Fundraising Life Lessons
Malia has a post this morning that sent me careening down memory lane to one of the more painful memories of my childhood.
Of course, if this is one of the more painful memories, I guess I had a pretty good growing-up experience overall.
I went to a Christian school for 11 of the 13 years of my pre-college learning, so fundraisers are something I know very well. I think we had at least 3 a year until I was in high school. Then we had five for both my Junior and Senior years. We sold candy, wrapping paper, cookie dough, magazines and overpriced gewgaws like jars of butterscotch, scented candles and other things I've come to refer to as "nursing home nicknacks." Out of karmic duty to all the neighbours and church people who bought from me, I've decreed that I will buy from any kid I know who is selling stuff whenever I'm financially able. (Since I have a husband who also went to Christian school, he's on board with this plan.)
The thing is, there's always a competition to motivate the kids to sell stuff. There are usually prizes for selling different amounts (available to everyone), and a grand prize for selling more than anybody else. The grand prize was always particularly grand. Trips for 4 to Cedar Point plus a day of school--that kind of thing.
The problem was one girl in my class--we'll call her Jenny since that was her name but there were 3 Jennys so it's still halfway anonymous. Anyway, Jenny's dad was a salesman who had a large three-state route. While the rest of us bravely went door to door in our neighbourhoods (this was the Seventies--before we were all afraid of serial killers and child molesters), Jenny's dad took her list with him on the road and worked it into his sales pitches. Guess who always won the big prize?
I have internalised a bunch of lessons from this experience, and I'm actually kind of shocked to realise they've stayed with me for the better part of 30 years.
1. The higher the stakes, the more willing people are to 'bend the rules' in order to win.
2. No matter how hard you work, if you are doing it honestly you will not be able to keep up with the cheaters.
3. Competition sucks for those who always play by the rules.