Question: Public School PTO donating to a church

Our PTO recently held our biggest fundraiser of the year, a "Tricky Tray" gift auction. We asked a local church youth group for some volunteers to help us with the event. The kids' responsibilities were to retrieve the gift baskets and distribute them when the winning numbers were called. They worked very hard and they did a great job! At the end of the night the committee and PTO board agreed that throwing the kids a pizza party would be a great way to thank them. When this idea was presented to the youth group's leader, she responded that they would prefer to receive a monetary donation in the name of the church. She stated "it funds them to either help with an outing or excursion or it helps with them giving back to the community in various ways." When asking around, we heard another school donated "a couple hundred dollars". My question is, is it appropriate for a public school to make donations of this kind to a church run organization? Does this at all violate Separation of Church and State laws?

Asked by Anonymous



Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
If your PTO is independent from the school (you have your own bank account and EIN from the IRS), then you don't have anything to worry about. If you put your money in a school account, then you should get approval from the principal before you make the donation. I also think it's perfectly OK to say you're not able to spend $200 on a donation, but you can offer your volunteer power to help with something that's important to the kids.

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