PTO Today Spending Survey 2017: Great Expectations


School parent groups feel the need to step up support, our 2017 survey finds. How does your group compare?


Most school parent groups had successful fall fundraisers, but the pressure to contribute more fundraising dollars and volunteer time remains strong. That’s according to an October 2017 PTO Today reader survey, in which many respondents said school budget cuts have resulted in the need to raise more money and to recruit volunteers to take on tasks formerly handled by paid staff members.

Leaders from 1,274 schools took the survey, which asked about their parent group’s plans for the 2017-18 school year. PTO Today has conducted the survey every two years since 2011. Read on for a snapshot of what parent groups look like now and how they’re spending their hard-earned money.

Key Areas of Support: Money and Time

49 percent of leaders feel their group has been expected to offer more financial support in the 2017-18 school year than in the previous school year.

“School budgets are cut to the bone. If we want any extras we must figure out a way to fund them.”
“We have found that the more active the PTA is, the more requests for money there are. Our fundraising did not increase but the demand for support did.”

40 percent of leaders feel their group has been expected to offer more volunteer support in the 2017-18 school year than in the previous school year.

“With less paid support positions we need volunteers to help run smaller roles throughout the school more.”
“PTO has created several new events the past few years which has increased the need for more parental support.”

What Parent Groups Look Like

79 percent of groups have 20 or fewer regular volunteers

Fewer groups have 30 or more volunteers
21% = 2013
14% = 2015
9% = 2017

Most groups have budgets of $15,000 or less
$0-$5,000 = 22%
$5,001-$15,000 = 33%
$15,001-$25,000 = 20%
$25,001-$35,000 = 12%
$35,000+ = 13%

75 percent of groups prepare an annual budget.

Fundraising Facts

82 percent of groups hold fall fundraisers.

How fall fundraisers performed:
Profits up from year before = 45%
Profits about the same both years = 33%
Profits down from year before = 22%

How Parent Groups Spend Money

Leaders told us these are their top priorities:
44% how many students and/or staff will benefit
31% how well it fits with the group’s mission and goals
10% how urgent the need is
6% doing the same thing we’ve done in the past
5% whether it supports the administration’s academic goals
4% other

Planned Spending

33% of groups expect to increase spending on family events
30% say they will spend more on student enrichment
28% expect to spend more on school equipment or renovations

Biggest Budget Changes

Groups are planning to spend more this year on student enrichment (up 23%)
teaching aids and classroom supplies (up 17%)

Groups are planning to spend less this year on principal’s discretionary fund (down 24%)

Budget Breakdown

On average, here’s how parent groups plan to spend their money this school year.

$4,534 student enrichment (assemblies, field trips, author visits)

$3,452 achool equipment or renovations (including playgrounds)

$3,160 teaching aids and classroom supplies

$2,277 technology purchases (hardware and software)

$2,089 family events

$1,120 teacher and staff appreciation

$686 principal’s discretionary fund

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