Whatever the purpose, you need the support from the community. I hear teachers all the time talking about how they spend thousands (what?!) of dollars on their own classroom. THOUSANDS... I need to thank my humble upbringing for this, but there's no way I'm dipping into my boys' college fund to fund a class project that requires an excess of, say, $50. Call me frugal, cheap, or whatever you want, but I'll call myself resourceful. Thank you, mom and dad.
When I was in high school, I had to opportunity to be in student government. As with any ASB role, we had to raise money. I delegated a lot of those chores out, but had to help when necessary. The requests ranged from materials for the homecoming floats to financial contributions to make our prom the best we possibly could. Either way, it was an opportunity for the community to show their dedication to their future employees, employers, caretakers, and role models. During my time in high school, I got really good at crafting the right way to ask for help, but also got exceptionally good at hearing the words "NO" or "No Thank You".
There's something peculiar about human beings: we might think we change and evolve, but we really don't. As a child, we hated hearing the word "NO" because it meant that we couldn't do or have something that we wanted. Our parents used that word to set boundaries that we weren't supposed to cross (sorry about the broken window(s), mom). Our brains were trained to use that word as a barrier that would ultimately keep us safer, healthier, and better off.
When we started school, and all the way through school, NO came in forms of incorrect answers, social rejection, parents continuing to set the boundaries, but it all meant the same. NO meant that we should head in a different direction. Other than the rebellious crowd, NO was a way to get our attention and deter us from doing/saying/being something that would be detrimental.
Now that we are teachers, some of us are parents as well, that most dreaded two-letter word has stuck with us ever since we tried chewing off the end of mom's kitchen table (yes, my 9-month old son is being seasoned with NO). We dread this word so much that we just avoid it altogether when it comes to asking for help. So what do we do instead? We don't even give contributors a chance to tell us NO. Don't say that you don't have the time to call and ask for support. Don't say that you don't know who to contact. All it takes, seriously, is a plan of attack on the materials/resources/products that you need and the rest seems to fall into place.
In the past 7 years as a teacher, I've gained community support from:
Local towing company
Local radio stations
Lamar Advertising Company
Stater Brothers grocery store
Palm Springs Nissan
Palm Springs BMW
Yes, I'm a little bit crazier than most people in that I'll come up with an idea before having a solid plan and just seeing what kind of support I can muster.
Yes, I have heard rejection quite a bit when setting up fundraisers.
Yes, I have heard "Sure, we can help out by _________________" far more than I've heard "No thank you, we're not interested at the moment".
Yes, I give my students the best possible experience they can possibly have while they're in (and out of) my classroom.
There are so many community members who believe in public education and want to support us - ask for assistance. We can't think that this is searching for a handout from "big business" or that we're crossing party lines. On the contrary, asking for support is quite the opposite. We are searching for partnerships to strengthen the bond between classroom and commerce.
Amidst all of this, also realize that publicity with a school function is a big deal for businesses. I believe that every one of the companies who've supported my crazy ideas were doing it for the greater good of helping kids, but let's be honest: who doesn't want some positive publicity to boost their company's image in the public eye? Stevens Towing Company donated a flatbed for a homecoming parade? We might just have to use them the next time I need a load hauled away! Stevens Baked Goods donated pastries for a class field trip to the Long Beach Aquarium? I had never heard of that place... we will definitely have to check it out.
As an athlete, especially a baseball player, you must learn to deal with failure and rejection to some extent. A Houston Astros scout that had followed me all through high school and college once told me: "If you throw enough s___ on the wall, some of it is bound to stick". He was referring to the approach I should take when getting schools interested in me for college, but it applies to teaching as well.
Before you decide to drain your child's college fund (or your summer vacation account), seek the support of your community. The worst they can say is NO.