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What you should know about your group's finances, how to build a strong executive board, and tips for recruiting committee chairpeople.

by Christy Forhan


10 Things the President Should Know About the PTO’s Finances

  1. Your PTO’s organizational status. Is the PTO an informal yet independent group, a school committee, a nonprofit corporation, and/or a federally registered tax-exempt charity?

  2. Your PTO’s tax ID number, also known as the employer identification number.

  3. Your PTO’s fiscal year—that is, your PTO’s business year. It does not need to match the calendar year or the school year.

  4. Your PTO’s annual budget.

  5. Your bank and the type of account(s) you have.

  6. The current bank balance (approximate is OK).

  7. Your PTO’s check-signing policy. Ideally, your PTO requires two signatures on checks and prohibits anyone from signing a check made out to herself.

  8. The location of the PTO checkbook.

  9. How to read the treasurer’s reports.

  10. The name and type of accounting system used by the PTO. Are your financial records kept in a (paper) journal book, in an accounting system on your treasurer’s home computer, or in a web-based computer system accessible to all members of the executive board?

All the know-how you need to be an effective and successful parent group leader!

7 Keys to a Strong Executive Board

  • Define each job clearly. Be sure each officer understands what is expected of her. Watch out for overlapping duties. Clarify the roles of “co” officers.

  • Communicate regularly. Keep the group up to date on PTO matters. Use an agenda for executive board meetings.

  • Make decisions as a group. Don’t leave any officers out of key decisions.

  • Delegate meaningful tasks. Use the time and talents of your fellow officers to share meaty PTO work.

  • Include the principal. A PTO cannot be successful if it is cut off from the school.

  • Be the leader. Make the tough decisions when necessary. Accept responsibility. Nurture new leaders. Think long term. Keep your PTO’s mission in mind.

  • Say thank you—to your fellow officers, school staff, volunteers, and members.

6 Tips for Recruiting Committee Chairs

  1. Ask face-to-face.

  2. Be sincere.

  3. Be realistic about the expectations of the job. If the recruit understands the scope of the committee and the time and skills required, she can better decide whether she’s the right person to do it.

  4. Provide assistance as needed, but don’t run the committee. One sure way to turn off future leaders is to second-guess every committee decision. Give committee chairs room to apply their own creativity and to lead their committees themselves.

  5. Pass along old files. Keep a photocopy if you’re concerned that something important might be lost in the transition.

  6. Approach new members. While it’s easier to rely on “regulars” to lead PTO committees, capable volunteers are waiting tentatively in the wings. Spread the work around by urging new members—the future leaders—to get involved.

Download our free New Leader Kit

Originally posted in 2007 and updated regularly.


# Bev Hanson 2008-04-30 07:12
This article was very helpful especially for someone who is very new in the PTO world!
One complaint - when you go to print out the information there is too much clutter that comes with it. I just wanted the article and ended up with 5 extra pages of "junk". Time and ink are precious.
# Kathryn Lagden from PTO Today 2008-04-30 10:25
Hi Bev - Glad the article was helpful! To print the article without all the "extra stuff" on the page click on the 'print' icon in the top right corner of the article, that will give you a clean copy. (btw - in the near future we'll be adding the print link to the bottom of the article as well)
# Diane Medeiros 2008-06-06 21:18
Thanks for all the great suggestions...
# Elvivera Chicag 2008-07-07 16:12
Hello Bev,
I just wanted to let you know if you highlight the selected ariticle and go to print check the circle or box that says Print Selection. That way you only get the article if there is no link to a print button on the article. This was a very informational article. Thank you.
# Frank Medina 2008-09-27 04:38
Please send me some information about all of the officers for the PTO. I just got nominated for president and don't really know too much about the position and also I just got some new officers in the group so if you could please send me information on the role and duties of each officer starting with mine. Thank you very much.
# Melissa 2008-11-15 15:29
Our school's PTO has always been run by the school's pricipal and now I am trying to get the PTO back to the way it should have always been. We have a lot of scared parents and teachers, They have nominated me to be the PTO pres. I have no idea of how to get things started or even where to start. Could you please HELP ME!!! thanks
# Cynthia 2009-04-20 18:09
I would love information similar to what Frank is looking for. I am creating notebooks for each event and officer so if someone new comes along and wants to know what is required of the position, they can get the information in one spot. Do you have any job descriptions for officers we could use for that?
# Dodie Akin 2009-06-03 11:37
Hi Everyone,
Without even knowing it you have already found a place to start. I found that when asking for help, be clear on what you expect from them. If you ask them to run an event or committee, be sure to give them a budget, general guidelines and then trust their judgement. Always be courteous to your volunteers and respectful of their feeelings. I find hand written thank yous go along way. Always be sure to give them recognition in your programs etc. WHile most vounteers dont do it for the glory, everyone needs to feel appreciated. As I said you have al already shown you are leaders, now go out there and have fun!!

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