Izzy's school (which is a fantastic school) recently organised a sponsored football event for all of the children with the money raised being donated to several local charities for Lent. Fantastic I thought until Izzy came home with her sponsorship forms. The event I then found out was being organised by a private company rather than the school. The children had all been told that the more money they raised, the more prizes they would receive. So if a child raised £1 they got a certificate and stickers, if they raised £10 they won a sports bag and so on. Most children (Izzy included) came home saying that they 'had' to raise £50 so they could win the complete set of prizes (footballs, sports bag, stickers etc etc). On reading the small print it also turned out that only 50% of the sponsorship money went to the school. The rest went to the private company for organising the event and for prizes, admin etc. I wasn't very happy for a number of reasons....
1) To me children should learn that raising money for charity is about giving to something you believe in and not about what you will get in return (particularly in a Catholic school!)
2) To some families raising £50 in sponsorship from grandparents etc may be relatively easy but to other families this is just not achievable and its puts parents under immense pressure. It also puts the children from these families in a difficult situation where children are competing financially with each other.
3) Most importantly for me I think was that I could not ask family members to sponsor Izzy knowing that 50% of the money they give does not go the school/charity but actually goes to a privately run company.
4) Families who have more than one child at the school were being put under pressure to find £50 for each child.
I've no doubt that the event is well organised and great fun for the children but it just didn't sit right with me. Luckily many other parents felt the same and we jointly wrote a letter to the school expressing our feelings. The school said that they had been very careful to point out to the children that not everyone would be able to raise £50 and people should contribute whatever they could but five year olds don't understand this. When I told Izzy that she wouldn't get the top prize she burst into tears and I felt awful.We decided as a group of parents to all only sponsor our children £1 to make a point. That way all of them get a certificate and maybe some stickers but nobody feels left out and everyone gets the same. We have all decided to donate to the chosen charities directly.
So what do you think? Am I being old fashioned? Have you come across this before? Did we overreact? Have I scarred Izzy emotionally for life by denying her the footballs and sports bag??
Let me know what you think!