Box Tops for Education Worth It?

Like many parents, my kids attend a public school. It is a magnet school. Like many schools, there are more things the school (and the parents of the children who attend that school) would like to do for the students than there is money in the budget. At this particular school that means a lot of things, including para-professionals for every classroom, full-time art, music, and PE teachers, as well as a full-time librarian, in addition to several programs and various equipment. All told, running the school with the resources box tops for education pictureit has now costs an additional $110,000 per year above and beyond what the school district provides. To make up this gap, the PTA of the school set itself up as a non-profit organization and takes tax deductible donations. In addition, there are several fundraising events, projects and offers. It isn’t easy, but with the help of some wealthier families kicking in matching amounts, and so on, it seems to squeak by each year.

Raise Money for Schools with BoxTops for Education

There is a program from General Mills that offers schools the opportunity to raise money for your school by cutting special box top coupons from the company’s products. These boxtops are most prominent on cereal boxes, but I’ve noticed them on several other products in my house like Ziploc Bags, for example. The idea is simple. By purchasing products with the Box Tops of Education squares on them, you make money for your school.

At our school, they collect the cutout box tops in the office. Each box top is worth 10 cents. Some products have more than one box top, which means you can raise even more money by buying those products. Considering many of these products cost less than $5, the ten cents amount is a pretty decent percentage since it’s nothing but a free donation. But, is collecting boxtops for schools worth it?

After a semester of collecting box tops at our house, we ended up with a little baggy containing approximately 73 box tops. That’s not too bad. It’s not like we remember to cut out every single one, or anything, but with a little effort is turns out we buy a fair amount of these products anyway, so we might as well raise some money for our school while we are at it.

The thing is, for an entire semester of collecting box tops, we raised $7.30 for the school. Now, I’m no Rockefeller, but I could have just written a check for seven bucks. This fundraiser is starting to feel like those people who say, “If everyone threw just one rock into the Grand Canyon, it would be full in a few years.” (That totally isn’t true, but it’s a good metaphor.) If everyone saves just 100 boxtops, in a school with 300 families, we could earn $3,000. Even then, $3,000 isn’t exactly the difference between a full-time and part-time art teacher.

How To Make Collecting Box Tops Worth It

It turns out that our school makes something like $500 each year from the box top program. When you are talking about raising $100,000+, that isn’t a lot of money. On the other hand, it’s $500 that we didn’t have before. And, if you participate in ten different programs and fundraising projects, each earning $500, that adds up to $5,000 and that’s real money that doesn’t have to be raised some other way.

In order to raise $500 for a school with box tops, you have to collect 5,000 boxtops. That’s a LOT of little coupons cut off of cereal boxes. On the other hand, if you put a collector in your kitchen (that’s where you’ll be using, and emptying these products), it really isn’t any extra work to get the free money. However, collecting box tops is one of those things that really only works if “everyone” is doing it. If you can get family members without school-age children to save theirs for you, that only makes it add up faster. So collecting box tops for schools is worth it, if you are willing to get out the word and keep pushing those collections.

Of course, in the end, nothing offers more money than straight cash donations. So, save those box tops, but if you are able, write a check too.

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