For as long as I can remember, I have been fundraising and running small ‘businesses’ in order to pay for important events in my life. Some of my earliest memories are setting up cookies booths and lemonade stands outside my house to raise spending money for a trip to Disney World with my family. As I got older, I continued fundraising in order to be able to pay for band trips, volleyball tournaments and dance trips to Disney World and Ukraine. I can confidently say I am an expert fundraiser.
While fundraising can be tedious, uncomfortable and hard, it taught me the value of money. My mom and dad always helped make sure that I was able to raise the amount that I needed, and made sure that we did whatever necessary to make that money. Whether I sold homemade cookies at garage sales, did bottle drives, sold chocolates, girl guide cookies, or did serve-a-thons (for volleyball). We worked as a team to make it happen. It was so exciting to be able to spend the money I had made and know that I worked hard to get it. It also made me think twice about what I was going to buy because of how hard I had worked to get it.
Now it is my turn to teach and support my son. Our family has a big trip to Disney World planned this fall, and I have decided to take him under my wing and help him raise money for the trip. As a family of five with one working parent who is also saving up to buy a house, money is tight. Like any parent, I want to be able to give the world to my son, so I have decided to teach him about raising money. It’s hard to teach a child who is two years old the full concept of money and how much things cost, but I think that they can still pick up the basic principles. He understands numbers and can count, and is learning that mommy gives money and gets things in return. So, while some may say that teaching my two year old (almost three!) is too young, I think that it is a valuable life lesson for him to learn.
Here are some fundraising ideas that you can do with a toddler. These are just a few ideas, as it’s hard to keep a two year old engaged for a long time on anything, but we have been quite successful in doing these things with Jack. Good Luck!
Hold a Garage Sale
Holding a garage sale can actually be a very educational experience. You get your child to get rid of toys they don’t play with which teaches them how to give and let go of things that they don’t play with anymore. Then they learn that they get money for the things that they sell. We usually donate our stuff to people who need them, which is a different lesson in itself, but also valuable. We decided to do a garage sale this time because we wanted our children to have some money to spend.
During the garage Sale, Jack ran around saying hi to everyone and took the money that they gave. I set the prices, but you can get your child to count out the money too, depending on their skill level. All the money we made goes to Jack and the girls because he helped out!
Selling Homemade Cookies
My son has been baking since before he turned two, so this is a nice and easy way to raise money. Since we had a garage sale this past weekend, it was the perfect venue to sell cookies. So, the day before our garage sale, we spent an afternoon making cookies. Jack helped me measure out all the ingredients and stir them all together. Doing any baking with your child is also educational because they can learn counting and fractions as they get older. And it teaches them names of ingredients too!
Once the cookies were done, we packaged them in groups of 3 and made a bunch of plates of cookies to sell. You can also get your child to help package the cookies if you trust them enough to not eat them. I do not trust my child with this role yet. The next day we set out a sign and a table with the cookies and offered free samples to the attendees. (This is an important step because you will get people to buy the cookies after they taste the delicious product. Use the broken cookies from the day before) As Jack was helping at the garage sale, he was also available to take money for the cookies. It was a very successful day, and we sold ALL the cookies!
Bottle drives typically sound quite official, but you can do low key bottle drives with your friends and family. Every couple months, I write a little status asking if anyone has any bottles they would like to donate Jack’s Disney Fund. If anyone responds, Jack goes with either Jarrett or myself to pick up the bottles and then he helps take all the bottles to the depot. For this one, I’m not sure how much he understands, but it’s more about learning the actions and helping pick up the bottles and returning them than it is about understanding getting money for bottles.