Family and Parenting, Opinion

The Relentless and Intolerable Pressure to Fundraise at Preschool

How do you feel about fundraising? What about when it’s not really a choice, but an expectation? Based on some conversations I’ve had, I think there are some educational settings that use unethical tactics – akin to emotional blackmail – to extract funds from parents. And the preschool pressure to fundraise is inappropriate as well as being a blooming gargantuan stress we don’t need!

I already know some people will disagree, while others will ‘get it’ immediately. If I were referring to a charity instead of a preschool or school, would I perhaps get more support? Because rather than simply being an attack on the staff nurturing our children when they’re not in our care, it would more likely be viewed as a corporation preying on people’s goodwill. But is this really so different? Yes, it involves our children; and yes, often the settings they’re in – particularly preschools – are struggling with funding.

But when did it become acceptable to hound busy parents to not only contribute money to what is allegedly already funded by the government, but also to fundraise?

See, this is a two-pronged issue, because putting our hands in our pockets is only half the problem. I receive letters which read as pushy on a very regular basis. Sometimes they merely ask for some form of contribution. But more frequent than not they mention fundraising efforts – with a presumptuous undertone implying that said contribution should be generous.

The thing is, this leaves us with a difficult choice:

  1. Fundraise. Repeatedly. Which gets annoying for those unfortunate enough to feel the knock-on effects of your harassment for cash, and becomes embarrassing for you;
  2. Fork out yourself, yet again. Not always possible for families who are already struggling to make ends meet. Or even for those saving hard to be able to do nice things like go on holiday;
  3. Ignore the brazen letters which are passive-aggressively slipped into your child’s bag;
  4. Speak up and earn yourself a reputation.

None of these options sit well with me. I don’t want to be pushed into any of these four corners, thanks.

So is this blog post as passive-aggressive as I’m suggesting their letters are? Possibly, but the point of it is to start a discussion – especially because in some circumstances the issue may arise from overstaffing.

Does your child's preschool apply a lot of pressure to parents to contribute and fundraise, and if so, do you think this is fair / appropriate?

Playing Devil’s Advocate

It’s possible, of course, that the particular settings I’m referring to have no appreciation of how their letters are viewed, and that I’m projecting. It’s possible that they’d be horrified by an inferred obligation to contribute every time. It’s possible that it’s entirely unintentional, and that they’d want to make it known that all fundraising is optional, despite the tone of their letters.

It’s possible that in settings employing these questionable methods, it may merely be an unfortunate choice of wording than the ethos of the school.

Preschool Pressure to Fundraise

The other issue is the fact that I’m not just a Stepford Wife, bored and twiddling my thumbs after I’ve done the washing up and hung up the laundry. I work damn hard – damn hard. Because I – like many others – am a work at home parent, which means I don’t have regular scheduled hours in which to fit my practically full-time job. I have to find little pockets of time to squeeze my workload into, around caring for our children. Every single moment I have is precious, precious time. Either for being fully present for my children (as much as possible, though let’s be real – not as often as I’d like) – or working.

The fact is, I do not have the time to fundraise. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to be able to help, because I totally would. But as it is, I barely have time to keep up with my own priorities – I often barely have time to take a shower/brush my hair/eat dinner. My washing mostly lives on the line or in the basket because I scarcely find time to put it away; when I do I congratulate myself for the following few days – until the next load needs to be dealt with. Christ – I often don’t have time to go to the toilet, and let me tell you: I wish I was joking.

And these circumstances are not exclusive to me and my kin – you’re likely reading thinking that you also spread yourself too thin, too often.

So, much though I want the absolute best for my children, and much though I want to be a good and decent human being, I resent having my time treated as though it’s a commodity for others to claim at will. My time is precious – and it belongs to me and my family.

So What’s the Answer?

For the record, I wish funding was addressed by the government in such a way that none of this were necessary. My heart goes out to the educational settings that require more help and don’t get it.

But putting unnecessary pressure on families already at breaking point is not the answer.

There are some who will be financially unable to contribute, and others like myself who will feel the strain as an additional burden on their already stretched time. Cavalier attitudes to our difficulties can feel like a real slap in the face, particularly coming from the very people who are allegedly there to support our families.

I’m an anxious person. That’s not a choice, it’s simply a fact I’m trying to live with to the best of my ability. While many parents may simply be able to shrug off the implied responsibility and resulting feeling of being looked upon as lazy or selfish, as somebody who’s conscientious and forever feeling ‘less than’, this issue is a trigger for me.

What do you think – is there too much pressure on parents to participate in fundraising?

2 Comments

  1. Sarah - Arthurwears

    July 6, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    I can totally see where you’re coming from. I think there is too much pressure on the preschools to have to resort to asking for fundraising because of the lack of govt funding. It does sound like your particular preschool do not address it appropriately though. Arthur has 2 settings at the moment and one does it well, another doesn’t. The one that doesn’t do it well just whack on the extra surcharge to the free hours which is now more than 4 time the amount at the other setting. They also send out letters for sponsored jumps with a suggestion of amount per person/jump etc where it is clear that the intention is just to get as much cash as possible, The setting who do it well put on fundraising events which all the staff are involved in (eg fun days at the weekend) and they ask for parent volunteers to help run stalls or donate items for raffles etc alongside them. They have an option with the preschool bill to voluntarily contribute more towards the funds if you can afford to do so but this is never an expectation.

    Like you, I simply don’t have time to fundraise myself – my time is stretched as it is, if I had the extra hours I probably wouldn’t need the childcare on the first place

    1. Kate Tunstall

      July 6, 2018 at 10:34 pm

      I do appreciate that it likely comes from a place of need, sadly. It would be wonderful if all educational settings had access to the funds they require, and it’s very unfortunate that’s not the reality. I’m not suggesting parents shouldn’t contribute to cover the shortfall, just that the expectation is inappropriate.

      Like you say, if we had more time we probably wouldn’t be utilising the childcare anyway!

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