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Avoiding Fundraising Fatigue: The Frugal Mom's Guide to Making a Difference

Posted: 08/01/2012 6:42 pm

For Women & Co., by Karen Bantuveris, founder & CEO of VolunteerSpot

Don't let the never-ending cycle of school fundraisers get you down this fall season! We all know fundraisers are important for supporting our cash-strapped schools and funding necessities like technology, field trips, art supplies and playground equipment. While most parents genuinely want to help, fundraisers can stress family budgets and quickly become overwhelming. In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by Women & Co. and Parenting.com, half of moms say that the level of parent participation required in school fundraisers is becoming a burden. Here are some simple strategies for avoiding family fundraising fatigue, supporting your school and having more fun with your family in the process!

Pick and Choose
Call a family meeting and make a list of all your upcoming fundraisers and volunteering demands -- from school and the other activities your kids are involved in (sports, Scouts, etc.). Set a budget for your family (or per child) then pick and choose the activities you want to support. For groups like schools that have several fundraisers coming up, think more in terms of your family's overall giving goals than participating in every single activity. Let your kids know ahead of time that you're sitting out the cookie dough sale this time, but will be participating in the school carnival and walk-a-thon.

Give of Your Time
If supporting your school with a check isn't in the cards this year, that's okay! You can share your time, talents and coordination skills as an event volunteer or as the room mom, helping get the fundraising word out to class parents and encouraging participation!

Get Connected
Carnival, sporting events and auction planning teams are always looking for creative contributions. Do any of your friends or family have extra sports and event tickets that can be donated to the auction or raffle? Do you have connections at local restaurants, spas or merchants who may be able to offer in-kind donations? Take advantage of your connections and support your school at the same time.

Be Practical
Join the school fundraising committee and get creative when it comes to choosing product fundraisers -- consider selling items that parents actually need and want to purchase. Trending fundraising products include luxury bed linens, fair-trade coffee, reusable grocery bags, science kits and garden supplies.

Go Big on FUNdraisers
Participate generously in your school and team "community-building" activities like carnivals, walk-a-thons and BINGO and movie nights. Invite your neighbors, extended family and friends to join you, and consider buying extra tickets for families who may not be able to afford it. Not only will your whole family have a ton of fun, you'll be helping raise money for a worthy cause!

Be Bold -- Organize!
Offer to coordinate the event volunteers and use VolunteerSpot as your secret weapon to save time (and stress) in the process. VolunteerSpot is a free and easy online signup sheet tool that makes it a snap to schedule, sign up, and remind volunteers. It can be used for almost anything -- school carnivals, walk-a-thons, concession stands, book fairs and holiday boutiques -- and no one has to know how easy it was for you to set it up!

Keep the Conversation Going
As fall passes, fundraising obligations may slow down, but they won't go away; as long as budgets stay tight there will be more needs in the spring and next year as well. Talk to your friends and family in other communities about their most successful school fundraisers and share ideas with your parent groups.

Whether you choose to work the duck pond booth at the school carnival, organize the book fair or buy a few tubes of wrapping paper, don't overextend your family's fundraising efforts this year. Have fun and know your time and resources are both appreciated and making a difference to your school and community.

About Women & Co.:
Women & Co.®, a service of Citibank, is the go-to personal finance source for women. Women & Co. delivers financial content with sharp, insightful commentary and a female point of view. Sign up for free at womenandco.com.

 
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