For every employee that's tired of purchasing cookie dough from a co-worker's child, and every school teacher that's tired of keeping track of which student sold the most gift wrap, McDuffie County School Superintendent Mark Petersen has found a solution. Backme.org is a continuous, simple, year-round fundraiser for non-profit groups, and McDuffie County Schools has been added to the list of beneficiaries.
"In this right here the community wins, parents win, kids win, the school system wins, and we're not bothering people to ask for money," Dr. Petersen said. "Hopefully if this thing is successful, then one day down the road we ought to be able to make some changes in the way we operate."
Backme.org allows shoppers to do their everyday online shopping with over 400 major retailers. The retailers then send a percentage of the sales to McDuffie County Schools.
Shoppers receive the same pricing and specials as if they had entered the merchant website directly, and no registration or fee is required by backme.org.
"So people who go on the internet and buy stuff can go to that website and buy stuff for the same prices, but the school system will get a percentage back," Dr. Petersen said.
Dr. Petersen said the school system can even help itself. He said they buy supplies from Office Depot, which is one of the merchants on the list, and now they can receive up to four percent of those purchase amounts back.
"And if we can get the big community involved, and there's 20,000 people here, and if a bunch of businesses and people would buy through that, then we might be able to eliminate some of that selling candy and cookies and stuff," Dr. Petersen said. "So I think that may be an answer to some of our issues. And it goes to our Renaissance program, which is a great program for us."
The retailers list includes, but is not limited to, Amazon.com, eBay, Cabela's, Babies R Us, Gap, Kohl's, Lids, NASCAR Superstore, Circuit City, iTunes, Dell, Staples, Office Max, K-Mart, Montgomery Ward, Target, EB Games, Wal-Mart, Bass Pro Shops, Starbucks Store, Barnes and Noble, Petco, Petsmart, GNC, FTD Florists and many others.
The amount donated to the school system varies, but ranges from one percent to 12 percent of purchases. Checks will be mailed on a monthly basis to the school system.
It costs the school system no money to belong to backme.org, and customer service and support is available from each individual retailer's website so the school system is never responsible for collection, delivery, returns or defective merchandise.
"It may be slow getting up, but it's going to be win-win," Dr. Petersen said. "This community supports Thomson schools and I think they will be glad to go through that website and buy their stuff."
The school system can benefit during the summer break as vacation planners can go to the website and make hotel, air, cruise and car rental arrangements.
To access the site, go to the McDuffie County Schools website at www.mcduffie.k12.ga.us and open "online purchase rebates" under "Quick Links" in the column on the left of the home page.