Friday, February 24, 2012

Boxtops Marketplace--Easiest fundraising I've found

If you have school-aged children, chances are you know about the Boxtops For Education program. Boxtops for Education are little coupons, worth 10 cents each, that you find on cereal boxes, yogurt containers, toilet paper wrapping and plastic-bag boxes. PTA volunteers collect them from families, bundle them, and mail them to the General Mills HQ in Minnesota. General Mills then cuts the school a check. Many schools do very well with this program--earning hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and good on General Mills for supporting schools all across the country.

I was the Boxtops Coordinator for our school for a year or so, and I was really terrible at it. I wasn't comfortable pushing contests on classrooms, and I didn't want our kids to be motivated to collect Boxtops by offering yet more sweets, or Made-in-China tchtotckes as prizes. Plus, my 40-something eyes could not handle having to look at the incredibly tiny expiration dates on all those tiny coupons.

Thankfully, another mom stepped up to the plate and I gleefully handed over the reigns to her.

Freed from the tediousness of collecting and bundling Boxtops, I was able to pay more attention to the Boxtops website, where I discovered the Boxtops4education Marketplace ( This is an online shopping portal, where you connect to a variety of online retailers that you might shop at anyway. When you start at the Boxtops Portal, a portion of your purchase gets kicked back to your school. It's really easy--no clipping, no bundling, no nothing.

Here's something you should know about me: I'm not much of a shopper. Well, except that I love thrift stores so much that I could easily start another blog just about thrifting.

But there are a few things that my family cannot do without. Number 1 on that list is plane tickets. We live on the west coast and my parents and siblings live on the east coast. That means that once a year, no matter how tight our budget, our family of four boards a plane headed east to spend quality time with the grandparents, aunts and uncles. And once a year, several family members head to California to visit us.

When was the last time you purchased a plane ticket any way but through the internet? Can't remember? Neither can I. We purchase our tickets through Expedia, Travelocity, or Hotwire. All of these companies participate in the Boxtops4Education Marketplace. All of these companies give school 10 cents per 10 dollars spent. Doesn't sound like a lot, but since most plane tickets cost several hundred dollars, it adds up quickly.

As I write this, my parents are jetting home after a wonderful visit. I helped them buy their tickets here. Their tickets (exclusive of taxes and fees) were just about 1000 bucks. So, they earned a quick $10 for their grandkids' school just by purchasing their tickets through

I will have much more to say about the BTFE Marketplace in subsequent posts. As a teacher at our school says, not using the portal when you need to make purchases online is "like leaving money on the table."

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