Parents Face a Rise in the Cost of Public Schools
Recently the NY Times published an article about the fundraising efforts of New York City PTAs and how some schools are raising up to (and even beyond) $1 million each year. Due to budget cuts, many PTAs are trying to fill the gap to help cover costs in their children’s education by asking parents for contributions. And that goal isn’t achieved by asking parents to help sell chocolate bars or run a bake sale, many are asking for straight donations. And it’s not just $25 or $100 here or there – we’re talking donations in the thousands of dollars.
This article, along with another related piece, raises some eyebrows and emotion from some. For many, it’s a story of the “haves” and the “have-nots.” The schools with wealthier parents are more likely to get more financial support from families because they can afford it. What about the schools in poorer communities? Even with some additional federal funding, sometimes that doesn’t cover it all and the reality is that parents in those communities, even though they support their children and are active in their education, can’t help with additional contributions. For others, it’s the principle: isn’t public school supposed to be free? Sure a check here or there to help pay for school trips or running a bake sale is one thing, but parents, with their own financial constraints, are feeling the burn and simply can’t give a major gift to their children’s school each year.
Many parents said that they have felt nickel and dimed. And, even though I’m not a parent, I can see where they’re coming from. In the fundraising world, it sounds a lot like donor fatigue. You’re asking the same group of people for money, all year long, year after year – at least until their kid leaves the school, but then the cycle starts again in the new school.
What’s the solution? Is there one? The bottom line is that some public schools simply cannot operate without the help of the PTA, parent contributions, and other fundraising efforts. At the same time, not everyone can easily, or wants to, whip out their checkbooks and donate every time they get a letter from their PTA.
I often tell my clients, when you’re fundraising, you want to cast as wide a net as possible. So it might be time to look past your current donor base. Running an online auction can be a way to reach more people. When you run an online auction through BiddingForGood, not only is the auction available to extended families and friends, but you’re opening it to our bidder community, some of which are probably going to be interested in bidding on some of your items. Plus, there are most likely some parents bidding on items – the big difference is that they’re getting an item in exchange for their contribution,
I’m sure there are other solutions out there in addition to running an online auction. For example, I’ve seen many restaurants and stores host benefit nights where a percentage of their sales from one day go to a specific charity. Cuts in education unfortunately don’t look like they’re going away any time soon, so it might be time to get a little creative with your fundraising plans.
Have you read this NY Times article? If not, check it out and become part of the conversation.
Like all big issues, there isn't a simple solution