Kids selling door-to-door

I have been getting a lot of kids ringing my doorbell lately selling stuff for school. Chocolates, wrapping paper, popcorn… seven bucks for a three ounce box of chocolates??

My question is how much of that seven bucks actually goes toward whatever these kids are trying to raise money for? It just seems a little underhanded that these companies are using children to sell their goods. I never (except for Girl Scout Cookies) had to sell stuff like this when I was in school…I just asked my parents for the money.

I don’t have kids so can the parents of school age children please give me the Straight Dope on this practice?

Yeah, there was another thread about this not too long ago. You have my sympathies, we too, live in a neighborhood FULL of kids AND they all go to the same school too!! :eek:

I have no problem turning away other solicitations from any group, except from kids, and then I inevitably buy, the candy, the coupons [they turned out to be unusable!] wrapping paper, and cookies.

I feel sorry for the kids, they look so blasted nervous, and hopeful at the same time!! But, it really isn’t a safe thing to do, though most of the time when they come to my home, the parent is out in the car, idling near the curb.

Well,we had to do that sort of thing ALL the time in elementary and middle school (I’m a HS Junior now) and never had a problem. I would go around the 6 blocks or so near my house (suburban-ish sort of neighborhood).
This year, however, we are selling christmas ornaments for the Music program. These are your regular glass-ball type, in our school colors with the logo on one side and “1st Edition 2000-2001” on the other side. They ARE nice, but I don’t think I’ll sell many at 12 bucks a pop. However, and this is the FIRST time that it’s happened this way, they’ve told us that 5 bucks goes to the school (to cover the cost of the ornaments) but we get all the rest (to pay for trips and costumes and stuff like that).
Anyway, I’m not going to sell them door to door, except for a few neighbors who I know well. My parents are both taking them to work, and I will be taking them to church.

AFAIK, the schools don’t really make all that much from these fund-raisers. I remember hearing they get something really low, like 20% of the total take.

Mine have done magnet art, pizzas (which are pretty tasty, IMHO), gift wrap, cheese and candy (all in one), cheese and sausage, magazine subscriptions and bulk food (called Market Day).
My kids have done the gift wrap/candy one for years. Cherrydale Farms, to be exact. I HATE that one. The wrapping paper is really crappy and tears easily and the candy is mediocre and way over-priced. The “gift” items are more cheap crap you can get at K-Mart for half the price.
What I do now for the gift wrap/candy one is flip thru the catalog, pick out what I like (certain patterns of wrapping paper, etc.), add it up, and then just donate that amount to whatever the fundraiser is for (the PTA, new playground equipment, etc.). I hate being forced to buy crap like that. And I hate asking neighbors and co-workers to buy crap like that.

I like the pizza fundraiser best. You get 4 pizza in each kit, ranging in price from $13.00 for plain to about $18.00 for “the works”. Of course, I still don’t know exactly what the schools get, not much I would imagine, but at least with the pizzas, you actually get something worth what you paid.

Oh, I also hate the way they “reward” the kids for selling this stuff. I know for the gift wrap/candy one, they get prizes based on how much they sell. If little Billy sells $1 to $15 worth of useless crap, he gets a cheesy sport water bottle; if he sells $16 to $30 dollars worth of useless crap, he gets the water bottle and a pen that writes in 10 different colors, and so on…

Yeah, stupid little trinkets that you could buy for a nickel. I have been in some where they actually give you cash, or put the top sellers in a drawing for 250 bucks or something. And then the one I’m in now, it’s great, because we actually get to use the money we make.

That’s what I suspected…the schools and the kids are getting very little out of it. I would rather they came around and asked for a straight money donation with 100% going towards whatever they’re trying to raise money for. I guess I just don’t like the idea that Mr. Cherrydale Farms (or whoever) is probably getting the lion’s share while some kid is doing all the work, and possibly the danger. I answered the door yesterday and two young boys were standing there, no parent in sight. I live in a very safe neighborhood, but still!

Egads. I spent eight years of my life fundraising. And unless I suckered one of my friends to go with me, It was anything but fun.

The worst was when we had to sell these chocolate easter rabbits. They were a pain in the butt to carry around, and it was always so cold that between blocks we’d sit in the car with our feet and empty boots in front of the heater trying to thaw them out.

I actually quit band for a year just so I wouldn’t have to do it anymore… but then I was forced into doing it for my brother.

When I lived back north…
My 4 cousins were each in marching band for a very large high school (grades 10-12), and of course, one would graduate, then the next would enter the school. Every year, the band sold oranges and grapefruit to help finance their annual trip to Florida (usually the Orange Bowl parade, when it still existed) or some major televised parade. Every year, my parents, being good relatives, would buy several boxes of oranges. (Actually they were pretty tasty). And my cousins would buy a couple of candy bars from my sister and me for whatever fund-raiser we were doing at the time.

Back to the OP - our school would get 75 cents of each $1 candy bar sold, so we made a pretty good deal on that. It was just annoying that you had to sell 50 BOXES (12 candy bars to a box) to get a decent ‘premium’ (no, not a prize, a ‘premium’) IIRC a portable radio. If you sold 100 boxes, it was a portable radio with (oooohhh) a cassette player. And we could only dream about the bike for 200 boxes.

Our school has done a boatload of different fundraisers, and we generally get 50% of the total take. When I buy a $13 box of chocolates, I think of it as giving $6.50 to charity and paying $6.50 for candy. I don’t send my kids door-to-door either; we just pick on friends and relatives.

If you want to support the school without supporting the candy company, you can write a check (whatever you do, don’t give children cash they don’t have to account for) to the school PTA. They’re always happy to take straight donations. As for the kids’ prizes, I agree that they’re pretty crappy. At our school, the PTA gets businesses to donate prizes and holds drawings among the kids who are participating in the fundraiser.

The candy/giftwrap fundraiser we do in the fall (we just finished, thank god) pays for the lion’s share of our PTA projects. We use that money for computers in the classroom, field trips, music education, and art supplies, things that the school district can’t or won’t pay for, so the fundraisers are very important to us.

My daughter is a HS freshman and she’s in chorus. So far this year, she’s had these fundraisers:
1 - Entertainment coupon book - I do like these
2 - Magazines - I renewed a couple we already take
3 - Christmas wrap/overpriced candy - I flipped thru the catalog and chose to ignore it
4 - Call from a “chorus mom” asking me to sell T-shirts. I told her I’d buy one
5 - There was some talk of selling pies… sheesh…
6 - I also bought discount cards from the football team and the band
I’ve just got the one kid - I can’t imagine how people with multiple young 'uns deal with it. Unfortunately (or fortunately for them), both sets of grandparents live several states away.
Oh, and this is on top of “Fair Share” - a concept wherein all chorus members have to pay $60. um, this is a public school and an elective class for which she receives credit. Why do we have this “education enhancing” state lottery? Anyway, I should be glad she’s not in band - THEIR fair share is around $200.

When I was in high school… <pardon me while I revert to geezer mode>

You know which fundraiser I really hate? The one where they convert the gym into a little shopping center so the kids can buy presents for their family. In theory, this might be a good idea, but all it’s just pure 100% crappy gifts that nobody could possibly want. Last year my niece got me a candle in the shape of a pie…not even a good candle, one of those cheap ones, where it’s not even colored in the lines properly. What are we trying to teach our kids, that cheap, mass market, useless crap made by their peers in Indonesia is a better way to say “Merry Christmas” than a homemade card.

The only fundraiser I like is when the PTA sponsors a book fair where you can buy tons of inexpensive children’s books. They give you the list ahead of time, so you can mark off the books your child can have and the helpers let them winnow it down from there. The only problem is that some of the kids don’t have much money and they wind up feeling bad when they can’t buy as much as their friends.

the OP asked how much the kid/school got. I’ve seen two answers (one said 20%, the other said 50%).

IME, at least 50% is the norm. we’re veterans of many sales. candy bars, wrapping paper, citrus, cookie dough, ornaments, candles, etc. etc.

I did it back in 1972. My son’s done it since grade school. He’s been top candy bar seller several times (has earned his way on 4 trips, costing up to $440, selling candy bars, earning $0.50 each) I always go with him, (yes, the frantic mother in the car with the engine running). His best maneuver was to go to the student ghetto (we live by MSU, there’s several streets with tons of houses renting to students) and get there about the time the munchies were hitting ( :D) he’d rollerblade from door to door. The hockey team freaked him out, tho’ I think they were having some sort of initiation thing at the time (something about they were dressed in teddies and so on reciting jokes while standing on a upended tub in the front yard)…

This is the thread Anti Pro was referring to (I think): Little Cindy Lou Who becomes a panhandler

When a kid on the street asks me for money to support their school, I always ask them for the name of the school & what particular function the money will go towards (uniforms, class trip, etc.). I tell the kid I will mail in a contribution in his name. The school gets cash money up front, I have a receipt to deduct from my taxes & none of the money gets turned into candy bars or cigarettes on its way back to the school.

Much of the time the kid is very reluctant to give any details and I suspect s/he is just panhandling.

I know that one gift wrap company I work with gives 50%. It’s not bad, but damnit, I really resent that kids have to do this at all. I think it’s very inappopriate for them to sell (even though they do tend to discourage door-to-door stuff these days, and suggest other means for selling).

The junior class at a local private school is doing a “rent a junior” thing where they donate labor for whatever you want them to do. $5/hour per person. I like that better (they’re working, doing something, not selling) but it’s still galling that they have to raise money to do activities at their school.

I’ve got three of 'em coming over to my house next week! Yay!

This isn’t a response to the OP, because I don’t know how much the sponsoring org keeps from the take, although everything I’ve read agrees with the general consensus that it is disgracefully little. I had two immediate related thoughts, though.

  1. The worst, in my opinion, is Mom or Dad who brings their kids’ flyer into work and expects everyone to pony up. If the kid is supposed to be doing the fundraising for the organization or activity in which they are a participant (separate from the issue of whether they should do so in the first place or not), it ticks me off to see it gone about in this way. So many of the patterns I see now are like this - little Johnny or Susie doesn’t need to do {fill in the blank}, because Mom and Dad will take the responsiblity for them.

  2. When I was a kid (and no, it wasn’t THAT long ago), I sold potato chips every year for ten years as part of the annual 4-H fundraiser. (Yes, I know, it doesn’t have the same resonance as Girl Scout cookies.) I went out with my clipboard and pen, knocking on the doors of total strangers and taking orders for miles around (I was always a top performer, although we had no rewards to work for, just the satisfaction of supporting the cause), and after the product showed up, I toted a little wheeled cart around and deilvered them to my pre-order customers, hoping they would follow through, and also made cold calls to try for additional sales on the spot. My (very responsible and protective) parents never gave a moment’s thought of concern to this, and neither did I. Nowadays parents would never think of letting their eight-year-old girl spend days on end all alone knocking on the doors of total strangers. I often hear people say that things aren’t really all that different today, it’s just our perception - but it really is different.

BTW, my years of being the kid knocking on the door has made me into an adult who refuses to buy from Mom and Dad selling at work for an anonymous child, but who never passes a child with a lemonade stand at the curb, even if I toss the lemonade out the window as soon as I turn the corner.

Around here they don’t even have to sell anything anymore. I was stopped at a fairly high traffic intersect by a group of cheerleaders asking for money.

There were about 12 high school girls in their cheerleader outfits. They walked up to cars stopped at the red light and asked for money to support their cheerleading squad.

It was just about the tackiest thing I have ever seen. Not to mention dangerous.

Cyg, I have seen selling materials that encourage this very thing. They say never sell to strangers; instead, ask people your parents know. I don’t think it’s a matter of parents helping their children shirk responsibility. it used to make me mad, when I was younger, because my mom and dad wouldn’t. I thought it was “not fair” that kids would win prizes for the massive sales, when their parents did 99% of it at work. But now? I see why they do it.

That doesn’t mean I’m thrilled with the stuff showing up at work, however. We have a policy against it, but we politely look the other way because we have only a few people with school-age children here to hit up on us. In our office, we DO know each other’s kids. It’s not an anonymous kid we’re buying from.

Ok, I can see why fundraisers are necessary for extra activities, but why can’t they sell stuff that will net more profit for the kids? Like 75%-100% going towards the goal? Why can’t they hold a bake sale or a carwash instead of selling me stuff I don’t want or need?

If I bought the five ounce chocolate bear for $10, the school (at 20%) would get $2 and the company gets $8…for a chunk of chocolate I would pay $2 tops for if I saw it a Target or Wal*Mart. It just feels morally wrong for me to support something that uses children like that. Even with the kids getting 50% it seems like they’re getting the short end of the stick.

And yes, the kids do not look like they are enjoying selling stuff to adults they don’t know. I feel sorry for them.

We’re about to kick off the cub scout popcorn campaign. Our take of this is about 50% of the gross, I think. For the most part, it works well for us, because (IMHO) people get a good product at a not-too-terribly inflated price, sort of like girl scout cookies. Not like the wrapping paper sales that someone else mentioned, or the glittery plastic crud that falls apart if you stare at it too hard.

Missus Coder and I both bring an order form into our offices for Ralf Jr. People here understand that this isn’t anything mandatory. Some of them look forward to these sales, at least here. The only problems we run into sometimes are when 2, 3, or more people bring the same signup list in for different kids. I expect three order forms for scout popcorn to be out on the breakroom table next Monday, and the same thing happens for girl scout cookie season. Then people have to either order a little bit from everyone, or else slight one in favor of the other. If that’s the worst moral decision you have to make this month, you’re lucky.

In elemntary/junior high school, we always hated the kids whose parents brought the fundraiser to work with them. They did zero work and always won the big prizes. I got very cynical about fundraises the one particular year when my school tried to get us to do at least 7 or 8 in one year.