More on our Economy Blues fundraising survey:

How PTOs Are Adapting to Hard Times | Complete Survey Results
Recession-busting Tips | Hit Hard: How One Group Is Coping


Survey Question: Would you like to share other ways the economy has affected your group?

Right now we are in very tough economic times, and the primary focus of our group has and always will be the children. We have been searching for cost-effective ways to ensure that our children have a memorable year. So we cut corners on some of the types of assemblies [and] had large [corporations] sponsor field trips. Basically we learned to work smarter, not harder, and make our money work for us.
Kia Bennett, President, Edgewood Elementary Volunteer Organization, Pottstown, Penn.

We’ve been hit hard in three major ways. First, we have more students and families that are in the free and reduced lunch category that we help support financially for field trips, yearbooks, outdoor ed, school supplies, etc., so expenses are up. We’ve also made less money on our fundraisers. And, finally, we have less parent volunteers because more people are going back to work for additional income.
Mary Reid-Vizintos, President, Beebe Elementary Home and School Association, Naperville, Ill.

We noticed a huge difference in community support as well as amounts donated by parents and supporters overall. Many businesses in our small town are going under, so the chain stores continue to donate but our local “mom-and-pops” are not able to thrive, let alone support community organizations. Parents are motivated this year to help by donating time instead of cash.
Jennifer Schuler, President, Cerra Vista Elementary PTO, Hollister, Calif.

We usually have a major school project, such as playground equipment. This year we are taking on smaller projects, for example school beautification—[a] small garden.
Sukassa Chapman, President, Venus (Texas) Elementary PTO

We decided to not hold our silent auction this spring, which will reduce our year-end gifts to school. It’s always a major struggle to get donations and volunteers to help with this effort, and under the current economic conditions, we decided to give everyone a break.
Sally Cushing, Immediate Past President, Brownsville Elementary PTO, Crozen, Va.

This year we are offering many more functions for families to get together and “fellowship” (as our group is titled Parent Teacher Fellowship), and we are putting out a basket asking for a free will donation to defray costs.
Gilberte DeLaHunt, Vice President, Legacy Christian School Parent Teacher Fellowship, Sparks, Nev.

We are doing what we can to keep the membership up with more family-based activities. I feel that it is important to maintain that relationship with the parents, and when the economy picks up, they will be back in full force!
Debbie Peters, President, Barksdale Elementary PTO, Conyers, Ga.

We are trying to come up with new ways for people to help make money for our school without asking for direct donations, such as shopping at places that give a percentage back to the school—Target, Amazon.com, Box Tops for Eduction, etc.
Ann Hennessy, President, Edward D. Neill Elementary PTO, Burnsville, Minn.

We accept post-dated checks to help with the timing of fundraisers. The children won’t get their items until the checks have cleared. It has helped some people when they just need a couple of more weeks to be able to participate in a fundraiser.
Shelley Palmer, President, Ator Heights Elementary PTO, Owasso, Okla.

We offer a sponsorship program where anonymous donors will pay for half the tuition of a student whose family is undergoing a temporary financial crisis due to either loss of job or other emergencies. The applications for support have more than doubled this year.
Lara Brewer, President, Mary Buttrill School PTO, Jackson, Ga.

Many of our parents have taken second jobs or are working more hours to make ends meet....They are not as available to volunteer for events and committees.
Molly Berkowitz, Recording Secretary, Gables Elementary PTO, Neptune, N.J.

We have decreased our projected budget for most of our major fundraisers and events. We have had to add in extra money to projected expenditures for family and program events to cover the higher costs of food and supplies. Because our teachers’ stipend for supplies from the county was significantly decreased, our PTA increased the grant we offer all teaching staff (specialists included). We have noticed a downturn in attendance at events so far this fall, so with the money we do make we are trying to keep admission to events like movie nights at the same low $1 and do more low-cost service events to bring families together. Our PTA is trying to focus on “no extra pennies” fundraisers and projects such as spirit nights with local businesses, Box Tops, scrip gift cards, etc. Our marketing of these programs has stepped up as easy and painless ways to make pennies work for the school.
Cindy Cariens, Signal Hill Elementary PTA, Manassas, Va.

We are concerned about asking parents for money during these hard economic times. We have decided to try and seek out a more practical fundraiser then those we have had in the past.
Michele Giordano, President, Madison Elementary PTO, Olympia, Wash.

We have actually decided to reduce the number of fundraisers. Our budget carryover from last year was fairly good, so we are just using some of that as a buffer for the current year.
Tammy Songer, Vice President of Ways & Means, Sunflower Elementary PTA, Lenexa, Kan.


More on our Economy Blues fundraising survey:

How PTOs Are Adapting to Hard Times | Complete Survey Results
Recession-busting Tips | Hit Hard: How One Group Is Coping