Why Fundraisers are terrible: A letter to my school

Row of School Buses
I wrote a letter to my child’s school this week regarding our very competitive “fall fundraiser.” The fundraiser consists of a phone-book sized catalog of over-priced candies, trinkets, cheap jewelry, and magazine subscriptions that the children are encouraged to sell if they want any shot at participating in one of three levels of after-parties. There are also of course different levels of “extremely cool” prizes – like inflatable shoes. Not kidding. I love supporting my child’s school but this method is terrible and will only lead to division among young children, inflated egos, and deflated egos. This is not a competition among students, but a competition among parents. I have found MANY parents out there who feel the same sentiments. Please feel free to copy this email to your own school if you are with me!

Dear PTA,

I am writing in regards to the Fall fundraising catalog push. While I am absolutely supportive of our school, our children, and our PTA, I do not see how this fundraiser and the way that it is presented is helpful to our students.

My issue is not just with the fact that my kindergartener is expected to sell a catalog full of overpriced trinkets, but that he has been led to believe that only if he sells “x” amount of overpriced trinkets may he be a “part” of these exclusive parties and handing-out-of-prizes. I do not believe it is fair to these little ones to be included or excluded from parties and prizes based on how much their family can, or cannot, do for them… or how involved their parents may, or may not, be. You see, the little kids have no bearing on whether they become included or excluded.

I noticed the opt-out letter which let me know I can just write a large check and have my child “included” in the parties… but that is again my issue! How many parents cannot afford to write these types of checks? And to those that can, (or struggle to) it is against my better judgment to have my child on the “in crowd.” Leaving those of less means, well.. Out. These are kindergarteners for goodness sakes. The differences in financial backgrounds and the bigger picture of why they are even doing this, is completely lost on them. All my child knows is that he was PUMPED up about a party and prizes someone told him about, and I need to look at these papers so he can get them. “LOOK AT THESE PRIZES! AND THERE’S A PARTY!! Can you do that, Mommy? Please???”

I find myself thumbing through the catalog searching for things to satisfy the least amount of items he must purchase in order to be a part of the parties, and in order to have his name called when prizes are handed out. But I just cannot bring myself to it.

In lieu of participation in this fundraiser, I will write a check to our school after it is over. In this way, there are no strings attached to my donation – it all goes to the school, and I will not have my child participate in exclusive parties. Instead, I will find a small way to celebrate with him and with other families who feel the same way.

Please reconsider the fall fundraising strategy. Something which I have read to be effective is simply asking parents for a One-Time donation to the school for the entire year. We (and MANY parents) would be ecstatic to hand money directly to the school just one time, and have no percentage taken by other companies, plus it is tax deductible. It would have the added benefit of not asking our children to become sales reps of overpriced items, not making parents feel awkward asking others for money for things we wouldn’t even buy ourselves, and especially not leaving children out of events and prizes set aside for other kids who come from better means or more “involved” parents.

Thank you for your consideration, and I’ll see you around school as I volunteer to support our PTA!

Jackie Vest


Photo: freedigitalphotos.net – Arvind Balaraman


  1. Cindy Roque says:

    AWESOME 🙂 Well said 🙂

    1. Jackie says:

      Thank you 🙂

  2. Suzanne says:

    Once again…very well said 🙂

    1. Jackie says:

      Thanks! 🙂

  3. Marsha Bunnell says:

    Hi Jackie! Wow! I have enjoyed reading your blog! I feel like I have gotten to know you…like I’ve just had a chat over a cup of coffee with you! Your testimony about your tv interview was awesome to read. Loved how you gave all the glory to God for the strength He, and only He, gave you during the taping and during the interview with the doctors. I am so glad you decided to come to Mom to Mom and love that you sat right down beside me! Looking forward to gettng to know you even more and will pray that the upcoming tv spot will help others and God will be glorified through it! See you soon, Marsha

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