School finally is in session (a cheer goes up from summer-weary parents everywhere), but now that students and staff are back in the building, it’s becoming obvious that some of the equipment is in serious need of repair. The band uniforms are threadbare, the computers are outdated, and the playground slide is one bolt away from liability status. It’s time to start fundraising.
In years past, that would mean that President Marjorie Meanswell and her PTA posse would light the lights, haul out the table decorations and throw some whiz-bang gala event. They’d enlist a healthy host of sponsors, gather silent auction items and find a caterer who could produce fabulous food on a less-than-fabulous budget. The word would go out, and everybody who was anybody would show up at the appointed time in glittered apparel, checkbooks in hand.
Alternately, students would be recruited as a door-to-door sales force, mustered forth at a school assembly where, with great fanfare, they would be told that if they sold $100,000 worth of chocolate bars, they would win a 6-inch stuffed teddy bear that plays “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head.”
Now, sadly, with COVID numbers spiking higher, those efforts may be ill-advised. But here’s the good news: even without sequins or DJ’s or a litany of “Hi, Mr. (insert name here), I’m raising money for …,” school coffers can be quickly brought to overflowing.
Think about it. The whole point of fundraising activities is to persuade people to give you money. As long as their check-writing arms are still functioning, they can pass money on to you with no gala effort at all.
Now, maybe it wouldn’t be as much fun – for some people – but there’s a contingency out there who are (I know this is hard to imagine) gala averse, people for whom the phrase “please just send a check” would bring untold joy. Or maybe you’re one of those on-the-fence people who kind of like going to the gala but dislike all the work that goes into it. And boy, howdy, a lot of work goes into it. Even if you manage to dodge Ms. Meanwell’s organizing summons, you will be asked to buy and sell tickets. You’ll be asked to contribute to the class auction basket. You’ll wind up buying a new dress and securing a babysitter, who will also want a check. While at the gala, you’ll dutifully buy some unrelated basket (or even your own) filled with things you probably would have already purchased if you really, really wanted them.
A lot of parents weren’t all that excited about the student sales bit, either. All those friends and family phone calls, all the pickup and delivery? None of it was fun. One friend pointedly told her daughter she would buy her a 12-inch teddy bear and promise to sing the song of her choice upon command if she would please, please not participate.
Jeans days, T-shirt sales, raffle tickets – all these things have been billed as a necessary evil of underfunded education, but are they really? Right now, there are parents out there who are pleading with the administration, “What would it take to make all this go away? Give me a number. I’ll write you a check.”
Writing the check. That’s the bottom line that keeps the school bottom line afloat. And we can still do that.
The band needs uniforms, computers are outdated, the playground slide is one bolt away from liability status. The answer this year is simple: just write a check.