Question: Volunteer thank-you gifts

Our school district has advised the PTOs that they should not use any funds to purchase items for volunteers; funds raised during the year are not to be allocated for parent thank-you's. I can’t find any official legal ruling on this matter. Any help?

Asked by



Advice from PTO Today

Elly writes:

There’s no precise rule about how much is appropriate or even legal to allocate for volunteer appreciation; it really depends on your group’s budget. Obviously, a weekend junket to Vegas for you and your leaders is a no-no and would raise more than an eyebrow or two from your members and the IRS. But purchasing small token gifts or hosting luncheon celebrations for all of your group’s volunteers is perfectly fine. Many groups allocate funds each year and include a line item in their budget for this purpose; Elly thinks it’s a wonderful practice.

Whether your group is an independent entity or runs as an arm of the school, you should at least discuss this issue—and your PTO’s volunteer appreciation efforts—with your school’s principal. When you meet, stress how important your PTO’s leaders feel it is to recognize your members and their contributions. Strong volunteerism is critical to the long-term success of your parent group, and a strong parent group can ultimately help the principal build a better school. Help her see the big picture—perhaps she’ll even go to bat for your group with district administrators.

Answer this question: