Saturday, October 15, 2011

A "Why I love teaching middle school" Moment: Adventures in Fundraising



Part of running a band program in middle school is being able to successfully hold fundraisers.  In my school district, we are allotted a certain amount of money every year, but it is not nearly enough to cover all of our expenses.  It also comes with many ridiculous strings attached:

-The money may not be used to purchase music or pay for festival/audition fees.
-All items bought online must have state sales tax added (effectively giving back 7.5% of what was allotted).
-The money is not given to us until near the end of August.
-The money must be spent completely by the end of January or it is reclaimed by the district.


                                                                        earcraftmusic.com
So if this happens to you in February, you're on your own.


So as you can see, a good fundraising program is a must.  At the middle school level, this can be a complete nightmare.  Getting 11-14 year old kids to go out and sell a product, collect the money, and keep track of everything can often be met with disastrous/hilarious results.   Sometimes, however, a student can manage to pull off  a sales feat that even make a used car dealer would nod his or her head in approval.

Every year, my band does a fundraiser with Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.  When we begin, I explain to the kids that even though we are selling the doughnuts at a slightly higher price than customer could find at a store ($6 for a dozen glazed, $7 for a dozen variety),  the customer isn't just paying for the actual product.  We are also selling guilt rationalization. 

Doughnuts are terrible for your health.  Just 1 glazed doughnut has approximately 200 calories and 12 grams of fat.  For this reason, myself and many other adults will walk by the doughnut display in the grocery store, look at them wistfully, avert our eyes, and carry on with our shopping.

However, when a child comes to the door offering to sell doughnuts for a band program, I know that I must do all I can to help that student's education.  Eating a dozen doughnuts in one day may slightly shorten my life, but I am more than willing to martyr myself for such a good cause.


                                                                                   examiner.com
This is for the children


One of my best students, Francesca, was one of the many students in my program last year that sold this delicious product to help the band program.  However, at the end of the fundraiser when we got Francesca's order former and collection envelope, the numbers were completely off.

Now don't get me wrong; middle school kids can easily mess up the counting and collecting part of fundraising.  But not only was Francesca one of the smartest students that I had ever taught, but the way the sheet was labeled and the disparity in money collected to amount ordered just didn't make any sense.
A band parent volunteer and I looked over the sheet repeatedly.  Suddenly, it dawned us what had happened.

Francesca somehow managed to convince people to buy just 1 doughnut....for $6-$7 a piece!


                                                                              malaysiabest.net
I was unaware that two of our doughnut options 
were "Sprinkles" and "Laced with Crack."


Also, keep in mind that since this was a fundraiser, people weren't going to get the doughnuts immediately.  After placing their order and paying Francesca's exorbitant prices, they would have to wait almost 2 weeks to have them delivered.  This girl was clearly a master of sales and marketing.

Once Francesca came to pick up her doughnuts and we had sufficiently made fun of her, we were able to fix the orders.  I can only imagine her customers' delight when they discovered that they were getting way more doughnuts than they had anticipated.

Fundraising with middle school kids can end up being a logistical mess, but it's hard to get mad at a kid that is able to pull off something like this.  Francesca is the type of kid that will be amazing at anything that she decides to do, but the world better watch out if she decides to go into sales.


She will make people think that this is a good deal.