Fundraisers evolve with new laws and less volunteerism

December 10, 2018 — by Edwin Chen and Justin Guo

Fundraising laws shrink magnitude of club fundraising; large scale fundraising has difficulties.

As sophomore class officers Lauren Tan and Arnav Mangal recently prepared for their after-school boba fundraiser, they anticipated the anarchy that was about to ensue at their table above the quad steps. When the bell rang, dozens of students rushed the table desperately trying to get a drink, shoving their money in the class officers’ faces.

This scene would have been unheard of a few years ago, but today, it is a common sight.

Traditionally, clubs and teams often host larger, more formal fundraisers to raise money for travel fees, supplies and competitions. For instance, an annual cookie-dough fundraiser generates revenue for the music department, and this year, the freshman class is doing a candy gram fundraiser.

In recent years, the introduction of new laws and the rise in popularity for certain foods and drinks have significantly influenced the way fundraising is carried out on campus.

According to assistant principal Kerry Mohnike, California law restricts what items can be sold on campus.

Since 2007, the state has enforced nutrition standards for “competitive foods” in schools — the snacks and foods that are not included in meal plans but that students can get on school grounds.

“Back 10 years ago, you could sell candy on campus, but there are now laws restricting some of the things we can sell,”  Mohnike said. “We used to have large candy drives where kids walked around with a box of candy bars and they sold their friends a candy bar for a couple bucks during classes.”

California law limits the amount of sugar and fat that can be found in foods sold on school grounds.

The rules also have placed restrictions on when fundraisers can be held on campus.

“We can't sell food items during the day,” Mohnike said. “So boba tea became really popular at the end of the day.”

Though the drink has been trendy for several years now, its popularity has hardly dwindled, and the simple convenience factor and the near guarantee that it will be sold out makes it especially appealing for fundraising.

The popularity of boba has led it to become a profitable way for clubs to fundraise. Class officers often buy 120 boba drinks at a time, which usually costs $400. But by selling them for $4-5 depending on the initial cost of the drink, they can generate a profit of up to $150 if all drinks are sold.

“When some group does a boba fundraiser, you get more and more groups seeing that it's a pretty quick and convenient way to make money,” Mohnike said.

The decline of parent involvement has also contributed to the rise of these smaller fundraisers.

“Volunteerism has declined in recent years,” Mohnike said. “There've been smaller parent booster fundraising efforts on campus. The student fundraising has really mostly been done by clubs more than anything.”

With sports teams and clubs lacking parental help, they have found new methods of large scale fundraising, one of them being restaurant affiliations. On Nov. 10, with the help of dance team adviser Julia Peck, the dance team held a fundraiser at Chipotle to raise money for their trip to Nationals next spring.

“The Chipotle fundraiser was a lot less stressful because all you had to do was advertise and let people show up,” said sophomore dance team member Isabelle Lee.

Lee said that the dance team chose the Chipotle fundraiser because of past recommendations from others, and that the lack of funding from school led the dance team to come up with more methods to fundraise. Not all of those methods have been successful, such as the bake sales the team arranged on Aug. 24 and Oct. 26.

“We didn’t make a lot of profit,” Lee said. “It’s kinda sad because everyone had to spend a lot of time baking things to sell.”

Despite the effort behind a team of 20 people, the team was only able to raise a combined total of $1,130 from both bake sales, which covered a mere fraction of their costs between regional competitions, camps, costumes and uniforms, their big Nationals trip to Anaheim, which costs a whopping $20,000 .

The dance team was left with extra food and ended up giving a lot away, Lee said.

As students continue to explore both old and new methods of fundraising, one important idea still stands.

“There's not a pot of money that we can just draw from,” Mohnike said. “If students want to do activities in their clubs, they have to figure out how to do fundraising.”