Growing up, I never liked fundraisers.

I was very shy and introverted. Not only did I not like talking to people, I was deathly afraid. I’m not talking about doing a class presentation – I talking about a group of two or three.

The majority of the fundraisers I was involved in (for school, orchestra, etc.) were the catalog type. You get a catalog of different things and have people order what they would like. I did knock on the doors of a couple neighbors that I knew and asked some family friends, but most of it relied on my mom and grandma taking it to their work and letting them do the work.

Needless to say, I didn’t do really well with them. I didn’t learn much either.

Flash-Forward

2almondIf you were to come twenty years into the future (more or less), then you would see a different person with a different view of fundraisers.

The Christian school I teach at does two major fundraisers every year. Both involve selling candy bars from World Finest Chocolate. In the past, I’ve seen kids get one or two cases and try to sell them over a 3-4 week period. Not our school. Ours is much more intense.

We just finished the first of these fundraisers, and we had about 100 kids sell just over $100,000 in candy bars in two weekends. That’s an average of $1,000 per kid, or 16-$60 cases. There’s obviously some that don’t sell very much and others that blow the others out of the water.

So…what can we learn from this?

Participating in these recent fundraisers have taught several things. I’ve been able to grow, as well as my kids.

1. You learn to handle rejection

The majority of the people will decline to buy a candy bar. It is difficult to ask 30 people in a row that say “no” buying a candy bar. My son used to get really discouraged. He would literally just stop, sit down, and cry. This is his fourth year doing this, and is almost to the point of letting it roll off like water on a duck’s back. My daughter is a little behind in that maturity.

2. You learn that generosity still exists

Even though you encounter many “no’s” along the way, there are times when people show generosity. Sometimes someone will buy two $2 bars, give a $5 bill, and tell us to keep the change. There have been some that have given a $10 or $20 bill and didn’t even buy candy. There have been several people that said that they remember selling candy when they were a kid, so they would buy just to help out.

3. You learn the value of hard work

It takes a lot of hard work, time, and walking to sell that much candy in such a short amount of time. In the end, there are prizes, so my kids are learning that hard work pays off in the end. We try to throw in a few mini-rewards along the way to help keep the motivation, too.

4. You learn to be persistent

Sometimes, we get kicked out of places. They don’t like us selling candy there. This is worse than one person saying “no.” It’s like 20 people saying it. You have to learn to keep going.

Question: Have you learned anything from fundraisers, or from selling in general?