Fundraising Forms: Friend or Foe?

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Because I work in the fundraising department at Mabel’s Labels, I thought it would be a great idea for me to volunteer as the fundraising lead for my toddler’s preschool parent council. What I didn’t realize is that not all fundraising programs are created equally. Yes, I’m going to toot our own horn here. Mabel's Labels Fundraising Program is easy with a capital E compared to some of the others I’ve encountered.

As parents, we're busy with our day jobs, raising children, managing a household, taking care of ourselves, remembering and acknowledging birthdays (thank you, Facebook), and taking care of and looking out for our aging parents. Anything else that lands on our plates needs to be straightforward and easy.

Since September, I've coordinated and executed 3 fundraisers for the preschool. Obviously, one of them is a Mabel’s Labels campaign. We have it set as ongoing, so we don’t need to worry about our listing disappearing from the website, and we promote it at key times throughout the school year: August/September for Back to School, November for holiday shopping, February/March for camp season and again in June for summer adventures and travel. This fundraiser is one that I don’t have to manage. The labels sell themselves and the pay-out helps fund programs and activities at the preschool.

But then, there are the other 2 fundraisers. Ugh. Just thinking about them gives me a headache.

Every October, the preschool does the same fundraiser, so I followed suit and did it again. Big mistake. Not only did it take a good 10 or so hours to execute, it was a big pain in the butt! I had to distribute catalogues in person, followed by an email with info and a due date. Then, 2 weeks later, I had to send another email reminding parents of said due date. Then collect the catalogues which had forms attached (those blasted forms!) to which I cross referenced the funds with the orders and then inputted the orders into a spreadsheet. And of course, just as I was about to send the tally, a parent emailed to tell me they had an order they forgot to send in on time. What was I supposed to say? “No cookie dough for you!” So, I added her order to the sheet and submitted everything to the company.

After a sigh of relief, I looked at my dining room table. It looked like I was planning an attack on an arch enemy. Paper forms were splayed across the table in what seemed to be some sort of an order. At least it was at some point. The forms were the worst part of this fundraiser. Deciphering hand writing and calculating quantities while taking scratched out boxes and adjusted numbers into consideration was uber frustrating. Plus, I had to trust that the calculation of each parents order was correct, which I double and triple checked. And then I had to make sure the money collected matched the total calculated from all of the forms combined. Thankfully it did. Whew.

After everything was said and done, I went to bed to dream of sugar cookies and apple pies. Actually, no, I dreamt of being in math class and failing a pop quiz.

The next day I traveled to the home of the treasurer to give her the fundraising funds. After waiting a day or two, I got a cheque made out in the exact amount for the delivery of the orders. Another day or so later, the orders arrived and I had to group the products by student/parent so that they could pick them up without it looking like Target on Black Friday. No one wants to see two grown women fight over a tub of muffin mix, do they?

After all of that, the preschool profited $200 and a bunch of parents got cookie dough, muffin mix and pizza dough they likely didn't need or want.

So, what do I have to say about this fundraising experience?

Fundraising Forms, you are definitely my foe.

You’re a nuisance. Nobody likes you. If I could, I would take a match to you. Burn baby, burn.

But, for a lot of fundraising programs, this is the way it is. It’s the way it’s always been. I’m not sure if it’s a case of if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, or if it’s a lack of enough funds to create a more efficient way of doing things. All I know is, I will be speaking up next year when the parent council suggests this fundraiser again. I think it’s time to try something different, or at the very least look for a company that includes online orders as part of a fundraiser. Kind of like what we do here at Mabel’s. It’s all online and as the lead for that fundraiser, I don’t have to worry about collecting money, tallying orders or reviewing forms. With Mabel's Labels it's easy. Thank goodness!

Picture of Diane Morris

Author: Diane Morris

Diane Morris is a lover of country music, peanut butter, romance and Disney. She’s a Mom of 1, and thinks parenthood is one of the coolest clubs to be a member of. During the day she can be found at Mabel’s Labels as the Sales & Fundraising Coordinator, and in the evening she’s typically playing with cars, Play-doh, dinosaurs or Lego with her son. Diane recently moved to a small town and owns a home with an acre of land where she, her hubby and their kiddo can run around and play.

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