Sunday, February 1, 2009

Woodstock North H.S. Fundraiser

When I was at the new high school on Friday, I happened to pick up a flier for "The Woodstock North High School Gift-Checkbook" from the counter at the front desk, and I put it in the pile of reading material for this week-end.

The promotional flier lists only seven of the restaurants (3) and merchants (4) which are participating in the gift-check program and informs the prospective purchaser that the gift-checks total over $700. All for a cost of $30.00/book of gift-checks. I couldn't ascertain whether these are fixed-dollar "gift-checks" or discount coupons.

When you turn the flier over, you learn that the program is a fundraiser for Woodstock North High School, so my first thought was, "Why does a new high school need a fundraiser? That's what we pay taxes for."

Being picky about wording, my attention was next drawn to this sentence: "Thank you to the local merchants who gave us over $700 for every checkbook..."

Well, first of all, I doubt that the merchants handed over $700 for each gift-checkbook to be sold. Did they, instead, provide discount coupons which, if all were used, would total up to $700. There is a difference. If each merchant had handed over $700, there would be no need for a fundraiser.

And then there is this sentence: "Woodstock North High School needs to raise money that will help offset our costs, including uniforms, travel and competition expenses."

What costs? What uniforms? What travel? What competition expenses?

Is this a fundraiser for the School, as it is presented? Or is it a fundraiser for the football team and/or for other sports? Is this fundraiser for the general School or a small segment of the student population? However it is, is just fine with me. It just needs to be disclosed fully.

And then there is this sentence: "Get your own gift-checkbook for FREE when you sell five!"

What is the legality, or propriety, of setting up a fundraiser that generates a benefit for the student who "makes the sale"? What administrative burden is placed on the school to track sales and to record the "income" of the student who sells five of the gift-checkbooks? What recognition will there be of top sellers? What attention, if any, will be given to the student who doesn't participate or who sells only one or two?

If this is a program to raise money for the football team of the new school, that needs to be specifically stated in the advertising materials. Woodstock North High School is clearly involved, since checks are to be made out to the School.

Is there a fundraising or marketing company behind the scenes here? Should its involvement be disclosed on the flier?

I myself don't like the fundraisers conducted these days by schools. The merchandise, whether Sally Foster or MarketDay, is marked up in price to cover the disclosed "kickback" to the school, and then the sales are conducted by students or merchandise is delivered on school property. Doesn't this create unfair competition for the bricks-and-mortar stores right in our own town?

Having written all this, check out the gift-checkbook. If you like what you see, buy it. Then use it. When you find out who some of the other merchants and restaurants are, post them here.

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