May 092016
 

By User:Aka (File:Chocolate.jpg) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By User:Aka (File:Chocolate.jpg) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This week I’ve been approached to support a children’s dance class, a high school mission trip, a college sports trip, an elementary soccer league, and a private school fundraiser.

Are we solicited because we have a soft touch, or are we simply soft-headed? My husband is worse than I am. He’s contributed to “Laplanders for Botox” or something as equally arbitrary. We don’t need garbage bags via a fundraising organization that takes a huge percentage off the top. But, wait, there’s more!  Donate more and get 100 additional monogrammed trash bags today and all the penguins of Antarctica get new bowler hats.

To be fair, I’ve worked in professional development and as a volunteer in the disability community. My hands reached out for many a friend and family member. We do, however, try to reciprocate, but this is something else.

From the time our son was asked to sell World’s Finest chocolate bars, we insisted he do the selling himself. It was a teachable moment.  I showed him the ropes. He was raising money for the elementary school band, where he gave a less than stellar performance with his rented baritone horn.

At first, we didn’t allow him to solicit outside of friends and family.

For the fourth-grader, that meant a somewhat scripted phone conversation with his maternal grandparents and his paternal grandmother. He called a few other relatives and hit up the elderly ladies in his fan club at church. He had success and moved on to Boy Scout popcorn.

Our son and his friend donned their regal uniforms and pulled a wagon through the neighborhood. Who isn’t a soft touch for a man in uniform? Again, our son hit up the relatives and his community and church groupies.

Something has changed in the 15 years since he started his sales career. This change is well illustrated by a story my now-adult son told me. His co-worker approached him to buy a bauble or coupon book from her child.

My son said, “I will, but my parents always made me ask myself. They said I was the sales person, and I had to do it.”

His co-worker replied, “But, my child is five.”

ENOUGH already.

I repeat, I am a soft touch, and sponsor most things. I’m also aware that civic and school organizations don’t have resources, and I’m happy to support them. My family has a tradition of scholarships at several state universities.  But…

I suggest three ways a child can improve his sales, and learn some valuable life lessons, like speaking to adults respectfully, understanding rejection, and following through with orders.

Here are my three suggestions, with apologies to the real estate industry and their location x 3 mantra.

  1. Let your child sell his stuff.
  2. Let your child sell his stuff.
  3. Let your child sell his stuff.

I am more likely to buy from a child (even if the parent is standing a distance back) than I am from a co-worker who slips a sheet in front of my face. Or worse yet, asks me randomly, “Do you like going to the movies?” Yes, my co-worker has a bargain on discounted tickets for the local theater to benefit youth soccer. The most egregious are the emails sent to an entire contact list on behalf of their young child.

Don’t call me Grinch. If your child is too young to sell products, you should not do it for them. Many workplaces have no solicitation policies, resulting in a breakroom with multiple jewelry, purse, food, and makeup catalogs as well as the goodies schoolchildren sell.

This morning I gave a co-worker a check. My son purchased whatever it was from the parent of the 5-year-old. Our names must be on a list somewhere.

Cross-posted at BlogHer under different title. http://www.blogher.com/3-ways-improve-your-childs-fundraising

 

 

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