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School Fundraising Programs


School fundraising programs

These days, school fundraising has come a long way from cup cakes and roller discos. In the US , school fundraising programs are serious business - literally. McDonalds has brought us World Children's Day (and a memorable advert featuring Destiny's Child wafting around a playground), while the Target corporation's collection of education initiatives - with invigorating titles such as 'Ready. Sit. Read!' - aims to take children from the cradle to college. They have spent many millions of dollars on a plethora of community projects. Pepsi run a scholarship program for employees' children (indeed their social conscience extends to a school sales policy which places products according to age range by rating them as 'good for you', 'better for you' and, somewhat euphemistically, 'fun for you').


It's good PR to be seen as a caring company, certainly. And you don't have to be a born cynic to assume that this is the main impetus for school fundraising programs. Maybe it doesn't matter as long as schools are getting something out of it - for pupil welfare as well as education. America has the highest rate of child poverty among the world's most affluent nations, so money to help poor schoolchildren is sorely needed.

Then there are the other kinds of school fundraising programs. As well as raising money for their own schools, pupils are often encouraged to think about other charities. Many schools see this as an important way to build a sense of social responsibility in their young charges. And charities are climbing over themselves to partner schools. Millions of pounds, for example, are raised in the UK each year in this way. But the signs from studies such as 'School Fundraising in England ', a report published in 2000 by the Directory of Social Change, suggest that if they're not careful they could induce compassion fatigue. Charities are going to have to think about how they approach schools - not by bombarding them with requests but by showing the school how it can benefit from the partnership. Maybe they have something to learn from how businesses have gone about their school fundraising programs.

It's not a simple matter of doing the right thing, though. There is another side to fundraising for outside charities. Like America , the UK has its problems with child poverty. Organisations such as the UK Child Poverty Action Group have conducted studies which highlight the financial pressures on parents. When it's costing about £1,000 per year to send a child to a UK state school it can be a heavy burden - particularly for single parents or big families. According to organisations like CPAG, fundraising programs can sometimes contribute to these pressures. And schools are not always good at making parents aware of what help is available from the government. Charity, it seems, begins at home.