Be careful with cash. Accept cash in one spot. The fewer people who handle cash at your events, the fewer chances there are for some of it to go missing. At big events, sell attendees tickets that they redeem for concessions, games, or other items.

Deposit funds ASAP. Take cash to the bank on the same day, if possible. If you collect money after bank hours, make arrangements to lock it in the school safe overnight and make the bank deposit the next morning.

Use the buddy system. Any time a volunteer will be handling cash, have at least two people there. This means two parents at the cash box or counting bills after your event ends. Make it a policy to have both cash counters sign a form showing the total before giving it to the treasurer.

It’s also wise to require two signatures on checks from the PTO account. That way no one can write checks without another person’s knowledge. Your board should designate who can sign checks, and have those people visit the bank to update the signature card for the account.

Have at least two people review the bank statement each month. One reviewer should be a person who does not have authority to sign checks. With this simple step, you protect your PTO’s assets and ensure that your group will be aware of transactions if the treasurer resigns or relocates.

Check out Finance Manager—accounting software built just for PTO leaders

Make a paper trail. Give paper receipts for cash sales. At the end of the day, check your total cash against the total amount for which you issued receipts. Recount the cash if the totals don’t match.

If you’re a treasurer, require volunteers to fill out forms when they turn in cash, request reimbursement, or ask for a check to be cut. You’ll find lots of sample forms in the Finance section of our File Exchange.

Know how to handle bounced checks or declined cards. Talking to a school parent about a check he wrote to the PTO that bounced can be awkward, to say the least. You can minimize the discomfort by having a plan in place for how to handle the situation. Whether you send a letter or approach the parent in person, be discreet and assume that he made an honest mistake.

Do monthly reviews. Take time to balance the group checking account each month. If the account doesn’t balance, ask another volunteer to double-check your work.

Treasurers should also provide monthly reports of account transactions to the executive board. These can be shared with parents at meetings, as well. 

Schedule an annual financial review. After the school year ends, have a few volunteers (but not the treasurer) double-check that your records of deposits and debits are accurate. Do this each year so that any corrections can be made before a new school year begins. 

Get insured. Find out if your parent group is covered under the school district’s insurance policy. If not, your PTO will need to obtain its own policy to protect against the possibilities of accidents at events, property loss, embezzlement, and more.