Question: PTO without Fundraising?

At one time, PTO "owned" all the fundraising held at our school, but in the past few years, faculty and staff have begun hosting their own fundraisers. Beyond not getting the information about them (that they exist nor when they're being held), these fundraisers are competing against PTO's. Last year we canceled our spring fundraiser because we felt our school held too many fundraisers. We have "preached" that PTO is more than fundraising, but these activities have kept us quite busy... Besides, the "competition" for fundraising and who "owns' them is not the atmosphere we want to establish. As an officer, I am tempted to suggest that PTO step out of the fundraising arena. Wow! Yes, I just said that! We would continue with non-fundraising income opportunities (inkjets, boxtops, book fairs, capri and campbell labels, etc.), which provides 1/3 of our income, enabling us to still sponsor some of the pertinent needs (field trips, RIF, playground are the 3 I considered, but it has yet to be approached to members). With this evolution, PTO would remanufacture itself as a socio-political organization. We have spoken about being more aware of the school and board politics and updating students' families, and given the time we'd put into fundraising would afford us time to attend meetings, etc. (For example, our report cards just changed but no mention has been made from either our principal or teacher rep to inform us of this--another example, perhaps, that everyone else just sees us as a fundrasing organization). But beyond this, we could provide many services that we currently give (support for picture day, room parents, etc.) plus give more in this area, such as hosting an Art Hop in school, having a volunteer each week to help with bulletin boards and/or copying for the teachers, playground support, etc. I would love to hear back from both you and others. It would be nice to get some others' feedback before I approach our PTO with this idea.

Asked by jsabasturm



Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
First of all, we strongly believe -- and research shows -- that the best thing a parent group can do is to get more parents connected to the school and involved with their children's education. When parents get involved in their children's education, kids do better in school. And schools themselves perform better with more parent involvement. So taking on the role of explaining the new report card system to parents, for instance, is a great thing for any parent group to do.

Second, too much fundraising, as you've perceived, is bad. Parents get burned out on fundraisng -- both giving money and spending their volunteer hours running fundraisers. You have better things for them to be doing. Ironically, one of the best ways to increase your fundraising is to emphasize fundraising less and stress building parent involvement more. The stronger the connection parents feel with the school, the more likely they are to give.

That being said, the best situation for your school would be to get all parties involved to sit down and work out a schoolwide fundraising strategy -- one where you share the workload, divide the money, and limit the number of fundraisers parents are hit with. Maybe the principal can help you develop some priorities (school needs) and financial goals. If you can meet the needs of all parties concerned with two or three large fundraisers rather than a bunch of little ones, the school as a whole will be in much better shape. Bottom line, before you get out of the water completely, try a concerted effort to get everyone rowing in the same direction. If you take the lead on this issue and turn it into a win-win for the school, you will certainly strengthen the PTOs reputation. Good luck.

Community Advice

FoxMom writes:
I agree - get together- sit down and look at the fundraising that is being done-- maybe all parties could work off one calendar as we have done in the past-- this way everyone puts their fundraisers, events, etc... on the calendar and we do not overlap with other- when events get put down- we re-examine dates for our events and move things around to make it work-- we usually do this in May/ June so we can put our event menu in place before Sept.

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