Lessons kids learn from school fundraising
Have you ever offered to do the face-painting at your school fete? Or reading groups? It’s well known that kids whose parents volunteer at school often have better educational outcomes than those who don’t. But kids who volunteer gain a lot too, and not only the chance to make a positive impact and the empowerment that brings. You might think school fundraising is simply about raising money, but it’s also a prime opportunity to teach children many practical skills:
Having an idea in the first place - There’s the creativity involved in having the idea, as well as the guts to speak up about it. I wish schools would support the very interesting fundraising ideas kids have. They might not bring in the ROI we adults expect, but they will demonstrate to kids that show initiative and novelty that the school supports them. A child-initiated fundraiser is often based around that child’s interests (which other children either have or could learn about) promoting inclusiveness as well as an outlet to demonstrate proficiency, and thereby self-esteem. My Lego-mad son has for ages wanted to hold a Lego competition at school, and my other son, paper aeroplane-mad, spent years trying to convince the same school to hold a paper aeroplane flying competition. Both would have been pay-per-entry fundraisers with a prize for the winner (I don’t need to tell you that my sons were scheming that it would be them! And there’s another great potential lesson lost – the reality check).
Learning to assess – Children have a lot to learn to consider: from initially determining whether it’s a good fundraiser to run (is it ethical, is it interesting, what are the costs, what are the projected returns, how many volunteers will be required, what tools or props will be required, will any permissions be required, what are the dangers/hazards involved), to the post-assessment at the end of fundraiser (did it work the way they envisaged it, did they get the profit they were aiming at, did people benefit in other ways, would they do it again). It’s great for improving their process and systems thinking.
Improving language skills – Persuasive talking skills can be developed from the very beginning of trying to convince the other students/teacher/SRC/School Principal to run the fundraiser, to encouraging customers to purchase (either a direct product or encouraging other students to seek sponsorship) whether through verbal or written language (and images) in marketing posters. There’s also the language of assessment – the written or verbal language skills to report to the school about the outcome of the fundraiser.
Experience with money – Most children don’t have a lot of direct experience with money so actually touching, counting, accruing and the physical responsibility of temporarily securing the money (before it’s handed to an adult) is very educational - and exciting! Physical money experience is a great tool to demonstrate the notions of profit and loss. Children these days are also likely to encounter online ordering as part of their fundraising so can be educated about paying by credit card and the advantages and pitfalls of these systems.
Creating something – Whether it’s an event or a physical product, kids who create something can gain new skills (eg wrapping roses for Valentine’s Day, baking cakes, organising other people), an appreciation of time involved in labour, how their product is consumed by their “customer” and whether or not it's enjoyed.
Making new friendships – Working together on a school fundraiser gives children an opportunity to meet new peers and form new friendships, especially if it is done through the (multi-grade) Student Representative Council.
Working (and volunteering) can be fun – Even though they might gripe about it at the time, there’s little that can’t be made fun when kids are working with their peers. It’s also another way to foster positive attitude – essential to school and future life.
Bet you never thought there were so many wonderful aspects to it ... so let's get school fundraising!
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