This week I got an email from Ellie's school regarding something she needed and the comment beside it said, "A Donation Fee of $10".

This was strange to me, and I was uncertain whether the school was trying to create the new term, "Donation Fee"... which makes no sense to me.

A donation is something I give of my own free will in an amount that I choose out of the (assumed) goodness of my heart. A Fee is something I am required to pay at an amount set by the person or persons collecting it.

I mean... I'm no lawyer or anything, but those seem like givens that pretty much everyone in society has adopted as truths. So why then phrase it like this? Are you just trying to use words to make us feel better when charging a fee on top of the other things we have to buy for this activity?  If I show up and decide not to give you the $10 will you give my child the item she needs? What if I opt to give you $5 as my "donation"... will you bill me the other $5 as a "fee"?


I've decided to make the item for Ellie myself, as I possess the skills to do so, but am curious if this is the norm now. Have you experienced this "Suggested but mandatory" language at your child's school? And how did you handle it?