Question: No cash payments for PTO expenses?

I am the treasurer at my school’s PTO, and I have a parent who paid cash for pizza to serve at a dance. She doesn’t understand why we are not supposed to do that. Is there anything written that I can print out for her to understand the reason we don’t pay cash but we pay with a check?

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Advice from PTO Today

Elly writes:

Well, if there is in fact a “no cash payments” policy for volunteers, you’d want to document that rule within your group’s procedures and policies. Elly isn’t sure whether this volunteer paid for the pizza with her own cash or perhaps paid with cash collected at the door; either way, it sounds like this parent was unclear or uninformed about your rule in the first place. Going forward, be sure that all your volunteers are on the same page and that they understand your group’s money-handling and reimbursement procedures. Establishing a system of checks and balances within your group’s account can help safeguard your cash collections, too. For some tips on how to do just that, check out “Handling Cash: 6 Simple Steps” in the archives. (Feel free to print it out for your volunteers, too.)

Elly is uncertain whether your group has prohibited volunteers from having cash dealings altogether in your PTO. If so, Elly would say that seems a bit unrealistic. As long as your group combines common sense with the proper financial safeguards, Elly thinks the occasional cash purchase is OK. There are bound to be last-minute instances when PTO members need to pay out of pocket (i.e., in cash) for items or supplies.

Take the following scenario as an example: Your popcorn maker isn’t working, it’s 20 minutes before movie night is scheduled to begin, and the PTO secretary just happens to call you from the grocery store. Elly doesn’t have a problem with a volunteer paying cash on the fly like this, so long as she can furnish a receipt for her purchases (and arrives with the popcorn!) and your PTO reimburses her with a check. That way, you’ve established a paper trail of the funds and your PTO has an accurate tally of the event’s expenses.

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