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Dues or no dues?

12 years 2 weeks ago #151433 by Lisa @ PTO Today
Dues or no dues? was created by Lisa @ PTO Today
Does your PTO charge dues?... or did they charge dues in the past and in recent years make the conscious decision to stop this practice? What is your thought on dues? Do they help or hinder involvement?
12 years 2 weeks ago - 12 years 2 weeks ago #151434 by JHB
Replied by JHB on topic Re:Dues or no dues?
I've seen both and honestly don't think nominal dues themselves have anything to do with involvement (or lack of) in most cases.

The reason I don't think it has an impact is that once you get past the membership drive and perhaps a very few perks of membership, it doesn't matter.

The elementary school situation is the simplest since the parent group is THE central organization. Once you get into secondary, it's more complicated for many reasons.

In our elementary, we charged nominal dues. Paid members got a school directory for free (cost was equal to or more than dues) and could hold office. Otherwise everyone was the same. No one had to be a paid member to come to a meeting or volunteer or attend an event. Benefits we gained by charging dues:
  • Forced us to have a membership drive each year and really market our organization. This meant we had discussions about it in our meetings, developed material/posters about benefits.
  • Subconsciously, people sometimes perceive "free" as "low value"
  • Filling out the form/writing the check was the first step in commitment and getting involved.
  • The membership drive included a contest to see which class could get the most members. This involved the students and got them excited about PTO.
  • It did give us some additional funds
You could actually have many of the same benefits without charging. Still have a "membership" drive even without fees and get people to fill out their contact/volunteer forms. But the problem is - there are so many things to do at the start of the year, it's too easy to say "why bother since everyone is already a member".

We've seen far drastically reduced participation in middle and high school. But interestingly enough, PTO was "free" in middle school. We usually had 4-8 parents involved (about 900 kids). The high school has a PTA with $10 dues and far more competing organizations. It's still small, but I think we have about 25 attend monthly meetings and 80-100 paid members. (School has 1900 kids).
12 years 2 weeks ago #151439 by Jewel
Replied by Jewel on topic Re:Dues or no dues?
No dues at our elementary school. Volunteerism is very high, fundraising very successful. The directory is self-supporting (advertising dollars cover expenses) and is given to each family courtesy the PTO.

My son's high school charges $45 dues to be part of the parent group. Best I can tell, the only benefit from paying the dues is getting a directory. Due collection appears to be the only school-wide fundraiser. Volunteerism is a low percentage of the entire school family population.
12 years 2 weeks ago #151441 by somerturley
Replied by somerturley on topic Re:Dues or no dues?
In the past several years our pto has charged $2 dues. This year we didn't and even had posters saying It's free- sign up. Our member numbers did not go up. I only saw a decrease in teachers sign up- none had ever came to a meeting, but I think they were able to give to PTO a little and feel good about it. We felt that the volunteers of the school give so much time and money into the school- that we should be the one paying them!! We don't want to ever turn any parent away from volunteering, a couple of dollars can do that- with enrollement fee's, lunch money, school supplies and clothes- it can just be one more thing.
12 years 2 weeks ago #151442 by gjcoram
Replied by gjcoram on topic Re:Dues or no dues?
Our elementary school PTO has $25 voluntary dues; a large percentage of the families pay it. We have been considering raising the amount and trying to eliminate some fundraisers -- do people really need giftwrap, or would they rather have 100% of their money go to the school?
12 years 1 week ago #151453 by Stephanie Lohutko
Replied by Stephanie Lohutko on topic Re:Dues or no dues?
We don't charge dues to be a member, but in order to be voting member, you must pay $3.00 per family, per year and attend at least 2 meetings (they don't have to be that year or consecutive). This keeps members from recruiting one-time attendees to come and push through or vote down a contested issue. We have many members who don't pay the dues because they aren't worried about setting policies or making decisions. We also have many members who don't attend any meetings or vote, but are there for every volunteer opportunity. We are involved in the 4 schools K - 8 in our district and I care a lot more about having a volunteer than having their $3.00.
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