Teaching Your Kids to Sell

Over the years, as a student, I’ve sold cookies, candy, coffee cake and gift wrap for various schools and organizations. I was a bit too old for the cookie dough and pizza kit fad that was all the rage at the turn of the century, thank goodness, because I think they’d be a bitch to deliver.

Right now, my daughter is in the middle of her first ever fundraiser. It’s Girl Scout Cookies and it’s going really, really well. With just a few social media shout outs by me, and one personal phone call to grandma, she’s sold nearly fifty boxes of cookies. She doesn’t quite understand everything that selling cookies entails, for I’ll be the one planning the deliveries, collecting the money and counting the change. She’ll be with me, in her blue Daisy Girl Scout tunic, handing out the boxes and saying a heartfelt thank you. But really, at this age, fundraisers are just a like a part-time job for parents.Her troop gets to keep .55 per box sold, so at 50 boxes, she’s netted just over $25 for her troop. In some ways, I’d rather just write a check. But that’s not really the point of the exercise, now is it?

You’ve all seen the bumper sticker that points out if the military was funded like education, the United States Air Force would have to hold a bake sale for fighter jets. As an educator who was constantly reminded of a tight school budget, I appreciate the sentiment. BUT in today’s world of entitlement, instant gratification and over-abundance, maybe fundraisers DO teach a lesson that’s  a hard one to come by these days. Maybe by selling those candy bars to raise money for new marching band uniforms, children value those uniforms a little more. Yes, there are things which should be included in a free public education or in parent’s tuition dollars or membership dues to a club or sports team. But fundraisers provide the rare opportunity for today’s children to set a goal and feel the satisfaction in reaching it.

I see now fundraisers  take  a lot of  effort from parents. At five, my daughter doesn’t know the first thing about selling anything or the logistics involved in collecting the money and delivering the cookies. But after this first exercise, she will have learned a lot. She will have learned how to sell cookies (which are a great first item to sell, I might add, they sell themselves), she will have gone through the sorting process of getting orders together, and she will have delivered the cookies and collected money. She may not experience rejection yet, she’s pretty cute and most people willing scrap $3.50 together for her. She’s got plenty of years of selling things ahead of her for that lesson.

Each year thought, I suspect she’ll increase her ability to manage these projects on her own. She’ll start planning who to ask, she’ll start doing the math, she’ll start figuring out distribution logistics. These are all skills that will serve her well in whatever she chooses to do in life. And in twenty-five years, she’ll be more than ready to oversee her own daughter’s first cookie sale.

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4 replies on “Teaching Your Kids to Sell”

BaseballChica– how far are you willing to drive? I could totally hook you up!

Thanks for the kind words, Meghan. The wreaths/greenery fundraiser is a Boy Scout staple in my hometown. If it’s an established tradition, I think it may work OK. But just random wreaths being hawked for $25? I can totally see how it’d be a hard sell!

You’re a good mom–not to mention savvy with the social media; that’s got to be a great boon for your daughter and her troop. The worst fundraiser I ever did was selling Christmas wreaths and greenery in high school–that stuff is way too expensive ($25 a wreath, if I remember correctly) to expect non-invested neighbors/acquaintances to chip in.

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