School fundraisers have become more important over the last few years as federal, state and district funding of basic education and school activities has been reduced. Consequently, more schools and groups are holding multiple fundraisers and in some cases competing for dollars.
As a parent and former educator I am concerned about the impact of the increased pressure to raise funds on the culture and atmosphere of the school. Fundraising is a billion dollar industry which holds little regard to the health of the student, family or community. One must ask the question, what are we teaching our children and families through our current fundraising practices? Currently, my neighborhood school is raising funds by selling cookie dough and promoting McDonalds coupons. Not that I do not like cookie dough or the occasional Big Mac, but at one point does the overall health of the student outweigh the needs for funds.
One of the growing trends over the last few years has been Green or Eco Friendly Fundraising solutions. These programs sell green products such as reusable water bottles, reusable bags, and fair trade products. This is a step in right direction as the products send an educational message to the home and promote positive actions like recycling, waste reduction and the use of reusable products. In some cases these green or eco friendly fundraisers are connected to the school curriculum.
Another type of green fundraiser which has become popular again is the walk-a-thon, or a fund variation, dance-a-thon. These are great activities which promote personal health and increased awareness for the bodies need to exercise. Communities often like this type of fundraiser as well as most people really do not want a tub of cookie dough or overpriced wrapping paper.
It will take time to change the culture of the school fundraiser, but the shift is happening around the country. The next time you are able to influence how a group raises money, consider the true impact of the fundraiser on the entire community and consider a green or eco friendly fundraiser for your group.