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A Handy Fundraising FAQ, From A Band Parent

A Handy Fundraising FAQ, From A Band Parent

By Mir Kamin

The clocks have changed; the days are getting colder; before you know it, my kid will show up on your doorstep, trying to win you over with a nervous smile as she delivers her speech about how she’s selling fruit for her marching band. Listen, I know that fundraising is annoying. I know that a teenager on your doorstep asking for money isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time (trust me, I really know) (though mine usually prefer to beg for money in the kitchen, at home). I just thought that maybe we could clear up any questions you may have and save everyone some time.

This kid lives in my neighborhood? How come I don’t recognize her?
Yes, she lives right here in our neighborhood. No, you may not have seen her recently. Know why? Because for the last four months or so, she’s spent an average of twenty hours/week rehearsing or performing with the band. That’s on top of a demanding course load at school and other activities and commitments. I barely recognize her, myself. Trust me when I tell you that there isn’t a kid who does this who isn’t truly committed, because it is a huge chunk of their lives and time taken up for a third of the year.

You’re letting her walk around all by herself?
She’s old enough to drive (though she doesn’t have her license yet); I really think she can handle tromping around the neighborhood on her own. I’m not a helicopter mom.

Wait, how come I saw you and a little dog waiting out on the street, though?
Sometimes it’s a beautiful day and Licorice wants to go for a walk, is all. And sometimes my kid is so grateful for the company, we have fun hanging out together while she’s canvassing the neighborhood. She doesn’t need us there, sometimes we just tag along.

What is the proper response when a kid knocks at my door and tries to sell me something?
Personally, I hope you’d be kind to her, at the very least. If you buy something, fantastic—she really appreciates it! But I don’t believe that’s a requirement, or anything. On the other hand, hearing someone yell, “There’s someone at the door!” inside the house and then no one ever opens the door doesn’t give anyone (much less a kid) warm fuzzy feelings. Open the door and hear the kid out. Slamming the door mid-explanation is rude no matter how you look at it.

Why should I buy something from your kid?
In a perfect world, fundraising would be unnecessary. In an almost-perfect world, neighbors would see a local kid working her butt off and selling something most of us eat, anyway, and think to themselves, “I enjoy fruit and also want to support youth and the arts in my community in some small way. This is perfect!” Perfection is a long way off, so how about you should buy something because you’re nice and it’s good karma?

Isn’t this fruit kind of overpriced?
Yes. Yes, it is. That’s because it’s a fundraiser, and if the price was cheap, the kids wouldn’t make any money. (Here my son would add a grandiose, “Math!! How does it work?“)

Is this fruit organic? Ethically grown and harvested?
Ummm… well… did I mention this is for the kids…?

What do they need this money for, anyway? Doesn’t the district have a budget and don’t the kids pay fees?
Marching band is expensive, and the district’s budget covers things like the band director’s salary, but not a whole lot else. We pay our dues every year and I always assumed that’s what most other band families did, but that’s because I’m sort of dumb. Turns out, we live in a very poor district and less than half (like, way less than half) of the kids ever actually pay their dues. Whether they’re incapable or just unwilling, who knows. Our director holds the belief that non-payment of fees is a parental issue, so he doesn’t kick kids out when that happens. (This is just one of the many reasons he’s awesome.)

This money covers things like payments to auxiliary staff, competition fees, instrument purchasing/maintenance/repairs, travel, and uniform cleaning. If you don’t think this stuff is important, you have clearly never been hugged by a kid who just marched a full show… in a polyester uniform… in Georgia… in August. (Translation: The money is for uniform cleaning. Thank God.)

Isn’t there another way to raise money that doesn’t involve door-to-door?
Well, sure. This is just one way the band raises funds. I’ll confess, I’m the sort of meanie-pants who believes it’s character-building for my kid to have to participate in the realities of keeping a club like this solvent, even if it’s just a few weeks out of her year where she has to do it. But understand that this comes from someone who frequently works an 8-hour day while homeschooling a kid and then heads out to work another 6 hours in our band’s concession stand before/during/after a football game. And then when someone walks up and says, “Two dollars for a soda?” like it’s a crime against humanity, I reply, “Yep, two dollars for a soda, because it’s for the kids. Thank you so much for supporting our band!”

Do you have any fruit-selling highlights to share from this year?
But of course!

Worst: One day before the fruit sale started, we ran into a neighbor we’d never met before and ended up having a lovely chat. It was mentioned that the fruit sale was coming up, and she said, “Oh, yes, definitely come by! I’d love to buy some fruit from you!” She told us which house was hers and was a real sweetheart. Come fruit sale time, her husband answered the door and refused to even look at the flyer. Nice.

Best: Another neighbor very apologetically explained that he’d already purchased fruit from one of his students in the next county over, where he teaches. My daughter thanked him for his time and started back down to the road. A few seconds later, he opened the door and told her to wait; it turned out that his wife wanted to know if we lived on their street. We do, and when she heard that, she told my kiddo to come back the next evening and she’d buy something. Well, the next night she invited her in, made a couple of quick phone calls, and then ordered a boatload of fruit as a group order she’d taken from her coworkers. How kind and amazing was that?

Okay, fine. I get it. What should I order?
The grapefruits are delicious, and not that much more expensive than from the supermarket if you’re willing to buy a whole case of ’em. That’s what we buy. The tangelos and navel oranges are also reputed to be yummy. Personally, I’d skip the apples (apples from Florida?), but to each their own.

Thank you for supporting our band (and for being nice to my kid).

Published November 5, 2013. Last updated July 15, 2017.
About the Author

Mir Kamin

Mir Kamin began writing about her life online over a decade ago, back when she was a divorced mom trying to raise two regular little kids and figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now ...

Mir Kamin began writing about her life online over a decade ago, back when she was a divorced mom trying to raise two regular little kids and figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now her life looks very different than it did back then: Those little kids turned into anything-but-regular teenagers, she is remarried, and somehow she’s become one of those people who talks to her dogs in a high-pitched baby voice. Along the way she’s continued chronicling the everyday at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, plus she’s bringing you daily bargain therapy at Want Not. The good news is that Mir grew up and became a writer and she still really likes hanging out with her kids; the bad news is that her hair is a lot grayer than it used to be.

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