Question: How much money to carry over?

How much money should be left in our PTO account at the end of each year? Several people have told us different things, and I am wondering whether there is a set amount. Last year we had an ending balance of $8,000; our former president told us that was too much for us to leave in the account for next year.

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Advice from PTO Today

Elly writes:

There’s no set amount that a parent group should carry over from one year to the next. And as you have discovered, there are many opinions on that topic. Some people don’t think any balance at all should be carried forward. On that point Elly is firm: You not only can save money from one year to the next, you should.

Elly recommends that your group keep enough to cover expenses that might pop up in the first few months of school, such as vendor invoices, yearbook costs, and officer reimbursements, to name a few. A look at the previous year’s budget will give your group an approximate idea of what to expect.

It’s important to welcome back families with a free event and not a fundraiser. That creates a much stronger first impression for your group and helps your efforts to build involvement. So make a point of budgeting for that, too, while you can.

Whether $8,000 is too much to leave in your account depends on what programs and activities you executed last year. Were you fundraising like crazy but refrained from budgeting for enrichment activities, volunteer appreciation events, or family fun nights? Did past leaders invest in any tools to help your group run better? Did your group meet its goals? If not, Elly would like to see that dollar amount go down next year by spending on a few key objectives.

That being said, having a good amount of cash around shouldn’t burn a hole in your pocket (like it does on allowance day for Elly’s kids!). Don’t spend it just because you have it—be as thoughtful in spending your group’s cash as you are about earning it, and think of your group’s long-term success, too. Why not start saving for that new playground, computer lab, or outdoor classroom? You’ll still have plenty of funds to take care of your group’s immediate needs. Happy spending—and saving!

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