Letter | Product fundraising works for schools

08/08/2014 3:48 PM

08/08/2014 3:49 PM

Re: Aug. 3 letter from Trip DuBard, “Quit selling cookie dough, let parents give directly”

I have been a professional fundraiser for nearly 40 years, working primarily with public schools. Throughout that period of time, I have sold many different products including cookie dough and candy. Our company like many others has provided a vehicle for organizations to raise thousands of dollars in two weeks or less to fund important projects such as new playground equipment, computers, smart boards, and many other projects that are non-budgeted by school districts.

Mr. DuBard asserts that a donation system using his “non-profit” entity as a vehicle to fund public school organizations is superior to product fundraising. Not only is his assertion self-serving, but with few exceptions, donation systems do not work at the public education level. Donation systems that do work are cause related.

Believe me, I know. I lived it as Vice President of Development for Special Olympics Kansas. Parents who have children in public schools do not have an emotional tie to the school as they would have to their college alma mater or the American Cancer Society. In short, they want value for their money, just like anyone else. Let me give you an example.

One of the companies we represent is Yankee Candle. Not only does Yankee candle fundraising provide a turn-key delivery service to the PTAs and PTOs, but it sells its candles in fundraising at about the same price as in the retail stores. This translates to value. Parents happily purchase these candles through their school not only for the value but for the convenience.

Dubard apparently thinks that fundraising companies should give away their products to the schools, because a school “only” making 40 percent is getting shafted. His model is to let the school keep 94 percent of the profit and his organization “only” keeps 6 percent for administrating the donation process.

Well let’s examine this 94-40 model. An elementary school of 500 students will average around $15,000 in sales of Yankee Candle products. At 40 percent profit the school will net $6,000. This model is based on a participation rate of 20 percent (100 families) that sell and average of $150 per family.

These are hard facts based on data taken from literally thousands of schools throughout the United States. A typical donation is in the $10 to $25 range with a 5 percent participation rate. What this translates to is 25 families donating an average of $15 or a gross profit of $375 and a net profit of $352.50. Let’s see, if you were a PTA president would you want $6,000 or $352.50?

Mr. Dubard would like you believe that you can take percentage points to the bank rather than real dollars. I have yet been able to cash a check for 94 percent.

By the way Mr. DuBard, I work with a couple of the schools you listed on your website as participants in your donation program. Do you really think that they would be selling Yankee Candles with us if the monies generated by your “donation program” sufficiently funded their needs?

Finally, I wonder if your position as Executive Director is a salaried one, or are you just donating your time?

The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.

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