Question: Can our mission go beyond fundraising?
Our PTO is laser-focused on fundraising and refuses to include anything else in the agenda. I believe we should take the opportunity to speak to matters that influence our children’s education as well. Who’s right? Is it within the parameters of a typical PTO’s mission to include discussions regarding school matters outside of fundraising? Thanks for your help.
Advice from PTO TodayElly writes:
You are right; parent groups can be, and should be, about more than just fundraising. Sure, fundraising is an important tool, but it should be used wisely, with great discretion. Fundraise too frequently, and your PTO gets a bad rap; fundraise too little, and the students miss out on classroom necessities, subsidized field trips, or that neat after-school program your group runs.
Crafting the perfect fundraising plan is not easy. (Elly’s friend Tim Sullivan offers PTOs some advice on striking that delicate balance in his piece “Fundraising Makes It Happen”.) At the very least, though, it does sound like your PTO board could use a fundraising intervention. So here’s how Elly thinks you should proceed.
Elly doubts that you’re the only one feeling a bit overwhelmed with all of the fundraising. If you want to influence change, you will be most effective if you are willing to be part of the solution. Elly suggests talking to other parents who you think feel similarly and sharing your concerns with the PTO board or at a meeting. (Your PTO may require you to be scheduled on the meeting’s agenda to speak, so call your parent group secretary in advance to arrange that). Have a list ready of the ways you think the PTO can help the school besides raising money, and share those ideas with the board. Some (no-cost) suggestions include hosting a Family Reading Night to boost students’ test scores or kicking off a new fitness initiative with a Get Movin’ Night. Afterward, feel free to bring up any other educational concerns that you’d like your PTO to address. Keep in mind, though, the PTO shouldn’t be a forum for parents to address issues they have with the principal or teachers; refer to your PTO’s mission statement to make sure your concerns fall within those parameters.
Going forward, you and your officers should also develop a spending plan that matches your group’s annual budget to illustrate to families the specific programs and activities your parent group will fund for the year. That way, parents can better support the fundraising initiatives at the school. And come to think of it, your group should really consider creating a fundraising committee; these members can research the best fundraising solutions for your group or conduct parent surveys to help your treasurer develop that plan. Good luck.
Community Advicemickeymiller writes:
First of all, congrats on getting your group started! Taking the first steps of forming a group can always be a trying process... kudos for giving it a go! One of the first things can really help getting started is finding ways to get organized early on. Coming up with the tools to manage your members, plan your events and get the word out about everything you do can be tricky. I'd say the best way to get a jump on this: set up a group home page on a fundraising website. Many of them are free to use and can offer new groups amazing tools to organize, find new volunteers and raise awareness for a cause (regardless of whether you actually want to fundraise). Some require that you have non-profit status to form a group, but plenty others will give student groups, church groups and other groups without non-profit status some awesome ways to help get your group off the ground. For example, one good site to help new groups is GroupSpaces (www.groupspaces.com). They offer plenty of tools to help get groups off the ground, including some event management functions that let you create events, as well as managing your members. And if you're interested in fundraising for your group eventually, they can link to your account and charge 2.5% of donations received (while some other sites charge as much as 5%). Another good option would be Empowered.org (www.empowered.org). It is a bit newer than GroupSpaces and their platform is geared more towards social action, but are open to all small groups, regardless of non-profit status. Also, they offer plenty of solid tools to help new groups, and give groups the ability to create specific volunteer activities and events for each group (which GroupSpaces doesn't do). And if you ever were interested in fundraising, they offer specific fundraising campaigns (and charge 1.5% of donations) - nice if you ever go down that road. There are some other sites worth looking into - MeetUp is another one that helps groups, but doesn't offer as many tools as the other two I mentioned. Anyways, I really think that setting a home would really help jump start the group-starting process. Hope that helps! Good luck with your group going forward.
Community AdviceMichael Moran writes:
Of course! The PTO/PTA is there to ensure the kids get a good education. Some of that requires funds but sometime the things teachers can't, or wont teach need to be given to the kids.
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