‘Tis the season to be fundraising! With four children in school, we get hit with quite a few fundraisers throughout the year. Most recently, our youngest daughter came home very excited about a new fundraiser from her school’s choir program. She was thrilled with this opportunity to sell everything from magazines to gift wrap. The fundraising chairperson had dazzled all the students with possibilities for endless prizes and incentives. As I gave the brochure a little side-eye, I was groaning just a little bit on the inside. Meanwhile, my daughter was ecstatic and ready to hit the sales market. I had to pause and listen to the pitch, and it was good.
When I was a young FFA member in high school, we had what I thought was the greatest fundraiser ever known to our little town – the annual FFA Fruit Sale. If members sold enough product, they could earn a trip to the National FFA Convention. The trip to Kansas City, Mo., every year was enough motivation for me. Thankfully, as I approached friends, neighbors and teachers, many of them made fruit sale purchases to fund this amazing opportunity for our chapter. There were probably incentives that came along with the sale, but I cannot remember what they were.
As I recall the many boxes of Girl Scout cookies we have delivered with our girls, I am in awe of how generous people can be to youth organizations and schools. I am always impressed with the creativity of fundraisers. There is an FFA chapter in town that sells mums in the fall. Our local high school band puts together all the chairs at the Razorback Stadium to fund its activities. Our own FFA chapter in Fayetteville hosts a Blue & Gold meat sale. Almost every local elementary school hosts some version of a run where patrons can pledge money for laps. Most of these efforts and fun and effective.
Do I love fundraisers? Not really. But I can appreciate a young person working up the courage to come by or call me with their best sales pitch on why we should support their group. It is just one step for them to take responsibility for funding something they really want to do.
As much as I did not want to open the choir brochure, I was not about to squelch my child’s excitement. She was a highly-motivated salesperson with goals. I perused the brochure full of items and found some things that would make some Christmas gifts for the upcoming holiday season. She was thrilled with her first sale.
I think we typically think of fundraisers as this nuisance that we get bombarded with from children’s schools, teams and organizations. What I am learning is these are great opportunities for young people to find their courage and approach adults to make a big ask. I have made myself pause and listen to their pitch – whether it’s a neighbor, niece or nephew, they just want us to hear what they have to say. I love when they can articulate what the goal for their effort is and always encourage them to tell me more about it.
These little fundraising people are the future of our great country. The skills they learn along the way are going to make for some fine doctors, senators, and farmers one day. I hope you also take time to listen to their sales pitches, neighbor.
Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’