Question: fundraiser fraud by a parent

What can the PTO do when a parent is committing fraud through our fundraiser? She collected order and money from neighbors and never picked up the merchandise on the delivery date. Now we have a very angry member of the community threatening to go to the school board if we the PTO does not give him his money back.

Asked by lori14



Community Advice

firefighter464 writes:
Seems to me if you didn't pick up the merchandise you haven't spent the money. Or am I missing something? Give the guy his money back. What happened to the merchandise? Can you get it yourself? Doesn't sound so much like fraud as this parent dropped the ball. Is s/he over-tasked and needs help? From my ow experiences, I'd say the school board will protect you. The theory is that the board has nothing to do with the PTO, you are a separate entity. So the community member really has no legal recourse other than court and that's probably not worth his time or $, so you are good to go in today's society. Unfortunate, but good to know.

Community Advice

darla@PES writes:
I agree, if the items were never picked up then they must have been returned or still at the school. If you cant find the items, you'll have to give him back his money. If the parent kept the money, that's a different story. However, in that case, I would still refund his money and then make every effort to get in touch with the parent. They may have just forgot, probably not, but just to give them the benefit of the doubt. Either way, make it right with the customer first, then solve the problem with the parent.

Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
Did the PTO actually receive the money, or did the parent keep it? If the parent kept it, I wouldn't recommend making a refund. In that case, let the parent who paid the money go to the police to report the crime. Here's a rule of thumb worth following for fundraisers: encourage all payments to be made by check made out to the PTO only (no cash). Never deliver merchandise without proof of payment, and let all checks clear before you distribute anything. Good luck.

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