Column: Annual fall rite requires specific strategies for success

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 26, 2005

You want to buy some candy. Or how about some Christmas wrap, maybe some chocolates. Are you hungry for pizza, or wait, do you need some magazines &045; lots and lots of magazines?

If you do, the annual fall fund raising for schools has begun and all these items, and more, are available from catalogs, which the kids pass around to employees, family and friends.

When I was younger, I do not remember having such a plethora of items in one packet to sell. I remember selling fruit cakes, the kind people would order, but never eat.

Email newsletter signup

You would always get at least one every year and no one would ever even unwrap the plastic on the canister. I think it was because our parents would re-gift the fruit cake immediately so it would not spoil. (Can fruitcake spoil?)

The sweet confection looks sort of bulletproof. Instead of Kevlar vests you would be pretty safe just hanging a huge fruitcake in front of you. I know a friend of mine who has a theory there is really only one fruitcake in the world and it just keeps getting re-gifted from place to place. Not a bad theory, I don’t think I have ever seen two fruitcakes in the same place at once. (Well, I have at a family reunion, but that’s a different kind of fruitcake).

OK, back to all the items you can get from the fundraisers. Wow. I cannot believe that you can

get everything from soup to nuts. I never remember having so many different items to sell. I think before long, they will have boats, cars and ATVs in those packets.

I can see kids now: Grandma, will you order a box of chocolate turtles and a Cadillac Escalade, and if you do I will be in prize sector EE and could win a stuffed frog or a hand-held radio.

Which brings me to another ploy &045; the prizes. On the list of prizes is everything from stuffed animals to TVs.

When I look over the list of toys and compare them to the desired level of monetary input, I want to scream. If you do not sell at least $1 million in gadgets, food and Christmas wrap, you get junk. If kids sells more than $1 million, they get the cool stuff, like a Scooby Doo radio-controlled airplane or the new shiny bike (lucky).

Do you know how many houses and people the parents have to guilt into buying something to get to that level? Answer: more than we really have time for.

I would rather go out and buy the actual gift for my child and give the school $100 dollars out of my pocket than to sell, sort out and deliver all the items people buy.

Please do not get me wrong, I think the money is going to a good cause and I think it does teach the kids &045; or at the very least the parents &045; a lesson in money management and goal-oriented selling, but I think there must be an easier way.

I would bet that most parents would rather donate $100 to the school than to have to deal with all the other hoopla surrounding this annual event.

Now, with all that said, I wish all the children good luck and the parents this handy dandy list of who to target and strategies to use before starting out on the task of helping with &045;also known as doing &045;your child’s fund raising:

Grandparents &045;They are usually good for a few orders.

Guilt &045; Always seems to work.

Family members &045;This works only if you get to the aunts and uncles first, then work your way

through. If the family member has already bought from another family member it is hard to use guilt, because they have already donated to the cause and it is time to use:

Blackmail &045;A real cute look that you can’t resist.

Work on the sad story about how no one will buy from them because he/she is just too shy.

Try crying until they order something to get you to stop.

Co-workers &045; Make sure you are the first one to get to the workers or there will be order overload. This happens when too many workers have kids selling all at the same time.

To help out with this dilemma you need to:

– Form an alliance &045; hey, it worked on &uot;Survivor&uot; and it can work for you. Buy only from people that buy from your kids.

– Order from all the kids at work equally &045; This never happens because no one has that kind of money.

– Be the cheapskate that no one likes and do not order from any of the kids.

– Buy from the first one who asks and tell the rest of them, sorry, I already bought.

– Door-to-door &045; This can work if you happen to be the first parent/child tandem on the block to sell, but beware the chances of neighbors not being under the first four prospects are low.

OK, Are you you ready? On your mark &045;Get set &045; sell.