As you begin planning for next year, someone will most likely ask "Why don't we just ask for donations instead of doing all of this fundraising?"

It's a fair question, and I totally get the temptation, but experience says you should tread carefully on this path.

When this message is presented to parents, you'll probably get a warm reception. Who doesn't like the idea of less fundraising? And you may even have a strong response to your first effort in this direction.

But the trouble comes down the road. The further you get away from the memory of traditional fundraising, the more parents start to think of your direct donation request as a cash grab. Response rates slow. With traditional fundraising, there's an exchange of items -- your group gets money in exchange for something tangible. That goes away with the direct donation method, and it hurts returns, especially over time.

There's also a big risk in taking this leap. You almost have to promise parents that you'll stop all traditional fundraising in exchange for going direct donation. But what if donations are low? Everyone likes the concept of fewer fundraisers, but they also like (love!) their kids having field trips and playgrounds and their teachers having supplies.

Have you tried direct donations? Thinking about it? We'd love to hear your thoughts on our message boards thread or on our Facebook discussion.

One final request: If you love these tips, take a second and visit our Facebook page and "Like" PTO Today. The tips and offers and discussions have been great these past few months. I think you'll get a lot out of that connection.