Box Tops for Education Worth It?

Like many parents, my kids attend a public school. It is a magnet school. Like many schools, there are more things the school (and the parents of the children who attend that school) would like to do for the students than there is money in the budget. At this particular school that means a lot of things, including para-professionals for every classroom, full-time art, music, and PE teachers, as well as a full-time librarian, in addition to several programs and various equipment. All told, running the school with the resources box tops for education pictureit has now costs an additional $110,000 per year above and beyond what the school district provides. To make up this gap, the PTA of the school set itself up as a non-profit organization and takes tax deductible donations. In addition, there are several fundraising events, projects and offers. It isn’t easy, but with the help of some wealthier families kicking in matching amounts, and so on, it seems to squeak by each year.

Raise Money for Schools with BoxTops for Education

There is a program from General Mills that offers schools the opportunity to raise money for your school by cutting special box top coupons from the company’s products. These boxtops are most prominent on cereal boxes, but I’ve noticed them on several other products in my house like Ziploc Bags, for example. The idea is simple. By purchasing products with the Box Tops of Education squares on them, you make money for your school.

At our school, they collect the cutout box tops in the office. Each box top is worth 10 cents. Some products have more than one box top, which means you can raise even more money by buying those products. Considering many of these products cost less than $5, the ten cents amount is a pretty decent percentage since it’s nothing but a free donation. But, is collecting boxtops for schools worth it?

After a semester of collecting box tops at our house, we ended up with a little baggy containing approximately 73 box tops. That’s not too bad. It’s not like we remember to cut out every single one, or anything, but with a little effort is turns out we buy a fair amount of these products anyway, so we might as well raise some money for our school while we are at it.

The thing is, for an entire semester of collecting box tops, we raised $7.30 for the school. Now, I’m no Rockefeller, but I could have just written a check for seven bucks. This fundraiser is starting to feel like those people who say, “If everyone threw just one rock into the Grand Canyon, it would be full in a few years.” (That totally isn’t true, but it’s a good metaphor.) If everyone saves just 100 boxtops, in a school with 300 families, we could earn $3,000. Even then, $3,000 isn’t exactly the difference between a full-time and part-time art teacher.

How To Make Collecting Box Tops Worth It

It turns out that our school makes something like $500 each year from the box top program. When you are talking about raising $100,000+, that isn’t a lot of money. On the other hand, it’s $500 that we didn’t have before. And, if you participate in ten different programs and fundraising projects, each earning $500, that adds up to $5,000 and that’s real money that doesn’t have to be raised some other way.

In order to raise $500 for a school with box tops, you have to collect 5,000 boxtops. That’s a LOT of little coupons cut off of cereal boxes. On the other hand, if you put a collector in your kitchen (that’s where you’ll be using, and emptying these products), it really isn’t any extra work to get the free money. However, collecting box tops is one of those things that really only works if “everyone” is doing it. If you can get family members without school-age children to save theirs for you, that only makes it add up faster. So collecting box tops for schools is worth it, if you are willing to get out the word and keep pushing those collections.

Of course, in the end, nothing offers more money than straight cash donations. So, save those box tops, but if you are able, write a check too.

18 thoughts on “Box Tops for Education Worth It?”

  1. Great post. That’s it in a nutshell! I am the Boxtops coordinator for our small school. May I reprint to use in one of my bulletins?

  2. The trick to box tops is to watch for specials at local stores. The local Walmart recently had a weekend where they doubled the amount of box tops on all items purchased if you registered on line. The local Winn Dixie gave an extra 20 box tops ($2) if you purchased six box top items. Also, the btfe website will give 50 box tops ($5) electronically if you purchase 10 items and send the receipt. This can add up as I already have $81 saved for my niece’s school.

  3. The elementary school (public school) my kids attended did a great job with Box Tops. Over the course of the time that they have been aware of and participated in this program (over ten years) they have raised almost $50,000 – one box top at a time! No big “bonus” wins, no huge PR campaign, just families who are willing to cut out the Box Top and turn it in! When you add it up, it’s been one of the most successful and easy ways to raise money for the school!

  4. Great read! I have collected box tops for our schools for so long now it’s habit for me. I keep a sandwich baggie on my microwave and when it’s full I just send it in. I will by one product over another if it has extra box tops. It’s such a small thing, but it helps in a big way! #boxtopcutterforlife =)

  5. Box tops are great and free money in any amount is wonderful. Our small school of 350 kids went from raising $400.00 per year to $3,200 which meant new equipment. The best way is to place collect containers in the community and collection contest for the classrooms. You would be amazed people that can not afford to donate cash will collect box tops and they add up fast.

  6. The way I see it, I could write a check instead but it’s free money to me because it’s products we normally buy anyways. The box tops are just an extra perk. My local store (stare brothers) often does the extra 10 box tops coupon when you buy however many select items. My 2 elem age kids started their first day if school turning in 220 box tops each (family cuts and saves them for the kids too).

    Last year their teachers kept a chart of every time kids turn them in, it’s a class contest and they win a small prize if they are the top. My now 9 year old turned in over a thousand last year, my 7 yr old was shortly behind him. I don’t cut them, my kids do!! I also take them shopping with me and they grab the boxees with bonus box tops if they see them.

    It’s money our school didn’t have before and every little bit counts. We also have a small program through the local mall. We shop and turn the receipts to the school or go to the malls Cust service counter and have it logged. We came in 4th in our district and our school got a check for $750 JUST for parents turning in receipts from the mall.

    Great article!!!!

  7. It’s totally worth it! I never realized how much money a school could really earn with programs like box tops, Campbell’s labels and many others until I started going to our H & S meetings. We have two contests every year and the winners of each grade level get little parties. Our schools money has helped purchase books, supplies, field trips and even helped with renovations. I sometimes get mad when I hear about schools that don’t take advantage if it. It’s easy money! Every box top really does count. We are getting ready to turn in over 250 to our school thanks to my mom and sister collecting for us too!

  8. I’ve been saving Box Tops since my girls were in elementary school. Now I save them for the grandkids. I also clip the UPC from Campbell’s Soup cans, they a similar program. I save until I have a baggy full and hand them off the grandkids to turn in. The elementary kids love taking them, it makes them feel like they are doing something big for their school. I also know of another school that collects the empty HP ink cartridges and sends them in for some type of exchange.

  9. I do this too for my daughter’s school. What irks me about the program though is that they come with expiration dates. Why not just make them usable…period?

  10. BoxTops for Education is worth the effort. Campbell’s Labels For Education are not. If you divide the price of a product in the Label’s For Education Catalog (see on-line site) by the number of their proof of purchase you cut out required to buy it you see the value of one cut out is about .006 cent. What a scam!

  11. No. It’s not. 3 years of experience. The time and energy put in does not return nearly what it should or could using your time more wisely. And let’s not forget the company’s goal of not awarding larger amounts if they can get away with it.


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