Shelly wants to offer a homeschool program that is 1. high quality, 2. low cost and 3. convenient for working parents; Shelly’s program doesn’t require parents to stay onsite or volunteer.
I told her the bad news: “You cannot offer all three.”
She can’t and you can’t either!
Business success (and failure) prove it:
McDonald’s provides fast food very quickly at a fairly reasonable price; But you have to admit the quality is not the best. They offer two things consumers want (low price, convenience), but not all three.
Another example could be Starbuck’s coffee. At Starbuck’s they offer high quality coffee drinks provided quickly and conveniently, but we know that it’s not cheap!
How does this apply to homeschool groups?
Your group can offer two of the three things that homeschool families may want:
High quality: maybe small classes, qualified, caring teachers, fun enrichment classes or rigorous academic classes
Low Cost: Affordable prices, low fees, maybe even free!
Convenient: No time commitment from the parents, maybe a drop-off-the-kids-and-leave option for homeschool parents who need to work.
Many homeschool co-ops offer quality and low cost but have a requirement that the parents stay in the building and help by teaching or serving in a classroom or other jobs. Hence the name “cooperative.” The parents keep the cost low by cooperating together to run the classes.
A tutorial or hybrid program might offer academic classes taught by highly qualified teachers with no volunteer commitment for the parents, but it will not come cheap. The tuition may approach that of private schools.
Shelley wanted all three (drop off, high quality academic classes at a low price) and I explained that she could not sustain the program unless she either charged more or started requiring the parents to volunteer.
“But many parents can’t pay more,” she complained to me. “And they work, so they need the drop off feature. They can’t stay and volunteer.”
She had 3 options:
- Find other sources of funding including fundraisers, donations and grants.
- Require parents to volunteer. This was going to be be very difficult since Shelly was having problems even recruiting board members to meet once a month!
- Close the program and start over. The expectations of the parents that they should get drop-off classes at a low fee was so entrenched that there was no changing that! The entire program needed an overhaul.
My book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization has a chapter on fundraisers for homeschool groups.