This is a subject that has been on my mind for quite some time. But now that baseball and softball season has started, it is something that I have seen come up quite a bit. Years ago the kids would at least sell something in order to raise money for their sports team. Now they pretty much stand outside of local businesses, with the can held out in front of them, doing what I can only call as organized begging. This is something that there are permits for, they are legally allowed to be there. But I cannot help but feel a mixture of guilt, and annoyance every time I see one of these little tykes out there, dressed in their uniforms, with at least one adult standing beside them, awkwardly asking for change.
It’s not as if you can pass by them and completely ignore them. I personally feel terrible if I don’t at least say hello–even if I don’t happen to have any cash on me at the time. But I think that exploiting the children’s cuteness to essentially beg passers by for money is just awful. At least in the past few years in my town, most of the organizations have given the parents the option of not doing the tagging–but they pay handsomely for that option.
I guess I am just not sure whatever happened to selling things and actually making the effort to make money. I see fewer and fewer car washes, candy bar sales, and other things that are actually giving the donor something in return (so it is more like the kids are actually earning the donation) and more of this “tagging” and I see it every year. My point is, there are so many other options for fundraising that are much better for the community, why resort to the can? 0403-15
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Uh, this is not new. I was doing it over 20 years ago (albeit we did it during the Christmas season and played Christmas carols on instruments) to raise money for our band trips in high school. Maybe the singing and playing made the difference?
I think busking or street performing is not at all the same as begging. You are giving away something that people do pay for (music performance). As long as you are respecting people’s space and not forcing it on a captive audience, I don’t think there’s anything rude about busking.
I don’t think using music to raise money is any different than using candy bars, cookies, or wrapping paper to raise money. Either way, the kids are offering people something in exchange for a donation, instead of just straight-up begging strangers for money.
But 100% of the donation should go to organise if it is singing/dancing etc. So if someone gave £2 for a packet of cookies maybe they’d get to keep 50p but if someone put in £1 to bucket for a dance, not only is it a smaller donation but it’s twice what they would have got compared to the cookies.
My high school band did this at a mall one year–they sent us in pairs and trios and small groups to play Christmas music for mall-goers, in hopes of raising money for travel and various other expenses. We also gave concerts; usually ticketed, but we had a tradition that the concert directly following every band trip (every other year) would be free, as a “thank you” to all the people who had donated money or assisted with fundraising. We also included a slideshow after the concert, so people could see where all their money and hard work went.
The town that I lived in for many years had two 5K races during the year to raise money. The spring one was for the PTA and the elementary schools and the Turkey trot was for the high school.
Exactly how far my $15/20 entrance fee for the race went. I honestly don’t know. I did feel a little better that checks were actually made out to the PTA/school.
Having said this, these races were a neighborhood event. The police did have to close off the roads, the local Whole Foods donated water and bananas to the runners. Don’t know if the t-shirts we got as runners were donated or not. But it was a fun community event. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.
When my ‘adopted’ nieces were in grade school there were magazine drives and I’d always subscribe to something I’d want to read anyway, and the prices were usually lower than a regular subscription.
All the other things which were ‘offered’ at work I would ignore….explaining that my ‘support’ for children’s events was limited to the ‘nieces’.
Something I’ve seen done by a high school in a nearby neighborhood in Los Angeles is a discount card. It’s been done for a number of years and has been so successful that when one chain restaurant bought out another one and didn’t support the discount card, they lost serious business. Seems a lot of senior citizens who used the cards regularly just stopped eating there, and went elsewhere. The savings with the card wasn’t that much, but the card didn’t cost that much ($15, I think for the annual card).
I for one like to support local businesses and using such a card lets the business owner/employee know that you’re local as well, so what they invest in taking good care of you can mean repeat business.
Guess what? The restaurant, noticing the drop in revenue and the decline in senior citizens regularly eating there and decided they were wrong.
One thing that helped keep the card sales popular was that they sell a limited number of them, there are no ‘who can sell the most’ competitions and it makes the students aware of the businesses in the area and the businesses aware that there are students who are willing to work to earn money. It puts a positive face on the local school for people who might not otherwise be aware of them.
A good friend had both her children in a nonprofit cooperative day care preschool and with two young children and as both parents worked, they were overwhelmed with this fund raiser and then another and another…
She was a teacher herself and thought that haviug a lot of events which were primarily for adults (wine tastings, etc) did nothing for the children, cost money families might not have, and sometimes brought in little revenue weren’t the best use of everyone’s time and money.
Since it was FOR the school and the school was FOR the children, why not have one event which involved the parents and the children….and so the first LA Family School came into being and it went well. I arrived in LA in time for the second one, came just to be supportive, found some beautiful pottery for sale and had to buy some (I love hand thrown pottery) and ended up helping cook hamburgers when one person didn’t show up. Of course helping was more fun than anything else and having been involved in community events elsewhere I could see that others had the same sense.
Parents who might otherwise not get to know other parents well developed good friendships (this was a while ago and some of the pre-schoolers now have children of their own and are still in touch with friends made there–and often lasting friendships developed among the parents, too.
I was driving in that neighborhood last year and saw a banner advertising the school fair…my first thought was that I was happy to see it was still happening…and then to see the 20th annual (or whatever number)…wow…I knew the children had grown up…somehow you don’t count the years…and the second thought was how wise the friend was in suggesting it, and how good that it was still working.
Something else the grade school did was sell Scholastic books…usually paperbacks (not expensive trade paperbacks, the lower-priced ones) and since I enjoy a good children’s book as much as many adult books, I used to buy some.
There is a nonprofit called Operation Paperback where volunteers arrange to have paperback books sent to servicemen and women all over the world…they provide listings of what is wanted/needed as well as special requests in a monthly email.
I see requests for children’s books and I’d love to help with that but I don’t have access to used and new are too expensive…so in thinking about fund raising, it just struck me that I could see if the local school still does the book sale and if so, get books there: Two wins, not just one!
So thank you ehell for helping me find a way to help a very deserving organization and the local school too!
For anyone interested, the group is Operation Paperback, you can ship books to an APO/FPO, there’s a special rate for media which includes books…takes longer but it’s the least expensive way to send things by post office. If you have lots of paperbacks it’s a great way to share them.
Most times, bake sales are prohibited because Mom’s cupcakes weren’t made in a professional kitchen and the people trained in proper food safety. However couldn’t a local business donate, at cost, or donate time in their professional kitchen? Then the group could provide something tangible, of quality, and not let just feed the profit margin of some random company. My kids are in cub scouts and I couldn’t believe the price point of the popcorn. Totally fleecing!
Oh, you have my sympathy with the Cub Scout thing. I was a Girl Scout, and had zero trouble selling cookies. Those things just sell themselves. But my brother did Boy Scouts, and the popcorn doesn’t sell at all. And at least when he was selling it, it was expensive and not very good. Whenever I see poor Cub and Boy Scouts trying to sell that stuff, I just make a donation out of pure sympathy.
Who is going to take on the legal responsibility and insurance costs of monitoring a bunch on unskilled cooks with no knowledge of clean techniques to use their professional kitchen?
My son’s cub scout troop does not sell popcorn. The parents on the exec committee, which is 95% Dads, decided many years ago that they would rather spend their time on other activities and would just not fundraise. Scholarships are available if a family needs it, annual dues run $145 per kid (about equal to ONE season of a sport) and it includes all meetings events including two campouts, bowling, pinewood derby, etc. Only two events require additional money.
The only issue is that the popcorn sales greatly benefit the regional council, and since we do not sell, they get no $. The compromise has been a shakedown of sorts from the council for direct donations. Those families that can, have contributed (grateful to not have to sell anything).
That’s really sad. You know, Girl Scout/Girl Guide cookies were originally homemade, by the girls and the leaders themselves, and “food safety concerns” probably didn’t occur to anyone back then.
They used to sell stuff that was junk so people stopped buying it — that’s why they have taken to begging 🙂 My child was in a performance group and we were informed we had to fundraise for the outfits. I became the worst person of all when I said I would not ask other people to fund my child’s choice of afterschool activity — you could have heard a pin drop in that auditorium!! Of course it was made clear to me that the fundraising allowed for those kids who couldn’t afford the activity to be in it. That’s a valid point I guess.
Let me give this issue some perspective from my point of view. I grew up on the poorer side of life and not always in the best parts of town. My parents both worked and let my brother and I do one activity after school each. We were never allowed to beg for money or do fundraisers. We were allowed to do odd jobs to earn the money to pay for anything else we wanted to do like church trips. We didn’t get elaborate birthday gifts and were told that our Christmases wouldn’t compare to friends OR family members because we couldn’t afford it. In other words, we didn’t dip into holiday fundraisers either. That was our way. This is, after all, my perspective. We survived. We thrived.
Now I work in a school and I am inundated with fundraising requests for everything under the sun at least once a day. I quit being a scout leader because it was all about selling for my local chapter. There are requests online for everything you can imagine from mission trips to funerals from gofundme on my social media. It boggles the mind.
Now I’m just replying to your post to say that I stand with you in your response to the command to fundraise for the outfit. *slowclap* In my opinion, sacrifice in life–even in after school activities–will not hurt anyone. I survived not doing a host of activities AND even got accepted to college (someone mentioned above that a lack of activites hurts your college admission chances). Poor kids will lack opportunities. I know. I’ve been there. I even survived without Angel Tree and loved my parents more for it because we stood together loving each other.
Sure, deprivation is survivable, but that doesn’t mean kids -should- be deprived of activities if there’s a reasonable alternative. For some kids they’re a really important creative and/or social outlet. Missing out on things isn’t inherently noble or character-building. Fundraising doesn’t strike me as an unacceptable cost for giving poor kids some of the same opportunities that the luckier kids get.
Just an observation: I know lots of people really hate the overpriced goods, but sometimes the selling can also go both ways — some people that normally wouldn’t donate will buy because they actually want the product.
My husband, for example, hates the Girl Scouts but still bought two boxes of cookies this weekend because, in his own words, “I like cookies!”
Why on earth does your husband hate the Girl Scouts? ???
Wal-Mart in my town is an incredibly busy place so there is usually a table set up for fundraising at the entrance. If I know the kid(s), I’ll donate. If I don’t know them, I don’t donate. I have no problem saying no.
Here the kids have to fundraise for everything; and the most successful are the combo drives… they are selling something or running a car wash… and have a raffle for something at the same time. Donated or homemade item (like a quilt) and people gladly buy tickets. It’s a donation to cause and IF you win that’s just a bonus.
Our school is small and there are a lot of activities, so we have a lot of fundraising. I’d rather buy a $5 ticket for the quilt then buy hellaciously overpriced flavored popcorn in a tiny tin.
I was really upset one summer when a few organizations did a car wash. One was the football team for the high school and they had the cheerleaders out there doing the work. That one was packed full of people. Two doors down was the little league team and they had like 1 car. Gee I wonder WHY the little kids had no cars. And yes the little ones had their parents there.
One baddity there was making the girls do the work for the guy’s team, second baddity was having two carwashes the same weekend, same day, and nearby. Poor planning…. part of it.
The kids had no idea either was doing a car wash, two totally different schools and venues. The cheerleaders always do the car washes for the football team. The girls seem to lure in more customers than boys do.
I agree admin! also, when I was a kid, we were expected to get out and do our own selling. It was a learning experience. These days, even when it is a sales fundraiser, all I ever see is parents doing the selling.
Toward the end of my time as a Girl Scout, leaders began discouraging children from going door-to-door for safety reasons. Since kids don’t really have a “network” to reach out to, apart from family, it started falling to parents to bring the order form to their work or ask their friends.
I have heard that the Girl Scouts are trying to start an online system where scouts can set up their own cookie website, manage orders, and cookies can be shipped directly to the customer. Much safer, much better marketing-wise, and then the kids actually are doing the selling and learning a future skill.
I sold girl scout cookies in the day. I would be assigned a few blocks of town, I knew nobody there but I would have to go out, knock doors, and sell my cookies. Then handle the money. It was an experience. The later years I would buy lots of cookies, but. They had to come sell them to me. That was part of the experience. One place I visited as wholesale, the mom was selling the cookies and I said I’m good for xx number of boxes but her daughter had to sell them to me. Mom’s jaw dropped. Mom arranged to bring daughter after school and the girl didn’t have a clue, shy and embarrassed, and it was cute, but she managed to talk to me, spiel, I asked questions about the kinds and she did answer them, then I made the order and asked her how much I owed her and when they would be in. She had some trouble with the math, I gently helped her break it down and figure it out. I left and when the cookies came in I picked them up and paid for them, and her mom said thank you for making her daughter do that. D’oh? Her mom was about my age and would have sold cookies too, and didn’t remember that bit… it was part of the learning. Here where I live now I have had one visit in 10 years, a few years ago a neighbor girl came over, and she got the windfall for knocking on my door. She was with a friend, and I was known to one’s mother so I was ‘safe’ without a parent in the background… I also remember selling raffle tickets and such at early age, and learning to handle money that wasn’t my own…even in first grade. Very important stuff! I admit the world isn’t such a safe place, but. Something short circuits when it’s the parents doing the work.
The flip side of that is, sometimes strangers aren’t so tolerable when fundraising efforts by minors aren’t perfect, whether it’s because there’s actually a problem, or it’s just a simple case of buyer’s remorse. One time, when I was in high school, I was out selling cheese and dessert squares for the band, as per usual. One family ordered one pan of brownies, and one pan of lemon squares. Each pan was 710 grams (or, about a pound and a half for anyone here who doesn’t know the metric system), and they tried to figure out how big that was, by measuring with a block of cheese. Fast-forward to delivery day. I arrived at their house with the brownies and lemon squares, and the father threw an absolute fit, saying that the boxes were too small to possibly be 710 grams each, and he told his wife “DON’T buy any more [B.S.] at the door!!!” He refused to pay, so my mom bought them, and I suppose there are worse things than having extra desserts around the house, but if my mom hadn’t eaten the cost, it would have had to come out of my pocket, or the school’s pocket. I was maybe sixteen at the time, and I hadn’t actually done anything wrong.
Now, picture this same scenario with, say, a Girl Guide between the ages of five and ten or so. Sometimes, the result of “kids do the work” is “kids make mistakes,” or “adults browbeat kids into thinking they’ve done something wrong when they haven’t.” Sometimes there’s tolerance for that, and sometimes there isn’t. That’s why I’m really not a fan of door-to-door fundraising. Yes, it’s positive, it’s free-range, it teaches kids to manage money, et cetera, et cetera, but it basically comes down to, “Hey kids, I want you to knock on strangers’ doors, and ask them to order a product that costs much more than a similar product you’d get from the store, might or might not be as good, and won’t arrive for several weeks–they have to give you the money, and THEN you deliver the product when it arrives. Try to make sure they’re home when you deliver, so they can check off that they got it.” See how much can go wrong with that? It’s worse nowadays, because the days of the Leave It To Beaver neighbourhood, where everyone knows each other, are long gone. I mean, it’s still a P.I.T.A. when you order Thin Mints, but get Caramel Delites instead, but it’s easier to forgive that if it’s your best friend’s daughter, or one of your Little Leaguers, who was behind the mix-up (which could have been her fault, or even something like a Thin Mint shortage at the supplier level), than just some random kid.
Anyway, to That Family who cried rip-off over the dessert squares (not made by the band; we ordered them from Bright’s, so, not my fault), I was just a random stranger, whom they had no problem treating badly. I’m sure they wouldn’t treat people they know the same way they treated me, or else they’d have no friends. Likewise, if they’d bought the squares from a proper adult (even one they didn’t know), or from the supermarket, or from an online company, they probably wouldn’t have behaved the same way either. So, I’m all for young people actually earning their fundraising money for their activities, but door-to-door sales are a terrible idea. Let them have a car wash, or a barbecue, or a bake sale, or a make-your-own-sundae bar, or a benefit concert, or a craft sale (I’ve met ten-year-olds who can make awesome friendship bracelets), or a skills clinic for athletes, or anything straightforward, where people know exactly what they’re getting, payment and service happen on the same day, and chances of screw-ups are minimal.
True, my cookie hawking days were over four decades ago but. The ripping off bit? A scale would have fixed that issue. I am used to ordering stuff for my diet, and one supplement for example, you get a nice big jar and you are like one portion short of being able to pour a second jar into the first. Get real. I’d either like to pay more for a full jar or have it packaged in a smaller jar…
Yep, I’m sure the couple expected a huge mondo package of food and instead the desserts were probably quite solid so quite small… but sold by weight. And yes there are muckups. I’ve had my share on buying scout cookies and most of the kinds I would eat anyways. I quit buying the last few years only because I medically can’t eat them anymore.
I support the craft stuff around here and sit a few of those myself. I have gone down the row just at opening and bought the first something from the kid contingent (raising money) just to get the day going for them (and supporting them by buying as well).
Oh and most of our holiday craft bazaars around here are for some cause or club, the table fees go to the cause. So just by going I support their cause….
NostalgicGal, I agree that a scale would have accurately settled whether or not the brownies and lemon squares were accurate or short-weight, but I don’t think it would have fixed the ISSUE…..which is that the father of the family had anger issues that he saw fit to take out on a teenage girl who he didn’t even know, AND on his own wife in front of said teenager. I mean, what did he expect me to do? Wave my magic wand and make the desserts bigger? Pull out a second pan of each from my Extra Stash of Everything that all salespeople have? (I didn’t). Force the supplier to send That Family, and only That Family, extra food to compensate, because they were the only ones who ever complained of not getting what they paid for? I suppose carrying a food scale in my backpack might have been wise, but I had no way to predict that that would happen. On ordering day, That Family went through all the options, and agreed together on what they wanted, they figured out how big the desserts would be by eyeballing/estimating with a block of cheese from their fridge, and they even had their dog dressed in reindeer antlers, because it was Christmas season. On delivery day, they showed their true colours, and acted like unreasonable snowflakes. If I’d brought a food scale, they probably would have accused me of accusing them of lying, or of rigging the scale somehow. This wasn’t a “sales” problem; this was a “don’t engage the crazy” problem.
I agree about ‘don’t engage the crazy’ but. A veteran of eBay, I have learned to scrutinize the stuff carefully before I buy as I may get “Exactly As Described” even if it isn’t what I expected.
It is too bad the mister flipped his widget and took it out on a teen, who had no control over anything.
I’m happy to pay taxes to support academic programs via public schools and indeed would gladly pay more if our schools were year-round and more rigorous. I’d also pay more to see “gym” reinstated –not to teach kids to play team sports but to impart fitness skills like walking, running, yoga, etc. to help improve the future health of the population.
But sorry, I just don’t consider team sports and other activities important enough to fund them either through taxation or donation. I don’t think eighth graders need out-of-town field trips, nor does every band need to attend competitions, etc. — if they can’t afford it let them march at the home football games and be done with it. I’d rather donate to wildlife conservation, the ACLU, the local women’s shelter, etc. Plus it offends me that the people asking for money in my area often are more affluent than the people they are importuning.
They come around begging in my neighborhood, or asking for empty bottles & cans to return, with their parents idling at the curb in $40,000 or $50,000 SUVS. Needless to say, I do not open the door. When waylaid by the kids or their coaches/parents, I’ve noted that I have leaves that need to be raked and other work that teens can readily do (my area is so safe there hasn’t been a murder in 40 years and many of us don’t bother locking doors, so safety of the kids is not in question and it’s bikeable or walkable from pretty much any household likely to be soliciting funds.) I am met with incredulity. They are too busy to work!
Fine. Don ‘t want to rake my small lawn or tote mulch, then you are not poor enough to need my help funding your sports team. Interestingly the two brothers who have done my yard work for several years personified “busy” — good students, both taught swimming on weekends, one had a job in a hardware store and the other with a landscape firm, and both were police cadets. They squeezed in my work, for which I paid $15 an hour (and $25 each time they mowed) in between all of that and still did an excellent job. So I don’t buy the ‘too busy’ excuse from able-bodied middle-class kids who want free money.
“Plus it offends me that the people asking for money in my area often are more affluent than the people they are importuning.”
You have hit the nail on the head there. Here in the UK this is a common problem at a number of scales, be it (well-off) kids from local schools raising money for sports equipment their parents could easily afford to buy themselves, to the National Lottery, which is predominantly played by working-class, lower-income families, funding the Royal Opera House in central London.
I’ve noticed them here in Perth too. I refuse to open the door to them.
If they can afford a $40,000 LandRover, they can afford to fund part of their kids’ sport group.
Hi all! I am the OP. I know that tagging is nothing new, it’s just that I see it a lot more in recent years than I ever did when I was a child. And now it seems that a lot more sports organizations do it than ever before. This time of year in my town you can’t go to almost any store without seeing a little one dressed up in their uniform (or in many cases more than one!) and holding out a can. I am more inclined to donate to an actual charity, like we took up a collection for Hurricane Sandy victims a few years back. I personally like the services like car washes better. Much better for the community too and the overhead is low. That being said I know that tagging is probably not ever going to go away. I just don’t like feeling guilty if I don’t have any cash to give them, if I am in a hurry or if I just don’t feel like it that day. Darn those cute little faces lol!
Sometimes this is the only money these organizations get other than sign up fees. I was so against it and I still am. However now that my kids have been signed up to play I understand since I have gotten a break down of what is needed and them looking for volunteers. Maintenance of the field, equipment that is shared, paying the paid coaches and umpires, insurance…you name it. Not to mention running the snack shack that also supports the teams, but they have to pay for the food somehow to sell it. My husband signed up to volunteer coach. I’m probably going to end up a team mom and supply snacks for after games or during practices. Sometimes this is the only activity a child gets to do all summer. Swimming lessons here cost over $80 per child. Baseball is $45 per child. It’s a very small town and there isn’t much.
I usually do put in a couple dollars. I just feel kind of bad when I see the kids doing it that’s all. It just seems so awkward–for everyone. I don’t know if it is teaching the kids that begging is ok or not. I really hope not.
I don’t really think of it as begging. They aren’t on their knees groveling for money, they aren’t chasing people around asking repeatedly. Here they stand outside one store one day a year with buckets with the league logo. They are always so polite when I go by, “Ma’am would you like to donate to XYZ Baseball?”….that’s it. That isn’t begging…that’s asking for a donation. To me begging is whining and guilt tripping someone until they cave in and give you money or blow up at you. As much as I hate it I can totally understand why they have the kids do it….they are getting out into the community and getting donations. We have such a small town, very rarely does a business sponsor a small thing like this…they go for the high school sports and college sports here in our town. There isn’t any money in sponsoring little league.
I was reading over the information again and it is indeed a requirement. Kids must be in full uniform and there is a whole thing on code of conduct there. ANY badgering is punishable.
Detach. Ignore. Go about your day minus the guilt & disapproval. Give to charities when you want to, not because you feel obliged to.
I do not give to people begging for money. I’ve had a problem with them begging in the street at the intersection of two 7 lane 45 mph roads and at in the underpass at a busy intersection of feeder roads and a 45 mph road. Both times I called the cops and reported this, because it is not permitted and is considered child endangerment. With the group in the underpass, I also filed a report with Texas Education Agency because the group was claiming to be a charter school. The police have responded to my calls, but only warned off the “parents”.
One weekend I was encountering kids from the local public school panhandling in parking lots. They were very aggressive and I had both kids and parents swear at me. I went into the business, got a complaint form and left. I informed corporate how much I spent there each month and why I would not be going back. I also fired off a very angry e-mail to the school district telling them this was unacceptable and that I would be organizing opposition to an upcoming bond vote if it didn’t stop. (The district in question was under fire for having substandard school buildings and state of the art sports facilities that cost tens of millions of dollars.
I got a very quick response that they were investigating. Then I got a copy of a letter forbidding this type of fundraising and an explanation that a new teacher had made a sarcastic comment in response to complaints about fees for extra curriculars. The kids had taken the suggestion literally – and started begging. (football was of course 100% funded, other sports mostly funded, non-sports barely funded)
I got responses from the various businesses that they simply wanted to support the schools and due to at the time recent court cases they felt they had to allow the fundraising . That due to a letter from the school district it would not be happening again.
One related one I hate worse. Big city, van pulls up and discharges a bunch of kids. They’re from another city, here to sell magazines as part of a youth program, and if they sell so many magazine subscriptions they get a pizza party at ChuckEcheese or something like that. The magazines are nothing I want, they’re not really a discount, and the kids are literally slaves. I lived in a cul-de-sac and my big front area to park as I was on the curve plus the street light and T street, they would usually park right out front of my place. I was used to getting 3-4 kids knocking on my door, and one lied and said if I bought he’d give me a sticker to put on door to get rid of the rest (and I bet after I paid he’d be out of stickers) so. I finally started taking down license plates and calling the police about possible mistreatment of kids. The vanfuls disappeared for awhile. A friend of mine had a paper wasp colony set up inside her front door (between screen which had busted screen and inside door. She put a sign on her door saying WASPS large and dark and a arrow, and nobody bothered her all summer. She could get in the side garage door and that didn’t bother her or her family…
As they say, you can’t please everyone. For every person who would rather the kids sell something to raise money instead of just soliciting donations, there’s another who would rather give an outright donation so the kids will get the full amount instead of whatever is left over after the merchandise suppliers get their cut. I’ve done the latter in cases where kids are selling something I don’t want or need but I would like to support the cause.
I’m not a parent, and I’m particular about what causes I support. Youth fundraisers are more likely to get my money if they are for something, or someone, really in need of the help, such as new instruments for the band (many schools have scaled way back on funding music programs, which I consider all kinds of valuable) or sending kids to regional competition whose families can’t afford it.
Also, in the name of all that is true and beautiful and good and holy, please stop with the contests! At least for little kids, who have no control over how much they can raise or sell. The only way to win is to have a big extended family and/or parents who feel comfortable pushing their co-workers to buy/donate — if they are allowed to solicit for their kids’ fundraisers at work in the first place. I don’t object to them for teens, since they can use their own ingenuity and salesmanship to pursue the prize, but it’s just unfair to do that to younger kids.
BagLady I hate those contests too! There were a few of them this year for our PTA fundraisers. Contests can be heartbreaking for the kids who are not able to sell as much as their peers. At my husband’s work there is a ban on any type of solicitation, and I work for a VERY small company so that pretty much narrows down the pool to close friends and family. Needless to say we never sell very much. Last year one of my fellow PTA board members introduced the Write a Check campaign. I think we raised close to $500 doing this. And this is just basically soliciting donations. The people who chose to write a check decided to do this in lieu of purchasing the stuff we had for sale this year. We had to stop doing bake sales–too many allergies to worry about. But we do pretzel sales, smencil sales, all kinds of sales that do pretty well. These are small ticket items that kids like, and we run these throughout the year. Twice a year we do a book fair and this allows us to raise money and donate books to classroom libraries, and to the school library as well. I think the key to doing sales is selling smaller ticket items that kids like/want. Books are great because at the book fair they do not charge tax, so getting the books there is automatically cheaper than at the book store or online. And it benefits the school community as a whole. But, I see where the write a check campaign is beneficial as well. For example there are some grandparents of students who are not necessarily active in the PTA, are not interested in smencils or books, and just want to show their support. So for them they would much rather write a check. And quite a few parents as well. But that to me a little different than putting $ in a can. Writing a check is a decision based on thinking about whether you want to donate, and taking your time to decide. When you put money in a can a lot of times it is based on a little bit of guilt, and not necessarily the desire to donate. So I guess that is the main issue I have with the can.
The contests drive me batty. Our public school has one fundraiser after another. Some of them are called “spirit night,” which means recruiting your family and friends to patronise a local restaurant. The restaurant then donates a very small percentage of the takings to the school.
One day my Kindergartener begged me to take her to “spirit night”. When I said “no”, she cried all the way home because the teacher told her they would have no books unless the whole class went! (I don’t think that’s literally what the teacher told her, but she was only 5 years old).
I sent a check to school the next day with a very stiffly worded note. I also mentioned it to the head of the PTO. Simply dreadful.
I let the school have it a few years back in regards to the contests. I told them that they should offer an opt out for parents, I would HAPPILY give them a check for $50 if it meant my child NOT selling anything all year long. They do this huge assembly and all the kids gather and they have all these crazy cool prizes set up. A rep from the company comes in, hypes up the kids to sell sell sell and tell them how easy it is to earn these prizes. One year my son earned a prize and the thing arrived BROKEN. It was even in clear packaging so it was obvious it was busted, it was in two pieces with the wiring hanging out. I was so mad especially since I had personally paid for the items for him to at least earn something. I paid $25 for a $1 toy from the dollar store.
BagLady, yes! No more contests, please. I live in a small town so almost everyone is related to everyone, but not us — my husband and I each moved here as adults; he had one much older sibling and her family here, I had no one, but the community expects everyone to have lots of family here to buy things and the schools always hyped up these silly contests. Our kids were constantly bombarded with sales catalogs to sell things from, and finally, my youngest had had enough. She handed her catalog back to the teacher the minute they were handed out, and said she wouldn’t be selling anything, so she just wanted to give hers back. Her teacher said she would surely want to sell to her parents! She said no, they don’t need any of this stuff and won’t buy it (true!). The teacher said, call your grandparents then — they’ll want to help. DD said no, they are all dead (this was true). What about the rest of you family then, DD was asked. DD said she had one aunt in town, who had six grandkids to buy from, so no again (also true). The teacher asked about neighbors. DD replied that she lived in the country with no near neighbors (true). What about your parents selling at work? DD said, my mom isn’t allowed to sell at her workplace and my dad won’t, because he said his employees will feel forced to buy from him (all true). The teacher finally gave up. After that, when the next fundraising catalogs came along, this teacher simply said, “You won’t need this, will you?” And DD always said she didn’t. I was so proud of her. She never once fussed about missing out on a contest, but some kids sure were disappointed when they didn’t sell enough. As if anyone could sell enough to win a bike, really.
Personally, I don’t have a big issue with a group standing outside a business. Admittedly, I haven’t really been subjected to a lot of the obnoxious behavior other people have described. Having to wade through a couple dozen people standing right around the door rattling cans as you try to leave the store is exceedingly annoying and I wouldn’t give money just because of that. A handful of people standing off to the side with a poster or something and a polite ‘Hope you’re having a nice day, would you like to donate to ____?’ I have no problem with. It’s all a matter of presentation. Also, from my experience most groups aren’t depending solely on this type of donation, it’s just to supplement the rest of the fundraising.
On the matter of selling things, this can be a lot more complicated and annoying than one might think. During highschool I went to a private school where the junior class completely funded and organized homecoming and prom dances, while the senior class did the same for the senior trip. Before anybody gets the wrong image about a ‘private school’, this and several other schools existed because the local public schools well and truly sucked. Like, one of the easiest places to procure drugs and no one’s learning anything because the teachers don’t care and just hand out answers to tests to get government funding suckage. As a result there were several extremely affordable private schools that did depend a lot on donations to survive.
With my class one of the biggest ways we made money was doing bake sales within the school (which taught pre-K to 12th grade), where we’d get the office to announce a few days before hand and then we’d cart either home baked goods or things picked up from a bakery to all of the classes (we charged from 25 cents to 1 dollar depending on the size of the thing). We’d also sell boston butts later in the year (we had to buy with previous donation money and a teacher’s husband volunteered to cook them as he had a big smoker). We didn’t have to worry about a bunch of regulations with these methods since we were working with fellow school members or family and friends.
We only tried one of those ‘hey, we’re a big fundraising company, sell our stock and you’ll get this percent of the sales’ deals once and it was a nightmare. I wasn’t in an elected position so I wasn’t part of it, but I know the four who were and our homeroom teacher had to do a lot of research and running around because there are a bunch of regulations for those things. Besides the fact that the cookie dough would up being terrible (not like we could taste test before picking the co.), the company did everything they could to screw us. We had to send in the money for the cookie dough with the orders, and then they preceded to drag their heels about sending us the stuff (I know several people were regularly having to field questions and make apologies for the stuff being late to friends and family). When they finally did send us the stuff they got several orders wrong with several tubs missing and too many tubs of a couple flavors. They tried to pull some BS about us high-schoolers just not being able to fill an order form correctly, only we had copies of the correctly filled out order form we had kept and copies THEY put in the boxes the dough came in. Even then it took almost two months for them to finally send us the rest of the order. As I remember, that was the only time our homeroom teacher really stepped in because every step of the way they tried to get out of fixing things using the excuse that we had to have messed up on account of being high-schoolers. Basically, we arranged things around so only our direct family members had incomplete orders, with several just accepting the wrong flavor dough. I think our teacher had to eventually threaten legal action to get things straightened out (as a church affiliated private school, we actually did have some leverage because of legal designation stuff I can’t hope to explain).
Doing that fundraiser was barely worth doing in the first place, and had they not finally sent us the rest of the order and we had to issue refunds (unlikely to happen with our family members, but still) we would have been in the negative. That’s just all the trouble we had on our end. Like I said before, its not like the cookie dough was all that good. My family actually ended up just tossing a couple buckets of ‘playdough’ dough (colored stuff to make into fun shaped cookies my mom bought to make with my much younger cousins) since they were pretty much inedible. They were overpriced for good dough, though not the worst cost found when we were deciding on a company to use. So I can get behind anyone bypassing using any of these companies since they seem to mostly just put out junk knowing that people will buy it for charity (and not taking the charity organizers seriously knowing they’re probably underaged or at least lacking business training). But as I said, there are a buttload of regulations you have to follow and for the most part you aren’t allowed to just buy and resell stuff outside of these companies. So, I can see why some people give up and go for just asking for donations.
Just like voting areas have a no-campaign zone, stores should have a ‘no trespass’ zone for customers to come in and visit the store without people in their face. During some holidays some stores I would only visit early morning or late evening after the hucksters left. It’s kind and some stores allow the whatever to set up inside store or just outside, but there should be a free zone to come and go if you choose…. I live in a small town now and would rather buy the $5 raffle ticket for the prize I won’t win (but was donated to the cause so all the $ goes to the ones doing the fundraising) than have to run a gauntlet or buy overpriced stuff that most of it doesn’t go to the ones running the fundraiser.
I feel like a real scrooge here. I don’t like any of it – begging, soliciting, fund raising, you name it. I don’t like children, nor do I like aggressive sales techniques (I am willing to admit that not every group out there is aggressive). I have no issue turning down kids and parents alike and being a little less than pleasant about it if deemed necessary (to be fair, I also act this way towards pushy and touchy sales people who occupy mall kiosks). My father was adamant about never giving money to beggars (though that mostly applied to the homeless), but I sort of extended my own take of that, which is simply to donate to the charities of my choice and not give to children (sorry, kids) – or any individual “tagging” (that’s a new term for me).
However, I must admit to being torn to a certain degree, as I do understand and acknowledge that certain underprivileged groups do not have the money to fund their own activities. That does not mean they should go without; everybody deserves a chance to engage in something meaningful. But, that also does not mean that they should resort to begging, where they gain something for the price of nothing. Nor should they sell goods (especially those that nobody wants or needs) at over-inflated prices where a percentage is reaped by a manufacturer, company, or supplier. The ideal (for me) would seem to be where individuals and/or organizations donate and either raffle tickets are sold for a large ticket item or donated goods are sold at reasonable prices with no overhead. That is my take on a win/win.
Here in Australia there is so much red take its difficult to do anything, you cant have an old fashioned bake sake, lists of nutritional info and ingredients need to be provided accurately, legislation controls food quality or you risk being sued.
I think the biggest argument people use against having the kids sell things is safety. They don’t want their kids going door to door, or going up to strangers, to sell something. So, they started selling to parents, and having the parents sell to friends and co-workers, and they started having the kids stand there (with an adult) and a collection can, because that is viewed as being safer.
Whether the safety concern is valid or not, I could not truly say, as I have not seen any studies or statistics, but the public impression is certainly there.
Which makes complaining about the begging problematic. “What, would you rather the children risk their lives, going door to door?” Well, yeah, but I don’t really believe they’d be risking their lives. I don’t believe there’s as much to fear about that as people think.
Probably the best fundraiser I ever did as a kid was for my high school music program (bands, orchestras and choruses all together). We sold Florida citrus – trucked directly to our school in Chicago at the end of winter. It sold like gangbusters, because it was fresh off the tree. Since the entire music program participated we always made way over the minimum order necessary to generate a profit. Everyone helped unload the truck (fire bucket line style) and organize the orders for delivery. My mom still orders it, even though we’re all grown up with our own families now.
I just signed my son up for baseball and my youngest for t-ball. First time doing it. Here it is required for them to do this once a year in uniform. I absolutely do not agree with it and wish they would at least make it a bake sale or something. I think they don’t do a bake sale or tag sale because so many parents won’t contribute. It’s $45 to sign up then you have to buy all their gear. So I paid $90 for my kids to sign up and then it was around $100+ for their gear. My mom thankfully lives in a much larger state and did the majority of the equipment for me. I personally would not mind contributing to a bake sale or making a donation to opt my children out of this event. It’s not allowed however. It is a requirement to participate and I didn’t know that before signing them up.
My husband has coached my son’s baseball teams for many years, and does quite a lot of fundraising for the teams.
Every year, the owner of a local tavern near the ball field where they play, does a “Home team night” (which was just this past Monday), where if you eat there that night and mention you’re “on the home team”, a portion of your dinner bill is donated directly to the organization.
They always have a really good turn out, and its the kids job to get folks there by mentioning it on social media and put up signs in school.
Another business owner of a mom and pop pizza joint always donates pizzas for the end of year party.
It’s a great way to get involved as a community, and usually gets them business throughout the year for being “an athletic supporter”.
I forgot to mention that a few years back, the girl’s softball team had a car wash to defray the costs of a tournament they were invited to out of town.
The school got many angry phone calls and emails, and a mention in the local paper, because someone thought it would be a GREAT idea to have these (young teenage) girls in bikinis, waving signs and washing the cars.
It caused a HUGE uproar, and had my daughter been on the team, there is NO way I would have allowed her to participate in a skimpy swimsuit!!!
Oh good gracious–how wildly inappropriate!!!!
@Angel: VERY inappropriate, I agree.
The kicker was, this was a Catholic High School, where abortion (obviously) and birth control are condemned, and abstinence is “the way to go” when dealing with teenage sexuality.
One of the girls was a good friend of my son’s, and told him most of the girls were VERY uncomfortable with being told to dress this way, and after quite a few inappropriate comments from men in passing cars, including one sick twist who brought the same car in THREE times to have it washed, the girls changed into shorts and tee shirts.
A CATHOLIC SCHOOL??? That makes it even worse! FacePalm!
@Angel: I know, right?
At school the girls would get into trouble if their uniform skirts were not past their knees, but apparently raising money dressed like a “girls gone wild” video was okay!
I’m with you. It aggravates me to see the little Girl Scouts peddling their cookies at the local supermarket. I hate the guilt trip that goes with telling them, “No, thank you.” I hate that the Scout leaders just assume that if you didn’t order the cookies from someone at work (because that’s how they’re sold, you know), it wasn’t because you didn’t want them. I hate that they’re $4 a box for no more than you get. In my opinion, the girls aren’t learning a darn thing except how to practically assault people as they enter or leave the store. I wish this weren’t legal. But nobody asked me. 🙂
There is nothing wrong with Girl Scouts selling their cookies in public places. No one has to buy them, you can just smile and say no thanks and keep walking. Some of us, like myself, who have no girl scout cookie connections in our cirlce of friends and aquaintences, are thrilled for the opportunity to buy the cookies.
I have no problem ignoring anyone begging. I am not rude, do not say anything to them. But I will not donate, encourage, or enable begging from anyone for any reason. I do so with no guilt whatsoever.
At one time, I used to see children selling overpriced candy bars on the street in downtown Chicago, supposedly to buy band uniforms for their school team. They were out there in really cold weather, sometimes without adequate winter clothes and sometimes during school hours. I found out that these were actually kids from a nearby homeless shelter. There were gangs that would come around to the shelter and tell the parents that if their kids did not go out there and sell candy, they would see that the family would be forced to leave the shelter. It was unknown whether the gangs were working with someone in charge of the shelter or just “freelancing.” I also observed that they would put a big, older kid in charge and saw him attack a little boy under his charge one day. I stopped this and told this bigger boy that if I saw him hit a kid again, I would call the police. I was wondering what I should do (do you give the kids money to help them out, or does that just encourage the exploiters to keep them out in the cold?), when the doorman to our building told me that the police had taken all of the kids away and that they were working on getting the gangs out of the shelter. I left that job so I don’t know what ended up happening.
I don’t submit to “chugging”, and will cease supporting charities that do this. I won’t give to “taggers” as described here, and I won’t buy carp I can’t use. I also will also say or click “no” when a checkout clerk asks me to donate to “disease of the week.” (Are we for or against?) Just…no.
I happily buy at bake sales. I’ll get my car washed. I’d support an “Odd Job Weekend” where the kids come out for a couple of hours in teams and do low-skill chores. That would be a great way to raise money: rake leaves, turn over vegetable gardens, mulch beds, clean out attics, basements and garages, paint fences. Make the standard donation on the low side per kid hour, and many people who can’t afford standard wages can get things done. Total win-win.
In my opinion, the goal of fundraising shouldn’t just be to meet a monetary goal–it’s also a great opportunity to teach kids a valuable lesson about earning money. If you tell them that it’s okay to stand outside of a grocery store asking strangers for donations, then what does that teach them? It’s a better learning experience when they have a service or product to sell. It can help them understand that money needs to be EARNED, not asked for.
When I was in fourth grade, my class put together a rummage sale, raffle, and car wash to raise money for charity. The entire thing was supervised by parents and teachers, of course, but most of the actual work was done by students. We started by having a class discussion on how we could best raise the money, and what sorts of things people might want to pay for–we discussed ideas like a walk-a-thon, a spaghetti dinner, and a talent show before deciding on a final plan. We then collected donated items to sell and raffle off, and decided on prices for everything–we talked a lot about fair pricing and the benefits of low prices and high prices. We made signs to put up all over the school and the rest of the community, and came up with other ways to advertise as well. (I believe we were even able to put an ad in the local paper, which was very exciting to us fourth graders!) On the day of, we all came to school early to help set everything up, and then spent the rest of the day working the event–washing cars, cashiering, answering customers’ questions…basically whatever needed to be done. Afterwards, we counted all the money and decided as a class where we wanted it to go. (We’d had a general idea of the cause we wanted to donate to, but it wasn’t until after the event that we decided how we’d divide everything up between individual charities.)
I ended up having the same teacher and many of the same classmates the following year, and we decided to do the whole thing over again–but it was even bigger and better the second time since we had all the previous year’s knowledge and experience. We were able to do a great thing for the cause we were supporting, but we also all learned a lot about how much work it truly takes to earn money. I think all of us left the class with a greater understanding of the value of a dollar!
At least the kids are there. I’ve seen parents with cans standing outside intersections with no kids to be found.
The biggest problem with the doing/making things to sell to raise money is the Health and Safety factor. You aren’t ALLOWED to sell things you’ve cooked unless your kitchen has been assessed and graded to an acceptable food hygiene standard. There are rules and regulations about allergens and ingredients.
Car washes involve extensive risk assessments and insurance policies (in case something happens to someones car). You have liability insurance and CRB checking to take care of.
Well, at least in the UK you do.
The bottom line is that these old fashioned activities are too costly to organise and involve too much risk. Standing in a public place, outside a shop with a collecting bucket is the least risky strategy. You don’t need insurance for it, you don’t need an army of kids, so one or two children and their parents meet the child safety standards of the activity, there is no risk to property and no food produce is involved. Lets not even get into the ‘child labour’ laws and associated hassles around what does and does not constitute ‘work’…
We see this a lot in supermarkets in the UK – a Scout/Cub/Brownie/Guide troop will stand at the end of checkouts with buckets offering to help you pack your groceries in return for ‘tips’. I hate this because I’m very particular about how my bags should be packed and kids have no comprehension of why you shouldn’t put a 2kg bag of potatoes on top of a carton of eggs or my warm, fresh loaf of bread. In the end you end up paying them to NOT help you.
I certainly wouldn’t pay a bunch of kids to clean my car – again they have no comprehension of the fact that you don’t scrub the body work of the car with the same brush that you’ve used to remove road grit and brake dust from the wheel arches….
I don’t know how kiddie clubs can fund raise but I do know that in this era of litigiousness, everything you do has to be carefully arranged. The by-gone days of bake sales and lemonade stands are well and truly over.
I vaguely remember that when I was a Cub Scout, we once raised money by bagging groceries at the base commissary. I don’t recall if we accepted tips ….
What I would really like to see with these beggars is that if a business decides to let them beg at the entrance (and I wish they wouldn’t), then they should be set up over to the side of one entrance (if more than one entrance/exit, one should always be beggar free). So, if it is the Girl Scouts selling cookies, let them set up their table over to the side so people can enter and exit freely. They are visible, but they should wait until someone decides that they want cookies and approach their table. At no point, ever, should they harass people entering and exiting. Teaching and expecting children to panhandle is not something I like to see.
We had ‘tag days’ when I was in band. It was pretty hyped up and we all had to put in a certain number of hours.
As a kid, I much preferred selling Girl Guide cookies, or even those stupid raffle tickets. I hated tag days. We would actually ‘tag’ donors with stickers (is this where the name comes from??). I found it really terrible since I was so shy. I’m sure I came in last in terms of donations lol.
As an adult, however, I don’t mind it. I also like that it’s sort of ‘give what you have/can’. Got a few spare coins? We can make use of those! I always try to at least nod and say hi even if I’m not donating because I know how hard it is for some kids to do.
In junior high, I participated in a tag day for some tuberculosis charity. We gave donors an actual tag — one of those paper tags on a string (like the tag on Minnie Pearl’s hat). I guess the idea was they would hang it on their clothing to make the statement “I gave.” I guess stickers are the new version of that, but I’ve only seen them given out for street solicitations — only at blood drives (they say “Be nice to me, I gave blood today” or something similar, and I’m always too embarrassed to actually wear one).
I remember one adult, when asked to contribute to the TB tag day, snarking, “Why don’t you sell something, like the Girl Scouts?”
Speaking of Girl Scouts, there’s actually a *drive-through* GS cookie stand set up on the edge of my local Rite Aid drugstore’s parking lot. It’s been there for a few weeks now, so they must be doing decent business.
I was really confused at first. Where I’m from, “tagging” is a word used for a particular type of vandalism (painting your name/team name/school name/etc on public or private spaces). We just call this soliciting.
I feel pretty neutral on this kind of soliciting, as long as they take “no”.
When I was a kid, I volunteering with Group A. Group A was taken donations for some chairty. I got to wear a vest and hand out tootsie rolls to patrons of the grocery store. That’s it. I gave them out to anyone that wanted one and was told not to ask anything else in return. It was a blast – I liked making people smile. I’m willing to bet they gotmore donations though. People are so used to ssoliciting they ignore it.
Really? I can show you how to walk right past any group or organization outside the grocery store with out even flinching. The key is not to redirect your guilty feelings onto the kids but to deal with your own issues. Everyone will be a winner!
I would say if someone, adult or child is legitimately rising money for a charity or cause than that is fine. However I do not feel guilty about not giving donations if I don’t want to. It is entirely down to personal choice.