Do School Fundraisers Hold You Hostage?

gift wrapJust last week three neighbor kids came over to see if I would like to sponsor them in the fall walk-a-thon at school. I quickly agreed, feeling that this was a great way to support special projects at Hawthorne School even though I no longer work there.

I love the idea of a walk-a-thon as a fundraiser for the following reasons:


  • All of the proceeds go directly to the school
  • Kids collect pledges for how many laps they do, or you can pledge a flat fee. It’s up to you how much you can support, as opposed to a $15 tub of cookie dough being the cheapest item available on a fundraiser order sheet.
  • The walk-a-thon is a healthier way for kids to participate in fundraising than selling something like cookie dough or candy bars. They are out there moving!

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to parent groups earning money for their schools. I’ve worked in public schools long enough to understand that school budgets just don’t stretch far enough to cover all the needs, let alone the extras.

But it seems that selling countless rolls of wrapping paper that often just get stockpiled and having only half of the purchase price go to the cause just doesn’t seem that productive. And yet, if you are like me and want to support your school, fundraisers can leave you feeling like you are being held hostage- participate or feel like a grouch.

So what are some good fundraising ideas that won’t hold you, your children or your neighbors hostage?  Here are a couple things besides walk-a-thons that Hawthorne students have participated in over the years.

  • The Great Pumpkin Sale. This fundraiser, held in October, involved the parent group arranging for a pup-trailer full of pumpkins to be delivered to the school grounds the day before the sale. Kids and adults alike lined up to help unload the trailer, fire-brigade style, passing each pumpkin from person to person. Fun! The pumpkins were then sorted by size and set under pop-up tents to wait for pumpkin salemorning. On the morning of the sale, the school grounds were awash with scarecrows, hay bales and costumed children pulling pumpkin-filled wagons to customers cars. In addition, popcorn and hot cider sales became especially brisk on cool mornings. Face painting and various other activities also brought in revenue. There was a flat fee set for pumpkins, depending on the size. Once the pumpkin suppliers were paid, most everything else was profit that went directly to the school.
  • Farm-to-School Food Fundraiser. Several elementary schools in Bozeman teamed up with the Gallatin Valley Farm-to-School program to offer Montana-made foods and gifts as a fundraiser. This activity followed the more traditional type of fundraiser in that only a percentage of proceeds went back to the school and you were limited in your decision of how much to donate depending on the array of items offered. But the products were healthy, locally sourced food and the price points ranged from $6 up to $30 or more, giving you options on how much you could afford to support.
  • An Organized Fun Run.  This fundraiser was very similar to the walk-a-thon, except the walk-a-thon was held on the school grounds on a school day. The fun run was held on a Saturday and various length routes, the longest being 5K, were set up through the northeast sector of town where Hawthorne is located. Flaggers and helpers worked the route to ensure safety and once runners got back to the school there were various free, health related activities set up by businesses available to participate in. This was an especially good way to get local businesses involved with the school and the kids and, like the walk-a-thon, got the kids out moving.

So these are just a few ideas to get you going on how you can make fundraising for your school a less burdensome activity for everyone.

As I close today, I hope you and your family are enjoying this beautiful time of year. For some reason, I can’t seem to get hot-spiced cider off my mind. Better go make a cup! See you all next time you drop by.


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