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We didn’t get many comments on the question of the appropriateness of begging for money in a church setting, but the comments we did receive covered the whole spectrum.  It’s always nice when all viewpoints are represented.

Here they are.  See which answers speak to you:

Call me old-fashioned.  I cleaned houses, did babysitting, threw birthday parties, ironed and sold garden-raised fruit door-to-door to raise money when young.  I, too, am irked that people seem to think everyone else should cover their interests.  If there is a medical need or a death, I feel a little differently about it. 

An LDS girl sent us a letter saying she was going to Africa for some benevolent trip.  It was going to cost $3,600 and she was sending her appeal to 36 special families.  I felt like forwarding one back which said, “I have lived in my house for a number of years and still have a dirt back yard.  Would you like to purchase a bush or planter for my cause?” 

The sense of entitlement is a dangerous thing, in my opinion.  I know a lady who was raised in Italy but came to the States and married a fellow from Idaho.  She wanted her three children to be able to go back to her homeland and meet her relatives.  The family took on night-time janitorial jobs and also thinned beets (something migrant workers usually do) until they earned the $5,000 cost of their trip.  The mother told me that while the family was working in the fields, she taught them how to conjugate Italian verbs and they used the time as a bonding and learning time. 

I loved this approach!  I’m certain that the entire family really enjoyed the fruits of their labors after being self sufficient and getting themselves to their dream trip.

Fuddy-Duddy

What a great story, Fuddy-Duddy!  People who work for things really do appreciate them more.  If any of your doubt that, see how your daughters treat the clothes they earned themselves compared to the clothes you bought for them.  The clothes they earned themselves are a lot less likely to end up on the floor.

Church policy in our local area forbids begging. The bishop will usually write to a supermarket and ask if the youth can raise money by packing grocery bags.  Shoppers will often make a donation to the young person assisting them.

Sometimes an odd job month will be organised. The bishop encourages members who are not parents of youth to pay the YM and YW to do odd jobs like gardening, car washing or babysitting in exchange for a fee.

The fundraising is always for a worthwhile event like camp or EFY, not for parties and the like.

Fundraising is only done about twice a year so that it does not become burdensome.

Vim

United Kingdom 

Thanks for giving us a UK perspective, Vim.  I like the idea of the odd job month.  Not only is it a good way for youth to earn money, but they can also form friendships with the people who hire them, and whom they serve.

Here in British Columbia and Alberta, many youth sports teams go “canning,” which is code for standing outside the doors of the liquor store, asking for change from patrons entering or leaving the store.  This passes for “fundraising,” and I personally find it appalling and just a little creepy to watch young, healthy kids stand around and beg for/expect free money, all with the approval and encouragement of parents, coaches, and leaders.  Give me a break, already! 

This is only a weak step over from Casino and Pub night fundraisers, where parents are often guilted in to “working” the casinos on their kid’s behalf, all in the name of big bucks for the teams. Again, the youth aren’t providing any service, and the Entitlement Train just keeps chuggin’ along.  Snap out of it, people.  Our kids need to break a sweat off the field, as well.  Parents and coaches need to identify what particular values they are modeling with “fundraisers” that don’t involve raising a finger or breaking a sweat. 

Canadian Momma

Wow, Canadian Momma, you paint a vivid picture!  It’s eye-opening to think of teenagers being sent by their adult leaders to beg for money outside liquor stores.  Now there’s something that needs rethinking!

Very good topic to bring up.  If the “fundraisers” in question are LDS, then their leaders need to be counseled on what’s acceptable for fundraising activities. Read Handbook 2, section 13.6.8, and you will see that begging for money without giving some kind of service in return is discouraged.  And I seriously doubt that the BSA would allow begging as an acceptable Eagle project.  The purpose of an Eagle project is to improve the local community in some way by providing a needed service, not to raise funds.

I agree with JD that we should be teaching our young people the value of working for something they want rather than handing it to them on a silver platter.  I understand that a lot of people would rather just give their money to an organization rather than bother with making cookies for a bake sale or helping to wash cars.  But what are we teaching our children when we do this?

Of course, there are still some examples of “begging” that go on within the Church.  The “Friends of Scouting” drive has long been a sore spot with me.  I realize that it’s the BSA organization that conducts this drive, and not the Church.  But the begging usually goes on during church meetings (usually at priesthood meeting opening exercises). 

I’ve even had a bishop contact me personally about giving to FOS, even telling me how much I should donate.  Bear in mind, I don’t even have any boys in Scouting! 

I prefer to buy popcorn from the Boy Scouts or cookies from the Girl Scouts from their tables they have set up outside the supermarket.  Those kids are out there in the heat of the day offering me some kind of product in return for my donation.

In summary, the Church’s guidelines for fundraising are clearly outlined in Handbook 2, section 13.6.8 (page 107).

Jim

Vacaville, California

Thanks for reminding us to look in the handbook, Jim.  I don’t know why most of us (including me) usually forget about that resource!

As for Friends of Scouting, my husband Clark usually volunteers to buy something for the troop when someone hits him up ? a tent or a sleeping bag or something else that will stay with the troop.  The fundraisers never take him up on it when he volunteers.  Strange, isn’t it?

There are rules for the youth. I have been told that (at least for Young Women camp) there are only a handful of “approved ways” raise money. Parents are discouraged from footing the entire bill, since some may not have the money.

Boy Scout camp is very costly, especially for homes with more than one youth attending! Many times the youth are told to wait to get the money until a fundraiser can be held, or aren’t told far enough in advance to earn enough money to go. Fundraising activities aren’t all “just begging;” we have car detailing/washes, or service type projects too (lawn mowing, baby-sitting, and other activities).


 

It also has to be brought up that standing in front of a store “fundraising” is also a “job” for these kids. Have you ever helped with a Salvation Army red bucket campaign? You are very tired, and worked hard for the money, to help others while there. 

Not all youth, or adults for that matter are successful at coming up with ideas for funding activities. Maybe those who complain about the fundraising techniques should help their wards to come up with better ideas to help their youth to be able to fund activities. 

Youth Leader

There you have it, people.  Do any of you have a list of good fundraising ideas to help ward leaders who are bereft of ideas?  Maybe if people had good ideas for fundraisers they wouldn’t feel compelled to beg on the streets.

Our last letter today comes from someone who’d rather be asked for money than to give money in other ways.  He makes some good points.  Let’s see what he has to say:

I’d much rather have a potential Eagle Scout ask me for ten bucks than have him try to sell me something that I probably don’t want or need anyway.

If he is selling a product (candy, cookies, wrapping paper, popcorn, or something else), he is only getting a fourth of the money (at most).  The rest of it is profit for the company that makes the product he is selling.  In other words, I’d have to give him more than $40 for him to actually have $10 to use towards his project.

If he is having a carwash, many of the fast food restaurants and businesses charge you a fee to use their lot for the event (putting you behind the eight ball from the beginning).  Then, you have to buy the soap and Windex and towels and sponges and hoses and hose splitters.  You also have to make sure that you have rounded up enough other people to sacrifice their day and time to help with the project.

Eagle Scouts have been asking businesses for help for many years (asking the lumber yard to donate wood and nails, asking a nursery to donate soil and plants, and so on).  I don’t see a problem with them asking people for cash donations.  It is a much easier and straightforward way of getting the money and not having all of the expensive overhead.

This is the more practical approach.

On the same note, I’d much rather just give my local school the money up front than buy their band candy or whatever else they are selling.  The school isn’t making that much money and I hate to see the disappointment on all of the kids’ faces from having to go door to door in the same neighborhoods where all of their classmates are also going door to door.

Alan W. Hatch

Las Cruces, New Mexico

You make good points about having to pay money for products that are sold, Alan.  A lot of us didn’t think of that!

Okay, people, that’s it for this week.  If any of you have further topics on the subject, be sure to send them to [email protected].  And if you’re looking for something to do, wander on over to Planet Kathy (www.planetkathy.com).  I’d love to see you there.

Until next time ? Kathy

“If begging should unfortunately be thy lot, knock at the large gates only.”

Arabian Proverb

Whether you want to create your own personal history or would like Kathy Kidd to do it for you, Kathy’s blog has what you’re looking for.  Go to www.planetkathy.com and click on “Writing a Personal History” to get more information.