PTA Dad contemplates profit and loss in a pool of plastic ducks.
Funds or fun? Perhaps the basic question about the purpose of a PTA. For me, this dilemma and a lesson learned from it are now represented by some yellow plastic ducks.
At the first fair committee meeting this year Iwas feeling ruthless. Just look at it analytically, I said in my logical, rational way. In the last four years the Hook-a-duck stall has raised an average of £17.86 each year at the fair. It is staffed by two parents per half-hour slot over the three-hour fair, plus set-up and buying prizes,which means 6.5 hours of work. That means each hour of work is raising £2.74. Compare that to the refreshments which raises £21.60 per hour.
Hook-a-duck is a waste of time and volunteer-power, I ranted. The "staff" could be better used on other stalls. Just a three per cent increase in profit at the refreshment stall would cover the lack of ducks, and the queue reduction and improvements to sales would probably bring much more cash. The fair is there to raise money. Ditch the ducks.
Well I'm glad to say we didn't, because when I saw the duck hooking in action, it was clear that all that analysis was missing the point.
Because of course, Hook-a-duck isn't about profit, hourly earnings, data. It's about fun and smiles. Trying a skill and being rewarded if you succeed. Children enjoying themselves with their parents. Parents enjoying themselves with their children. Kids who are joining in September having a positive experience in school. Older siblings helping their younger brothers and sisters. Simple pleasures. Community. Laughter.
So, as a result of this revelation, I'm going to keep Hook-a-duck in mind when I'm PTAing, and urge others to as well. It's so easy to forget, especially when you're knee-deep in raffle tickets, rotas and reconciling cheques, that our PTA work needs to be about more than just money. When we're striving to meet our fundraising targets, we should be making sure there are smiles on our faces, and on everyone else's.
As my yellow bath-time companions will remind me, income and efficiency are great - and necessary - but we should be adding something to the enjoyment and community part of the PTA balance sheet as well.
So it's funds and fun. With hook a-duck of course.