Youth learn money management skills through 4-H

A club fundraising activity can provide numerous opportunities for youth to be active participants in learning how to handle money.

Michigan 4-H Youth Development has seven guiding principles that define its approach to working with young people. Principle #4 is “Youth are considered participants rather than recipients in the learning process.”

A club fundraising activity can provide numerous opportunities for youth to be active participants in learning money handling skills. 4-H club leaders can maximize the learning if they think ahead about the ways that young people can have a role in the financial side of a fundraising activity.

To begin, the members or the fundraising committee should develop a budget for the fundraiser. What expenses will there be? How much money can they reasonably expect to make? How much cash is needed in the cash box to start?

Kids always love counting money and there are several opportunities to involve them in this important task during a fundraiser. Even if not all the members are handling money, it is valuable for all of them to observe appropriate cash handling procedures.

Two members should count the money in the cash box before the activity begins. Good money management practices dictate that it also be counted when the next shift arrives to work the fundraiser. Ideally, arrange for the club treasurer and one other member to count the money in a private area; each sign off that they agree on the amount. It is recommended that the money counters include one of the members that is leaving and one of the members just starting a shift at the event. To protect everyone, an adult should also sign acknowledging the amount.

4-H members can also be taught how to handle the financial transactions with customers; depending on their age and experience, some oversight may be necessary. Their skill at counting back change will develop with practice so role-playing before the event may be helpful. Customers often appreciate seeing that the youth are learning valuable life skills in addition to raising funds for their club.

Once the fundraising activity is over, the treasurer and another member should again count the money in the cash box. Without prompting they will likely use their math skills to determine how much was raised! It is important that at least two youth and one adult be involved to ensure they agree and document the amount by signing their names on a sheet of paper with the amount.

This final step is equally important. At the meeting following the fundraiser the club treasurer should report to the membership how much money was raised and who counted the money. Keeping everyone informed of the funds the club has in their treasury is wise and sends a clear message that the money is public funds and the club’s financial records are open to the group’s review.

An excellent source of information on handling money in a 4-H club or other youth organization can be found in the Financial Manual for 4-H Treasurers.

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