Worlds Finest Chocolate, really?
December 11, 2012 7:49 PM   Subscribe

So fall/winter in the US is when I am barraged by schoolkids and their parents to buy chocolate or trinkets or coupon books to raise money for the school. My very specific question is is this an American thing only? Pros and cons of this are not relevant here, but i am curious if other countries turn their students into salesmen. If so, what do they sell or fundraise with outside the states?
posted by asockpuppet to Education (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
All of the primary schools my kids have gone to do periodic chocolate sale things, which are a bane for parents.
posted by thylacinthine at 7:58 PM on December 11, 2012

Sure, I sold candy and cookies and all sorts of crap (frozen fish. yes.) at both primary and high school in New Zealand.
posted by gaspode at 8:03 PM on December 11, 2012

In Canada, absolutely. Most schools and clubs (gymnastics, karate, dance, etc.) do a few a year. From my experience living abroad, it doesn't happen at all in Sub-Saharan Africa, Turkey, or Vietnam. I think in most less developed countries, the fundraising still happens, but it ends up being the school (or Parent Counsel) soliciting large donations from rich families to buy big-ticket items.
posted by hasna at 8:03 PM on December 11, 2012

Yes, kids do this in NZ and Australia. Usually with sweets and chocolate bars, but once when I was a kid we raised funds for a school camp by selling (terrible) frozen pizzas. The sausage sizzle is also a popular fundraiser - barbecued sausages (not hot dogs), wrapped in a slice of white bread and topped with fried onions and tomato sauce. Some larger retailers keep a communal barbecue which school and community groups can use to run sausage sizzles outside the store.
posted by embrangled at 8:04 PM on December 11, 2012

It was never a thing in my (British) schools growing up, and I don't think it's a big thing now, although that's mostly anecdata from family back home. There'd be fundraisers for certain extra-curricular things, and for charities, but not for the essentials. There are arrangements like the "school vouchers" schemes run by various supermarkets and food companies, which aren't without controversy, and parent-teacher associations sometimes do fundraisers without childrens' involvement, but the enlisting of kids to sell crap at high markups along American lines would, I think, be considered mildly scandalous. That's all in the context of the state system; I imagine that independent schools are much more likely to do broader fundraisers for their upkeep.
posted by holgate at 8:14 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

A more traditional Australian fundraiser is the lamington drive. Infinitely preferable to things like Krispy Kreme.
posted by zamboni at 8:15 PM on December 11, 2012

It does happen in Australia, but I get the impression that it's much less of a big thing than it is in the States.

The primary-school-aged kids of my acquaintance only do maybe one chocolate or lamington fundraiser per year, and then it's usually selling to relatives. I've never been doorknocked by a random kid, and I live in a pretty popular area for that kind of thing.
posted by Salamander at 8:16 PM on December 11, 2012

This is a thing in Victoria, British Columbia. Usually whoever is doing it is starting out with the best intentions, but it's not really an effective or strategic way to do fundraising, so I just ignore it.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:16 PM on December 11, 2012

Raffles are popular here (Australia) - usually donated goods (can be a tax write-off for the doner) but occasionally items are purchased with the idea that enough tickets will be sold to turn a profit. Mum's a sucker for raffle tickets ($2 or 3 for $5!) and has won all sorts of weird stuff over the years - meat tray, RC racing car, juicer, sandwich vouchers, a really hideous bedspread, etc etc

I get door-knocked by kids selling chocolate all the time, but I prefer it when someones parent brings in the box to work and sets up shop on a spare desk.
posted by ninazer0 at 8:17 PM on December 11, 2012

In my Maltese Catholic convent school in the 80s the nuns raised money through sponsored walks ('Marathon Walk'), Christmas gift fairs, raffles and bingo.
posted by Dragonness at 8:22 PM on December 11, 2012

Zamboni: Lamingtons are not preferable if you've actually had to help making the bloody things, as I did [mumble mumble] years ago.
I used to bitterly resent Ashton-Scholastic's "library days", when the teachers would send a catalogue of books and other crap home for the kids to induce Mum and Dad to buy for them. The school got a cut of the take, but I don't know how much. (Australia, 10--15 years ago.)
posted by Logophiliac at 8:22 PM on December 11, 2012

Just to answer the second part of your question: schools in Australia usually have a big annual fete that's open to the public (stalls of homemade goods, horse rides, competitions, etc). They also have things like quiz nights or concerts. Proceeds usually go to something special, like a new swimming pool or gymnasium, not basics like books.

So in short, no; I don't think kids being used as 'salespeople' is that big of a thing.
posted by Salamander at 8:24 PM on December 11, 2012

I'm after my school (in Canada) to just tell me how much they want to raise per child. Then I'll just give it to them if they'll give me a charitable tax receipt.

Actually, I'd probably give it to them anyways just to get out of selling crap for third party craptailers using my kids as unpaid sales staff.
posted by wenat at 8:36 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]

Girl Guides in Canada, like Girl Scouts in the USA, sell cookies.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:06 PM on December 11, 2012

Yes, here in Canada. Pizza, chocolates, Entertainment Books, Scholastic and Usborne books, chocolate bars, poinsettias, choir CDs, tuques, cookies. Our parents would prefer not to fundraise, but requests for people to contribute money (in exchange for a tax receipt) result in a pittance. We actually make far more money when people buy a box of chocolates or some pizzas and we don't have to run around and generate tax receipts, which would require us to use the money for very detailed purposes, as opposed to the general pot of money for everything we decide to fund throughout the year.

As for the funds, we use them for textbooks, resource (learning assistance) supplies, library books, special needs supplies, art supplies, choir, music/dance, concerts, holiday fairs, playground equipment, field trips, guest speakers....many of those things used to be funded by public education or even partly funded. Now the teachers are using their salaries to buy textbooks. It's very, very sad.

Our school does put an emphasis on fundraisers that help our community. And things like our book fair are super, super fun and get people excited about books and so on. So it's not all bad.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 9:38 PM on December 11, 2012

I've got three children in school in England. It's not been a thing at all here. The occasional cake sale at school - usually raising money for charity rather rather the school - is the most that has happened.
posted by Gilgongo at 10:08 PM on December 11, 2012

Oh my gosh, we did a TON of the door-to-door selling of stuff when I was in school in Sweden. We sold chocolates, pretzels, advent calendars, Christmas magazines, etc. to raise money for school trips, for charity, for all kinds of causes - not for essentials normally, just extra funds for specific school projects. I sold May Flowers (raising money for tuberculosis research) every year from fourth to ninth grade.

It doesn't happen that way any more, from what I can gather. Mostly stuff like chocolate and cookies are sold like here in the US - to friends of your parents, to people you know, through your parents' work, etc. Also a lot of it is now raffle tickets rather than selling physical goods. The raffled goods are generally donated by local businesses.
posted by gemmy at 10:14 PM on December 11, 2012

Seconding gemmy, except to say the selling most certainly goes on still, it's like the worst sort of MLM-scheme. Most of the stuff being sold is to kick in for school trips, or on behalf of sports clubs etc. Popular at the moment is underwear and salamis, strange but true. Then of course the Christmas Magazines which is a huge business where the kids work for "gifts", they sell the books and magazines and get, for example, a macbook pro.

The work parents do in the selling these days is....... considerable.

The May Flowers are a quite lovely charitable exception however and the funds actually go to support children in need these days.

Ireland was (perhaps is) along the lines of Aus and the UK as mentioned, sales-of-work, car-washes, grocery bagging, sponsored walks, fasts(?!), etc.
posted by Iteki at 10:45 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I haven't had any door-to-door here in Denmark (specifically: Copenhagen) ever except for charity collections (Red Cross, etc.). No scout-like things, or school-related things. Nothing.
posted by alchemist at 11:56 PM on December 11, 2012

A tiny data point from Slovenia, EU:

Certainly no door-to-door selling. If the school needs extra funds for extracurricular activities, the parents of the children involved usually cough up the money needed.

Or the school organizes an auction/sale, selling parent- or child-made things like greeting cards or XMas ornaments. Usually on the last day of school before XMas holidays, when there are no classes, only some kind of entertainment both for kids and the parents.

Another popular way to raise funds is for kids to gather old paper and sell it to the recycling center. Kids in smaller communities may go around houses asking for old newspapers, but I haven't seen it happening in my urban neighborhood. (I remember this happening in the old ex-YU, too.) It happens once a year.
posted by gakiko at 12:06 AM on December 12, 2012

UK private school: nothing exactly like this, and I agree with holgate that children selling stuff at markup for the school would probably be seen as rather scandalous. We had school fetes/bring and buy sales etc in the summer, but they were as likely to be raising money for charity than for the school.

Much more common as money-making for the school itself was tight control over the school uniform. It was made it so specific that you had to either buy things from the school itself at whatever markup they wanted (for example, my school blazer had to be bought through the school), or from the officially sanctioned school uniform shop, which I assume got the school some sort of cut for getting all the families from the school through the door. I think this is common to most private schools in the UK.
posted by Coobeastie at 1:56 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I went to school in the 80's and early 90's here in the U.S. in Massachusetts. We didn't have to sell anything. I think it's bizarre that every other day there's kids outside stores asking me to buy stuff... or co-workers asking me to buy coupon books/flowers/candy/gifts.
I'm wondering if it's lack of funding in the last few years or a regional thing. Or maybe both.
posted by KogeLiz at 2:19 AM on December 12, 2012

Agree this is not a thing in the UK. My state school had a school fair every year but the teachers ran the stalls mostly with some of the older kids helping out. I have no idea what the money was for or went. My private school had a May Gala which was a school fair but less fun (no bouncy castle or throwing balls at coconuts to win goldfish!), I'm pretty sure the money went to the school (which was a registered charity!). We also got near constant letters from the 'parents and guardians' try to get us to badger our parents into attending overpriced dinners, silent auctions, car things and bring and buy sales (I never actually read them and rarely took them home, I know my parents wouldn't be interested!)
posted by missmagenta at 3:04 AM on December 12, 2012

In Norway this sometimes happens. We have a ton of toilet paper (!) at the moment, pushed on us by some colleague for her daughter's school trip.
posted by Harald74 at 4:41 AM on December 12, 2012

I live in England and, although I've never encountered kids selling things for their schools, there have certainly been plenty of other fund raisers.

Two different nurseries that my kids went to participated in "Book People"-- a group that sells discounted books (for children and adults), with the school getting a cut.

Also, my local state primary school has enlisted the kids to raise money in various ways. Every kid in school does a little drawing of a particular season; the drawings are combined into a calendar, which is then sold to parents. For the Christmas Fair, kids decorated jars, filled them with goodies, and donated them, and then the school sold them.

Grownups are also asked to participate. Also for the fair, people (and local businesses) donated items -- used items were sold in a big flea market, while other items were auctioned off or raffled. The money goes to the school's "parents and friends" association, which uses them to supplement the school's budget in various ways.
posted by yankeefog at 4:48 AM on December 12, 2012

Another data point for "this never happened whilst I was at school in the UK." And my parents moved a lot so I went to a lot of different schools. We did do some fundraising through sponsored walks and things, but that was always for charity, never the school.
posted by stillnocturnal at 12:37 PM on December 12, 2012

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