Ah, December! Here comes Breakfast With Santa, holiday shops, teacher luncheons, holiday movie nights, craft nights, community service projects, candygrams, holiday performances, receptions, and bake sales. Phew! And we probably forgot a few!

The holidays can be one of the happiest times of year, and for PTO leaders, it is so rewarding. Seeing excited kids and celebrating as a true school community makes all the work and sleepless nights worthwhile, right? Just one note of caution: In the midst of all the holiday hubbub, remember to keep up with your financial best practices, especially with cash. When we are rushing from one event to the next, it’s easy to lose track of the details. 

And sad to say, sometimes holiday pressures get to folks. Parents may be overwhelmed with bills and credit card debt, finding it hard to buy gifts for their kids. Sometimes, it’s just too tempting to steal money (often thinking it’s just “borrowing” a little bit that won’t be missed) from a parent group. Picture a parent feeling a financial squeeze who happens upon an unattended cash box at an event. 

More on Finance & Budget

10 Money-Smart PTO Tips

Manage Your Parent Group's Funds the Easy Way

One of the best things you can do to protect your group from theft (and not just for the holidays) is to consider getting insurance. Certain insurance policies provide coverage for embezzlement. For example, if you purchase insurance through PTO Today that includes general liability and excess accident and medical coverage, you can add crime coverage. The crime coverage will replace stolen money (up to $25,000) so your group can continue operating as usual. A group can add additional coverage of up to $50,000. 

We have the details of crime coverage on our insurance page. You also may want to check our page that provides an overview of the different types of insurance.

Also, check in with your volunteers to remind them about simple cash handling procedures. Our article “Handling Cash: 6 Simple Steps” gives a quick overview of best practices, including these two key tips: 

1. Have just one cash point at an event where money is coming in and out, like a ticket sales station. The more checkouts you have at an event, the more likely it is you will lose some cash. 

2. Counting cash and receipts needs to be a two-person job.

For more general financial best practices, read our article “5 Smart Financial Controls”, which offers helpful reminders like requiring two signatures on all checks. 

OK, enough of the serious talk. We’re looking out for you this holiday season and hoping you all have a wonderful time!

Originally posted in 2015 and updated regularly.