Mom Discourages Daughter from Participating in ‘Unfair’ School Fundraiser, School Demands a Meeting

When Reddit user hypeipemommy’s eighth-grade daughter approached her about participating in a school fundraiser, she wanted to make sure her child knew exactly what she was getting into. Sound advice for anyone starting a new business, right? But after doing some research together, the two made some disappointing discoveries.

Like the school fundraisers many of us grew up taking part in, the one the OP’s daughter wanted to join is facilitated by an outside company, and would have kids earn money for their school by selling the company’s products to family or going door-to-door. The sales would earn the students points that they can redeem for prizes, the OP mentioned in the post, which appeared in the Parenting subreddit.

“My daughter was super excited about this, mainly because of the prizes. But I had my concerns,” she wrote. “I told her she could participate only if she sat down with me and did the math to know what she was getting into. As one should at the start of any new business venture. She agreed.”

Together, they did some thorough research, and found out that the school would only get about half of the money from the sales, and her daughter’s time was valued at under a dollar an hour. The mom broke it down further by factoring in the prize incentive. “If she raised $100, we estimated the school would get $52, the company would get $44 and her prize would be about $4 worth,” she wrote.

Realizing this, the OP said her daughter thought it was “unfair” that her school wasn’t getting more from the fundraising.

“I told her that her time and her labor is valuable, she shouldn’t have to accept working without fair pay. It’s up to her what she considers fair.”

Her daughter, who was “blown away by how unfair things were,” asked the OP to send her the Excel spreadsheet where they did the math and had links to their research, so she could show her classmates. The mom felt proud of herself. “She’s always been the type to complain ‘When am I ever going to use this?’ about math, so it was amazing seeing her understanding applied math and explaining it to her friends.”

However, the spreadsheet was eventually passed around the entire grade, and got the attention of teachers. One of them called her and told her that her daughter was trying to convince people not to participate in the fundraiser, that she was “overstepping” and that her child was disrupting the school.

Now the mom has a meeting with the school, and she’s seeking advice on how to approach it because the situation has grown into something much larger than she expected. “I want to stand by the fact that these kids do deserve to be able to make informed decisions. But I’m also worried I would be overstepping; I only meant this as a lesson to my daughter and never meant for it to spread to the whole grade.”

Many in the comments section felt the mom did the right thing by working out the numbers with her child, and suggested ways the OP could respond to the school.

User jt368 wrote that the OP taught her daughter some valuable lessons. “Fundraisers usually make no sense if you do the math, but schools and teams do them to avoid tacking on more fees. Ask them to provide a donation/fee option where people can give percent of their money to whatever the cause is. It’s really too bad no one in admin took the time to crunch the numbers and realize sending kids out to hawk garbage makes no sense.”

“OP is a good parent and teaching the value of time is important,” commented Redditor linuxhiker. “My response to the school would be, ‘As educators you should be educated in the cost->benefit analysis you are asking my child to participate in.’ And remember, it isn’t just your child’s time, it is yours as well.”

User shirazdude told the OP that her efforts have “inspired” many and that she’s made a “real difference.” However, the commenter advised that she do some “damage control.” “I suggest you get other parents onboard with you, and make a point that everyone has learned something here, and you are all on the same side (right?)—that of the children. And maybe after this realization, it’s time to do fundraising differently,” the Redditor wrote.

User softnmushy, meanwhile, pointed out that there are non-monetary benefits that make school fundraising worthwhile, writing, “Kids going door-to-door can be really useful experience. Lots of kids have zero experience having adult conversations with people they don’t know. Also, kids can’t donate $50 or $100 to the school. But this allows them to put some work directly into helping their school. This builds habits of generosity and volunteering. Which are extremely important for the community. And it can also be helpful for adults. Fundraisers where parents sell stuff to each other helps build social networks that might not otherwise exist.”

And user Sang_dirty_old_town told the OP that she shouldn’t back down. “Your daughter deserves to know what she’s making and learning someone is taking advantage of her is an incredibly important lesson. I would have hopes that her school would have taught her that, but clearly their interest is in being the ones who take advantage. Stick to your guns and tell the school that you’ll publicize it to everyone. They shouldn’t be taking advantage of students.”

We’ll look out for updates on how the meeting went!

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