I am a Kindergarten parent and am taking things slow this year, just testing the waters. I volunteered to type up the letters that are sent home with students about upcoming events when I saw that the President had them handwritten on looseleaf paper! I told her it wouldn't be a problem and she was grateful for the help. She just asked that I leave an inch and a half at the top so they could be copied onto the school's letterhead.
I asked if the PTO has their own letterhead. I was immediately told that we are there for the school and are part of the school, so we would keep it the way it is. There are a lot of 5th grade parents who won't be around next year, so maybe I will bring it up again then.
Here are my thoughts: The PTO is not for the School, it is for the Kids! We are not part of the School itself, we are an organization of parents and staff members. Why should we HAVE to use the school's letterhead? If I were a businessperson and received a letter from the school looking for a donation, I might toss it thinking that's what my taxes are for. But if a group of parents and staff wanted me to help them raise funds for enrichment programs, I would listen.
What do you guys think? I value your opinions and have been reading them for quite some time. I just now got up the nerve to ask for them myself. Thanks!
I also do publicity and am the PTO Secretary. I just use a general PTO logo that is also at our website at the top of our letters that go home. If I send out actual donation letters to businesses, I usually use the school letterhead because it is official compared to the one I just ran off of my computer. Some CEO might look at my handmade letter head and think I wasn't "real".
We do have our own letter head it was made on a computer using a Print Shop program and it looks very nice and professional. We use the school logo and just put in all of the PTO information.
I think you should have your own letterhead if you can in the future as I agree you are your own organization. That being said...I would not make waves over it this year. You asked and they didn't bite so if you persue it being that you are new it may backfire on you. People can get pretty testy when they perceive someone new is coming in and trying to change things. I would try again next year. Make one up at the beginning of the school year and give it to the president and see if they bite the next time around.
Our P.T.O. is not a part of the school (as designated by the school system). Unfortunately this hurts us when we need to collect donations for our bingo and auction each year.
The only reason that this hurts us is because we have not applied for 501(c)(3) status (non-profit). When we are soliciting donations and businesses ask for our proof of 501(c)(3) status, we have nothing to provide. The fee is $500 and hopefully we will be able to fit it into our budget at the end of this year.
Our schools run on a very tight, "status quo" budget that just barely meets the necessities and heavily relies on the P.T.O. for field trips and family events. On the school's side of things, they need to account for all donated items and cannot be sure when unpaid P.T.O. volunteers are collecting the donations.
When we do have items to print on the school's letterhead, these are always items that are included with other items in the school newsletters. We must submit our request to each school principal and the information only gets printed if the principal oks it.
If your P.T.O. solicits donations for similar reasons, this may be the reason you remain part of the school.
Our president is self-admittedly computer illiterate. This may also be a reason you do not have your own letterhead. I created our P.T.O. letterhead, only because we didn't have letterhead. We were sending out letters, memos, etc. on plain paper.
In any event, I agree with Serendipity, make up a letterhead and present it to your P.T.O. president or board and see what he/she/they think. Also, ask why you are a part of the school instead of a separate organization, there may be a reason that the president/board thinks it is a good idea.
I really think in a lot of ways you need to look at the PTO as a business in order for it to get to the place where it will be most effective. I liked the PTO Today stuff this month about investing in your PTO since I've said that to my group since the start of my presidency. I even posted a 100 day report card brief (kind of like a board of directors briefing) for our parents on our website at brentpto.com and had it running before our Variety Show last night and during intermission. So I don't think it is unfair to say that having your own letterhead is a must, as well as having 501c status and watching for "employee burnout". Now I also get it that this ISN'T a business, and we make things fun...but the bottom line is if you can sell to a stay at home parent that they can actually get resume input by working a program for the PTO--well that is just one more selling point.
So make your own letterhead and have at it...change is a good thing as well as independence.
You may not think it but your PTO should be treated like a business, in order for that business to grow you need to target your audience, you need to catch their attention. Think about the golden arches and how you know that is McDonald's, your group should have it's own identify, even a logo. That letterhead and logo should be on EVERYTHING you do, fundraising letters, flyers, open house table, event signs, minute flyers, you column in the school newsletter, yada yada yada. The more parents see that logo and letter head the more comfortable they will feel with you, they may say "hey let's go see what this is about", they need to know that you are serious. Don't be quiet about the work your group does, shout it out and get the publicity you deserve...I strongly believe that a logo is a must, it ties your families to your group. They see it...recognize it...and eventually they become a part of it. You would be surprise that at our school all you have to say is Pals and the kids know what it is and kids talk!