Why Is the Response “What’s In It For Me?”

Why Is the Response “What’s In It For Me?”

weebles.jpg-largeWe are trained to ask “what’s in it for me?”!  It starts when we’re kids. I remember doing the magazine drive as a kid and the sales reps who ran the assembly would tempt us with trips to Disneyland or a giant weepel (see photo).

If we sold X number of subscriptions, we would get some amazing prizes!   So we sold magazines to every aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent, neighbor and stranger we could.  All because we HAD to get the life-size weeble or trip to Disney (that never seemed to go to anyone we knew).

I was reminded of this again during Halloween.  Charlotte was taking her box around and diligently asking for money for Unicef.  I was amazed by how easy it was her for to ask — especially since Emily was never comfortable asking.  When we came home, Charlotte counted up the money and yelled, “I got the ball — and I’m just a few dollars short to get the pump!”  I looked at the box and explained to her that Unicef is about giving to those that don’t have anything.  Yes, those kids will get balls, and the thing she thought was a pump was actually a picture of a shot.  Those were vaccines for children.

I think she was disappointed not to get anything for it, but I explained that what she did helped a lot of kids and she should feel good about it because it was a good thing to do.  I think that helped.  That, and she moved on to eating one of her Snickers bars!

Can we ever raise money because the school needs it and not have it be about what we get in return?

Sadly, it isn’t just kids who ask the question.  A school did an annual campaign last year and offered 10 computers as a prize for the first 10 classes that had 100% participation at the asking level.  This put a lot of pressure on everyone to “pony up.”  Ultimately, this wasn’t the best way to raise money because it cost the school’s PTO a lot of money and set an expectation to always do something bigger and better.  When the school launched the campaign again this year, parents wanted to know what was in it for them!  Uh oh!

How do you unteach this lesson?

The answer is to re-educate your audience.  Parents and children need to understand that it isn’t always about what physical gift we get from doing good in the world.  Sometimes the gift is experiential.  Kids get the opportunity to work with amazing enrichment teachers in addition to the great teachers they already have.  They get band uniforms or science labs or media centers.  They get art or drama or PE (or all of that) because parents give to their schools.  Sometimes there’s a popsicle party thrown in too.  THESE are the gifts we get for giving what we do.  We are giving our kids a well rounded education and a love of learning that will last a lifetime.

That’s better than a life-size weepel any day, right?

I’d like to ask you to do me a favor.  If you liked this post, please share it with three people!  If you know someone who could use a little help with their fundraising, pass it on to them too!

To your success,



Sarah has been fundraising for schools since 2008.  She is the author of A Mom’s Guide to School Fundraising and has consulted for several schools and clubs.  She has been featured on RetailMeNot.com, Scholastic: Parent & Child and The New York Times. She thinks all kids should be able to have a well-rounded education, team uniforms, instruments and support.  Don’t you?


Photo Credit: twicsy.com

Use Facebook to Comment on this Post