Question: Gift Cards/Certificates for Teachers & Outgoing PTO Officers

I'm the current president at our PTO which has had the 501(c)(3) status for several years. For the past several years we have written individual checks to our teachers for $100 to help reimburse them for their out of pocket classroom expenses. We recently began requesting each teacher complete a check reimbursement form which they explain the expenses they incurred and provide receipts (if they have them). We have been approached about providing gift cards or gift certificates for teachers, sometimes as retirement gifts. My treasurer has a concern about it appropriate use of PTO funds to provide gift cards/certificates to the benefit of an individual? Is it also appropriate use of funds to get a gift card/certificate for an outgoing PTO member to show their appreciation of their time and effort which they devoted to teh PTO? Could we possibly jeopardize our 501(c)(3) status by doing this? Our bylaws currently don't include any direction on how this should be handled. Is it appropriate to include specific direction on this topic in our bylaws?

Asked by gk9jgk9j



Community Advice

C S writes:
According to GAAP accounting principles, receipts are required for every expenditure that any business makes. Although I am not an expert on IRS regulations, for any non-profit to give gift cards with no appropriate backup is just asking for trouble. Original receipts, not copies are also expected. The way your school is currently doing the disbursements is appropriate. Our school does not provide gifts to pto board members. You would be using funds intended for the children to provide a gift for the parents (seems like a double dipping of sorts). Most volunteers do what they do not to be rewarded, but for the satisfaction of helping the school. Giving gifts to volunteers will likely backfire on you and will breed mistrust and quite possibly jeopardize future donations from parents. All it will take is 1 parent to mention that the pto is not using the money correctly and all heck will break loose. Is that a risk you want to take?

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