Closed September 2017

Yes, You CAN Buy Time…

Checkbook It's fundraiser season again… time to buy your school's gift wrap, your scout's popcorn, and your football team's coupon books. We all wish this would be unnecessary, but it appears to be here to stay. Think about it, though– what is your personal time worth to be handling these sales and deliveries with your child? Would you be better off just writing a personal check to the organization instead and dispensing with the whole ordeal? Spending some time cuddling up with your child eating popcorn rather than walking around the block delivering it?

My children's school has successfully done the "No Hassle Fundraiser" for several years. They say, basically, "Yes, we could make you sell gift wrap or magazines or candy, but you don't want to do that, do you? Why don't you just write us a check and we'll forget the whole thing." And I HAPPILY write that check. My kids have not sold anything as fundraisers for a long time. Everyone is very happy about this approach because they value the time savings, and not selling this stuff to each other means LESS CLUTTER too.

I really encourage people to look at the value of their time and be selective about spending it! Sometimes it absolutely makes sense to trade dollars for more time, outsourcing tasks like oil changes and lawn-mowing, for example. But think about it even for things you think you "have to" do, like the school fundraisers. This "How Much Is Your Time Worth?" calculator from allows you to plug in your own information to find the actual value of your leisure time by the hour. If you are a stay-at-home-mom, use this Mom Salary Wizard calculator to find the value of the ten+ jobs you are doing!

Whether or not you come up with an actual number per hour, remember that you can always get more money, but you can NEVER get more time. If you waste it, it's gone. It is the most precious commodity we have. What other obligations could you make disappear with a smart decision? Share your thoughts in the comments! (Thanks so much to Anne for this blog idea!)

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Misty Mays

I agree totally I outsource a lot of my work because it is more effective for me to have someone else do the work while I focus on thngs I must attend to.


Our school does the same thing – “Buy Nothing, Sell Nothing” – and I love that we don’t have to go door to door and beg people for money 🙂


Why does the time spent fundraising have to be a chore? Why can’t it be viewed as a learning experience? The time spent fundraising can still be bonding time.
I believe fundraising teaches kids many skills they will need later in life…how to recognize product advantages (selling points), how to meet and communicate with people they don’t know, basic argument and debate skills that help them sell, how to organize their time and materials for a successful sale, some basic accounting…and it increases their pride and “team spirit” in their school, function or group. I think fundraisers are something they should participate in at least once a year. (For that reason I also don’t believe the parents should help them sell by taking order forms to work, etc. to gather orders without the child present — it’s the CHILD who is supposed to be learning something.)
It seems that you get out of something what you put into it. I think writing a check in lieu of fundraising might deliver the message that it’s okay to take shortcuts to skip life’s lessons.
Though I understand this wasn’t your entire point, I still wanted to post this comment.

Adryenn Ashley

Love this! We do it too but I never figured out how awesome it was until I remembered working at a large corporation and every fall all the parents would send around the signup sheets. Thanks for this!


Thank you for this! I totally disagree with the idea that making kids sell stuff is some how a great life lesson. I’ve always thought it was more like child abuse. Some folks might think that is too strong a comparison but as a child who had to sell things for their school, it was a HORRIBLE experience for me.
Everytime I go to the store and see these young children in the door ways selling candy bars, apples, whatever, with their parents hovering near by, I have always wanted to go to the parents and ask them – “Why don’t you just give the money to the school and save your child this agony? Really, how much are they realistically making? Don’t you have better things to do with your precious time on a Saturday afternoon? Do you really think it is a good life lesson to be constantly ignored or turned down by all the adults who just want to go shop without having a guilt trip placed on them on the way in?”.
And I also disagree with the idea that fundraising teaches kids they have to work for something. I think it teaches them that if you want to do something, then others are obligated to pay for it. Because we know most people buy whatever the kids are selling not because they want that thing, but because they want to help the kids or are guilt tripped in to it.
Thanks for letting me vent as this topic has always bugged me!


I have to say, I agree with Nikki. But I like the way scouts do it rather than the way the schools do it. In scouts, the leaders make it an event, and it’s teamwork so you’re not feeling so alone and pressured.
Any business person needs to be able to come out of their shell and communicate with people. Starting early will make them more comfortable. It makes the school experience easier for the kids too.
What kind of lesson are we teaching when everything is too much trouble?
I think so many of our problems stem from trying to find a way to not do things – clean the house, cook, get rid of clutter, oh any number of things. While many people are legitimately that busy, most people are just looking to make more TV time.


Here, here. I totally agree with you. In fact our PTA committee has actually discussed changing from fundraisers to just asking for donations to certain items needed for the children. I would be all for that.

Liz Jenkins

I did exactly this last month. My daughter’s school was doing a “fun run”. Yeah, fun for the kids but not for the family to hound people to sign up to sponsor it. I emailed the teacher and explained that I was sending in a donation to cover it, and that I would volunteer on the day. But I just do not have the patience or the time to do these things. I’d rather take that time to spend with my family, see clients or walk the dog.


This is a great article with a lot of great comments. I think both positions are valid and it would be best for schools, groups, and organizations to recognize that and work with families on both sides. As can be seen by the variety of comments, some kids and families make fund raising an event and others see it as a huge imposition.
I’ve seen both positions first hand in working with groups who wish to hold a popcorn fund raiser with our company That’s why we created our non-traditional program. You can read about our program for Breast Cancer Awareness at the American Cancer Society
There are always people who want to buy things for themselves and gifts for others. That being the case, why not use that as an opportunity for giving also?
We give the group a code which the group distributes to its constituents (families, friends, employees). The code becomes a regular part of school communications to keep it on everyone’s mind. When someone makes a purchase on our website and enters that code, a portion of the purchase price is remitted to the group.
Besides regularly letting people know about the code, the group does nothing and collects fund raising money. We sell a well-liked and desired consumable product – caramel corn and other popcorn products – so there’s no clutter involved. It’s easy to buy gifts and have them mailed to family and friends anywhere. And the group collects something on each transaction.
Another nice thing about it is that it can be ongoing. Because the stress of selling and grouping orders isn’t there, there’s no reason for it to last only a couple of weeks. It can go year round.
The only drawback for the group is that there’s less direct control over the process (no high pressure in-person sales) and, typically, the profit margin is going to be lower because we aren’t getting a large batch order that we can process and ship to one place.
It’s not the absolute solution to every fund raising need but it is a great supplement and can take some of the pressure off the group raising every last dollar through direct sales.
And it doesn’t have to be a popcorn fund raiser. It’s also a type of program that groups can set up easily with local merchants – like restaurants. Tell them you’ll be sending customers there and would like to have a donor relationship with them.


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