How To Make Sure Your School Fundraiser Doesn't Sabotage Your Community


Fundraisers are a necessity for most schools. But what is your fundraiser saying about your school’s values? What message are you sending to your community?

You might be so focused on making money that those two questions haven’t even entered your mind. That might be even more likely if you’ve run the same successful fundraisers year after year. You might be thinking if it’s not broke, why fix it. But that mentality, while perfectly understandable (no one ever wants to give up a cash cow!), may not be in the best interest of your students, community supporters, and your hardworking volunteers.

If what you are selling is unhealthy, you’re more than likely sending conflicting messages to your constituency.

For example, if we are telling our kids that it’s important to make healthy decisions when it comes to fueling our bodies, but then we serve them up a fundraiser that focuses on fat or sugar laden food, we’re saying, in no uncertain terms, that our values are flexible and it’s alright to compromise on health and well-being if money is involved.

Why is this such a big deal? For starters, kids are porous, they absorb everything. As adults, we may not realize just how much they are paying attention, but make no mistake, they are taking it all in. We’re doing our youth a huge disservice if we’re modeling behavior that suggests it’s acceptable to say one thing, but then do another.

So it’s imperative that we’re thoughtful when it comes to choosing fundraising products. After all, the whole point of a fundraiser is to sell as much as possible, right? Which means when we choose unhealthy products to sell, we’re encouraging our whole community, product sellers and buyers alike, to abandon their principles. From a kid’s perspective, we’ve made it not only OK to push unhealthy foods on others, we’ve also given the rubber stamp to disregard our values when it benefits us.

I am quite sure this is not the intention of any school group, but it can happen when we forget what’s at stake. And that is, we want our kids to be healthy, and that requires we teach them to make healthy choices, not just some of the time but all of the time.

Now I know this makes the job of parent fundraising volunteers much more challenging. It limits what you can sell. It means you have to push back against the cheesecakes, the cookies, the candy, and all the other fatty snacks. That takes effort, it’s not the path of least resistance in any way.

But let’s think about this from a slightly different perspective. Let’s look at it through the lens of your supporters who value good health. When they are presented with the choice to buy a product that aids your school, but isn’t healthy and doesn’t fit in with their lifestyle, you create a real challenge for them. You are pressuring them them to ignore their preferences so they can help you. That’s not a very community oriented approach. Friends don’t ask friends to sacrifice their values.

Right about now some people may be thinking that I’m just too much of a rose colored glasses gal, that I don’t realize that how hard school fundraising is, or that I’m setting unrealistic standards, maybe even pushing a personal agenda.

Well, here’s the deal. Yes, I do wear rose colored glasses sometimes. I like to look for the positive. And I definitely know how hard fundraising is. I have been a school fundraising mom, selling practically everything, including candy galore (not my proudest moments). I also know my standards are are upheld by people far and wide (probably including you too), so I know they are not unrealistic. Individuals and families all over the world make healthy living a top priority. And if that’s a personal agenda, I’ll cop to that.

My business, Get Organized for Good Fundraising, is all about healthy fundraising. Healthy all around – healthy bodies, healthy minds, healthy hearts, healthy families, and healthy communities. And naturally, I want to encourage you to consider Get Organized For Good when choosing a fundraising partner.

If you don’t already know, we offer practical and easy to use products, like planners, printables and how-to guides, that empower people to create positive change in their lives. The focus is on helping people get organized, simplify life, manage time, reduce stress, create balance and so much more (you can grab our comprehensive guide to working with us here).

For example, Our Fit Kitchen Self Guided Workshop helps people declutter and organize their kitchen for health and wellness. After all, the kitchen is the heart of the home, and making sure it stays beating is important to family well-being.

But even if what I offer doesn’t resonate, you have loads of options for healthy fundraising. Here are are just few ideas:

  • Fresh fruit sales (if you’ve got local orchards this is a great one)
  • Create a cookbook from your school families’ healthy recipes
  • Community art sale
  • Herb, fruit or vegetable starter kits
  • A weekly on-site farmer’s markets
  • Family game or movie night
  • Virtual cooking lessons (or any kind of lesson)
  • Zumbathon, Yogathon, Bikeathon
  • Holiday decorations (wreaths, garland and the like)
  • School spirit apparel and related merchandise
  • Readathon
  • Fun runs (or serious ones!)
  • Local shopping day with a percent of sales going to the school
  • Community craft fairs or rummage sales
  • Local business and service fair
  • Spa and wellness event
  • Community health and fitness competition

The choices are only limited by your imagination. Which means there is practically no reason to choose an unhealthy fundraiser.


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