Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fundraising Fun

There have probably been fund raisers since kids first started being herded into schools and organized activities. Girls Scouts sell cookies, cheerleaders wash cars, the soccer team sells chocolate and the youth symphony has a bake sale. Fund raising pretty much comes with the territory of kids activities, which is OK because they're expensive, and I think it's a good idea to work for what you want. In some cases, the parents seem to do just as much of the work as kids, and while I do think it's good to be supportive and helpful, I also think kids should understand the theory of a work ethic by actually working themselves. Nevertheless, I've bought plenty of candy bars from the boxes my co-workers children have cleverly placed in the break room at work.

My own daughter has just started participating in her first fundraisers in the past year. Her scouting troop is taking an educational trip, and the girls are earning their way with garage and craft sales, selling used books on ebay and by selling snow cones on hot days at the park. She came up with the idea of selling sodas and cookies at kids baseball games, too.

Since this fundraising adventure has begun, our family has been talking about just what kind of fundraising efforts we would feel good about. To me, legitimate fundraising involves offering a product or a service in exchange for money that will be used toward a particular cause. I told my kids that if their grandma asks them what they want for Christmas, it is perfectly fine to say music lessons, but it is not OK to just ask someone out of the blue to pay for their activities or buy them things. They can ask people if they can water gardens, walk dogs or sell lemonade to earn the money, but they can't ask for handouts. The only exception would be if they are raising money for a charity- then they can ask for donations, but for their own personal use, no begging.

I am more than happy to support young business people and their ideas to earn money though. I think it's exciting to see the initiative and creativity people have when thinking of what they can do, rather than when they are looking for what they can get. So, I'm driving my daughter to Costco where I'll loan her the money to buy bottled water and fruit snacks she can sell at her brothers baseball game tonight. She'll pay me back at the end of the night. She priced the items, figured her sales price needed to make a profit, is keeping inventory, and doing plenty of math adding up products and making change. Not to mention merchandising her products and gaining people skills by talking to the public. I hope she does well with her little business venture. She is really excited and working hard at it. No matter how much she sells though, I can see she is learning a ton in the process. And that is worth buying a 50 cent bag of crackers, even if I'm not really hungry.