Politics and money

For years and years and years (apparently; remember, this is only our second year here) the kids’ school has done a Fall Fundraiser which primarily involves selling wrapping paper. Should you feel that you’ve reached your quota of overpriced wrapping paper, there are also crappy overpriced snacks. And things like baking mixes tied up with pretty bows that say, “Hahaha, sucker, you just forked over a 5000% markup on white flour.”

(I am not really a fan of this particular mode of fund raising. I’m sure you couldn’t tell.)

Last year—our first year here—apparently our PTA had been taken over by “the only people who cared” after some sort of kerfluffle at the end of the previous year. This small group… um, allow me to be southern here and preface this with “Bless their hearts,” managed to run things for a year, but I suspect their hearts really weren’t in it, and I’m just guessing, here, based upon how nearly every discussion started with one of them saying, “Well no one else was willing to handle this, so we’re doing it,” and the fact that all of them moved out of district at the end of the year.

That sort of dedication tends to take an already annoying fund raiser and run it into the ground; last year our wrapping paper sales hit an all-time low.

[I’ll fully cop to being part of the problem—I refused to let my kids participate. Let’s face it, the days of sending your kid ’round the neighborhood to sell things door-to-door are over. Sure, I did it for years with Girl Scout Cookies back in the olden days and nothing bad ever happened to me, but I’m not completely convinced a grumpy neighbor wouldn’t pull a gun on one of my children. Plus there are enough kids in the neighborhood that I am regularly solicited for things and have to tell these other children, “Oh, honey, my kids are doing this too, sorry.” And I am completely opposed to any fund raiser where the ADULT has to do the work, plus who am I going to sell wrapping paper to? I work from home!]

Our PTA had a complete restructuring at the end of last year—while the former officers were out having margaritas, I suspect—and this year Things Are Going To Be Different. We have a full slate of officers; people are actually going to the meetings; and it looks like this year we’re actually going to be about making the school better. WHAT A NOVEL CONCEPT.

The first thing our new president did was decide that we will no longer sell wrapping paper. I think I love her.

Instead, she proposed a Fun Run—the kids collect pledges for either lump or per-lap amounts and then on the designated day they all run in big circles around the school for a while and then get a popsicle and turn in their cash. No one has to buy crap, the kids get exercise, and the school gets money. Hooray!

(In case you’re wondering, the money is earmarked to go towards building a track around the school. This may not seem important to you, but then you probably do not have a child who has been coming home for weeks complaining bitterly that when you have to do laps first thing in the morning the grass is still wet and your shoes end up all soaky. OH, THE HUMANITY!)

Chickadee immediately set to work raising funds: She sent out emails to her aunts and uncles and grandparents, explaining the event and asking them to sponsor her. Many of them ponied up, because really, are you going to turn down a cute 10-year-old explaining the Tragedy Of The Wet Shoes if you have a soul? No, you’re not.

Monkey was really excited about it all, too. He displayed this enthusiasm by forgetting to bring his fund raising packet home for a solid week. (We all have different ways of expressing ourselves.)

Now, Chickadee was kind enough to explain in her solicitation emails that both she and her brother are participating and he probably needs pledges as well. (I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that I yelled from the other room “TELL THEM MONKEY IS RUNNING, TOO!” while she was typing it up.) As a result, both kids garnered a fair number of donations and were very pleased with themselves.

Oh, how the children wish for a proper track to surround their beloved school. They love physical fitness! They feel the responsibility of belonging to this community and want to participate! This is why they’re so invested in this fund raiser!

Yeah. Um, that’s crap, of course. Whoever raises the most money wins a Wii.

We don’t own a Wii, because I’m a heartless monster and also a total cheapskate. (Hello? Nintendo? Remember all those blogger parties you had? NO ONE OFFERED ONE TO ME. Not that I’m bitter.) I’m surprised the children still deign to speak to me, frankly. Although who else wants to listen to them go on and on in excruciating detail about how they figured out the super special secret move in Lego Star Wars on the Wii at their friends’ house? True, I don’t WANT to, but I do, because I’m the mom and that’s my job.

So the motivation to get the donations flowing for this particular fundraiser may not be entirely selfless, is what I’m saying. On the other hand, they’re kids, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with dangling a carrot in front of them. Especially when that carrot might come with the ability to practice bowling in your family room.

Last night as we were counting and tallying funds the idea came up for the kids to combine their donations; instead of each of them showing up with half of what they’ve amassed, they could just put $1 on one sheet and all of the rest on the other. This would increase their chances of winning the Wii by upping the total on one sheet. The kids talked it over and decided that was definitely the way to go, and I was pleased that they’d really thought about it and worked together and such.

And then Otto asked if perhaps there’s an ethical reason not to do that; does allowing them to combine contributions run counter to the spirit of the competition, even if not the letter? (Otto is the ethics police. It’s nice to have at least one morally upright member of the household. Usually.) We never did come to a conclusion.

My feeling is that even once they’ve combined their money, they’re unlikely to win. But they might, I suppose, and then would that be wrong? There are kids in the school with two, three, four siblings all attending. Surely we’re not the only family to whom this thought has occurred…? Or is all of that irrelevant, and either it’s right or wrong regardless of what other students might do the same?

Ethics make my head hurt. But when I finally told the kids that we needed to stop talking about it and they needed to get ready for bed, Monkey launched right back into tell me how there’s this one place that only little baby Anakin can get to on the Star Wars game and then my brain began to bleed and now I can’t decide whether this is truly an ethics matter or not.

Or maybe I should oppose it on general principle because they MIGHT win and then I’d have to listen to even more Wii talk, like maybe so much that I would even LOSE THE WILL TO BOWL.


  1. zeghsy

    our problem was that all my family lived too far away from my monkey. it made it hard to hit up nana and papa and grandma when the shipping would demolish my bank accounts…

  2. jp

    Mir, this reminds me of the time you asked the question about bringing your own snacks into the Movies………remember how THAT turned out!

  3. Jen

    Amen. I’m definately voting against people this year and my family doesn’t understand why I’m not excited about “my” candidate. It may be an historic election, but I feel let down somehow. I just wish we lived in one of those sane countries where they only allow TV and radio ads for a couple of weeks before the election. Good thing we have books on tape…

  4. jennielynn

    Wow. Otto has a lot of integrity and I really respect him. Of course, I don’t have to share a home with all that integrity.

  5. Jen

    OK, Mir, that’s not going to make any sense, ’cause it was a response to Chris’s post on Notes from the Trenches. My apologies. I had to go deal with a kid crisis and came back and the browser window had been switched. I’m blaming the kids and sticking to that story ’till the end…

  6. Sara

    OOhhh I hate the yearly fundraiser with a burning hatred of a thousand white-hot suns. I have refused to let my kids participate and I am the “Fundraiser Grinch” because they NEEEED the little cheap toys that they’ll win for selling $50 worth of _____. I have even refused to do the Entertainment Books (“They sell themselves!” Um, really? I don’t think so…) and I know many people use them, but I don’t and I’d much rather ALL the money go directly to the school. I think I love your PTO president also. I may have to raise this idea at our school.
    As far as winning a Wii, my kids would run for MILES if there were a remote possibility of winning one. And I’d be on the sidelines yelling “GO! Wii! Go! Wii”–and risk sounding like a crazed potty-training drill sargeant.

  7. Jen

    I’m not gonna comment on the combining pledges to win thing (*lalala* sticks my fingers in my ears), but I understand your frustration with fund raisers in general. My girls came home from school the FIRST DAY with a fundraiser brochure (popcorn & cookie dough) stuck in their pile of papers, but no explination paper of what the fundraiser is for, when it’s due, etc. We will NOT be participating. If the PTO needs money that badly, I’ll probably just send in $10 for each girl to go directly to the PTO and it’d be more than they’d get if they’d sold the fundraiser items anyway!

  8. Jen

    So, now a pithy response to the ethics question that was in YOUR post, not Chris’. Hm, I was with you all the while until Otto made his comment. Now I’m confused and thinking that I’m a cretin without any morals at all. How about you hit up all those relatives with a Wii fund surcharge and buy one yourself?

  9. Leandra

    We just got through selling Krispy Kremes so that the kids can go to the circus. I can get behind Krispy Kremes and unfortunately THEY seem to get to my behind.

    We’re doing the wrapping paper thing this year, but I’m joining the PTO and I’m going to advocate for something different next year. I think the fun run sounds like a great idea!

  10. Katie in MA

    Ha, ha – JP beat me to it; I was going to bring up Theater-gate. If it wasn’t prohibited, I say let them go for it. Otherwise, you’re punishing them for working together well AND being innovative. Two things you REALLY want to teach your kids! Above all else (i.e. all of our well-meant advice), remember whatever you decide is right for your family. We get to launch our advice at your house and run! :)

  11. Em

    This is going to be another movie popcorn/candy discussion, isn’t it?

    First, let me say, we do the wrapping paper and crappy candy fundraiser and it sucks and I refuse to sell it to my family and friends. They don’t have money to spend on crap any more than I do and I know they would anyway for my kids. What offends me most is that they give you the packet on the very first day of school. Kind of feels like you are there to work, not to learn.

    Regarding the ethics, “is all of that irrelevant, and either it’s right or wrong regardless of what other students might do the same” Absolutely. Ethics have nothing to do with what everybody else is doing (ask Anne Frank about that one, to give an extreme example that has nothing to do with fundraising or wii winning). I would say it probably is unethical to do what you suggested because for one, I assume the papers have the kids names on them and so you would essentially be lying about how much one child raised. Lying would fall under unethical. Unfortuneatly. Personally, it never would have occured to me to combine the funds. Your kids maybe evil geniuses. In a good way.

  12. Randi

    eh – ethics. I dislike that word intensely. And you haven’t allowed your children to have a Wii? What’s wrong with you woman?! They are the most amazing, insane inventions to have been created yet…aside from a Kitchen Aid…and a computer…and the DVR…and tampons…but I digress.

    I think it was great that they worked together like that! In my household, though, it’d like go something like this:

    “Okay Babygirl, so we’ll put it all on MY sheet – and if I win, we’ll share it…”

    then, when they won:

    “But Babygirl, it’s MINE! The money was on MY sheet!”

  13. texasholly @ June Cleaver Nirvana

    I have no idea about the ethics of it all but I am concerned over you losing your will to bowl…

  14. Tatiana

    That sounds like such a great fundraiser, honestly :] I hated doing fundraisers in school, especially with having two siblings in the same system so we were all trying to peddle the same crap. I never wanted to call family and friends, although it was mortifying when Miss Perfect Child held top sales for every. single. fundraiser. Just once, I wanted to topple her… but these days I realize it was probably just a crazy soccer-mom-turned-salesperson that had really wracked up all that money.

  15. MomCat

    I LOOOVE my daughter’s new school’s fundraiser. It’s called the “No Hassle Fundraiser.” You write one check at the beginning of the year and you’re done. After eight years of a school that did every fundraiser out there, I am so relieved!

  16. Tina

    I’m going for another potentially ethically squirrelly area and see if perhaps people from the internets (*cough*me*cough) can donate. Perhaps a dollar or two. For the Wii fund?

  17. Nichole

    That’s a terrific fundraiser idea. I don’t have an ethical problem with the kids’ plan, especially if they’re putting the majority of the donations on Chickadee’s page. From what I gathered here, she’s soliciting the donations on Monkey’s behalf anyway.

  18. Megan

    Grrrr… we did that Wrapping Paper Of The Gods (or so you’d think by the price) when in Alaska. Neighborhood stuffed with kids all attending same school; one parent self-employed and thus not in contact with people locally who would take pity; other parent working in a top-security facility where the kids couldn’t even get in the door. Leaving that one parent to what? Guilt up a bunchy of under-paid young people? Oh HELL no. We wrote a check for the approximate amount the kids would have raised (the school profit bit that is). Actually we wrote it for a fair amount more as my Children are extremely bad salespeople.

    Ethics… oh heck I dunno! Actually seems to me that Chickie did all the work and hence should get all the credit/glory but that’s as far as I’m willing to go!

  19. parodie

    I would think that you’re ok, ethically, putting all the money on one form, unless you deliberately attempt to mislead people into thinking that the money will be split between the two.

  20. Asianmommy

    Ugh! I hate it when they expect little kids to sell things. My 2-year-old in daycare was expected to fund-raise for a new play structure. I mean, come on!

  21. Nelson's Mama

    I think Otto has too much time on his hands…

  22. diane

    Regarding fundraisers in general – as a friend (who had four children in little league/baseball clubs for years) once said, she would much rather the school simply ask the parents directly for more cash. Not all kids have the talent/temperment to sell.

    Regarding this instance – call it my overdeveloped sense of fairness (from often being the recipient of less than fair treatment), but I think I’m with Otto on this one. It doesn’t really matter what other families with multiple siblings will do – this is an issue of what you want to teach your kids.

  23. ladybuginak

    I too, hate the fund raising. We did the wrapping paper/crappy baked goods for my son last year, and a “discount card” and crappy baked goods for my daughter. My son also did popcorn and wreath sales for cub scouts. In the spring, he did a “fun run” also, and did really well. He actually ran through the last stages of strep throat! The circle they ran was HUGE though, and it would seem to me, that since you get more money per LAP, you should make smaller laps, and thus raise more money with more laps run in the same amount of time. Just sayin’. Good Luck!

  24. lmerie

    We do the wrapping paper for the Church Choir Trip – ONLY b/c each kid gets what they sell towards the cost of the choir trip next spring, as opposed to going into a big bucket and not sure if the school ever really reaped the benefit.

    I wish the schools would do what Momcat’s has done – one donation – truly no hassle!

    As for Wii – run from all video games!! We did buy a wii due the interaction it supposedly offered. My oldest learned how to box without actually moving more than just his wrist. They traded in all their old games and systems for a X-Box – Major Brain Bleed!!


  25. kate

    Throwing in my $0.02 (toward the We Want Wii fund, of course)… from what you wrote, it sounds like Chickadee did the bulk of the fundraising by bringing home the info, sending out emails, etc. Even if your family members replied by saying “I’ll give $5 to Chickie and $5 to Monkey” — it WAS C. who did the work in the first place. So how is it a lie? If anything, wouldn’t it be misleading to write down funds on M.’s sheet if C. was the one who inspired the donation?

    Also, I realize I’m probably putting an absurd amount of thought into this. Rest assured it’s because I’m at work, and I’m a feckless, lazy procrastinator. The bank would take my house if I “worked” from home like I “work” here!

  26. Nancy R

    They’ll be down on the track
    just workin on their fitness…

    Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.

  27. Trisha

    I love the new fundraiser idea! I always hated those darn wrapping paper fundraisers! This gets the kiddos actively involved. Is it being held on a Saturday or during the school day?

  28. vanessa

    Go for the combining. Just put it on Chickie’s sheet, since as Kate says, sounds like she did the lion’s share of the work.
    Ethics, smethics.

  29. All Adither

    Oh, Otto. Thanks for giving Mir more good blog fodder. ‘Course she could spin fodder out of a lump of cheese. But still.

  30. getsheila

    Hm, teach your kids fair play because it is the right thing to do or teach them life is not fair and people who think outside the box often win, though perhaps to the detriment of those who followed the rules. A dilemma.

    Tim Ferris claims he became National Chinese kickboxing champion by pushing his opponents out of the ring rather than fighting them. True or not, how icky. He feels rather proud about his ingenuity so I guess it comes down to 1) play fair and win or lose on your own merits, or 2) win at all costs.

    Will the kids feel icky if they pool their money and win? What if they pool their money and lose? If they play fair and lose, they have the moral high ground to fall back on. If they play dirty and lose, what does it teach them? To play even dirtier next time or that it doesn’t matter if you play fair or dirty so why follow the rules?

    Perhaps that last lesson is a good one to learn but I personally did not become so jaded until I was AT LEAST fifteen.

  31. Amy

    My daughter’s school does the Joe Corbi’s pizza. And while I love the pizza and so do most of my relatives – I hate having to go pick up 10+ pizza’s and either drive all over delivering them or find a place to store them until I have time to deliver them!

  32. rose

    Not sure if this is an ethical problem. If that were the case, it would seem unfair that all the working parents take their stuff to work and force it on the co-workers or underlings.Or that a paren write a big check sop their kid can win. It happens. The purpose of the fundraiser is to raise funds. You didn’t rob a bank to do so. The school is getting all the money one way or another. and you are strategiclly channeling your funds to optimize your chance of winning. Trust me, other families will do the same.

  33. Flea

    Just do it. :) See. Aren’t I helpful?

    The middle school this year decided to gather everyone’s treasures and sell them on Ebay. We get rid of our unwanted stuff, they make money. We’ll see how it works, but I liked the idea.

  34. wafelenbak

    Personally, I have no ethical issue with the idea and think the kids should be rewarded for their ingenuity and teamwork.
    This is coming from an only child who would have gotten screwed in this particular situation!

  35. Carol

    We have the same dilemma with box tops. Okay, so it’s not a Wii, but they offer prizes or a class party to the class and individual who bring in the most. The kids are not even the ones who purchase the groceries with these special box tops. So why don’t I get a party? I know some families who designate a particular child and only that one child gets to take them in for the whole year. Next year, it’s the other one’s turn.

    Back to your situation, though… what is fair? For your family to have to pony up twice as much because you have 2 kids, or – put another way – your kids’ chance of winning is lessened because they have a sibling with whom they must share donations? Or is it more “fair” or ethical to teach your children teamwork and that their ideas have value. Isn’t that still “winning or losing on their own merit”? If you’ve read the fine print and feel like you are still following the rules, I wouldn’t think twice about combining the money and I wouldn’t consider it playing dirty – go for it.

  36. Pave.Gurl

    Weird: the only time I ever did school fundraisers was in sixth grade, to cover a class trip for kids whose families couldn’t afford the trip costs. I did sell Girl Scout cookies, but that was for troop costs, and we did fund raisers for charities (swear to all that’s holy, St Jude had a GIANT PILE of money from my schools’ amth-a-thons, walk-a-thon, jog-a-thon, and any other -a-thon the human mind can conceive of), by which pledges were gathered and prizes awarded.

    Of course, I was an only child, and the prizes were, like, t-shirts and a back pack. Still though, *we* got excited about them! *laugh*

  37. Theresa

    Okay…When I first read the post, my immediate thought was “No, no, no – They should not pool the money! That is not fair.” HOWEVER, after reading the comments, I have changed my mind. You guys are absolutely correct:

    1) Chickadee did most of the work. It is NOT unethical to allow her the majority of the money on her sheet.
    2) With more than one kid, you really are splitting the money for the effort put out. People with one kid are allowed to put all the money on one sheet for the same amount of work.

    I don’t buy into doing it because “other people probably do it”. Would you jump off a cliff just because everyone else is doing it? Would you rob a bank if everyone else was doing it? Oh…oops!…Sorry. That was my “mommy logic” kicking in. But you know what I mean.

    Anyway, I say put all the money on Chickadees sheet and DON’T LOOK BACK!

  38. Cupcake40

    Ah yes fundraiser time. Our kids is also right at the beginning of the year. I do look forward to it for one reason. Our elementary school’s includes the cookie dough that is already broken down into two dozen cookies, and since I am so busy (lazy) this makes Christmas cookie baking so easy. My daughters’ middle school does magazine subscriptions. That is one I do not look forward to.

  39. Grace

    I’ve got no ethical issue with it. Seems smart to me, and good for your kids for being willing to trust each other/work together.

  40. Jan

    At least wrapping paper is useful for something. I remember having to sell this horrible “stained glass” objets d’art that were really plastic and featured such options as unicorns! and rainbows! and oh gag I could throw up just thinking about them.

    My kids aren’t in school yet (though daycare participated in an MDA Hop-A-Thon last year as part of Disability Awareness Week), but a work friend whose kid is in first grade. They live in a pretty wealthy district, relatively speaking, so this wouldn’t work everywhere, but their PTA actually sends out a letter at the beginning of the year saying, “if everybody donates $125, we won’t have to do fundraisers” and apparently most of the time they don’t have to do fundraisers.

    I’m sitting the fence on the ethics issue.

  41. She-Ra

    This year we got a fundraiser like MomCat… sort of. Attached to the (#*$%( wrapping paper fundraising info was a form that allows for direct donation of money to the PTA and a box to check if we would like to also opt-out of fundraising for the rest of the year with this donation.

    I’m going to do it because I can’t stand selling useless crap and because I despise the environmental ramifications of yet more unwanted useless crap being manufactured and thrown away. Yes, I know people throw it away because my neihgbor sold her house recently and in her junk pile out front was two rolls of SF wrapping paper. And the key holder I bought two years ago – never worked. Useless junk.

    But buying out of fundraising because I can afford it brings other ethical questions to mind. Is it fair for me and my kids to be able to avoid working towards the common good just because we happen to have more money than some of the other families at our school?

  42. Karen

    I’ve started every school year telling the teachers that my children would not be fundraising and that I would be happy to make a donation to the school and the class. This ends up costing me so much less and the school has seen so much more of my money.

  43. C

    I love the way fundraising is handled at my son’s school. There isn’t any! Each family is asked to invest what they can at the beginning of the year. And that is it.

  44. Beth in IA

    It’s so tempting to rant about how education is underfunded and why schools need to do fundraisers in the first place. At PTO last night, a school workday was announced to do needed REPAIRS that didn’t make the district’s budgeted priority list.

    Anyway, I love the Fun Run idea and I’d let my kids combine. In my ethics book, we’re one family, one fundraising team.

  45. Taylor

    I don’t think it’s fair. It puts all of the kids who are only children completely out of the running. Imagine if there was a family with 5 kids and they did the same thing- Chickadee and Monkey couldn’t catch up no matter how hard they workd.

  46. Karen

    Ok, so the way I figure it is, if you have one kid, and they solicit funds for a fun run, they get X amount of dollars from the friends and relatives. If you have two kids, the friends and relatives are going to give only X amount anyway, and that will be split between the two. and so on and so on, so if you had 10 kids, you wouldn’t be getting 10X, you’d still only get X divided by 10.

    So, whether you had 1 kid or 10 kids, the total amount of the donations would still only be X.

    Put it all on Chickie’s sheet, and not even $1.00 on Monkey’s because he did not email or ask anyone for the donations. To me, it is unethical for Monkey to get any of the donation dollars attributed to him, because he did not do the asking for it.

  47. tori

    I say bring the popcorn and buy the candy. Oh wait! Wrong discussion!

    We have 3 kids in school and many times we have been tempted to combine the order forms so one of them could win. We haven’t done it yet because I have this vauge feeling that it might be wrong and I don’t want to teach them wrong things. One year, even without combining orders my daughter won. It was the wrapping paper sale and I believe most people must have just skipped it because she only had about 4 orders on hers (her brother and sister each had 3 and complained like crazy that if I had put the extra nondivisible order on one of theirs, they would have won instead). I won’t offer you advice because I usually divide the orders up evenly on each sheet and turn them in, all the while wishing I was ok with just putting them all on one so my kids could win.

  48. Wendy

    I’m of the “throw it all in one big lump” pile, simply because you will use the Wii as a family so you might as well lump it all together into one “family” pile.

    I abhor fundraisers. My son’s school this year sent a letter home and you had the option to put in $50 or to do the fundraiser. no contest. $50 it is.

    For his softball team we had to sell candybars. I just bought the whole box myself. I’d have rather just given the $25 to the team than have a $10 box of candy I don’t want.

    We did fun-runs and jump-a-thons as a kid and they really were the most fun. I hated the fundraisers as a kid, too, because my mom worked at the school so there was no hope there and my dad worked in a locked down government facility that didn’t allow stuff like that in the door so I never sold anything anyway.

  49. Kate

    Wow! That Otto is a trouble maker. I don’t see the problem with combining forms, as long as both kids actually run the distance. But then, I’m a bring healthy snacks into the theater type, so take it for what it’s worth.

  50. tj

    Wii boxing – the ultimate workout in your own home. It’s wonderful, hopefully one of your munchkins win!

  51. Kemi

    I think Karen makes a good point. I have two kids who do fund-raising, and I split up the stuff-I-don’t-need-but-order-anyway equally between them. Neither of them have won anything more than a cheap rubber bracelet, but it’s better than having them fight over who gets the cheap next-level prize.

    (I’m talking about a dollar-store, fiber-optic hand fan, not a Wii. I would have combined orders had they been anywhere near the 500+ items necessary to win the Wii. As it was, I don’t think either of them made it to 10 items.)

    This year our PTA is doing a no-fuss fundraiser, where they asked for a flat $20/student donation. I paid them an extra $10 as a thank-you for no sales and no deliveries. :)

  52. ~annie

    I may be a Scrooge and a Grinch, but fundraisers are EVIL. Bad enough the school doesn’t have enough money to pay for stuff, worse to lay a guilt-trip on the parents and/or kids. Who btw might not have the funds/friends to meet the (sometimes outrageous) goals set forth. Bah, humbug.

  53. Dayna

    The kids are bringing in the same amount whether they combine their amounts or keep them separate. And since their ultimate goal is to win a Wii, all that should matter is they are trying to raise as much money as possible for their school.

    We just turned in our crappy fundraiser, and since I have three kids in the school now, I bought extra junk to keep them even. I’m a sucker, but whether or not I agree with the fundraiser the PTO chose, I have seen the benefits of the funds they brought into the school. So until I have the opportunity to actually participate in the PTO (they meet right after school on days I work), I’ll support them the best I can even when I don’t like it.

  54. Lori

    Where’s the donate button?

  55. Michelle

    You could always combine the funds, and if you win the Wii, sell it and donate more money to the school but give each of the kids a little chunk for being such good sports.

    Or not. That’s more trouble than it is ethical.

  56. lindsay

    Ya, seriously no one needs crap like overpriced wallpaper. Doesn’t the PTA know that nowadays we all just go on the internet and online shop and select “gift wrap please” at Christmas, and our presents get shipped off to our loved ones without our ever seeing the gift in real life let alone lovingly wrapping it?

    A Wii however, now that is crap that I might actually let into my house. Combine the donations!!!!!

  57. lindsay

    Ha! Overpriced wallpaper. Well we KNOW no one needs that, I meant overpriced wrapping paper. No one needs that crap either.

  58. Jenn

    When I was in school 8 million years ago, we had to sell overpriced wrapping paper, too. In 8 million years, nobody has come up with a better fundraiser?

  59. Wendy 2

    We had to sell overprices wrapping paper a few years ago. Yes, overpriced, but in reality (shocking to me) it was the best wrapping paper I ever bought. Just too dang expensive. Now we are allowed to opt out of selling, and since these fundraisers always come about when we are already selling for Girl Scouts, we opt out and donate instead. We can only sell so much.

  60. mamalang

    We did a walkathon along the same lines. Made some serious money. They still do a crappy stuff fundraiser too, but last year they chose two, and the odd grades sold one for several weeks, then the even grades sold the other. I’m not sure how that turned out, as we bought none of it. We did raise over $50 for the walkathon, and I felt good about that. My girl got a water bottle and small bag for her efforts with the school name on it. All was well.

    I say you can put it all on Chickies. She sent the email, she raised the money, she was just nice enough to include her brother (or risk the wrath of mom). If he had actually done the work to the get the pledges, I would see more of an ethics problem.

  61. Susan

    Since it’s a prize they’d be sharing, I see absolutely nothing wrong with doing it that way.

  62. kat

    I have three thoughts and none of them are original.
    Thought number one, the wiis are awesome. There is nothing like seeing your 70 y.o. father get into downhill skiing or laugh his bum off when someone gets hit in the head with a panda head.

    Second thought, I absolutely dread when my kids are in school and come home with fundraiser sheets. We just bought a discount card to a bunch of crappy fast food restaurants we will never eat at to keep us in the goodwill of neighborhood kids the perfect age to toilet paper my yard.

    Third thought, I don’t really see this as cheating or an ethical dilemma (and not only was I against sneaking food into the theater, that same weekend I yelled at my mother-in-law for trying to bring food into the local zoo.) Like others have pointed out, Chickadee did most of the work and all the money goes to the school anyways. Will it upset any of the friends/relatives who donated if all the money goes on her sheet? If not, go for it. And buy the wii fit and dance, dance revolution to go with your wii.

  63. mama speak

    While ethically it might be not the best lesson, who really raised the money? It seems to me that the lesson can be taught while still doing this.

    Our school does a “giving campaign”…yeah no crap to buy. They ask parents to donate, they give an average amount & you get a year book. They also ask that if you word somewhere w/matching funds to please let them know. So much easier. And we get corporate America to participate. I got the g’parents to do it too, so we could get the company to pony up more too. The only other fundraiser we do is a Halloween Fair/Auction. The Auction consists of “baskets” made up by each class. Parents get local businesses to donate stuff to each basket & they generally have a theme. It’s good stuff, and they make good money on it. Plus the fair you buy tickets for the “games” which are manned by 5th graders. Everyone wins. Even before my kids were in school we went, so it involves the actual neighborhood.

    I still have to buy crappy wrapping paper from my niece & nephew though. That sucks.

  64. Anna

    I think Carol (and others) have a good point- it’s about the total amount from the family, and the total amount to the school.
    If you’re worried about the prize, wouldn’t you combine Chuck E Cheese tickets from both kids to get something off the wall (good stuff) rather than under the counter (cheap stuff)?

  65. Headless Mom

    The prizes around here are usually a trip to Chuck E Cheese. In a limo. During school. Kills me.

  66. Kathleen

    I would split the amount between them based on the amount of work they do, but I wouldn’t put all but $1 of the cash on Chickadee’s sheet because “the work” includes the running, and presumably he’ll be running. From an ethical standpoint, you would need to quantify the value you place on both the pre-work and the running and then allocate the appropriate percentages to them both.

    Which seems like a lot more work than is really called for, but that’s ethics for ya.

  67. sandy

    After thinking about it…it doesn’t seem fair to the kids who don’t have a sibling. I’d say keep them separate. Or….have them allow single kids to double theirs! What a dilema…can’t wait to read what you end up doing.

  68. Sherry

    Do it.

  69. Michele

    We have:
    1. The wrap fundraiser (along with the gifts and baked stuff)
    2. The jog-a-thon
    3. The Halloween Haunt & Silent Auction
    4. The See’s Candy sale (around Spring Break)
    5. The “Educational Foundation” Dinner – at something like $100 per plate.
    6. Each family is “expected to contribute” $365 per child as well. So – $730 for me.

    I have to say – I’m getting a little sick of it. As to the ethical question? Dude. I don’t know. My kids are young enough that they’re excited for the Popsicle at the end.

  70. Debbi

    I see no problem with combining it. You are one family, that is fine! In our school, parents have the kids take turns, this year child 1 does the fund raiser, then next year child 2, etc. Especially some of the families with more than 3 or 4 kids! I like how it shows that they worked together as a family to raise the money.

  71. Katie

    Personally I’d split the donations but then again we already have a Wii so what do I know?

  72. daysgoby

    Yeah, I’m *that* Mom. I call the school, find out what the average is for pledge sheets, wrapping paper sales, dip mix, christmas crappe,etc, and decide what a fair amount is. (Secretary: And sometimes the kids sell 200 dollars worth!
    Me: Ummm. Really? Even the little ones?
    Secretary: – pause – Nooooo. Not the little….um, is this Cass’s Mom?
    Me: I’ll write you a check for forty dollars.)

    I can buy my kids their own plastic crap.

    (Oh, and I’m ON the PTA. They despair.)

  73. Tammy

    While I hate the issues that fundraisers cause, I have to admit that I’m not-so-secretly addicted to the wrapping paper. Heavy! Shiny! Pretty!

    I agree with the few posters who suggested that since C has done the lion’s share of the work, the money should not be split evenly. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pooling your resources to give yourselves the best chance of winning…don’t they teach something like that in business school? ;)

  74. Kaedra

    I’m with Karen: “If you have two kids, the friends and relatives are going to give only X amount anyway, and that will be split between the two. ”

    Add to that the fact that the prize is for the family, not one child.

    I vote for combine them! Teamwork between siblings is a beautiful thing. If this was an idea they came up with on their own, I applaud their ingenuity.

  75. sarah

    I remember when I was in Camp Fire Girls, we had to lug home a cardboard suitcase (not kidding) of various shitty items. Like: potholders! Or festive candy dishes! And, of course, a catalog of wrapping paper. I can still conjure up the distinct smell of that suitcase…

  76. TC

    Are people going to send you checks for this thing? How are you going to make it so that one kid gets most of the money and the other gets the $1? I fear that it will end up being A Problem and you will wind up worrying about Getting Caught.

    Also, I’m a total pathetic Rule-Following Girl, and I have to go with Otto on this one, but I’m hiding behind logical logistical reasons to make myself seem less wussy.

  77. Mom on the Run

    I am with you on the fundraising. My children’s school have a hassle-free program. For $40 I can avoid all plant sales, Market Day, gift wrap, Entertainment Books, etc. It is music to my ears.

    Last year I was quite jaded about our PTA as the Treasurer was sentenced to 3 years for embezzling $30K under the noses of the other PTA officers. What a nightmare! Some of the money was recovered and the Treasurer must pay restitution, but my faith in this organization is shattered.

  78. beth

    Our schools fun-run had a per/quarter mile pledge option, or a flat fee. If it’s just a flat fee, then I’d say unite the forms. My kids always do in the catalog ones — easier for me to manage. After all, I’m often fronting the money for the distant relatives.

  79. StephLove

    Let me guess. The wrapping paper & unhealthy treats fundraiser was Sally Foster, right? I marked the due date for our SF orders is on our calendar with a red stick figure with horns, a tail and a little pitchfork. It made me feel better for a little while.

  80. Dawn

    You lost me after you mentioned the “super special secret move in Lego Star Wars.” I MUST know what it is. My boys play it constantly and I would love to kick their butts just once – umm I MEAN, help them out in a loving motherly way.

    Now I must go wade through the huge pile of fundraiser forms my kids have brought home already, in the nine days they’ve been at school.

  81. Mother OfTwo

    You don’t have a Wii, too?!? I knew I liked you, Mir. I’m truly the world’s WORST mother, because we have NO video game console systems AT ALL. We have a few computer games. That’s it. On a computer that isn’t even connected to the internet.

    The Wii, though. I want a Wii. My 6yo daughter has exhibited a natural aptitude for bowling – beating the pants off three boys and four adults. Aside from the budgeting issue of getting one, I realize it would be a bad idea, ’cause I’d be one fit, broke, non-working from home Mama… um, I meant, I’d never get my KIDS off the thing. Yeah.

    As for the super special secret move in Lego Star Wars, yeah, it’s nearly as exhilarating as the “way ultra cool move that even the GAME DESIGNERS didn’t think of” rope trick in the Lego Indian Jones. And um, by the way, who is your favorite character? (It’s always, “that really cool guy you were using right there when you did that thing”).

    As for ethics, I save the painting and let the people die in the fire.

  82. getsheila

    And speaking of Wii’s, did you know you can add it to your home network and use Orb to stream movies, view pictures, surf the Web, etc? Gotta love that Lifehacker.

  83. Ani

    It’s not cheating since the relatives etc. were responding to one message and you are one family.

    I say pool it in chickie’s name.

  84. crockpot lady

    I’m with Otto. I think it’s good karma. sorry. ;-)

  85. luvinlife

    lmao (laugh my applebottoms off)…Did I not just get my email notice from our PTA about two hours ago for this exact same fundraiser (wrapping paper & cards)? My sentiments exactly!

  86. EZibbets

    I’m with Otto too. Because it’s ethically wrong and because you’re a role model to the kids. It violates the spirit of the contest, anybody can see that. If they wanted families to pool their pledges they would have set it up that way.

  87. Traci in GA

    I say put it all together and consider it a Family donation to the fundraiser. I agree with Jen(?) above. Each family is only going to spend X amount, whether it comes in with one kid or divided amongst 3 kids.

    Our school already did the Fun Run this year and apparently it was a hit and raised alot of money. But, the kids were so hyped up (read: brainwahed) about it they actually thought I was going to let them ask friends/family/grandmas to pledge $5.00 A LAP!!! NOT EVEN! Most, just did a flat donation.
    I do not like fundraisers. I do not want popcorn, crappy chocolate, or overpriced wrapping paper and I do not want to ask other people to buy it. Besides, everyone says, “Sure I’ll take the Chocolate Turtles!”, then they never send their money and I have to write the check to cover it all!!

  88. heidi

    I’ve got to say I’m with Otto on this one. It isn’t just about dividing contributions fairly between Chickadee and Monkey or making sure that the PTA gets their payday, it’s about being fair to the other kids who participate. It seems like pooling money puts those with fewer (or no) siblings at a disadvantage because, even if they’re equally resourceful, they won’t have as many people contributing to the pool. For example, if the Duggar family was part of your district, no other kids would have a chance…ever :).

    But take that for what it’s worth — I am, after all, an only child. Best of luck, no matter what you choose!

  89. LiteralDan

    I’m also a member of the Ethics Police Department, but the Wii is so awesome I might be willing to go off-duty for a little while.

  90. lindasands

    Listen. If your kids DON”T WIN the Wii? I am starting my own fundraiser to get them one- to get you one.
    You deserve it, little Miss Funny Pants.

  91. Nelson's Mama

    Oh Tammy, I’m glad you finally said it!

    I’m addicted to that paper too…

  92. Otto

    See, if Crockpot Lady says it is unethical, I must be right. Only righteous people can conjure the recipes she does …

    As for the “Chickadee did all the work” line, well … yes, she sent one email to all the relatives. In which she said Monkey was doing this, too. But Monkey doesn’t have an email account, so claiming she did “all the work,” which totaled a couple of minutes of typing is … well … disingenuous to me. (Not saying it wasn’t a well-crafted email, just saying it’s not like she was practicing calligraphy and licking stamps for days on end.)

    The responses to the email were “we’ll do $x for you and $x for your brother,” so there was an intent to give separately … but I’ve been told to leave my platform-agnostic ethics at work before, so I’ll shut up now …


    PS – You’re pretty! And you have nice shoes!

  93. getsheila

    See, this is why I like coming here. We may not all agree, but we all go away feeling pretty.

  94. Lucinda

    I know I’m late but I had to think about this one. Many people have already brought this up but I would be willing to be that most donations your kids raise for 2 kids (from the same source) are equivalent to what they would give one kid if you had only one kid. And did Monkey go to an sources Chickie didn’t? If he did, put those on his sheet. The ones that have offered to donate to both kids, put the full amount on Chickie’s sheet.

    Our school does a jog-a-thon too. Last year only my daughter ran (kindergarten) so I made a donation so she could get her shirt. We didn’t ask family. This year thought, son is running too. Will I donate twice as much? Probably not. I will probably split it between the two or just make sure son gets his shirt this year. I haven’t decided.

    Son kind of gets the raw deal. Last year daughter got all the box tops for class contest. This year she will split with son who will never get all of them. So I don’t see a problem with combining for this contest. I’m sure other families will do worse (Like letting parents do all the work and kids doing nothing…trust me.)

  95. bellevelma

    Your son should meet my son and then they could talk about all this Star Wars video game stuff with EACH OTHER and maybe spare our ears. A gal can dream, can’t she?

  96. sillyme

    Many Thanks to Otto for pointing out Crockpot lady. I am in mini heaven. “Jalapeno Corn Pudding” = YUM!

  97. del

    Delayed response to your post I know, but since it is still an issue for you I figured I could add my 2 cents worth. I still remember taking in a ‘Jump Rope for Heart’ fundraiser as a kid. My sister and I decided to join forces and submit our earnings together. If we entered alone we would both win new skipping ropes, but if we entered together we would get a new skipping rope AND a set of double dutch ropes. I was even honourable enough to let my sister claim the double dutch ropes.

    As for current fundraising, we had my school’s art show last week. Entry to the show was a small donation. Each class submitted 2-4 pieces of art that every child had contributed to for the auction. Some of the pieces were selling for upwards of $500, especially those who were in the first or last year of primary school. Everyone had a great night and it was lots of fun.

  98. Cindy Ericsson

    I think it’s totally ethical to combine — your family did the work of soliciting donations (plus the running) and your family will get to enjoy whatever incentive is being offered. If it takes a village to fund education, why can’t it take a village to reap the benefits of said fundraising?

  99. ikate

    Once again Otto’s my man on the ethics front. As one of three kids we all worked on our own fundraisers as kids and never combined sales (we never got individual prizes, though – there were class prizes like a pizza party). I think it’s unfair to others if you combine donations and while Chickie should be commended for thinking about her brother, this doesn’t equate to cheating for a better chance at the prize. The run is an individual event, not a relay race – the fundraising should be the same.

  100. Lori (but really Lorraine)

    I received rolled eyes and a very condescending “I think you have an unrealistic expectation of the public school system,” when I suggested a “No-Sale” fundraiser at my son’s first kindergarten school (perhaps something like a clever pamphlet or specially designed envelope?). Two months later, after transferring to a DIFFERENT public school, we did participate in a “No-sale” fundraiser and raised $18,000. Hmmmm…. fyi – in pre-school we sold SF wrapping paper, Krispie Kreme coupons, frozen food, did walk-a-thons, read-a-thons, and a silent-auction at the end of the year. It was my mom’s idea to just write a check. Thanks, Mom!

  101. Nancy Anderson

    The wrapping paper sale at the school and the popcorn sale with the boy scouts are the bane of my existence. The auction at our school (just to be positive here) is a really winner from a fund raising standpoint for the school, building community among the parents and inspiring the kids to help raise $$ for the school. The most popular items for sale are the parties. These bring together a small set of parents to mingle at someone’s home. I’ve met so many other parents this way. Kids donate services such as “Babysitting on Valentine’s Day” or “Dog Walking for a Week”. No overpriced wrapping paper! Just fun “get to know you” parties and services you need. To sign up volunteers for the Auction we use Jooners.com. See their Popular Planners tab to see several samples of Auction Planners. As an organizer of the event or one of the volunteers it will save you time and a LOT of back and forth emails.

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