Let’s talk about school fund-raisers. Whether your children are in public or private school, they will inevitably be encouraged to help with fund-raising. You, their parent, will be likely asked to help or participate.

While I could get behind raising funds to buy more library books, I balked at the magazine sale for the Marine World trip. I really disliked the idea of sending (taking, really) my daughter door-to-door, or having her “e-mail relatives with great offers on wrapping paper.” I prefer sales that are more organic, or have a homespun touch, over the slick campaigns.

In case you haven’t discovered this yet, there can be a great deal of pressure put on your child to sell, sell, and sell. Some programs will offer prize incentives for student sales. Some chart students’ efforts and pit classrooms against each other. It really depends on who is running the program. I have no patience for the overly zealous moms who seem to be competing, themselves, (on behalf of their children) for the most earnings.

Fund-raisers I hated

1. Magazine sales

2. Wrapping-paper sales

3. Greeting card sales

4. Anything a-thons


1. Cookie dough

2. Packaged cookies

Ones I didn’t mind

1. Bake sales

2. Book sales

3. Craft fairs

4. Car washes

5. Box Tops for Education

Some kids are naturally quite the little salespeople and take to hawking products like ducks to water. Others, like mine, are more on the shy side – and would probably rather see the dentist than make cold calls. One parent, whose child fit the first category, argued that it is “good for them to get out there and try.” We preferred our daughter learn to overcome her shyness in other ways, and didn’t push.

There are a few ways to deal with this pressure that will be put upon both child and parent, year after year. One tact is to just say no, thanks. If you don’t believe in the method, or the product, it’s okay to decline.

Another idea, and a non-confrontational method, is to simply acquiesce. Sometimes I just bought the “suggested number” of cookie boxes and gave them to neighbors, or took them to work, etc. You’re contributing, you got something for your buck, and you don’t have to worry about it anymore. There isn't much of a positive lesson in here for your child here, however.

My frequent solution is to come up with our own idea, run it, and say: here is our contribution. For instance, my daughter and I both despise selling tickets, but we love baking cookies for bake sales. I have yet to have any organization turn down money we earned for it, doing our own thing. You do run the risk of irritating those controlling barracuda mothers, but everyone else will be appreciative of your efforts. For instance, my daughter was a great box tops sorter/counter – and she knew her school would benefit from her work. That helped her not to feel the pressure and guilt about not selling magazines.

However: If your child wants to pitch in and sell, and you are in agreement, guide and support them and make sure they are safe as well as clear about the purpose.