Receipts from teachers for grant spending?

Our group gives out teacher grants throughout the course of the year. Just recently, our new treasurer told one of the teachers that she needed to provide a receipt of where the funds went. I couldn’t help but feel that it was putting the teachers on the defensive and that the teacher will not come to us again for help. What’s your take?

Collecting receipts is important for proving ownership of a parent group’s property, satisfying IRS regulations, and maintaining your treasurer’s sanity. If you’re afraid that asking for a receipt could put a teacher on the defensive, remember that the lack of a receipt could cast doubt on your treasurer and your group’s money-handling policies—something Elly thinks would be far more detrimental to your group.

Under IRS regulations, grants must serve the mission of the group and may not benefit an individual personally—even teachers. Violate those rules and your group can lose its nonprofit and tax-exempt status. The only way the IRS knows that the money was used to benefit the school and the kids is if you collect and keep receipts.

Elly recommends that your group create a reimbursement request form and incorporate it as part of your permanent records. The form should specify the teacher’s name, date, type of project, and instructions for attaching receipts. You might also specify a date by which receipts must be submitted, such as within 45 days of a purchase. This way, your teachers will understand that your group is merely sticking to protocol; no one is being singled out, and the rules apply to everybody.

- Elly
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