PTO Today Q&A

Question: Donations

We recently learned of a tragic burn accident that happened to one of our Teachers's son. What can we do to help this family as a PTO? They e are in need of gas cards, meals cards etc? May way make a donation from our funds or even start a fundraiser to sell Tshirts?

Asked by Anonymous



Community Advice

mum24kids writes:
You can make a token donation from the PTO's funds, kind of the same as you would if you spent money to buy a gift for a teacher's retirement or send flowers if a teacher's spouse died, but anything substantial can get tricky. Whenever you raise/spend money, it has to fit in with the mission of the PTO, and you shouldn't have substantial amounts benefit a single person. Some PTO volunteers can coordinate a drive to collect the types of gift cards you mention from the parents throughout the school. But if you are doing anything that brings in actual money (like sell t-shirts) where you have to run it through the PTO bank account, you need to record that revenue on your tax return, so that's where you can run into problems. A better situation would be for the family to set up a trust account at a bank where people can send money directly to that account and the family can have someone manage the fund to make sure the monies are spent appropriately. Donations to the trust fund won't be tax deductible, but it keeps the money separate and out of the PTO.

Community Advice

Ronoli5 writes:
Thank you so much for replying!! One last question, do we need to amend the budget & by laws to make a small donation/ offer? Right now we don't have anything built into our budget for this.

Community Advice

mum24kids writes:
Depends how your bylaws are set up or how your PTO is generally run. Do you have a "miscellaneous" line item you can charge it to? Some PTOs are very picky and the budget passed at the beginning of the year is the law and you can't deviate from it. Others view the budget as more of a guideline and don't mind so much if you go a little over or under on a specific line item as long as the bottom line comes out close. And there are lots of options in between. There isn't really one right way or wrong way to do it.

Community Advice

crawson1 writes:
Our PTO has an Emergency Fund that people can donate to separately from the general account. We've used it to help families in the school who've had fires, unexpected funeral expenses, and other tragedies. It's worked well for us to keep the money separate.

We rely on the principal, assistant principal, and guidance counselor to identify families in need and determine how much to give them. That way confidentiality isn't breached.

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