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Popcorn Ma’am?

I despise fundraising. Absolutely positively loathe it. From the magazine sales events at schools to the branches of a tree somehow worth ridiculous amounts of money simply because somebody made them into a circle and threw a couple bows or berries in the mix. I would rather someone bring a bucket door to door and ask for money than hock extraneous items in an attempt to disguise the begging. I don’t need junk food and I don’t need wreaths or fabulous kitchen gadgets or 10 different magazines that all tell me how many more projects and crafts I need to find time for. I don’t need any more stuff, and I don’t have money for the stuff.

Even fundraisers such as doing jobs for payment and rummage sales, while slightly more redeeming, still grate on my nerves. The imposed obligation with all its pressure to step up and help the youth is tremendous. There are a great many of us that simply don’t have the extra cash flow. If I am choosing whether to put dinner on the table or help fund someone else’s child for YW camp or scout badges, I’ll choose dinner on the table. I don’t like feeling guilty for that. I do accept responsibility for my own feelings, but there are contributing factors and it makes me want to run for the hills. I have a hard enough time paying for all the things my own children are involved in.

Here’s a thought; we stop asking for money. If you want to run programs either fund them equally across the board, or have each family be responsible for their own children. 

What about compassion? What about those less fortunate who’s participation in scouts/young women’s camp is dependent on the generosity of others? Every unit has members with a little extra. Take it to a local level and let each unit be as rich as it wants with anonymous donations made through the “other” section on the donation slip. We pay our tithe. We give as generously as we can and then some for fast offerings, because we feel the Lord wants us to sacrifice in this way. We give a trifle to a couple of areas we feel inspired to do so. I am tired of feeling the obligation and impending guilt of fundraising as a part of “offerings” or membership responsibilities.

I’d rather chip in twenty bucks here and there when I have it than dread the knock at the door, mass e-mail, phone call, or worse yet urging over the pulpit. Ugh!

{ 22 comments… add one }

  • jennycherie May 1, 2013, 4:55 am

    I completely understand the dread of the fundraiser. I have four children who each attend a different school (with each having its own fundraiser(s)), plus attend a special program one day each week (with its fundraiser), plus we have one child who is in band which requires yet another parent group with multiple fundraisers. Then we have Scouts and YW – each allowed one fundraiser per year. And the dozens of strangers that come by our house each summer selling security systems or orange cleaner or the Living Scriptures, offering to mow my lawn or trim my trees or wash my cars, or selling things for their various summer programs that mean nothing to me.

    As I was preparing for our most recent YW fundraiser (which was a ROCKING good time), I reflected that I would be donating items made by myself and my children for the auction, then purchasing other items at the auction and then most likely be also paying for my own girls’ camp fees in addition since there was a question whether or not the current fundraiser could be settled in time for this year’s camp fees. I get the objection, believe me! When we were baking for the auction, I kept thinking that it would be so much easier to just pay for my girls and skip the silent auction part. We did not skip it, and our girls had a great, rewarding evening. They held a Vintage Fashion Show (for the entertainment portion) combined with the silent auction (the fundraising portion). It was way more work than just paying for our girls’ camp, but it also was a wonderful experience for my girls and for the whole ward. It was a lot of fun seeing the wedding dress of one girl’s great grandma and the many dresses of one of our sisters who is preparing for baptism. My daughter, who prides herself on being a grumpy tomboy, modeled one dress and even allowed us to fix her hair and posed for a picture – one of the few pictures I have of her with a smile!

    I can remember having your frustration when my kids were younger and money was tighter – but even now, I can’t possibly say yes to everything. Even if I had unlimited funds, there are many things I wouldn’t support and I don’t feel obligated to support those who come along or guilty. I see no reason to feel guilty for not supporting things you don’t want to support – whether you are able to financially or not. You choose what to support and say a polite “no thank you” to the rest.
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  • jennycherie May 1, 2013, 5:04 am

    I should add, the Boy Scout popcorn fundraiser is my LEAST favorite of all. It is so ridiculously price-y, and that is made even more frustrating when I realize that a hefty portion of that supports the BSA infrastructure, of which I am not a fan. I’ll just pay for my son’s camp, thank you very much!

    Ooh, another bad one – I get phone calls from the Catholic school where I teach. They do a special fund drive for their employees. Donating money to my employer? I kind of get that many private schools also rely on donations, but that is still a puzzler to me.
    jennycherie recently posted…Update on the HateMy Profile

  • Tiffini May 1, 2013, 5:18 am

    Couldn’t agrede with you more! Ot is nice to know that I’m mot the only One that feels this way.

  • Amy Lockhart May 1, 2013, 6:07 am

    Thanks for the insight jennycherie. That is the most inventive YW fundraiser I have ever heard of!
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  • MB May 1, 2013, 7:46 am

    Asking donations from employees is very common in education these days. My family member who works for a university is expected to make contributions each year.

    Jennycherie is right about choosing. Choose wisely and well and let the rest go.

    I find that when it is not wise for me to contribute financially to a fundraiser I can choose to contribute emotionally. I can choose to donate kind words, goodwill, a big smile and cheerful best wishes to the harried or nervous or anxious or stressed or demanding solicitor. Consciously choosing and doing that emotional contribution greatly reduces misplaced guilt I may erroneously lay on myself or frustration I may feel towards them.

    I appreciate it when uninterested members of other faiths make similar emotional contributions to our door-to-door missionaries who are, when you think about it, requesting donations of time in which to listen to their message. I figure that the least I can do is to offer the same emotional contribution of goodwill and good cheer to people, big or little, who knock on my door, send me emails or call. And I feel more at peace when I to have chosen to contribute in that way, even though it wasn’t exactly what they were hoping for.

  • Amy Lockhart May 1, 2013, 10:12 am

    MB: I knew that you would find some way to make this deep and meaningful! I am very good at the smile and good cheer and much less good at internalizing that the gesture is enough.

    Thanks for commenting.

    The ironic thing here is that since I wrote the post my husband, the newly called Scoutmaster, has been “spoken to” about the serious need for fundraising.

    Apparently my irritations on the subject are well enough known to my children that my son adamantly proclaimed there were to be no popcorn sales during the brainstorming session held to discuss the matter.

    I suppose it will be just the thing to help me learn to choose wisely and think creatively about how I can be supportive :)

    Thanks again to both of you!
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  • Angie Gardner May 1, 2013, 6:02 pm

    This could not have come at a better time for me. All week I have been upset about the Friends of Scouting drive and how my husband is being treated because our ward isn’t doing very well at it. :(

    I get very weary of paying for overpriced things that I don’t really need ($15 for a tub of frozen cookies? Neither my pocketbook nor my rear end has use for that!)

    I do not mind at all helping causes that are important to me voluntarily. I give to diabetes and heart disease research because it affects my family. I try to help out my kids’ schools and extracurricular activities for youth when I can. I’ll even buy girl scout cookies occasionally because let’s face it they are good (yes, overpriced) and my girls have participated in girl scouts.

    I have a huge problem with Friends of Scouting, including that they: 1)Read a letter in Sacrament meeting telling us to support it; 2) Encourage a face-to-face “invitation” to donate; 3) Give a suggested amount for each family to pay (our “assessment” this year was $88!); 4) Most of the money goes to the bureaucracy that is BSA, including humongous salaries for their executives; 5) This is on top of our tithing funds that already go to BSA (and that’s a LOT of money) AND the local fundraisers to help send the scouts to camp and such (not to mention that scout camps are roughly 3-4 times the cost of YW camp!)

    If we gave everything they are asking us to give to scouts throughout the year it would be several hundred dollars per family per year! I’m sorry, but I don’t have boys. I couldn’t care less if my daughters marry a scout or not. Stop asking me for money!

    I think scouts are a fine program if parents want to pay for it. I’m tired of paying for it or being hounded to pay for it. The church could do their own activity arm for boys SO MUCH CHEAPER. It just makes me mad.

    And when my husband comes home and I can tell he’s upset and ask why, to find out he’s getting hounded by the stake because our ward is “lagging” in FOS it just makes my blood boil. Like all of the other problems that he must deal with need to take a back seat to this vastly important issue that our ward has only collected several hundred dollars instead of the several thousand they were asked to.

    Sigh.

    This does not make me a friend of scouting in the least.

    On another note, I got so tired of the school fundraisers that as a member of the PTA board I suggested a check-writing campaign. Just ask people to give what they can give and the school keeps 100% of it instead of paying a fundraising company for overpriced crap. I thought it was working okay until the school decided they weren’t getting enough, so then they started having BOTH the check writing campaign (suggesting $50 per student per year) AND the cookies, magazines, etc.

    I am just weary of it all. Thanks for letting me vent. I feel better now (and no I am still not writing that dang $88 check to FOS!!! I’m sure my husband will give a little since he feels total pressure about it, but if he gives $88 – an amount that I could give my kids swimming lessons for a month for! – he will not be my friend either. ;)

  • Amy Lockhart May 1, 2013, 7:58 pm

    Oh Angie! I feel your pain, but probably not quite as intensely. I can’t imagine your husband having to deal with pressure like that from “on high”. I am glad you vented and that I got a chuckle out of a few things you said :)

    It’s this unspoken pressure that really irritates me. I seriously think we’d be better off without scouts being a part of the church. I do have boys and see the benefit of the program, but I don’t see a single benefit to having it church supported.

    Unless you consider the missionary tool side of it. Which I have not personally experienced, but have heard can be a powerful thing. Even given that though, I still think it’s not worth church funds and all this pressure.
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  • Amy Lockhart May 1, 2013, 8:00 pm

    On second thought its not really unspoken pressure is it?
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  • jennycherie May 1, 2013, 8:37 pm

    wow – I am absolutely amazed at the overt pressure to participate! I have never experienced the type of FOS fundraising that Angie mentioned, but that would absolutely turn me off! That is even worse than the ridiculous popcorn.

    Also – the PTA fundraisers – of the six PTAs I belong to, the one that uses the letter/check fundraiser (where no product is sold and all money is just an outright donation that goes directly to the progam) is by FAR the most successful.
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  • Angie Gardner May 2, 2013, 5:17 am

    jennycherie – The FOS pressure has varied greatly depending on where I’ve lived. In one ward in Utah, they actually had the YM president come to our house and ask. I don’t know if he went to everyone’s house or just some selected – or perhaps others went to other homes – but at any rate he basically told us, “The bishop is asking that each family give ____” and when I told him we couldn’t do it right then he appeared very shocked and almost hurt. It was awkward but at that time I had 3 little girls ages 4 and under, a husband new in his career, and NO money. I gave him a token $10 or $20 (wishing now I wouldn’t have even done that!) because his wife was my friend and I was embarrassed.

    I don’t remember hearing a thing about FOS when we lived in Louisiana, or the first couple of years we lived here. But in the last few years there has been a letter read in Sacrament Meeting and this year they are asking for a more face-to-face contact with each member.

    Amy, your comments might just lead me on another scouting rant!! :) I know we’ve talked about scouts many times on MM so I’ve probably said similar before, but I think having scouts as part of church hurts both the church and the scouts. I’ve heard from the “big” scouters that the church doesn’t do scouts well or take it seriously enough, and on the church side I just don’t think it’s a good use of tithing funds, nor do I appreciate being harassed through fundraisers and FOS.

    The solution? I think it’s great if we offer our buildings for meetings (similar to what other churches do), and if LDS members want to volunteer as scout leaders that is fantastic (not a calling – as I’ve heard that’s also a pet peeve of the “big” scouters because you end up with people in there who are doing it because they don’t want to say no to a calling and not because they really support scouts.) If the troop is a mostly LDS troop, I don’t even mind them announcing and supporting fundraisers. Friends of Scouting should stay out of Sacrament Meeting, PERIOD.

    As for the missionary benefit, I’ve heard that too but honestly never seen it personally once. I have seen young men join the church and I guess in a way it has involved scouts, but it’s because they started coming to church with a friend or something and THEN started coming to mutual/scouts – so it’s hard to surmise that they are there BECAUSE of scouts. They do seem to enjoy the activities and such, but if the church replaced scouts with their own activities I think they could go just as far with it, probably even more so because there are actually some young men who are turned off by scouts.

    Rant over. :)

  • Marie K May 2, 2013, 8:12 am

    I got very surprised about this fundraising business in the church and the BSA economical issues. In Sweden this does not happen at all and NO ONE would ever stand at the pulpit asking for money… Therefore I read in the handbook about it. It specifically says that members should not feel obligated to contribute.

    It was in the handbook 2 at 13.6.8. I found it at lds.org.

  • MB May 2, 2013, 8:50 am

    Marie is right.

    My husband has had the responsibility for friends of scouting (FOS) fundraising handed to him a few times. In each case he was given strict instructions not to have it mentioned in church meetings and not to have any set quota or price or obligation or expectation mentioned to any member. And though there was a hope that funds could be raised, there was no comparing done and he felt no pressure to raise any prescribed amount.

    If BSA allowed sponsoring organizations to decide not to participate in FOS fund drives, perhaps the church would cease to do so and simply make a donation to BSA to help fund the camp improvements, leader training, liability insurance etc. that FOS funds go to. But BSA doesn’t allow sponsoring organizations to opt out of FOS drives. So as long as the church desires to continue to sponsor scout troops, teams and crews, we will have FOS.

    But I sure wish all members of the church who do the FOS stuff would read and follow the handbook.

  • Marie K May 2, 2013, 9:13 am

    Handbook rules,-) Should in most things. I belive there would be less misunderstandings and complaints. Easier for the bishops as well.

  • Amy Lockhart May 2, 2013, 9:50 am

    I am seriously confused as to how this can happen if the handbook clearly states that it should not. I have long heard about the extreme pressure on Bishops and Branch Presidents to raise the correct amount of funds. Most of the time it comes from the Stake, in my experience anyway.

    Is the pressure so great that no one will stand up? Angie maybe your husband can start a revolution of sorts and return to handbook policy … it would certainly benefit the members in your ward :)
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  • Angie Gardner May 2, 2013, 11:17 am

    I have the handbook in front of me and here is what it says about fundraising in general: (I’m paraphrasing)
    -in general, no fundraising at all.
    -exception is one group fundraising activity a year to pay for camp or equipment
    -should provide meaningful value or service, be a positive experience
    -contributions are voluntary
    -no door-to-door sales
    -no selling outside ward boundaries

    Then there is one specific paragraph about FOS. It says, (quoting this time)
    “The Friends of Scouting fund drive in the United States will continue as a separate, voluntary solicitation.”

    So, it sounds like things such as being advertised over the pulpit, having an “assessment”, etc. are a local decision.

    I read a letter that I found online (now I can’t find it, of course) that came from, if I’m remembering correctly, an area seventy and a BSA higher-up regarding the FOS drive in Utah. It did specifically say that face-to-face contact is the way they would like to promote it. It also said the letter should be read in Sacrament meeting. This letter sounds very similar to what was read in our SM a few weeks ago. I think it must be a form letter.

    I know any time there has been an active FOS drive in places I’ve lived they have had a “suggested amount” (I suppose it’s not fair to call it an assessment because it is voluntary – but that is the amount they suggest if you are going to give.)

    Of course, contributions are always voluntary. But they sure can make you feel like crap if you don’t participate. :)

  • Angie Gardner May 2, 2013, 11:25 am

    Here is an interesting article from a few years back. To me, it really shows the pressure that YM presidents and bishoprics are under in regards to FOS. (Granted, if I were this YM president I probably wouldn’t have sent the letter out to ward members.)

    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/52619808-78/scouting-thomas-friends-scout.html.csp

  • Amy Lockhart May 2, 2013, 11:33 am

    So I guess the only way out of the whole thing is for us to move out of the USA, or to MB or jennycherie’s wards! Or take the wise advise of those two and choose wisely, wear a smile, and let it be enough.

    It’s the “voluntary” that feels much more like membership dues that really gets me.
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  • Angie Gardner May 2, 2013, 11:36 am

    I think I’m going to give them $4.99 in pennies. :)

  • Marie K May 2, 2013, 12:18 pm

    LOL, Angie Gardner!

  • jennycherie May 2, 2013, 12:21 pm

    We would welcome all of you in our ward! TOTALLY!

  • Bobbie-Jean Comber May 5, 2013, 7:58 pm

    scouts finished as part of church in Australia about 20 years ago. (My husband was a scout through church, but his group was kinda the last ones give or take a few years) We do the Duty to God program for boys and I think it is better. We actually were NOT allowed to fundraise here for many years. (my grandmas generation fundraised weekly to pay for chapels and church things but that was done away with in my mums generation) We have only just recently (last 3 years) started to fundraise to send kids to EFY every second year they are held.

    different in different parts of the world

    I was invited to one recently which I thought was good – a pamper night for mums. $10 and you got your nails done and a facial massage. Of course that was someone donating their time but I thought it reasonable price and a good idea.

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