Question: Budget Carryover

Our PTO helps our elementary school by holding money for several groups-even though it is not PTO money (ex: 5th grade programs, talent show, computer teacher's cookbook sales to benefit the computer lab only). This started before I took over as president and I can only guess they did it because it was easier to request a check from the PTO than to request it through the school. Now we are in a situation where these groups have made money and not spent it by the end of the year and it is getting difficult to track. It also give an inaccurate picture of our balance because the money does not belong to the PTO but is included in our balance because we are holding it. Does anyone else do this? Is there an easy way to track it? We are struggling with either making a rule the money must be spent by the end of the budget year or we give it to the office to hold or not doing it at all.

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Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
That really is not a good practice for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that tracking everything puts a very significant demand on the treasurer. Another one: What happens if you disagree on how much money you are "holding" for one of those other programs? Things could get ugly.

You would be much better off making each of these PTO programs and funding them from your own budget. You could let the same people be responsible for organizing and running them, but the PTO would handle the finances just the same as it would for any other PTO program. That would put a lot less pressure on the treasurer, and it would allow you to be more strategic about fundraisers. You might choose, for example, to run a couple of large fundraisers to pay for these programs rather than having several small ones that might create fundraising fatigue among parents.

This setup is also good for the current organizers of those activities, even though they might not initially see it that way. You can take some of the fundraising pressure off of them, and the PTO is in a better position to create consistent funding for these programs. Right now, if a program raises less money, it has a smaller budget. The PTO has more flexibility to use other funds to keep the program going at the level that makes sense.

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