How to Survive Spring Fundraisers

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“My name is Katherine and it has been 380 days since my last Thin Mint.”

Cookies, popcorn, candy bars, nuts, ice cream, cookie dough… for parents, spring brings Flowers and Fundraising. Offices have order forms making rounds, trips to the grocery store have kids at every entrance and exit peddling sweets, sporting events have concession stands loaded with unhealthy food and after every school event there’s social hour at the local ice cream joint. To a Mom on a Shift, it takes true grit to make it through spring.

Combine some serious willpower with a few tips and you can make it to summer unscathed:

  • Be armed. When you can’t say “no thank you,” be armed with local organizations you can donate your items to. Some places to try are your local food pantry, nursing homes and churches. Make a few calls ahead of time and be ready. Make sure to involve the kids, as this is a fantastic learning opportunity and a wonderful family tradition to start.
  • Take the alternative. Many organizations now offer an alternative to purchasing an item for yourself. You can usually purchase an item for the military. Both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts offer this option.
  • Cash is king. When you want to do something but not purchase items, consider making a cash donation. Instead of purchasing cookies outside your local store from a booth sale, simply give them cash. They will happily take it because they can use 100% of your donation immediately instead of 10-15% from a fundraiser. Most organizations make approximately $.50 from your $4 purchase.
  • Let the kids pick. Have your kids pick out just what they want for themselves, and stick to it. Keep a snack bin in the pantry for each child. They will remember what is in there and will hold you accountable to anything missing.
  • Be cheap. Leave your wallet home and just bring enough money for your children when you go to sporting events and school functions. This will help you not bankroll hot dogs during the big game and ice cream after the spring concert. When possible, have your kids use their own money.
  • Speak up. If you are inundated with spring sales of food items, don’t be afraid to get involved, speak up and offer alternatives. Many organizations do flower sales, coupon books, a spring fling and other non-food fundraising that can be more lucrative. You might be surprised to find that many parents are looking for alternatives. Just because something has been done for a long time does not mean it is popular or the best decision for the coming years.

If you participate in things that will sabotage your efforts because you feel bad, because you did it last year, or because you can’t say no, you are hurting yourself and those you love. If you know you’ll polish off a sleeve of Thin Mints if they enter the house, do it differently this year.

Katherine Howell, M.S. is an education professional, turned Stay at Home Mom of four young children. Katherine shifted from being a woman who put herself on hold for her family, to one that now views motherhood as an opportunity to unleash your deepest potential. You can read more about how to be a smarter, stronger and healthier Mom at

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