Tagging For Children’s Sports Teams

by admin on April 6, 2015

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

{ 94 comments… read them below or add one }

Gingerelle April 6, 2015 at 5:06 am

This has not caught on around here, thankfully. The only group that did do this sort of thing were army/navy cadets. I don’t even see that anymore. But then again, a new fundraising season is upon us.
I wonder how the parents who do this with their kids feel about the panhandlers they meet downtown…

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tessa April 6, 2015 at 5:29 am

With sales such as candy/magazines/GS cookies, the group only gets a percentage of the total amount. Sometimes people just say “keep the (whatever), I’ll just give a donation ). So basically the cuties in front of the store are cutting out the middleman. I wouldn’t endorse it tho. Around here, groups can work a local pizza buffet and get $1 for every buffet purchased that night. However, till the friends of the kiddo take their family, pay for the buffet and drinks, tip to support the kiddo, they’ve spent $30 and given a donation of maybe $4. I’d rather skip the buffet and give them $10.

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Callalilly April 6, 2015 at 7:07 am

My take on this is that the candy and other food sales used to be door-to-door sales, but these days nobody’s home — a hundred years ago when I was selling Girl Scout cookies, 90% of the doors I knocked on someone, usually the lady of the house, was home. Now the lady of the house is usually at work all day, and even if she’s not, parents don’t trust their kids going door to door anymore. (That hideous event in New Jersey several years ago put the kibosh on that forever.) Furthermore, many people today don’t even know their neighbors, so supporting a team is a low priority. Others who would like to donate/buy/whatever simply don’t have the money. Another issue is that other types of fundraisers – selling hoagies (a popular fundraiser where I live), car washes, etc. all involve work and organization, and that’s something that people either can’t or won’t do today. It’s so much easier to stand outside with a can or a bucket and beg. Unfortunately, there’s not much in that approach that can teach kids anything.

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JKC April 6, 2015 at 9:24 am

That’s a good point; and even when the adults aren’t at work, they may be off to some other activity, making door-to-door sales an exercise in futility. In the three years I’ve lived in my current neighborhood I’ve seen exactly two young men show up at my door, with their parents watching from the driveway, to sell items for the local high school band. Meanwhile, everyone and their uncle sets up fundraiser tables at the mall and outside the grocery stores.

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Dee April 6, 2015 at 11:50 am

If there’s a knock on my door and it looks like it will be a waste of my time – ie someone is trying to sell me something or some religion – then I don’t answer my door. I doubt I’m the only one who does this. There might not be a problem with people not being home but just a change in how people see their responsibility for responding to every knock on their door.

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Tracy P April 6, 2015 at 7:14 am

I think they switched to not selling anything since so many people complained about that. When they sell, they only get a percent of the money versus the “begging” where they get all of the money. And there have been plenty of people that were hit up for the selling that wished they didn’t have to buy the crap that was being sold to give the team money, that they could just give them cash. This is the result.

Personally, I have no problem just walking past the kids with a simple “no thank you.” I just hate when they try to hit you up as you go in and come out. Either get everyone going in or everyone going out, don’t make me have to rebuff them twice!

Thankfully, the town I live in now rarely has this. The only place I’ve ever seen even the selling has been the Girl Scouts at Lowe’s.

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MamaToreen April 6, 2015 at 7:53 am

Because there’s no overhead or initial outlay for begging and they get to keep all the money. Any sales require more organization and either an initial outlay or, in the case of Boy Scout Popcorn sales, the company supplying the popcorn gets a cut of the sales

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JennJenn68 April 6, 2015 at 8:12 am

Tagging is the primary method for all air, army and sea cadets in Canada to raise money. Regulations as to presence of officers negate most of the other fundraising options. Mind you, the “cute” factor is nonexistent, since these are all teenage girls and boys, and the parents are not permitted to be with them. They are regulated by strict codes of behaviour, and these codes are enforced within the ranks and by the officers who check on them. They must be always polite and accept “no” as a complete sentence.

I prefer this to selling those annoying chocolate almonds and candy bars, to be honest. The profit for the unit involved is minimal; the manufacturer of the items is the one who makes the most money. Really, the donor gets nothing that is actually wanted in return. When you’re buying a chocolate bar, you might just as well assume that about 75% of the money you pay is going straight back to the manufacturer.

If you don’t want to donate, don’t. Smile and say, “I’m afraid that won’t be possible”. That’s what Ehell is all about!

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Victoria April 6, 2015 at 8:13 am

I wish the kids around here would just ask for money instead of selling stuff. The last two fundraisers for my son’s band have been horrible waxy tasting chocolate and magazines. Probably 20 different people, both family and friends, said they would rather donate five bucks instead of buying stuff at inflated prices that they don’t want or need. In addition, the kids only get 25%-40% of the money spent.

I wish they would just give us a link, let us pass it around to family and friends, and let people donate anonymously if they want to, or ignore it if they don’t.

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Rosie B. April 8, 2015 at 12:56 am

I think there’s a difference between selling something but allowing people to say, “I don’t want what you’re selling, but I’m happy to donate,” and just straight-up asking for donations. In the first situation, they’re at least offering you something in exchange for your money.

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AthenaC April 6, 2015 at 8:24 am

I am of two minds on this:

1) I don’t like being disturbed at home, so moving away from the door-to-door sales model is a good thing, in my opinion.

2) Selling things to raise money (i.e. cookies, popcorn, a car wash, whatever) gives the illusion of equitable value exchanged, which the economist in me likes quite a bit. But any money raised by selling things has to be enough to cover the cost of what is being sold, so that really dilutes the effectiveness of the financial support.

3) If I want to support an organization, I am fine just giving cash without receiving anything in return. I like my regular car wash just fine, I don’t really like cookies, and I don’t like the way I feel after eating popcorn. I would rather part with whatever amount I am comfortable with and have the entire amount go to support the cause.

Okay, that’s three minds – whatever.

In my opinion, the bottom line is that there’s no comfortable way to ask for money, whether you are soliciting donations or are selling overpriced items. Enough people prefer one or the other such that you will probably alienate around half the people by one approach or the other, so there’s really no way to win. Either approach is fine (or as “fine” as one can be) as long as they are setting up shop somewhere in public rather than disturbing people at home by going door-to-door.

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Jocelyn April 6, 2015 at 8:28 am

I think many teams have gotten negative feedback about sales. A lot of times, the sales items are so overpriced, I find myself resenting even getting them! I’d rather donate $20 directly to a team than pay $25 for a $5 bag of popcorn. And sales have become the parents’ responsibility, as it isn’t safe for kids to sell door-to-door any more. If everyone at a workplace has kids, no one wants to buy from each other because they want their $ to support their own kids’ activities; if only one or two workers have kids, the other workers get tired of being asked to donate to them. Some teams have just fallen back on asking the parents for donations, which means that kids from poor families, or kids with several siblings, may not be able to play. I don’t know what the solution is.

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Powers April 7, 2015 at 7:59 am

What do you mean “it isn’t safe … any more”? It’s safer now than it was 20 or even 40 years ago!

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Puzzled April 6, 2015 at 8:30 am

I have to agree. I also think the organizations would make more money with a little more effort. We organized a car wash fundraiser for a new martial arts school and worked for 8 hours. We made tons of money. We even got to wash a Lamborghini, and the driver donated $100! It was fun, and we achieved a two event goal with one event.

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JWH April 6, 2015 at 8:31 am

… or, if the kids are in donation mode, they could do what some teams do and look for businesses to sponsor them.

I’m not a fan of this kind of begging. It’s awful just on its own — I dislike the “something for nothing” transaction unless it’s for an actual charity — and it’s awful as a pedagogical tool. These kids are basically being taught that other people owe them something just because they beg. No.

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Shyla April 6, 2015 at 12:25 pm

This is what I was thinking. Get local businesses to sponsor and then find a way (even a bulletin board) to advertise the businesses at the games. I have no kids. How much money does a team need? $100? $1000? More?

If it’s a local summer team, I’m ok with them asking for support for uniforms and some equipment. If it’s a travel team, I say they’re on their own. I should not have to donate for hotel rooms because the parent signed them up for a rigorous program meant to lead to a college scholarship or whatever.

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Denise April 6, 2015 at 4:51 pm

As the director of marketing and sponsorship for a local sports league my children are involved in (aa a volunteer), I can say this is not easily done. Even with many “perks” offered with sponsorships and plenty of advertising opportunities, businesses are not too inclined to sponsor. Out of 125 local businesses, letters of intent, talking with owners and making it as easy as possible, we’ve gotten a whole lot of “it just isn’t in the budget right now” and one business donating a couple is car washes to raffle off.

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Anonymous April 6, 2015 at 1:18 pm

I think part of the reason behind the “tagging” is because the lines between “children’s activity” and “charity” are becoming a bit blurred. For example, Tim Horton’s (a Canadian coffee and donut chain) sponsors sports for young people (hockey, soccer, and baseball), and also runs several subsidized summer camps. The gymnastics club where I teach yoga, is a non-profit organization that allows children from lower-income families to participate along with their more-privileged peers. The YMCA gives assisted memberships for kids, adults, and families, to help break the cycle of poverty and obesity (and generally poor health, because skinny doesn’t necessarily equal healthy). My high school band cost nothing to belong, but did several fundraisers over the course of the year, as do the kids involved in sports, Scouts, Girl Guides, et cetera.

I’m not entirely opposed to this phenomenon, because a lot of the children who attend summer camp or play on sports teams through Tim Horton’s, the YMCA, or other charities, or who participate in low-cost, partially-subsidized extra-curricular activities, have problems at home, sometimes stemming from poverty, and these activities really help their self-esteem and general development. I mean, for a child living on welfare, often in a tumultuous family situation, sometimes it helps to know that, no matter what’s going on at home, they always have Girl Guides on Tuesdays, and soccer on Wednesdays, and everyone wears the same uniforms, so nobody can tell that they’re poor, and meanwhile, they’re making new friends and learning new skills that could help them in the long run. I’m not saying that every kid in Timbits Soccer is going to grow up to be the next Mia Hamm or whatever, but teamwork, persistence, punctuality, and other things you learn in that setting, will serve those kids well in the future, and they might not be getting those lessons at home, because their parents are working multiple jobs just to make ends meet. Also, Girl Guides and Boy Scouts teach a lot of skills that can either help right away, such as sewing, so the kids learn to mend their clothes instead of replacing them, or in the future, such as the Pinewood Derby as a lesson in engineering.

So, no, kids shouldn’t be taught that people owe them something just because they beg, but I’m not sure that it’s entirely fair to limit activities to rich kids only. A lot of people don’t like it when kids sell things to raise money for their activities, they don’t like it when kids ask for donations for their activities, but then they’re unwilling (or genuinely unable) to pay a fee that would actually cover the cost of their child participating in said activities. With participation in extra-curricular activities (in addition to good grades) being a pre-requisite for acceptance, let alone scholarships, into most universities, and with a university education being a pre-requisite for most jobs nowadays, keeping lower-income kids from participating in extra-curricular activities can really create a disadvantage for them. So, in a lot of cases, there’s really no good answer. It sort of balances out in the end, though, because a lot of kids who received financial support in their activities, eventually grow up to support these organizations as adults, either by buying things, or volunteering as coaches and leaders.

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Anonymous April 6, 2015 at 3:27 pm

One other thing–I forgot to mention that a lot of these organizations also give back to the community. The Boy Scouts and Girl Guides definitely do this as a part of their regular programming, and the gymnastics club where I teach yoga does a canned food drive and a hat and mitten tree every year at Christmas time, and the YMCA does a food and toy drive, but I’m sure they’d gladly accept donations of hats and mittens as well. No, it’s probably not enough, and yes, everyone seems to think of the less fortunate at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and not so much during the rest of the year (although, spring and summer are prime times for “send underprivileged kids to camp” drives around here), but I think that it’s a good idea to at least do something, because that way, the message kids get isn’t “people owe me things just because I ask,” but rather, “everyone should help each other.”

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Josie James April 6, 2015 at 8:33 am

I agree that kids should be earning the money like we did way back when (selling pies, candy, even having a festival) to raise money for their club and trips. However, I don’t mind their collecting money for charities this way. The thing that gets me is when they collect in the middle lanes of intersections, causing traffic to worsen and build up. Plus it’s not safe to have kids (and adults) stand in these intersections.

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Tee April 6, 2015 at 8:33 am

Our local Stop & Shop always has people asking for money outside both entrances every weekend. Both my husband and I are unemployed, and I feel like I’m “running the gauntlet” every time I go to the grocers. It is for this reason that we usually go to the grocery store during the week. I actually talked with one of the managers about it, and he told me that Stop & Shop is rated on “community relations,” which includes scheduling legitimate organizations over the weekends for fund raising. He also told me that if any of the people were rude to us, to be sure to let them know.

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Michelle April 6, 2015 at 9:29 am

That’s another thing I dislike- the “askers” being at every entrance. There should be at least 1 entrance that you can go enter and exit with no one asking for something, community relations or not. It might be better for community relations if 1 entrance was tagged for “no selling/asking”!

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Elizabeth April 6, 2015 at 10:10 am

One more reason why I avoid Stop & Shop. In my town, this happens frequently and I’m annoyed that the store allows these organizations to pester shoppers.

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Shyla April 6, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Stick with a firm No thank you and walk past them. That’s great that the managers of the store won’t support rude behavior from the groups.

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Charliesmum April 6, 2015 at 8:38 am

I could not agree with you more! I think part of raising money would be to teach children the value of working for it, rather than just asking for it to be handed to them. I don’t mind the things at tills – give your change to Ronald McDonald House, etc. but when I see teenagers standing on street corners asking for change from passing motorists, I can’t help but feel a bit annoyed.

My literary/fine arts magazine group in high school had a weekly bake sale to raise money for our publishing. We did quite well. Totally beat out the other group – I totally forget who they were, let’s say cheerleaders, just for narrative’s sake – who were selling soft pretzels. Good times.

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Nicole April 6, 2015 at 8:51 am

I actually prefer this strait out donation method. I hate spending $12 on a candle I don’t really want and then the team only gets a few dollars from the sale, I would rather just give the kids money and call it a day. I DO like it when the fundraiser involves a service (car wash, bottle drive, etc.) or if they are selling something you really want. Our local football team sells mulch. They deliver it to your house and for an extra fee spread it for you.

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Lady Batman April 6, 2015 at 9:24 am

My go to response for this begging has always been to decline. I don’t decline the child, I decline the adult, but go on to say that if said adult would like to help pay for my daughters braces, I would help pay for their child’s soccer costs. If they have an actual item, like chocolate to buy, I almost always will, even though my own kids aren’t in organized sports, or I may dislike the particular sport/club their selling for. If I’m getting something out of it (chocolate) then I see that as an even trade. If the child is just brazenly asking for money without offering me a tangible item for my support, it highly offends me and reaks of begging.

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Anonymous April 6, 2015 at 1:30 pm

>> If the child is just brazenly asking for money without offering me a tangible item for my support, it highly offends me and reaks of begging.<<

I wouldn't blame the child for begging; I'd blame the adults for setting it up. I mean, chances are, little Jimmy probably didn't walk down to the grocery store and start asking for donations for his baseball team of his own accord–it was probably the league officials who told the coaches to tell the players, and now here's Jimmy jingling a coffee can of change in front of the Stop 'N Shop, when he'd probably rather not be there in the first place, but he's there, because his coach told all the kids to do it, probably with a good dose of guilt about "being a team player on and off the field," or some such. Besides, there's a good chance that, even if Jimmy actually said, "I don't want to beg for money," his parents agreed with the coach, dropped him off at the grocery store, and drove off, maybe threatening to pull him out of baseball altogether if he didn't do it. So, an adult getting upset with a child for doing something that another adult told him or her to do, is really not fair.

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Michelle April 7, 2015 at 2:30 pm

I had an adult ask me if I’d like to donate to help send his son’s baseball team to Orlando for the playoffs. I said sure, if you will donate to help me pay for my son’s oral surgery. He looked shocked that I wanted *him* to donate to *me*.

Next week, same guy, same store, saw him climbing down out of brand-new luxury SUV with the car dealer tag & date on it.

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mark April 6, 2015 at 10:48 am

One of the neighbor kids was selling some of these candles for a fund raiser, except the candles were $20 each. And she would have only gotten about one dollar per candle. Which is ridiculous. My wife and I offered to pay her $10 to weed one of our garden beds. Probably about 1 hour’s work. She took it, and did a good job. Basically no one was buying the candles. Size wise these candles were comparable to 3 dollar walmart candles. I can’t speak to quality since I never bought one. And at 20 each it wasn’t going to happen.

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AnaMaria April 6, 2015 at 10:53 am

That’s creative and practical! I wish more people would do that than the overpriced popcorn or Christmas wreaths that only give a few dollars to the cause.

When I played tennis in high school, our coach used to find opportunities for us to volunteer and earn money for the team. I worked a game booth at a community children’s fest for a few hours with my teammates, and I knew of others who did coat-checks or took tickets at other events. That could be hard for younger groups to do, but it works great for high schoolers or young adults.

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MamaToreen April 6, 2015 at 11:14 am

There’s always the option of saying, “here’s a donation”. But I prefer for the kids to work for it instead of just asking

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vjcole April 6, 2015 at 1:03 pm

Around here, the professional sports teams often allow school or sport groups to man a couple of the concession stands at the stadiums to make money. They get a large percentage of the profits, the teams get to look civic-minded, and the customers get to spend money on something they actually want.

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Michelle April 6, 2015 at 9:12 am

There are no other comments visible yet, so this maybe a repeat of something someone else has already posted. I’m sure it’s not going to be a popular comment, but I personally do not like this type of thing. Parents know when they sign up for baseball/softball teams, particularly the “travel/competition” teams, that it’s going to be expensive. A coworker of mine has 3 boys on these type of teams and she was commenting one day that it was $1200 per kid, due at registration, unless you make payment arrangements. That’s just the basic expense, not including if they make it to the playoffs (often held in a neutral location/another state). Then you have include travel & lodging for parents, meals, etc.

I have children and I know how expensive it is to raise them with just the basics. I understand that some parents want to involve their children in sports and other enriching experiences- scouts, etc. I did scouts with both of my boys, without standing in front of stores asking for donations. They also did school clubs, with modest fees, and did not have to stand in front of stores asking for money.

I would like to go buy groceries or clothing without being asked for money on the way in and out. I think that if a parent or child want the child to do something like a baseball/softball team, they should be able to foot the bill without asking strangers for money. Children can cut grass/babysit, etc and save up for “extras” and parents can chip in to cover what is leftover.

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Shyla April 6, 2015 at 12:29 pm

You are right. Local summer clubs, for fun and exercise, are great and only need a little money to keep going, relatively. I refuse to support expensive travel teams. No one made you sign up your kids.

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Goldie April 7, 2015 at 8:44 am

Have to agree. My kids were only ever on rec teams and they somehow survived.

One year our district had a school levy that came with a warning – if this levy fails, school sports teams will have to go into a pay-to-play mode. Say what? My property taxes need to support the high school jocks now? Any reason why? I’d happily agree to a tax increase to support things like subsidized lunches or AP classes, but this is insane IMO.

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Lyn April 6, 2015 at 1:47 pm

Michelle, I agree. We rarely, RARELY allowed our children to sell things for the activities they were in. We usually bought stuff ourselves, but we have a problem asking other people to fund our children’s activities. Girl Scout Cookies and Boy Scout Popcorn were the exception.

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Anonymouse April 6, 2015 at 4:12 pm

I agree for the most part, but the fundraising (at least as I understand it) is usually used to cover the costs for children who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it. My brother-in-law was one of these children… He grew up in a family where it was not uncommon to come home and find the electricity had been shut off due to non-payment, so even modest fees were too much (Mom was on disability, Dad was already working 60 hr.weeks). He was able to participate in hockey because of the fundraising, and this has been a huge benefit to him later in life.

That said, I don’t appreciate the “begging” or selling the overpriced items. The local hockey teams in our area usually do a bottle drive. I’ve also seen carwashes and service projects used to raise money.

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Denise April 6, 2015 at 4:58 pm

I think it depends on what the costs are for. The cost of doing anything anymore is astronomical. Even playing sports through parks and Rec. Many fundraisers in athletics are to help give “sponsorships” or equipment to children whose family may be struggling for one reason or another.

Kids active in sports or clubs are typically more physically active, participate in the community in a positive way and maintain better grades. Obviously this isn’t a steadfast rule, but it does generally have many positive attributes. I would help being that to the community for families that genuinely need it at any opportunity.

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Starling April 6, 2015 at 9:15 am

Interesting, but I don’t entirely agree with your perspective.

This may be the case in your community where parents have the resources to outright buy uniforms, but in mine fundraising is pretty much the only viable option for many kids to have access to appropriate equipment and organized sports teams, particularly as funding through schools decreases on the regular around here and even those teams do fundraising. The local high school band plays on the corner and raises money for their uniforms and trips, so perhaps that’s more what you mean by the customer getting something…however, I usually consider the spare change I give to these things on my way int0 businesses donations much as I would to any other organization that does good things in my community, keeps kids busy and focused on something, and helps give them healthy experiences. I consider just the teams to be the benefit I get from my donation. I don’t need or feel it’s necessary to get something in return for doing something good.

The logistics of the alternatives you are suggesting can also get very messy. If you are going to do a car-wash, the children need to be old enough to be able to do it and someone somewhere has to donate space, not to mention you have to count on the right weather. You also don’t raise nearly as much money as you would think. Many candy or other fundraisers require you to either send in an order form and then be able to deliver, or pay a deposit on the items.

Working for money is always a good thing…it teaches and builds character. But it’s not always easy or possible to provide “something in return”. If anything, I do think that a good alternative is to ask local businesses to sponsor uniforms in exchange for advertising on them or being able to put up a banner during games, but depending on the community it isn’t always an option there either.

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iwadasn April 7, 2015 at 11:22 am

You say that “working for money is a good thing…it teaches and builds character.” That’s not what’s happening here. The kids aren’t working for money; they’re simply begging for it, and all this teaches them is that they’re special little snowflakes who deserve to have money thrown at them for whatever they want to do. If they actually were required to do something in exchange for the money they were getting, that would help them realize the value of their activities, clubs, etc. Instead, they’re getting the idea that they deserve to do whatever they want at someone else’s expense.

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Starling April 13, 2015 at 9:39 pm

As I mentioned below, I never said that this “tagging” method is working for money. What I meant is that in the best of circumstances of course traditional fundraising where you are providing a service or a good in exchange for money is ideal. Teaching the lesson of hard work for something you want is always a good point.

My point is truly that it isn’t an across the board answer in every context. Traditional fundraising isn’t always a possibility. Sports teams and extra-curricular activities are something I see as investments in my community. They keep kids busy, they give them healthy alternatives to wandering the streets or getting in trouble or participating in criminal activities. These things are not very well funded by the local schools (no money) and only then it’s mostly varsity sports. Many of the local teams and activities are skills building leagues. Most people really do give and invest what they can. Parents volunteer and are fairly involved, but they don’t have the resources to fund all of it. The community is undergoing a bit of a revitalization with retail, so often these businesses allow the kids to stand outside and ask for support. Sometimes they are selling something, but homemade items (such as a bake-sale) are not allowed. A local brownie troop made bracelets a few years ago and sat outside one of the bigger businesses asking for donations and I bought a couple and donated the change. Even then, someone had to front the money for supplies for that.

My point is that it doesn’t work perfectly in every context. I was trying to see and show this activity in a different light. It’s okay that I disagree. I think kids should have equal access to opportunities, not just the ones who can afford the hefty fees and expensive equipment… so I don’t see a problem donating my spare change to help the local kids get a leg up in the world.

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Rosie B. April 8, 2015 at 1:19 am

If they’re not providing something in return, then are they really working for the money? While standing out front of a grocery store asking strangers for donations isn’t the ideal way to spend a Saturday, the customer (aka the donor) isn’t getting anything tangible in return for their money. It’s true that having kids stand out front of a grocery store with a bunch of cookies or popcorn isn’t that much more work on their part, but it at least teaches them the idea that people aren’t going to just hand you money in the real world–you have to provide something in exchange.

I agree that good fundraisers aren’t easy to pull of–but I’m not sure that they should be! If you want something that costs more than you can afford, you have to work hard to earn the money. There’s really no easy way to do it, and there never has been. In my opinion, the only times when it’s acceptable to simply ask for donations is when the money is truly needed–for example, a disaster relief fund or a school that has no money for basic necessities.

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Starling April 13, 2015 at 9:22 pm

I didn’t mean to imply that they are working by asking for donations. What I meant by that comment was that teaching hard work is an important task, but fundraising simply doesn’t work the same way everywhere and isn’t always possible. There isn’t always the kind of money or investment to be successful in every community.

I think I live in a very different community and work in a very different context than some of the people here. Traditional fundraising just doesn’t work in every context and that is my overall point.

Also, many of the parents and children in my community work very hard, but working hard does not always equate to making money or being “successful”. If and when they can find jobs, many of the adults I work and interact with are at 2 or 3 part-time, often well over 40 or 50 hours a week and still don’t make enough to provide for basic needs. Many of the schools around here also DON’T have basic needs and sports teams organized outside of that context are the only option and do a great service in keeping kids engaged. People don’t have the extra funds for candles or whatever people may be selling. The neighborhood is also in a period of revitalization, so as more retail pops up outsiders come in to spend money but the people who have lived here for generations remain in poverty.

I also just don’t think this is any less irritating than the co-worker who asks me to buy her kid’s hoagies or whatever crap he’s selling this week. I’m hit up for money more often by my friends and coworkers then some neighborhood kids just trying to get some basics to play soccer or whatever game it is.

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Mary April 6, 2015 at 9:25 am

I have mixed feelings on this. Yes I like seeing kids work for the money but I also know from experience that they only receive a small fraction of the profits from what they sell.

I do like however when they sell something useful. My supervisor’s son was selling water softener salt as a fundraiser for his sports team. $6 for a $40 pound bag. The team got $2 for each bag sold, it only cost me about $1 more than what I would normally spend and I didn’t have to go to the store to buy the stuff. Plus my boss loaded the four bags into my car for me. It wasn’t wrapping paper, a candle, waxy chocolate or something else I wouldn’t use!

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Kovi April 6, 2015 at 9:28 am

Around here, kids teams usually sell at least those little coupon books. Highschoolers tend to run car washes. I’ve never personally run into them begging for money, but I can’t guarantee it never happens.

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lkb April 6, 2015 at 9:33 am

Tag days are nothing new — We had an annual tag day for my high school marching band many, many, many moons ago. What made it even better is that our band was a for-credit class and participation in tag day was mandatory for a grade. Hated it then, hate it now.

As to fundraisers vs. tag day: I can see the point of tag day as there are so many similar fundraisers (here it’s pizza kits from the local chain, cookie dough, wrapping paper, discount cards, candles, car washes, and spaghetti dinners. The local district has two middle schools that both have spring trips to Washington, D.C. so every flippin’ eighth grader in the county is selling the same candles. I don’t even like to buy candles but then I’m put on the spot when multiple friends approach me.

I’m curmudgeonly enough that I’m all for paying the pro-rated fee to avoid the whole fundraising mess. Why should I have to spend my money to support your kids’ team, troop, band, class when it has nothing whatever to do with my life? You want your kid to take part, then pay up.

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Goldie April 6, 2015 at 9:36 am

I’ve never been a fan of school fundraisers. I only participated in one, that my kids’ elementary school made mandatory for all parents, so I don’t know if they all work like that; but here’s what happened with ours. It was BTW for a new playground and, like I said, all parents were required to participate. I had to drive out to another parent’s house and her garage was full of large boxes of chocolates. I had to take a minimum of one box and give her the money up front ($60 cash). It was then up to me whether I wanted to keep the $60 worth of overpriced, low-quality chocolates, or try to sell them and make up the $60. I was able to sell maybe half of them at work and my family ate the rest. So my whole fundraiser experience ended up being a combination of giving the school $30 for the product I didn’t want, and selling my coworkers $30 worth of something they also didn’t really want. Like most of the commenters here, I’d rather just give the kids a few bucks and have it over with. Unless of course we’re talking Girl Scout cookies!

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lafred April 6, 2015 at 12:53 pm

I’m just curious – how do they make it mandatory? Is this a public school? How can they force parents to participate?

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Lady Macbeth April 7, 2015 at 4:03 am

My high school fund raisers (and let’s be honest here, I went to one of the three finest private institutions in Nashville – technically one of two, since, as a girl, I didn’t qualify for admission at the all boy’s school) were mandatory for us, the students. I hated it. I don’t have any recollection as to what on earth we were raising funds for each year (or why, as an affluent community, we needed more money), but I distinctly recall selling wrapping paper one year and grapefruits the next. Yes, grapefruits. Each individual had a minimum quota to meet, and I was forced to hit up neighbors and friends of my parents, who I’m pretty sure only purchased out of simple politeness and decorum. It was a mortifying task for me (and likely an equally less-than-fun one for those shelling out funds).

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Goldie April 7, 2015 at 8:51 am

It wasn’t mandatory per se, ie there probably wouldn’t have been any repercussions for the parents who didn’t participate. They just kept sending flyers home every week saying that every parent must participate, and telling the kids to give the same message to parents. I’m talking five, six weeks in a row. They also told the kids that the class that raises the most funds would get a pizza party and a limo ride. My 3rd grader would come home every Friday all excited about the pizza party, and anxious about what would happen if I didn’t participate, and would get on my case about it. I was able to talk him down from that high for the first three or four weeks, but eventually I participated just to make this thing stop. I had more spare cash and less of a backbone then than I do now. Yes it’s a public school, and not the one I’d have sent my kids to if I had a choice. Our district has good high-ranking schools, but this one elementary school has always stood out and not in a good way.

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JWH April 6, 2015 at 9:43 am

A couple weeks back, came across a group of Girl Scouts and a couple adult leaders at a table, selling their cookies. I asked them if the cookies cure the common cold. An instant, unanimous, completely synchronized “Yes!!” I had to buy three boxes after that …

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viviennebzb April 6, 2015 at 9:54 am

I do not like this practice, at. all. Let’s teach our children how to work for and earn the things they want, not to be street beggars.

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Devin April 6, 2015 at 10:07 am

Growing up in a small town, people’s purchasing schedule revolved around the major school/organizations. Every fall the band sold magazines, so everyone in town renewed their magazines in the fall (the year after I graduated my parents neighbor commented they forgot to renew their subscriptions because no one called them up from the band). Then it was boy scouts popcorn, then girl scouts cookies, then football team chili supper, and the elementary school ice cream social. We had to stop doing car washes, because it required the organization to purchase insurance in case some scratched a car or worse. I’ve noticed the bigger the city I work in, the more likely to see kids clubs/teams just begging for money versus selling items, but I also see scammers selling magazines or ‘coupon’ books door to door.

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Wendyw April 6, 2015 at 10:19 am

I like the straight out donation as well. I detested buying over priced stuff I didn’t want and asking family to do the same.

My DD swims. Their club has one fundraiser a year. Kids swim for 100 laps or 2 hours, whichever comes first. They have to go around and get sponsorships for this. The club has a donation scale, geared towards businesses as being bigger sponsors, and different funding levels get different advertising packages as part of the donation. Which I think is nice. Plus our DD at least, provides custom thank you plaques to her business sponsors as well.

The high school teams try to do car washes and hire out to do odd jobs, but our community is so small that their may be 5 competing car washes within a square mile on a nice weekend.

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Gena April 6, 2015 at 10:20 am

I donate to a number of charities – veteran’s organizations, cancer research, my church.

I do not feel that your ball team’s desire to go to Florida to play a tournament as a charity. If your parents cannot afford the trip, and you have no other way to raise money, then you shouldn’t go.

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Emma April 6, 2015 at 10:34 am

This actually confuses me as I had no idea it was something “new.” I’m 25 now, but I had tagging every single season I was in some type of sport or organised activity since second grade.

Mostly I dislike the practice now because I barely ever have cash. And yes, I do feel a momentary twinge of guilt whenever I walk by without giving, but I’ve never been harassed or questioned further when I’ve said no.

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GeenaG April 6, 2015 at 10:36 am

I see it too and I refuse to participate just as I did when my children were small. If the school needs something and wants contributions then they should ask the parents for the money through a giving program like lots of private schools do. My taxes already fund the local schools and it’s quite offensive to me that I am also being asked to fund activities of choice because thats the parent’s responsibility, not mine.

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Denise April 6, 2015 at 10:40 am

I haven’t ever seen that anywhere around us (Northern California), but I will say, I’d much rather just give money than be roped into a product where 50-70% of the money goes to a corporation to make a profit.

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koolchicken April 6, 2015 at 10:44 am

Honestly I’d rather deal with tagging. I hate passing by things like Girl Scouts cookies because I can’t eat them and I’m not going to bring a food I can’t have into my home. I’d rather just give a dollar, know they’re going to get to keep that whole dollar, and move on with my day. Honestly I’d rather give a little to every group I see vs nothing because I’m not spending a minimum of ten dollars to support every group and team I come across.

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MPW1971 April 6, 2015 at 10:46 am

Where this has really irked me is seeing able-bodied teens, from a well-to-do neighborhood, standing outside of a liquor store with their parents, begging like this. (This was in Ontario, Canada.) That same kind of begging would have a homeless person shooed away or arrested. This is a government-owned and operated liquor store, and they did indeed claim that it was with the permission of the store manager, however, I doubt that they have the authority to do so.
Begging like this and crowdfunding turn these fundraisers into popularity contests – let’s not say that charities don’t do it either because they do pull at the heart strings of potential donors by showing poor, impoverished and even starving to solicit donations. I will provide some leeway for a charity, but for a private group which can raise money on its own, there is no oversight or learning here.
In Canada, the Boy Scouts sell apples in the fall. Each apple is sold at far more than what it’s “fair market price” might be, however, the Scouts make an effort here – they learn the value of work, not to mention that they learn about the logistics of providing and delivering apples, and counting the money after the fact. And it’s a well-respected and long-standing organization with at least some transparency of its finances. That’s the example to use – and far better than the school fundraisers which I was involved with as a student. We sold spices, soup, cheese, garbage bags, chocolate, and all manner of other overpriced junk, with the only person getting any meaningful money is the company providing those products. It’s shameful to rope in children with promises of prizes for sales – prizes worth pennies themselves but pretty much impossible to achieve, even with the help of parents. My parents eventually had enough of it and challenged my teachers about my mandatory participation in these activities, especially during school hours.
It’s a bad thing all around.

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admin April 6, 2015 at 11:22 am

Decades ago, our local Boy Scouts troupe fund raised by selling Krispy Kreme donuts door to door on Saturday mornings and selling cymbidium orchid corsages the week before Mother’s Day. Brilliant niche marketing for the best fund raising impact, imo.

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Dee April 6, 2015 at 12:08 pm

Boy Scouts is actually the American Scouting organization name; in Canada, it’s Scouts Canada. They are very clear about the distinction and to not be confused one with the other. We also have Apple Days but the apples are free. The parents pick up the boxes and the kids have to shine up the apples and then are taught to use polite language and to approach customers, offering them an apple. It’s meant to give back to the community for years of supporting the organization. If customers want to donate then it’s totally up to them but it’s never mentioned during the transaction and there is no can or box for the donation visible. It is really a fundraiser because so many of the men who are approached are thrilled to reminisce about their own Scouting adventures and want to support the new generation. Scouts Canada also has the popcorn fundraiser, which is a farce and a total rip-off, with a huge investment (money and time) by parents required. Two completely different approaches to community interaction and fundraising, with one being a good people-pleaser and the other damaging Scouts Canada reputation. Go figure.

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MPW1971 April 8, 2015 at 10:48 am

I am well aware of the name being “Scouts Canada” – I was attempting to distinguish between male (and thus “boy”) and female participants in scouting programs. In Canada, Girl Guides also sell cookies – different ones – but they do not participate in Apple Day.
I have never seen anyone take an apple without making a donation – and never for just the value of the apple.

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Dee April 8, 2015 at 12:28 pm

But there is no distinction between boys and girls in Scouts Canada. Girls join up for Beavers, Cubs and Scouts and boys for Sparks, Brownies and Guides. It is often quite a co-ed mix. Leaders, too, are a mixed bag of genders. If I understand correctly that is not the case for American Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, at least not to the extent that it is encouraged by Scouts Canada. There are other significant differences between the groups but I will leave it at that.
And it is our experience that the majority of apples handed out, here, during Apple Days never garnered a donation, which was fine with the kids and the leaders because that was their intent.

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MPW1971 April 8, 2015 at 11:55 pm

I apologize for what is perhaps my limited experience. I agree with what you say on certain issues – especially about Scout Leaders being of mixed gender for Scouts Canada. My best friend was a Chief Scout, and his late mother was a life-long Leader and volunteer in Scouting. Scouts Canada has been officially co-ed program wide since 1998, and unofficially (though not universally) co-ed from the 1970’s. As I am now in my 40’s, my experience was that Venturer and Rover scouts – members over age 14 – were generally co-ed because, to be perfectly honest, membership dwindled for teenagers and during the recession of the early 80’s, and it was prudent to pool resources and members – male and female – together.
However, I want to make this distinction clear about Apple Day vs. other fundraisers. The sale of cookies – specially branded and made by an outside company – is entirely the purview of Girl Guides of Canada. I have never personally met or seen a male “Girl Guide” participant, and their website and all associated information I can find online from the organization’s official website states that their members are female – the literal phrasing is “girls and young women”. If you have proof that males can become “Girl Guides” then please provide it.
The Apple Days are, as you say, an activity of Scouts Canada, which is open to both male and female members. The overwhelming majority of those I have seen, in uniform and participating in this activity, were male. And I reiterate what I say – I’ve never seen anyone take an apple for free. Such behavior would be seen as socially unacceptable and rude in Canadian society.
The distinction I was trying to make was this – “apple day = (boy) scouts canada” and “cookies = girl guides canada” – because the audience for this website appears to be primarily from the US. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

Dee April 9, 2015 at 11:28 am

MPW1971 – I am so glad that, as the representative of Canadian society, you have been able to set me straight on the etiquette regarding Apple Days. I had no idea our area, and the others, have been doing it so wrong for so long, allowing and even encouraging the public to take the apples for free. And I also had no idea that the public, that we live amongst all our lives, are so rude to accept those apples for free. That it is “socially unacceptable and rude in Canadian society” is news to me, but then, perhaps your “Canadian society” is different from mine, and clearly superior. Have a nice day.

Amber April 6, 2015 at 10:55 am

I’m down with this sort of donation, mostly because I don’t feel bad when I don’t have cash on me and I can’t give to people holding out a hat. Perhaps it’s just inoculation from seeing actual beggars on the street where I live – I rarely carry cash anymore, so unless I just so happen to have a few dollars on me, all I can do is walk on by. If I do have change or dollars, I can spare a few because hey, I’m not the one sitting on the side of the street hurting for a meal or a fix. Same with the sports teams outside the grocer – sure, I’ll throw them a dollar or two to get new uniforms if I have it on me.

And it’s far better than having to refuse a child at my door because I don’t need wrapping paper or magazines or terrible chocolate.

Finally, around where I live it’s absolutely normal for police and firemen to beg in the medians of busy streets when they’re running their fundraisers every year. They wear their full gear, and in the case of the firemen they use their boots as the “pass around hat” and wave them at drivers. So, essentially, it’s normalized here.

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Lisa H. April 6, 2015 at 10:57 am

I don’t mind the girl/boy scouts standing outside the stores selling their cookies or popcorn. And I don’t mind them coming to my front door either; as a former Campfire girl myself, I did the same thing. What does get me is when the parents of these kids bring a sign up sheet to work and solicit sales on their behalf; that teaches the kids nothing about hard work and reward.

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Vicki April 6, 2015 at 10:59 am

Of course there is no one fundraising product that everyone will want to buy. People vary too much, and even for things everyone needs, like soap, they don’t all want the same kind.

I don’t care how good your cause is—and are you sure that your kids’ team is a better cause than Doctors without Borders or the local food bank?—some people won’t have the mney to spare, some will have decided to give to a different good cause, and some will disagree with you that it’s a good cause at all. Parents and coaches and so on should explain to the kids that some people will say no, and that’s okay: they (parents and or kids) don’t give to everyone who asks, either.

I believe that part of the point of Girl Scout cookie sales is to teach the Scouts a bit about business, including bookkeeping and inventory as well as sales. So that’s a reason for doing it that doesn’t apply to most of the other youth groups that are trying to raise money.

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Anonymous April 6, 2015 at 3:18 pm

A lot of people I know would step over their own mother to get a box of Thin Mints (which are especially good frozen, and the American version is now vegan, although I’m not sure if the Canadian version is), but the Girl Guides now charge about five dollars for a small box, or something obscene like that, so I suspect they’ve priced themselves out of a lot of sales.

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iwadasn April 7, 2015 at 11:28 am

I’m not sure where you live, but in the U.S., Girl Scout cookies are $4 a box, which is actually pretty comparable to a similarly sized box of Oreos, Chips Ahoys, or any other “brand name” cookies.

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Amara April 6, 2015 at 11:01 am

I really, really, really dislike the idea of children (and their parents) raising “donations” by any means to help them play sports/go on an event/do anything else. I am of the mind that if the trip or whatever costs $xxx then that should be the upfront costs of participating, not $xx and then raise money by begging.

I have no compunction about stepping around these kinds of things and looking very focused on my shopping list or the store or putting my keys away or anything else. I don’t want to be rude so I am not, but neither do I feel like saying even “No thanks.” So I look very occupied as I move quickly past them.

But … I really hate these things and I don’t care if they are begging or selling. I will not support them in any way at any time for any reason. Begging is so prevalent these days for it seems like any dang thing. And I will not contribute to the growing sense that it is okay.

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mark April 6, 2015 at 11:12 am

I am one of those people who have ran/help at several booths in from of stores. In my case for Girl Scouts. I’ve done this for years with my daughters and quite honestly it isn’t the funnest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve actually grown to detest cookie sales. It is just a pain. But you are getting a value for your money. I do think the cookies are overpriced, but compared to other fund raiser items it actually is rather reasonable.

When you are talking Girl Scouts. They quite literally would not exist without cookie sales. The overwhelming majority of their funds come from cookie sales. All cookie sale profits directly benefit the girls/troops/ and local council. With the council usually taking the lion share of the money.

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Heather April 6, 2015 at 11:20 am

I also prefer that I’m not solicited at my home to buy a product I don’t want. In my neighbourhood, I’ll see kids at street corners, however, we also have teams and groups bagging groceries in supermarkets. I see parents with them. They are performing a service that I’m more than happy to have done, they must “earn” the money with this service and the money goes directly to them.

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Ashley April 6, 2015 at 11:27 am

I’m kind of split on this.

The reason I’m split is because I hate how every year, friends with kids post on Facebook about how “Little soandso is selling popcorn for school, let me know if you want to buy anything!” and then the pictures of $25 tins of popcorn pop up, when I could go to a grocery store down the street and buy a similar tin for $10. Plus I know the school isn’t getting all of that $25, they are the middleman for whoever makes the popcorn. So the begging at least eliminates the middleman, which I respect because then it’s more money for the school.

But at the same time, there are some really aggressive bell ringers and stuff that have turned me off of people just asking for change…

If it makes anyone reading this feel better, our town has several places that help give people a place to raise funds without outright begging or taking a large percentage of the cut. Several grocery stores and a meat shop have “Brat Huts” (Brat like the sausage, not brat like a spoiled child) that you can rent out for a minimal fee, and sell brats and chips and sodas from to raise funds for whatever organization feels like renting it out. You get it for the whole weekend too. So there is a middleman but they take much much much less of a cut than the popcorn sales do.

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Mags April 6, 2015 at 11:41 am

We have one set of neighbours whose kids have gotten my husband to donate to just about every fundraiser they have ever done. Their kids are a wider age range than ours, so this was happening for years before we had kids, and now their youngest is the age of one of our middle kids. We have our own kids now, but they have never once reciprocated. Fair enough — they don’t owe us anything. However, they are STILL hitting my husband up for donations, even though our children are involved in the exact same activities. I do not understand why my husband cannot bring himself to say, “Sorry, this year I’m donating through my son.”

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JD April 6, 2015 at 11:43 am

I see no winning on this issue. I don’t like having to Run the Gauntlet, as Tee accurately calls it, especially as my husband is unemployed now and money is not something I can hand out, but some of our stores have someone out at the entrances much of the time, even weekdays, making it impossible to avoid. I do hate to turn down kids, although I have to now, but I’ve always disliked the begging. But, I hate even more being asked to buy overpriced junk, so the kids can make only 50 cents on it. I’d rather give straight cash if I can. I agree, teaching kids to work for money is great, but how much work can you expect six year olds to accomplish? And some of these (older) kids DO work — some hold part time jobs in addition to school, sports, etc., and in rural communities, many work long hours on the family farm. My older daughter earned deep discounts for her dance classes by working as an assistant dance teacher from the age of 12, but we had to join in the fundraisers for her to go to summer dance training. As a parent who had kids in organizations that had would fundraise, I felt terrible about it, yet I couldn’t afford to have them in it if they didn’t fundraise. Sometimes I could afford it, but others couldn’t, so we did group fundraising for the benefit of the other kids, doing things like car washes and hotdog sales. For years I’ve said there has to be a better way, but I haven’t thought of that way yet.

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SamiHami April 6, 2015 at 11:43 am

I don’t understand why it’s being referred to as “tagging.” It’s begging, so why not call it that? And I would never, ever consider giving money to anyone that begs for it, whether it’s a child or an adult. If a child is selling something for a fundraiser I’ll take a look and if it’s something I want, I’ll buy it or I might go ahead & pay for a car wash. But I won’t encourage children to approach strangers and beg. There are lots of ways to do fundraisers, but I guess it’s just easier to give kids a can and tell them to beg.

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Kat April 6, 2015 at 11:50 am

Either way, I really dislike the aggressive sales techniques that seem to becoming more common with these fundraisers. Once while walking home from the grocery store I was accosted by a bunch of teens selling newspaper subscriptions for something or other to do with their school. I paused briefly to politely explain that I didn’t have money for luxuries and tried to go on my way. One of the kids followed me down the street for five minutes trying to convince me to — I don’t even know what, since I’d already made it clear that I wasn’t giving them money. I guess he thought that following me around at night would magically conjure extra money in my bank account? The best part was that he explicitly said he preferred credit card payments, because you know it’s dangerous for him to be wandering the streets with lots of cash. Right, cuz giving a strange kid on the street my credit card number couldn’t possibly go wrong…

Someone at least needs to tell them that following people down the street after being told “no” is all sorts of creepy. It got to the point where I couldn’t walk further because I didn’t want him to follow me all the way home.

If the kids keep escalating like that, the next one may involve a call to police. Sheesh.

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mm April 6, 2015 at 11:56 am

When kids sell things they really only get a fraction of the profits. Most of it goes to the manufacturers

Also, if someone feels guilty for not donating that’s really their own problem. Most of these fundraisers are for community activities which are volunteer based, with almost no funding from schools. I don’t think kids should be stopped from participating in activities merely because they can’t afford it. That’s how the class divide gets wider and wider in America and other parts of North America.

as for working for these donations, yes, in an ideal situation that would be the best way. but how many small businesses can afford to let teens work with them and then give that money to the organization. Tagging isn’t ideal but no one says you HAVE to participate. Like with anything, you reaction is your own

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RalphieTheBuffalo April 6, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Like many of you, I have mixed feelings about this – and I don’t have children.

Many years ago, I did the greeting cards/candy/popcorn/cookie routine as a middle schooler. Didn’t like it then, don’t like the concept now, as its tends to annoy the neighbors, and sets up a quid-pro-quo for those families who have children of the same age. The etiquette masses are right – the stuff is overpriced schlock, and the kids get only part of the profit. Straight donation may be easier, but it may set up a ‘gimme’ or entitlement scenario which may last into adulthood.

We also had a once-a-year holly sale (Christmas holly items) when I was with the marching band, which involved getting into full uniform on a hot day in late September, and trying to get your neighborhood to kick in $1.50 for a small bag of holly leaves, or larger amounts for bigger items (none over $10). You could pay up front, or put down a deposit and pay on delivery. My mother, God bless her, donated our house as a ‘base camp’ for everything from a clean bathroom to an emergency tailor when the drum major split his pants one year ! It’s also where the holly would be delivered.

Although the musicians we OK with the sale, delivery was another matter, and I would inevitably be running around our 100 home community in early December, ringing doorbells and dropping off garlands and whatnot, because we couldn’t convince some flute player to devote an hour to what was essentially her customer. The problem was arguing with neighbors over amounts due, and getting all monies back to the school – cash, and a lot of it – while ridding the garage of boxes and boxes of greenery.

It did beat parking cars in June, and it did raise $15K in two years – by asking for a $1 donation (frequently, we got more) in lieu of the product we were selling, if they wanted to just donate. Very few turned us away completed empty handed, even in an era when $2/hr was the minimum wage. I think we felt some pride as well – the new uniforms were custom fit – a far cry from the shiny leftovers and hand me downs from 15 years earlier. It was worth the sweat, the constant sales pitch, and the 10pm deliveries to see your name on the inner pocket, and not trip over your trouser hems in tight formations.

Now, the kids simply hand the sign up sheets to their parents, who take them to the office and put them on the bulletin board. Here, there are few sign ups, and frequent complaints about too many of the fundraisers at any one time. I’m not sure the millenials see it the same way I did when Dad brings home an empty order blank from work.

I tend to walk past the beggars (our grocery was a horrible place until complaints got them to move away from the doors), and simply smile and shake my head when they ask. Home is a different story. I have a “No Soliciting” sign right above the doorbell. If someone is very young, or does not understand the word, I just say no, thanks and close the door. Adolescents and adults are shown the sign and politely asked to leave. And, if I’m not expecting anyone, I simply turn off the porch light, or ignore the doorbell.

It’s a shame that this begging has to happen, but money is tight all over. I support my alma mater – but with a small annual contribution and a bequest in my will, when money won’t matter.

Cheers,
RTB, from the lower pasture.

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mark April 6, 2015 at 4:41 pm

Delivery problems are always an issue for girl scout cookies, though in girl scouts it is the family who is responsible to delivery the cookies and if they don’t then the council will hold the family financially responsible. I’ve had several thousand dollars of cookie boxes in my house that I’m responsible for.

If they didn’t do this it wouldn’t work.

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NostalgicGal April 7, 2015 at 11:47 pm

I have a sign that says: “No Soliciting. We are too broke to buy anything. We know who we are voting for. We have found Jesus. Seriously, unless you are selling Thin Mints, please go away.” It is done in black and white enamel and about 8″ wide and 12″ high. I mounted it right next to my doorbell. It has worked somewhat… I think.

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lkb April 6, 2015 at 12:52 pm

An additional comment:

Somehow kid fundraisers, be it tag sales or overpriced tchotchkes, while annoying, are nowhere near as bad as the civic groups that stand in the middle of intersections begging money by selling cider, paper poppies, miniature white canes etc. I have heard they do it this way because people are guilted into reaching in their pocket and throwing in the first piece of currency they find, with $10s and $20s predominating, just to get traffic moving.

I particularly hate this type of fundraising because I used to drive on a two lane road leading into a very busy downtown of a small but growing suburb. On this two-lane road was the fire station. One day, I was stuck in traffic because of one of these fundraisers when behind me I could hear the fire alarm going off. Sure enough, here comes the fire truck, which could not get through because traffic was tied up. It had to resort to going on the wrong side of the road but was blocked by opposing traffic which had nowhere to go. Now, if it had been my house or loved one who was delayed help because of this…. Grrrr!

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NostalgicGal April 7, 2015 at 11:50 pm

At that point when the sirens went off and nobody had anywhere to go, you take your cellphone and record the whole thing, then call the police and report the obstruction and tell them you have video evidence of who did the blockage. It may get the authorities to crack down on these and ask everyone to call it in if they see these people obstructing again.
If I’m approached by beggars bearing anything I lock everything up tight and will do everything to get out of there without opening my car. And I am not afraid to whip the phone out anymore. That will sometimes make them all fade away fast.

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Cat April 6, 2015 at 12:54 pm

I remember selling Girl Scout cookies door to door and, at one point, magazine subscriptions and greeting cards. I have bought things to help different children’s groups. The only one I resented was a little girl who was reclining in a yard lounger outside a grocery store. She yelled, “Hey! You want to send me to New York?”
It was all I could do to keep from replying, “Yes, if you promise not to come back.” If you are going to ask me for money, that is not the technique you should use. Calling a woman old enough to be your grandmother “Hey” is not helping your cause.

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Goldie April 7, 2015 at 8:57 am

Our third year in America, we had a high school kid come to our apartment trying to sell us magazine subscriptions. We were saving up for a down payment on our first house, that we bought shortly afterwards. The kid was initially very nice, if misleading – he told me, “we have a contest in our school, whoever gets the most signatures gets to go to Europe”. I was like, OK, where do I sign? Suddenly out came a magazine catalog and a price list. I told him, Sorry, we’re saving up for a house, we cannot buy these. He replies “These are magazines, not diamond rings!” Um, thanks and good-bye, kid. I participated in our school’s magazine fundraiser for years in a row after that – we’re avid readers and I used to just get a bunch of magazines for ourselves – but this kid went about it all wrong.

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JeanLouiseFinch April 6, 2015 at 12:57 pm

Because we have 2 dogs with loud barks, we rarely get door to door salespeople unless they know our dogs already (and know that both dogs are barking from hysterical joy that they might have a visitor.) However, before I retired, people would bring the fundraiser stuff from their kids’ schools to raise money from the people at work. It got to be so bad that the staff was told not to do this anymore. However, 2 of the attorneys, both partners, persisted in pressuring everyone to buy junk to fund their kids’ sports. What was really egregious was the fact that these 2 were both mulch-millionaires and could have funded an entire kids’ sports team on their own instead of pressuring secretaries and clerks who made just above minimum wage. I think kids should be offering some useful service, such as weeding gardens, washing cars or dogs or selling something homemade like cookies or ice cream. Lots of people have parties in the summer. These kids could offer to do party help and/or babysitting.

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Goldie April 7, 2015 at 8:59 am

These are all great ideas! These kids could wash my car or dog or help me in my garden anytime!

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daisy April 6, 2015 at 1:21 pm

There is a happy medium between outright begging and selling overpriced, unwanted items. Bake sales, car washes, “rent-a-kid” for yard work, etc. One Boy Scout troop I know runs a flea market once a month on town land and raises money from the vendors’ rent.

I have also seen firefighters raising money by standing in the middle of the road with a can. Again, have a bake sale, clean chimneys, whatever. Just don’t beg.

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NostalgicGal April 7, 2015 at 11:56 pm

Our volunteer fire department has an annual pancake supper in the fall. It is a big event, the price is a little high but the food is good and you don’t starve… and they have a raffle for a brand new shotgun and a few other things donated. One year they had to leave during the middle of the supper, so spouses and others took over to finish up the cooking and serving. And most of the time, the person winning the raffle, hands the item right back as a donation. So they raise a lot of their funds with that night… and if they run low, they hold another one. One year a tanker truck got cut off and burned (the driver and aide were okay they got out) so they had three suppers to pay for another one. They don’t need to beg.

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Elizabeth April 6, 2015 at 1:29 pm

For those who are saying that at least the Girl Scouts get to keep the whole dollar when you just give it to them instead of buying cookies, I suggest that you talk to the troop before making that assumption. In our council, all donations taken during cookie season must be used to purchase cookies for our council’s chosen charity. Your dollar will be combined with a dollar given by three other customers and the girls will still get only their “share” from one box of cookies. If you want to give money to a specific Girl Scout troop for them to use for troop activities, do it outside of cookie season.

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Rebecca April 6, 2015 at 1:34 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever in my life just dropped cash into a box for a children’s sports team, or a trip to France, or whatever it is they are trying to raise money for in their privileged little lives. Though I will happily partake of a car wash or something else reasonably creative. And I will put in for charities raising money for children who don’t have enough to eat, or whose communities have been ravaged by an earthquake, stuff like that.

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