small donation at the beginning of the year a great number would be happy to give, and would feel more involved in the school as a result. Carrie
Sigh... I have very mixed feelings on this subject. On the one hand, of course selling candy bars sends a bad message to our kids. Of course foisting more sugary junk on people who are trying their hardest to watch their diets is awful.
On the other hand, the reality, at least at our school, is that our candy-bar sales make the school A LOT of money that we desperately need. And that is because the $1 price-point makes them very easy to sell. Families that aren't involved in the PTA and don't really understand how desperately this money is needed will nonetheless go out and earn the school $25 by selling 50 candy bars to their friends, neighbors and coworkers. I loathe and detest selling things and yet I find I can unload a lot of bars just by placing them in the breakroom at my job with an honors-system envelope.
Our school has an annual Spelling Bee that is also a fundraiser--students get pledges and people donate according to how many words that child spelled correctly. 100 percent of the proceeds go to the school. Fantastic, right? It's a great event... but the reality is that many fewer students participate, so less money is raised. Almost anyone will fork over a dollar for a candy bar, but not as many will pledge $5 or more without getting anything in return.
I suggest that instead of going to your PTA and saying ''candy bar sales suck!'', you should say ''I have great ideas for other, healthier ways to raise money... here they are.'' Hopefully you will get some great ideas in response to this post. Auctions and ''direct response'' can be a challenging fit for a school with a working/middle class demographic.
I will be very interested to read others' ideas. PTA gal
I'm with you 80% of the way. As a former econ major, I think it makes NO sense to talk parents into buying crap they don't need so that the school can get 10 or 20 or even 50 percent of the proceeds, rather than having parents just write a check that will go 100% to the school. I also hate hate hate having my child solicit from friends and neighbors (especially since many of our neighbors are seniors less affluent than I am and I'm sure get hit up by their own grandkids and don't need my kid knocking on their door). But, that said, based on my years as the parent of a school-age child, I think you may be setting yourself up for failure, dear Ready to Raise a Fuss, if you want to convince everyone that what they are doing is wrong wrong wrong. (Especially if you are militantly anti-chocolate: even I part company with you there.) Instead I would offer better ideas for fundraisers that have higher profit margins, such as a carwash, dog walking, or a movie night, or a babysitting event for parents staffed by other parents and older kids (you can drop off your kid for 3 hours for $20 and go out to dinner or a movie). And, if all else fails, if you don't want to participate, don't. Face it, sometimes one cannot change the will of the majority (and there are greater injustices to fight in this world, too). Simply say ''I don't want to buy candy but I am happy to give you $10.'' It is not the worst thing in the world for your daughter to learn to swim against the tide in this one area, too -- how to come in last in the candy contest and bear it with grace and dignity is a great skill. Fran
I totally know what you mean about school fundraisers. I have been so frustrated with my daughter's school because every year they have a gift wrap fundraiser. It is so wasteful!
I am pushing to have my school do a fundraiser with zero-waste lunch boxes. That at least is for a good cause. There is one company that I heard gives close to 50% back to the school. So that is almost as good as the candy. I think the company is called Brightbin.
But I do agree.... fundraising in schools is a big challenge at times. I am in favor of fundraising that won't make out kids fat and that actually do something good for the world. Good luck to you!
I think you have hit on a significant practice that people are just not questioning. Bake sales are in the same category. Sounds like it is time to come up with a different fundraising strategy that is more direct. Short of one of those fundraisers that work through texting, I don't know what is the answer. Anonymous
I am sorry I can't be of any help, but I really applaud your effort. I think the parents and kids hate being asked to sell stuff. Neighbors and relatives hate being asked to buy stuff. The only ones that benefit are the candy and gift wrap companies. Sanon
My friend works for a local solar installer, Sungevity.org, that helps schools raise money by sending solar lease customers their way. The whole idea is to get ''beyond the bake sale'' so that parents don't have to push sugar. Sungevity makes a $1000 per customer donation to the school so it's a lot more profitable than selling cupcakes. Doesn't get around the issue of business involvement in the schools but at least it's a healthy and environmentally beneficial product. Catherine
Schools need money, not all fundraisers are well thought out. I generally sidestep the fundraiser and write a check(100% tax deductible) to the school for the amount of money they hoped to raise if I sold my allotment of junk. Some parents WILL not GIVE a penny unless they get a ''return'' on their money(cookies, candy, wrapping paper) and these fundraisers solve that problem. Write the check, skip the sell.One of our teams asked us to sell $180 worth of cookie dough to raise $60 bucks. I sent a check for $60, they sent me a receipt and their tax id number-I will deduct it on 2011's income taxes. fundraising mom
Each year my children's school raises money to buy things for families in need. The families provide a wish-list, and students donate money to buy the items. This year the list for one family was for 3 ipods. Another family asked for a computer & a digital camera. Some families asked for things like toys, clothes and blankets. I feel like the school should have a clearer criteria for what constitutes ''need'' and that some of the requests are overly expensive and not really ''needs'' but just ''wants''. The idea of giving to help those in need is great, but ipods, cameras, etc. seem way beyond the scope. Am I just being too critical, so I should just keep quiet and give what what I'm comfortable giving? Or, should I speak-up about this? possible Scrouge
I sort of agree with you. Though I imagine that even needy families are susceptible to the desire for cool electronic gadgets-- especially if they have teens in the household. I get what your saying about ''need'' vs. ''want'' and I struggle with that in my own life. I wonder if gently used Ipods would be an alternative? ho ho hum
I think you should give whatever you would be comfortable giving your own child, or comparable item. Just because the less-fortunate kids don't ''need'' an Ipod, doesn't mean they don't want them just as much as a more fortunate kid. I think the idea of the giving (which our school does also) is to bring a happy Christmas to a family in unhappy circumstances, not necessarily to just provide them with basic needs.
Now I wouldn't give my own kid an ipod. That's something they'd have to save up their own money to buy. But I have and do give them toys and games that they don't ''need''. And I would try to do the same for a less fortunate family.
Or, the alternative is easy: don't contribute. Donate the money you would give at the school to a charity that you feel better reflects your values. Your mileage may vary
I don't think you should say anything to the school about the people asking for iPods or laptops. If you don't want to buy them, then don't. But remember, low-income families aren't always families with small kids. Sometimes they have teenagers, who don't want toys, but really want to be like the other kids at their school and have an iPod. Or maybe they could really use a computer to get their school work done. Or maybe the family has a new baby on the way and really want to have a digital camera to take photos of the baby that they can share with others, just the way you or I did. Why shouldn't they be able to do that? They're not asking for the latest and greatest digital camera or the fanciest new Mac laptop. In this age, I don't think a basic computer is a luxury item. And I think a teenager in a low-income family should get age-appropriate gifts. It's hard to ask for charity; you definitely don't want anyone throwing it in your face that you ''aimed too high.'' I know you're not trying to be mean, but if you say something about it, you'll risk coming off that way. I'd say, keep your concerns to yourself and buy something you are comfortable with for the gift drive. Anon
Nope, you're not a scrooge. It's appalling that families in ''need'' are asking for extravagant items like ipods, etc. We are comfortable and my children wouldn't mind having an ipod, but they're not getting one. It's a luxury item that we definitely do not need. I would absolutely speak up. You worded it really well in your post. joj
I imagine many will respond that your school isn't identifying the right families to help - there's no shortage of people in the area that could use a lot of help long before they even thought of asking for cameras and ipods. Among the important reasons to speak up about this is consideration of the message the kids in your school are getting: that material objects like cameras and ipods are necessities of life, that all parents should provide them to all children, and to the extent that less well-off families are struggling, it's not about food, shelter, or clothing, it's just about not having all the most popular toys. a good concept that could be improved upon
I'm with you on this one, sister. NEED is one thing. Blankets, food, gas for the car, paying the bills, etc. are obviously important. I Pods?? Submit that to Santa. You are not a Scrooge, you're just being practical. lizzard
I can understand how seeing the three ipods on the wish list might seem a little excessive but having a computer is crucial for anyone on the ''needy'' list to hopefully become un-needy. In this day and age, computers are necessary not just for homework for the kids but also for looking for jobs. When I was unemployed and my PC was stolen, I found out a few days later that I had missed out on two lucrative gigs and also missed a query for a job interview because I wasn't able to respond to my email in time. Although they have PC's at the library, the wait to use them is sometimes long and they usually just let you use them for an hour--difficult if you have to write several long cover letters. As for a digital camera, I use mine to take pics of items that I sell on ebay--it turned out to the greatest investment ever and has paid for itself many times over. So although a PC and a camera might at first glance seem extravagant, think of them as tools for getting out of poverty. And the pc doesn't even have to be new--just something that works is a godsend when you don't have anything else. Been There
I completely agree with you about the ''want'' items. I don't have an iPod, but I did buy some stuff for an adopted family last year-toys for the kids, clothes for the mom, but I agree with you about those extra items. That's just too much to ask for, unless everyone is going to go in on one big thing like a computer for the family. Sheesh. Not an ELF
You are certainly entitled to feel however you want about the Christmas fund raising and I don't think it makes you a scrooge if you're a little uncomfortable with it. But I think it's important to remember that it is holiday fund raising, not every-day-give-to-a-family-in-need giving. As many of the other posters pointed out, what do families with kids want at holidays? Blankets? Canned food? Practical warm sweaters? Heck no! These families have kids who want the same things all kids want, and that includes gadgets and electronics and yes, iPods. How often do we say to friends or family, ''Well, I wanted to get you something I knew you wouldn't get for yourself.'' This fund raiser is the ''get something you wouldn't get for yourself. . . .because you can't afford it'' opportunity, so many people honestly asked for what they wouldn't be able to get and now you know what those things are. Happy Holidays! anon
I read through the responses you received and mostly agree -- buy what you are comfortable buying. However, I want to second one of the responders who said that just because a family is low-income shouldn't preclude them from wanting something that seems extravagant to you (or other readers). It's a Christmas list, not a basics list, and it's supposed to be filled with wishes and desires. If something isn't what you want to buy, don't. gabrielle
I was amazed by some of the responses to the original post (which I had not read). It reminds me of the time someone wrote into the Co-op newspaper (when there was a Co-op) totally outraged that some indigent person was using their food stamps to buy herbs and spices. The attitude of how dare these people try to enjoy life leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. And I indeed consider my iPod a necessity of life. It has helped me learn a language, I have listened to many classic novels which I probably would not have read, and it lightens incredibly boring tasks-I probably would not have stuck with strength- training at the Y without it. These days a reconditioned iPod is not terribly expensive. Give what you like to charity, but have a little compassion, people! Jenifer
I'm on a non-profit board and like everyone else these days, we're looking for new ways to fundraise. One way we've thought of is by selling magazine subscriptions, probably just a soft sell to encourage families to renew the magazines they already get, so we get a cut of the fee. Does anyone have any good or bad experiences with this kind of fundraising? Also, if I do a little searching, I find about 20 different sites that sell subscriptions as a fundraiser. Any advice on which one might be best? or which ones to avoid? Thanks, Magazine Fundraiser
Just want to give feedback as somebody who bought a magazine subscription through one of those fundraisers. This was the sequence of events:
1) MANY months ago, a coworker circulated a magazine fundraiser package for her child's school. I signed up for a subscription to Wondertime Magazine. I wrote a check up front and filled out a confusing form.
2) Something like three months later - possibly more - my coworker showed up again with another packet. My subscription was not yet on its way. No, what I got instead was a voucher and a postcard form I had to fill out again with the code of the magazine I wanted. Then I would have to mail that form in.
3) A few minutes after she left, I tried to fill out the form and realized my magazine code wasn't listed. When I called her, it turned out she'd given me the wrong set of materials.
4) A few hours later, she came back with the correct form. I filled it out and mailed it off.
5) Six weeks after this, I still have no magazine, and probably never will because - you guessed it! Wondertime is one of many magazines which has gone out of business during this recession.
I will NEVER participate in one of those fundraisers again thanks to this pain-in-the-butt experience. I would beg you to consider some other fundraising methods instead. Entertainment books, for example, where the purchaser gets coupons for restaurants, shops and theaters around town. Auctions. Something with more immediate gratification and less aggravation.
But if you do decide that magazine subs are the way to go, do some research on any company you consider and make sure they have a more streamlined process - and also ask them what they do if a magazine shuts down. Mad (about) Magazines
I'm looking into ordering a product from out-of-state for re- sale as a PTSA fundraiser for our school as a change from the candy, wrapping paper, and magazine sales that many groups use. Because the product comes from out of state, I don't have to pay sales tax on it at time of purchase. Since this is my first time doing this kind of thing, I'd appreciate advice about whether we have to collect California sales tax on products sold for nonprofit fundraising, and if so, what we need to do before and after the sales to set this up. Obviously, we'd prefer to keep this as uncomplicated as we can. PTSA mom
I suggest you consult the handy-dandy California PTA Toolkit to find out this answer; and pretty much any other question you have about PTAs. http://www.capta.org/sections/resources/toolkit.cfm Jill
My daughter attends a public school. Every year they have an auction at the Claremont Hotel. This someone on the auction committee decided to raffle off a two year lease on a Mini- Cooper. The cost of each ticket is $100. Now with the auction only a few weeks away the women running the raffle announced that not enough tickets had been sold. (So far they have sold 160, bringing in $16,000 for the school.) They clain they needed to sell 400 tickets or $40,000 dollars worth. (For the number of students at our school that would mean each parent would have to buy 3 or 4 tickets spending $300 to $400.
What they also announced was that the item was not donated, they are purchasing it, and 10% of the proceedes goes toward the lease of the car. (I'm more than a little miffed about that.) If I purchased 4 tickets, $40 of the $400 I donated would go to the leasing company. I would think ALL of the money I donated would go directly to the school.
I'm wondering if this is a standard practice for school auctions? At other schools do they take money from the donations to buy a raffel or auction items?
My second question is a legal one. Some of the parents saying this is bait and switch because the women running the raffel never said a certain number of tickets had to be sold or a percentage of the ticket sales/donations would not go to the school. After selling 160 tickets and collecting $16K they want to switch prizes. (The parent's club is a non-profit corporation.) Does anyone know if they can do this legally? Any ideas on what to do? Thanks Anon
our public school (madera) had a very strict policy that all items were to be donated. period. i was on the committee for a couple of years and i remember this issue coming up around someone wanting to be paid a set amount for paul mcCartney concert tix and even tho it would have been a potential money maker we said no. of course this was about five years ago and i'm hoping that nothing has changed.
there is so much pressure around these fundraisers and i really don't think that parents should feel pushed into buying this stuff, espically when the item is not really donated. the committee needs to set a firm policy. a former pta fundrasing maniac
This raffle plan is at best unethical, it seems to me, and quite possibly illegal. I have participated in auction planning at two different private schools, and each school has managed at least once to get a car DONATED to the auction -- the car is given away regardless of the number of tickets sold. hoping you get your money back
First, I think it's helpful to get some perspective here before geting ''mad'' or being critical of those organizing the event. These parents are volunteers working hard to make money for your child's school so he/she can have programs the district won't fund, like art & music. It's a really hard job, involving literally thousands of decisions. The people running this event agonize over every decision (believe me, I've run one) & do their utmost to make the best ones possible for the school. Keep this in mind, particularly if you're not chairing a committee or volunteering, before you feel free to criticize.
As to the car lease, school auctions sometimes do this. My school did not due to uncertainty re ticket sales. Still, it was not an unreasonable decision for them to make & their hearts were clearly in the right place. You are right that they should have disclosed the need to sell a certain number of tickets in the literature. They made a mistake but didn't commit a mortal sin. Give them a break. Now, they can either refund the ticket prices & tell the dealership they could not sell enough or try to sell more. They seem to be trying the second option. It's hard to say what the right answer is.
The important thing is that this glitch not drag down the whole event. After all, the point is to help the kids & everyone shares that goal. If someone starts to be very critical of the organizers due to one mistake, it distracts them from making the event a success and fixing this problem.
Your expectation that the auction committee get everything for free & every dollar you give go to programs is unrealistic & unreasonable. Sometimes businesses have a fixed cost but will give a substantial discount on an item. It's very difficult to get donations. Try it sometime before you criticize them. The committee might make a choice to pay a fixed cost because there is a big upside for the school. Also, there are costs of the event, food, rentals, decorations, mailings, printing. The money you spend on items is partially used to pay those expenses. This is no different.
Running an event like this is a full time job & full of headaches. Insted of being irate and hurting the event, try to create positive energy around the event. Accept people's good efforts & intentions even if they made a decision that turned out not to be best, knowing they made 1000 right decisions along the way. Take a walk in their shoes
I think the parents running the raffle (raffles sell tickets as chances to win, auctions have bidding) are taking a very creative approach to fundraising. From what you wrote, it sounds like the lease will cost them $4000. (10% of their $40,000 goal). $36,000 profit is terrific! I don't think you can expect a car dealership to donate a 2 year lease, and 90% profit is very high. Even at the $16,000 they have sold so far, they'll have a $12,000 profit (75%), also not bad, but obviously not the goal they have in mind. ALL fundraisers cost money to put on- 100% never goes to the school.
If you have a different idea, join the committee next year, and give your suggestions. Meanwhile, it is your choice to buy the raffle tickets or not. Maybe you feel guilty not contributing more, but can't be the concern of the fundraising committee. Fellow fundraiser
My child's school does an auction, I imagine they all so some form of fundraising. I really don't understand why you are so upset? The money goes indirectly to YOUR child. ''Legally'', come on, do you really think they were trying to rip you off. I agree it was unrealistic to expect that many people to buy a raffle ticket and if this was a company that hired people with experience and was to make a profit, I think you have a point but really, I doubt this was a malicious act to bait and switch you. Next year, join the auction committee at the school to come up with some better ideas. anon
I work in the Development department of a local private school, so perhaps I can give some perspective here. Your post seems to ask two questions: 1) Is it ethical to purchase items for a raffle rather than rely on donations? 2) Can the raffle organizers legally switch prizes?
1) In a perfect world, businesses would be lining up to donate to nonprofit fundraisers, but $4,000 donations from businesses are certainly few and far between where I work. It's a common practice, and entirely legal, for a nonprofit to purchase an item (often at a discount) and then offer it as an auction or raffle item. For instance, many travel agencies or outfitters will agree to donate one ticket if the organization purchases a second; the organization can then offer a ''trip for two''. You get the idea.
As a previous poster pointed out, all of these fundraisers have a certain amount of overhead (for site rental, food, bidding software if it's an online auction, etc); this is no different. That said, most raffles and auctions NET enough money to make a real difference for students. $12,000 will go a long way. The only to make sure that 100% of your donation goes into the school's operating budget is to write a check directly to the school. (Do they have some kind of annual fund?) I guarantee you they will be very happy. You'll get a tax deduction, too.
2) As to your question about whether it is legal to switch prizes, I checked the web site of the National Association of Independent Schools, which has some pretty thorough information about auctions and raffles, and they did not address this specific issue. However, I do know that the IRS considers raffles to be games of chance, even when the proceeds are used for charity, and assumes that people are purchasing the tickets with the expectation that they might win something, not with ''charitable intent''.
The regulations that govern games of chance govern school raffles as well (this is why schools can't sell tickets online or even send them through US mail(!) and why raffle ticket purchases are not tax-deductible), so my educated guess is that they can't legally switch prizes. I would strongly recommend that they talk to a lawyer before making this change - or, if they can't find a lawyer willing to donate their services ; ) to call the development departments of a couple of local schools.
Please remember that these volunteers are well-meaning, and they are trying to come up with strategies that will raise a maximum amount of money for your child's school. People's good intentions can go awry, but I'm absolutely sure there are good intentions at work here. So gentle reminders and kind advice for the organizers are in order here, not harsh criticisms.
I wrote an earlier post about regulations concerning raffles. Since then, I started preparing for my own school's raffle and came across the state Attorney General's regulations for charitable raffles:
One of the stipulations is that 90% of the money raised in a raffle must go directly to the charity (i.e., overhead must be 10% or less). So my guess is that the organizers of your raffle set the minimum ticket sales level in order to respect this rule.
I hope this all gets sorted out to everyone's satisfaction, and that nobody loses sight of the good will behind this effort to raise money for programs that benefit the kids. Best of luck to you all.
We are trying to come up with an idea for a class auction project with little success. While kids' art is a big seller in Kindergarten, by 8th grade...So we are looking for a project others might be interested in that would still involve the students. Any good ideas?
How about an Earthquake kit. Most people don't have one. Besides the food and water, you need first aid stuff, flashlights, crank radio, etc. (there's a website with a full list). Also, one of those special wrenches to turn off your natural gas is a good addition as well - I don't know anyone who has one of those. Earthquake ready
At our school, the older kids host a babysitting night. It is held at the school and slots are sold at the auction for $25 each. Helena
What about auctioning services? 8th graders are old enough and big enough to be really useful - and families with younger kids might love to bid for the services of an 8th grader.
Mother's helper, filing help, household help (nothing too hard), cleaning out a garage, yardwork, a specific project like sorting out photos and getting them into an album, a kid- prepared Saturday lunch, loading music on an iPod, demonstrating how to play a video game (!) - I can think of lots of things.
(I have a 7th grader who won't willingly help with much, but he's VERY helpful to other families or at school - he would probably jump at this kind of thing.)
Set a boundary on the amount of time that is expected, so the kids are not worked too hard, and have them juice up the descriptions - they would certainly be involved in all angles that way.
Kind of a more sophisticated school car wash, I guess.
hope that helps. - Nancy
Hi folks, I'd like to hear from people who have been involved with fundraisers at their childrens' schools. I am looking for ideas to raise funds for my son's coop. I'm only aware of the rummage sales and school fairs that I see advertised a lot. Anything else? Thanks~ brainstorming mama
We are going to copy another preschool's idea that they have been doing for about 5 years. Last year they made $7,000 with just this fundraiser. They get together with a local nursery and pre-order hanging flower baskets for Mother's Day. They buy them for $15-$20 and sell for $35-$40. A large percentage of people buy flowers for Mom so this works out. After such a successful fundraiser, they don't have to do anymore during the year.
Idea #2: All parents of the preschool are required to go around town and get 2-3 items donated to the preschool. (Bottle of wine, gift certifcate, bed and breakfast, etc.) Sell raffle tickets for $5.00 each. All items are free and you can make $500 just selling 100 tickets.
Advice: Don't do the wrapping paper thing. We tried and it was so embarrasing to sell. Also try and stay away from food items (pizza discount cards, Krispy Kreme). Seems people don't really buy very many of them because they are such a good deal. What are you going to do with 20 dozen Krispy Kremes??? trying to make moolah for the kids
Some ways to help raise money is to consider hosting an evening party that has some food (appetizers and beverages) and have a silent auction. People and families may donate items or activities that can be auctioned off. Beyond those connected directly to the preschool who can make the connections to donate something are groups and organizations who would be more than willing to donate things. Have parents go to the zoo, bowling alley, ice skating rink, restaurants, beauty salons (Mom's pampering time), wine seller, gift certificates at a book store or a music/video store, you name it. Go to these groups and organizations and ask for a donation. The preschool may need to give some paperwork (not for profit or for profit status.) Plan for a social evening. Make sure that the invitations go beyond just the families. To help make the silent auction go well. Make sure that the starting bids begin below market price because the emphasis is to get donations. Also have a variety of items or offers with a price range available for everyone (a few items starting at $5 or $10 and move right on up the scale). Be careful not to overprice and be careful not to underprice. Include in the evening some type of entertainment-- musicians, DJ and dance space, a dance lesson...something. Enough to keep people around and not enough to keep people away from the auction.
Another idea that can be used with the silent auction and separate from is some artwork by the kids that can be put on a card and sold as a pack for X amount. This is great if you can get the word out. Maybe a coffee place or some store can help get the cards out there.
Good luck! Thinks about Fundraisers
My daughter attends a co-op preschool and we are always searching for new ideas for fund raising. We are already using Schoolpop and eScrip. Last year our school also held a Holiday gift-wrap sale and sold wine with the labels decorated by the kids. In the spring, the school held an auction with the items donated by the co-op families. I would appreciate any other ideas that have proven helpful in raising funds for schools. Susan
Big money earners for our co-operative pre-school have been a silent auction. Businesses and families donated items and we raised approx $10,000.00 with approx 35 families attending. Our rummgae sale also raises approx $3000.00 Spirit wear clothing with the school logo on tee shirts, sweatshirts, fleece sleeveless jackets also raises approx $1000.00 We also do the art plates, cups, bags etc and child art cards which raises about $500.00 Hope this helps.
Our preschool is constantly running fundrasers and I would like to hear about your favorite fundraiser that brought in a lot of money, was fun and easy to organize. So far we have done a movie night, t-shirts for the school, trike-a-thon, candy sales, bake sales, painting tiles etc. Thanks in advance. Hadley
Our best fund raisers have been a rummage sale (we do this every 2 years so thats there's masses of stuff) and our silent auction. For the auction we write to all the local businesses and ask for donations as well as encourage families to contribute anything from a babysitting night, gift baskets (this year I am putting together a Trader Joes romance basket) to vacation rentals in Tahoe. The evening of the auction is very social - potluck at someones home (could be at your school). Good Luck
My children's montessori school is a privately-owned corporation. They have two campuses and several hundred children. We love the school and our kids really enjoy it there. The problem is that they spend an inordinant amount of time pressuring parents to engage in volunteer work and fundraising activities for the school. They send home multiple reminders EVERY WEEK about the need for parents to engage in fundraising. Parents are expected to provide 20 hours of work per year or be charged a $200 fee. Parents are expected to sell raffle tickets, collect soup labels, and contribute work hours to fundraising events. There are many other demands and fees as well.
They conduct their fundraising activities thru their PTA but the funds are earmarked for new playground equipment and emergency supplies (despite the fact that they've already charged us a fee for an ''emergency kit''). The PTA meetings are run and controlled by the school management. After looking into ''normal'' PTA activities, I've learned that PTAs are supposed to be separate entities from the school and their finances must be kept separate from the school and the school employees. They're tracked by the IRS and if the PTA doesn't qualify as a non-profit, then the money raised is taxable.
Our previous daycare had a once-a-year fundraiser that we enthusiastically participated in and donated money to but they were a non-profit and the money went to things that were above and beyond the call of duty, rather than normal capital expenditures. This school appears to be very successful and lucrative for its owners, who contribute little or no time to the running of the school. Is it common for for-profit schools to expect this of parents or is this school just scamming us for free money? I like the school but I hate feeling like I'm being ''played.'' Do I have a right to refuse to participate?
I was similarly annoyed with my kids montessori pre-school. My wife and I both work full-time, so we simply paid the extra $200 and then ignored most of the rest of the fund-raising pleas. Now that we're in a great Oakland public elementary school, we're very supportive of all fund-raising activitied, but I agree that a private school should just up their fees by $500 / year or whatever if they feel they need the money. I hated writing them a big check every month and then feeling like they were always wanting more and more. Also annoyed, but put up with it.
Our daughter attends a Montessori preschool in Alameda. I was asked to chair the fundraising committee and agreed to because I had a feeling if I didn't no one would (this actually happened last year). I have no experience fundraising and generally don't like it.. but I am trying. The school has a set of fundraising traditions and I have implemented the fall ''traditions'' but want to encourage the administration and school community to think outside the box for spring. Our two main fundraisers are 2 carnival-type events (food prepared by families, sold along with entertainment) and they are an incredible about of work to pull off for what feels to me like modest return. We just made $3,500 or our fall event but if I calculate how much time it took to organize and how much families spent preparing food, donating other items, I just don't think it's the most efficient fundraiser. And the same event last year made only $400 (even though I wasn't involved in organizing that event last year I almost cried when I found out how little was earned). We have about 70 families--- a small subset that are probably quite comfortable economically, some in the middle who have professional salaries but still struggling in the Bay Area, and that a good proportion who are renters (which I have to admit makes me assume money is tighter). So expecting a lot of families to donate more than about $50 at a time feels uncomfortable to me. I read some posts about fundraising in elementary schools, but only saw public schools discussed. Since families are already paying what probably feels like a lot for tuition, and many are of modest means to moderate means, I worry about innundating them with too many requests. Thanks for any suggestions. Jen
First of all, thank you for heading up the fundraising. As a parent and board member on our daycare's board I really applaud you. I know it's not easy.
Last year we did a raffle and made $2,000. We are a 24-family center. It was hard to ask the community to donate prizes, but we did it. We are in gourmet ghetto so we had some really wonderful prizes and that helped a lot. I also donated a lot of gift certificates I had lying around, to Rivoli and to the Claremont, etc.
Asking the parents to sell the tickets was hard, but some parents sold them, some parents bought their own tickets.
We also did some grant writing and a couple of years got money from every child counts.
Hope that helps. Paula
It seems to me that you need to first identify the purpose of the fundraising -- is it to augment the school? Buy new equipment? Fund scholarships? Once you do that, it is easier to enlist people's support and interest, if they know what the money is going to.
I think a good school fundraiser has to hit several marks -- not only should it make money, it should do so without being overly stressful and time intensive for the volunteers, it should support either the goal of the school or the building of community, and it should offer people something they want, or make their life more convenient in some way.
A Holiday Book Fair is a good example -- supports learning, allows people to do holiday shopping and benefit their school. Working on it with other parents is a great way to get to know each other and build community.
Google ''preschool fundraising'' and you'll get a ton of ideas. There are also websites where you can order t-shirts and logo items to benefit the school without requiring a lot of effort on your part -- cafepress.com is one. There are also sites that will put children's artwork on note cards and calendars for gift giving (don't know the names of any offhand -- try Google.)
Good luck! a fundraising vet
I absolutely feel that you are on the right path. I see it over and over again - schools plan MORE fundraisers instead of strategically focusing on the bottom line with ONE successful fundraiser. I feel, as parents we have to just say no - especially to those candy and wrapping paper sales in which the fundraising companies make all of the money. The first question is to ask - what is the goal? If your fundraisers make just about $4,000 per year, why don't they just charge $4.76 per month per family instead of having the parents spend their precious time on fundraisers. If you would like more training on STRATEGIC fundraising events, I would like to suggestion a class that I am teaching again this spring at Chabot Community College in Hayward called ''How to Plan Wildly Successful Events.'' The catalog isn't out yet, but look for the class online next month at http://www.chabotcollege.edu/ComEd/. It will most likely be three, Wednesday nights in February. Helena Weiss-Duman
I'm wondering what other folks' opinions are about Silent Auctions as school fundraisers. The subject has come up several times at my daughter's school, and it is regularly dismissed because of the fear of alienating parents who can't afford to compete (financially) in the auction process. What do you think of them as fundraisers? And do they really alienate folks who don't have the money to compete, or are we being too oversensitive? (We also do a raffle, and I've been thinking that it could be fun if done in conjunction with the raffle, and as long as the most coveted raffle prizes remain raffle prizes.) Thanks
HI- I read your post and that is a perspective that I never looked at but find interesting. My child's school also has a major fundraiser evening that is to benefit those who receive financial aid from the school. Since I am one of those who receives aid I think it is fabulous. Although I can't afford to buy a ticket, or pay to find childcare for the evening and certainly can't afford to participate in the auction-(which is the main focus of the evening) I think I indeed do feel alienated. It is weird though since it benefits a cause that I directly benefit from (I'd never complain). It would be nice to feel a part of this event though--but thinking now I could probably get someone to take care of my kids but nevertheless I would absolutely NOT be able to bid on anything. Don't get me wrong even though I can't afford a ticket I send a $20 contribution to say that I appreciate the efforts and support them too. That's cool that your school is thinking of all people and how they may have something that ALL people can particpate in...good luck Can't Compete
We have attended silent auctions a different schools we have been affiliated with. My husband and I earn far less than many of the other families in attendance, but have not felt allienated. I think that there are some reasons why:
1) There were many auction items at all different financial levels. Everything from trips to exotic locations to prepaid movie tickets.
2) We went in knowing that we wouldn't be able to compete for some of the big items (especially the ''class items'' since the rich parent's go crazy bidding for the memorabilia) and so we didn't have our hearts set on them, and frequently didn't bother to bid on them.
I think it is a good way to raise money for a school... personally I have never paid more than the market value of the items I purchased so I didn't feel ripped off and the school made money since the item was donated. I guess the most important thing for the auction commitee to keep in mind is to solicit donations for things people would really want, and to have lots of tille items, not just the big ticket ones. lower middle income family with upper income school connections
Our daughter attends a private school and they have auctions that cost $40 or more per person to attend. We receive financial aid and are definitely on the poorer side in this school, although we are middle class. I have to say that even though we can't afford to attend these auctions and celebrations, and I sometimes wish we could go, on the whole I am glad that they are raising their money from the richer folks who can afford it and not raising tuition any higher!
If I were in public school, I think I would feel the same way. Even though we couldn't afford to go to the fancy fundraising events, I would be glad to have them if they funded activities that my child could participate in.
Perhaps if you made it very clear where the money was going, say to an after-school sports or music program where there would be no cost to the child, people would understand the benefits and be willing to miss the event without feeling bad. in favor of fundraising
Our preschool has fundraisers like this -- the stuff isn't too expensive in general -- it's the children's art work/projects ... but I don't believe this alienates parents. Obviously the parents who can afford it, will participate, and those who can't or even parents who don't want won't. This types of events are probably becoming more essential to schools since there isn't much funding for schools these days. If parents feel alienated perhaps they need to examine why they feel this way without blaming the school for ''making'' them feel this way. T.S.
My children's pre-school holds a raffle/silent auction every year - and we raise close to $30,000. Many of the parents are hard-pressed to pay the tuition to the school, but we've never had complaints about the auction. We are sure to let parents know that the money is going to provide more/better materials and services to their children. The auction itself is a low-key afternoon family event, so everyone is included and there's no need for parents to hire babysitters. Auction items range from extravagent to practical. You can bid thousands of dollars on a time share in Maui or spend far less on something you need or would use anyway (local family-friendly restaurants for example). Also, many parents participate by donating goods and services to the auction (babysitting services; soup of the month delivered to your door, etc.) Good luck!
Yes, I do get a sense of ''sticker shock'' when I see the suggested bid prices for auction items at Silent Auction fundraisers (our child's preschool, our other child's Berkeley public school, plus the church we attend). I'd like to participate in supporting our schools' (and church) fundraisers, but our family budget is tight so we can't really afford ''extras'' like bidding on auction items thrice in one year.
However, we still feel we can participate in the fundraising process...there are some families (with time or skill) who are able to show their support by contributing or soliciting goods/services for the auction, and there are some families (with cash) who are able to show their support by bidding on auction items. We are a family who is able to contribute a professional service as an auction item to these fundraiser events. Next year, if I plan ahead, I can make a craft item for auction at one or more of these fundraisers.
I think it is important for a school silent auction committee to stress that families are contributors when they can donate an item or service, or are able to solicit goods/services from a local business--it's not just the families who spend money at the auction who are valued. Our son's preschool auction committee encourages creativity, so handmade items or personal services such as hand-knitted sweaters, beaded jewelry, homemade jam, hosted ethnic food dinners or consulting services become coveted silent auction items.
The only downside is that by late May, our family suffers from post-fundraiser fatigue from participating in these annual silent auctions! A contributing family
I think it all depends on the way it's presented. If it's really fancy, with a high ''cover'' charge, it can seem to be just for the wealthier folks. However, most of the silent auctions I've attended have a wide variety of offerings, including small gift certificates for local merchants, etc. I think people - even those with relatively little money - might not mind spending money they would have spent anyway (for video rental, bagels, pizza, etc.). If there is a silent auction, I would suggest having it a part of a larger (free or inexpensive) gathering a brunch, school concert, etc.). Nobody is required to bid, but everyone can mill around looking at the offerings. Be sure to encourage your own community (parents, etc.) to contribute items or services to be auctioned. Someone with little money might offer a few hours of babysitting, or a batch of home-baked cookies. Be inclusive! R.K.
Our school does a silent auction as a fundraiser. It's incorporated into a party every year. I think it's a great idea. I know there are people who spend a lot more at the auction than I do, and I'm sure there are lots of people who just attend the party, ''window shop'' to see what's available and don't end up bidding on anything, but who would know? Of course, the school administration could pay close attention to who's contributing what, if that matters to them, but I've never felt any pressure to contribute past my comfort level. As far as I'm concerned, the school makes money and we all contribute at the level we're comfortable with. An Auction Fan
My daughter's preschool has a silent auction each year (this year they combined a silent and live auction into a single event). There are items that we absolutely cannot afford to bid on, but we still enjoy the event. They auction off very inexpensive items ($20 gift certificate to a local merchant, for example) as well as expensive items (jewelry, art work, and so on) that are absolutely out of our league. There is something for everyone, and part of the fun is watching people go crazy and try to outbid each other. I have never felt ''left out'' or that I could not participate, simply because we do not have the money to bid on the expensive items. I find the whole event a blast, and enjoy spending an evening with other parents, looking at all of the beautiful items being auctioned. Mary
My son's public school has a silent auction every year and it brings in tens of thousands of dollars. It is a lot of work on the part of volunteers, but totally worth it monetarily. As to the issue of exclusivity, that is a touchy subject. Our auction happens at the same time as our all day walkathon, so we do not charge an admission fee, parents don't have to worry about babysitting (because it isn't adults only), and we have tons of lower priced items, including restaurant gift certificates, handmade items from the parents and so on. We also have many big-ticket items that do well, but the breadth of items offered really helps everyone feel like they can participate. We have discussed moving our auction to an admission-based, evening, adult-only affair (because those tend to bring in more money), but we are afraid of just what you said: alienating the families that can't afford to participate. Our current method raises decent money and gets everyone involved. anon
We've had both raffles and Silent Auctions at our elementary school and preschool. I love the Silent Auction concept, because it's not high pressure, and I think for that reason, it doesn't matter if someone does not participate. We had great items that were auctioned off too - a kindergarten teacher did a night of board games & cookies & milk (so really like a night of babysitting) - which went for a high amount as each student wanted their teacher for some one on one time! And she also had an item where six children came to her house all afternoon and ''prepared'' a dinner for the parents. There was a progressive dinner hosted by the principal and PTA, local store/restaurant/spa/educational things, and also spots on a school kickball team (played against the teachers at the end of year picnic). So lots of fun things, as well as practical items. Then at the end of the night, there was a live auction for the ''class'' items for auction. Each class of students made something for the auction (mostly beautiful personalized quilts) and these items went for high prices, and were extremely personal and touching. Each Room Parent coordinated one donation to the auction as well from all the parents - like a game basket, movie basket, etc... Good luck...with some organization and effort, it can be very successful! Silent Auction Buyer
Until last year, my children attended a public charter school that used a silent auction as a big part of its extra curricular fundraising. I was totally alienated by this event and felt that it further polarized the parents' class differences. So I am one of the parents who would indeed feel left out if my children's current public school chose to institute a silent auction. I am aware of how popular these events have become, and how successful they are at raising money.But, in my opinion (albeit a very sensitive opinion ), what it boils down to is a competition over who can donate the most money and then who ends up with the most goodies. I guess I feel like this because I could never bid on any of the more expensive items, and even on the cheaper items the whole goal is to raise money for a worthy cause, so why would one take delight in getting a bargain? I would much rather that the more monetarily wealthy among us would just make anonymous donations to such worthy causes as our financially strapped public schools. In fact, in an effort to encourage the participation of all people, my chidren's previous school even included items for auction that I found offensive --- like special time for some children with the kindergarten teacher, doing something special. So the children who had parents who were fortunate enough to have more money to donate, could spend more quality time with the teacher! How might other children, not included in this feeI? I think that silent auctions run counter to the spirit of public schools and I hope that my children's current school will stick with their raffle as a major fundraising source. Sensitive ( to class differences)
Hi - I see you already received a number of good posts in response to your question, but I thought that I'd add a few comments. My two sons attend public schools in Pleasanton. We became acquainted with the ''annual auction'' as a fundraiser since we've moved here from Berkeley a few years ago. Usually, these events combine both a ''silent auction'' component where ''class theme packages'' and donated goods (such as a cabin stay, a massage at a local spa, a gift certificate to a local specialty store) are displayed for folks to browse about and sign up on sheets before the dinner portion of the evening. For me, this was fine, since it allowed parents to wander about, mingle as they browsed, and was very low pressure. Sure, if someone decided to bid something up by going back to a table repeatedly, this could happen, but it wasn't too noticeable and it was all congenial. The part of these functions which turned me off after attending only two ''auction nights'' was the live auction portion of the evening, usually right after the dinner. A professional auctioneer was hired, and this auctioneer was generally given free reins by the event coordinators to ''bid people up'' at any cost. I found that it became a very competitive, rather show-off situation where people became louder and more ridiculous, while the auctioneer trotted out the most chauvinistic and demeaning remarks to goad people into bidding higher. ''Ok, so the little lady holds the pursestring, does she? And won't let you bid higher on this basketball signed by Kobe Bryant? C'mon, men, show them who's boss!!'' Or, ''She just dropped out of the bidding? Well, I know what neighborhood she lives in, and she can certainly afford more than that bid tonight. Give it up!'' My husband and I got up and left after sticking it out for an hour of this, somehow. Clearly we could not bid with these folks, we had done our duty, and it was far from an enjoyable event for us. On top of that, as one other person astutely pointed out, some of the items being raffled were ''special time'' with teachers. And while that is VERY nice of the teachers to donate their private time and resources, it does imply that only those whose parents are well-endowed are entitled to one-on-one time with a favorite teacher. The one example of this which REALLY disappointed me was that the school in question auctioned off ''Be a principal for the day'' to the highest bidder. And when the bidding went high enough, the event coordinators decide to cash in on the excitement and double the offering to two families. So when the children were interviewed later in the year for the school newspaper, both kids said they liked their stint as principal ''because everyone noticed us and I felt very powerful''. Needless to say, I wrote a letter to the event coordinators and the principal suggesting that this was not the best way to re-inforce the touted values of the school district that year of ''character, caring, integrity''; that perhaps a better way to choose who would be principal for a day would be an act of kindness and caring, rather than $$$ tossed out by parents. I suggested another format for fund-raising, but apparently the ''auction night'' is so successful and so engrained by now in some school districts that they don't dare drop it. Excuse the rambling on, but wanted to share my experiences with the auctions... Looking for a better way
I would really appreciate feedback on the following issue. My senior son has been on a Berkeley High School sports team throughout hs. This team relies for the bulk of its $ from fundraising - it gets VERY little from the school district. Once a year there is a major fundraiser, which includes our having to come up with a list of at least 20 names to solicit. I am self-employed, performing a service for a stable regular clientele in their homes, many of whom have been my clients for years. These are really the only people I know who have money to spare. However, for the past three years I have never solicited from them because it just didn't seem right. I've never really been clear about this though and if I get a response that most people think it's ok to solicit from my clients (most of whom have met my son but don't really know him) then I'll do so this year. What do folks think? Especially those who have a service worker coming to their home on a regular basis - would you be offended if that person solicited $ from you for their child's sports team? Is it appropriate? anon
I think that it is a very bad idea. I certainly would not appreciate being solicited in this way (I don't appreciate any solicitations). Also, I don't think that it would be good for your business relationship with your clients--personal stuff (like your son's school activities) should be kept separate from business. Finally, I don't think that it is a good idea for BHS to encourage its students to use soliciation as a means to obtain money for their athletics. I think that the kids should be encouraged to EARN money and use their own money to fund their extra-curricular athletics. And if the parents think it is important, they should support the activities themselves. And if you think that the activities should be part of the curriculum (i.e. paid for by the school district) then you should get together with like-minded parents, teachers, students etc. and use political means (voting, lobbying, etc.) to obtain what you want. -another mom
I think you may risk losing your clients. I find it very uncomfortable when people solicit for their children's fundraising either by selling things or just asking for money. Other people may feel differently, but I don't like being forced to buy candies that I never eat, or just plainly being put in a situation where I feel I HAVE TO give money. I would encourage your son to offer some type of services to people and then get paid for it rather than just asking people for money. It will make him even more appreciate what he gets to do with his hard earned money. As a parent, I don't feel comfortable asking other people to pay for my children's causes, especially without offering anything in return. I think parents need to be aware that others may not share the same interest in their own children. Being solicited constantly by other people can be pretty annoying. I would keep the professional relationships as they are, professional. Anon
Personally, I don't like soliciting my contacts this way, especially since these fundraising outfits take such a big percentage. I figure out what the bottom-line fundraising goal is and then write a check for what I think is my fair share. Helena
I personally would have no problem donating to a child's fundraising, particularly if I had met the child and if I felt I knew the parent fairly well (i.e., if the parent helped me at my home on a regular basis). anon
No, I don;t think it's a good idea to ask your clients for donations because it could put them in an uncomfortable position. However, I did want to correct the perception other people had about how and why kids on these teams raise money.
A popular way to raise money for high school sports is to require everyone on the team to write 10 letters to family and friends asking for outright donations of cash. I have seen this in lacrosse and crew at Berkeley High, and also at a preschool one child attended. I think the idea is that every family has a few relatives or close friends who can afford to donate something. This method is always used in addition to other fundraising strategies such as car washes. Typically, each kid is given 10 fill-in-the-blank letters and 10 envelopes and told to fill them out and bring them back in. The first time I heard about it was when my sister called me from out of state to ask me how much she should send. My kid had collected addresses from my address book without me knowing! I was embarassed! Since then, we have received them on a regular basis from the children of friends and business associates as far away as LA. The reason why the teams do this is because sports like lacrosse and crew are not supported by the schools, and the equipment is expensive. For BHS lacrosse, the equipment for one kid was $600-$800. There are trips every week all over the Bay Area for 40 or 50 kids, and if they are any good, regional and state games that require plane fare and food and accommodation for all the kids. The coaches salaries are not always paid by the school and must come from donations or fees that the students pay to play the sport.
If these teams don't raise money to cover these costs, then only the rich kids can play. At BHS there are a lot of poor kids, and no one is ever turned away who wants to play. So the money has to come from somewhere. These letters raised more money than any other method when my son was playing lacrosse and that's why they send them out. So now, I send money sometimes and sometimes I ignore. If I were you I would not hand them out to clients. On the other hand, most parents of school-aged kids have seen these letters or have been hit up for other items, and they will not be offended, and will feel free to hit *you* up when their kid starts fundraising.