$500,000 in Fundraisng Prompts Study

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Thursday October 16, 2014

Bakesales, wrapping paper, Gold Card sales and other fundraising endeavors throughout the district netted half a million dollars last year. South Burlington School Board members sought answers about fundraising practices after Business Manager John Stewart pointed out the total amount raised for a wide variety of student activities last year, including trips abroad. This begged the question, how much money does it really cost to run the district? How much money does it take to be a soccer player, for example? If fundraisers are held to provide essential equipment, should it be included in the budget? The board was also curious to determine if the current fundraising guidelines were due for an upgrade.

As a result of their inquiry, a committee comprised of Stewart, SBHS Assistant Principal Lissa McDonald, and Human Resources Director Karen Dantzscher, set
to work analyzing the numerous components of fundraising, including the risks involved (especially in regard to door-to-door solicitations). The questions that arose through the process were complex and required some digging to get to the answers. The results of their efforts are outlined in a compilation document that contains a draft of procedures. The document looks at information about various components of fundraising such as advertising, solicitations, promotional activities, donations, gifts, grants, and requests.

A common form was developed for all fundraising and solicitation requests and is currently in development as an online form, which will be linked to the district webpage when finalized. At the October 2 board meeting, McDonald walked the board through the form and described what happens after it is submitted. Aside from requesting basic information from the individuals looking to fundraise, the form also requires the following: a description of the
event, information about how it relates to the district’s ends policy, an overview of how students will be involved, the start and end time, what school facilities will be utilized, and, most importantly, how the funds will be collected and where will they be deposited. If someone is simply making a donation, that person would still need to fill out the form and state the nature of the gift, how the giver intends for it to be used, how it is going to serve the district ends, and if the donation requires an endorsement of a business or product.

As forms are received, they will be directed to the appropriate school principal for approval. McDonald explained that requests may be denied for something as simple as timing, as based upon the new fundraising calendar, there may be too many efforts already under way during the requested timeframe.

The Board lauded the committee for their extensive efforts, but board member Diane Bugbee wanted to assure that there was flexibility for the spontaneous nature of some student fundraisers, such as when a natural disaster strikes. McDonald assured her that for community minded events, wherein students are galvanized to donate to a third party, exceptions will be considered.

Administrators will receive training about the new forms and will have the opportunity to provide feedback. Distribution of guidelines to all district staff and affiliated organizations will occur after review by the full administrative team.

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent