It’s that time of the year again where every child in our school system does the same fundraiser at the same time. I am fairly new to the coupon book sales game. Last year was my oldest daughter’s first year in school, but this year, her sister started too, so I had to lay down the coupon book law. Why do I have to lay down the law you might ask? Well, because every week there are incentives for how many books you sell. So, I had the talk, you know, the one where you carefully discuss all the incentives and let them thoughtfully think and choose which one they would like. So we talked, they chose, and we moved on with life.
My daughters saw others making cute coupon book sales videos on social media, so they made one too, but gone are the days where you can go door to door selling coupon books. Not necessarily because of safety, but because there are thousands and thousands of children also selling the same product at the same time, so the chances someone doesn’t already have a connection to the school system is slim.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I adore my child’s school and will always do anything I can to support their staff, administration, and students, but after seeing a few people post on social media about coupon book sales, I wanted to address the pros and cons of two main issues: fundraising and incentives.
I understand that a lot of people think: come on, is this the ONLY thing we can think of for a fundraiser year after year? One might think that after all this time, we could come up with something else. I am not here to agree or disagree, but I do have some thoughts. From my experience as a volunteer at schools, youth sports programs, etc., there are a lot of people who want to complain, but don’t want to help. Schools and programs can’t do much when only a few people are willing to help. The coupon book program has proven to be a very successful fundraiser, so why fix what isn’t broken? Do I think maybe each school could come up with a fundraiser on their own, switch it up and do something different from other schools at different times? Of course! But, are you going to help with it? Or are you not going to? Unfortunately, it appears to always be a lose-lose situation. If you have an idea that would work, try taking it to your school administration or PTA/PTO and see if you can make it happen!
I have two children and when I looked at all the fun sales incentives they offered, it made me sad that they might not get to participate in all of the incentives. I knew I wasn’t buying the amount of coupon books it would require for both of them to do all the activities, so I let them choose. Each of my daughters chose one for an event within the next week or two, even though the first incentive was the next day. When we were talking after school, they said something about recess and the snow cones some kids got. I asked, “Did you get one too?” curious to see their response, and they said “NO! Because you didn’t send the coupon book money!” I reminded my daughters of our agreement and what they chose, and they quickly remembered and agreed they thought their choice was way better than a snow cone, and remained excited about it.
Was I sad they might have felt left out for a moment? Absolutely; but I also saw it as a huge teaching moment in two ways: an opportunity to really put yourselves out there and to learn that we don’t always get everything we want.
I told my kids that if they wanted more incentives, they would need to sell more books. I told them I could help them walk to some neighbors’ houses, call family members, or help them make their social media campaign videos. We agreed we would do our best to sell as many books as we could to support our school, but it wasn’t going to be handed to them. We also talked about not always getting everything we want and how that is ok. I told them that there would be kids getting to go out for the other incentives they chose or earned. I think communicating with our children and educating them about exactly how it works, carries a lot more weight than we think. When they are prepared for what to expect, they don’t have the opportunity to be as disappointed.
Overall, I think if you don’t want to participate, and you and your child agree you can go to Target and pick out a better prize for less, do it! But, I do think the schools are trying to do the right thing to have fun opportunities to celebrate those who are helping them. I would encourage anyone who has a better idea or better way to incentivize the students to take those ideas to the people in charge and see if you can come up with a creative way for your school to do it differently!
In conclusion, I see both sides to the issue. I don’t have the right answer or all the right ideas. I do know that our school system and its staff and administration need us more now than ever; they need to feel supported and loved. We need to teach our children to be kind and respectful and to give back when we can. I know it can be frustrating during a time where money is tight or when asking for coupon book money is the last thing you want to do after a long day at work, but it’s only for a season.