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.

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Originally posted in 2007 and updated regularly.