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PTO Today Spending Survey 2021: Resilience During Recovery

PTO Today Spending Survey 2021: Resilience During Recovery
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During the pandemic recovery phase, parent groups are being asked to provide more money and more time—despite having less of both available.

04/01/2022

After more than a year without events, fundraisers, and in-school volunteering, PTO and PTA leaders everywhere were eager to get back to a more typical school year in fall 2021. While some did get that chance, our most recent PTO Today Spending Survey shows that many groups continue to deal with pandemic restrictions that have affected their ability to fundraise and connect with families.

PTO Today has run this survey every two years since 2011. The fall 2021 survey asked leaders about their group’s plans for the 2021-22 school year, with 587 responses collected.

Some characteristics have stayed roughly the same compared with the 2019 survey. For instance, the majority of PTOs and PTAs still have a volunteer base of 20 people or fewer and a projected gross income of $15,000 or less.

Where the effects of the coronavirus are most evident is in the expectations for support provided by school parent groups: “We are allowed zero fundraisers this year since we are not allowed in the building due to COVID restrictions....However, the administration is still asking for money,” one respondent wrote about the need for financial support. Another shared this about the demand for volunteer time: “With limited access to the school, one person could be doing three to four volunteer jobs.”

Take a look at the full results on the following pages; we bet you’ll see your own group reflected among them.

Key Areas of Support: Money and Time

54% of leaders feel their group has been expected to offer more financial support in the 2021-22 school year than in the previous school year up from 45% in 2019-20

“We lost a whole year of fundraising, and the need has grown.”

“There are more needs, less fundraising, and we are planning more appreciation events/treats to help keep the positive vibes up!”

“We are allowed zero fundraisers this year since we are not allowed in the building due to COVID restrictions....However, the administration is still asking for money.”

 

47% of leaders feel their group has been expected to offer more volunteer support in the 2021-22 school year than in the previous school year up from 38% in 2019-20

“After the pandemic, we are all short-staffed. So more is being requested.”

“We are still expected to hold events to raise money, but only PTO members are allowed on campus, making it hard to get outside help from parents.”

“With limited access to the school, one person could be doing three to four volunteer jobs.”


What Parent Groups Look Like

81% of groups have 20 or fewer volunteers

 

59% of groups have bylaws that let the board approve unbudgeted expenses up to $100 or more

 

Projected gross income
26% = $0-$5,000
34% = $5,001-$15,000
19% = $15,001-$25,000
9% = $25,001-$35,000
12% = $35,000+

 

74% of groups prepare an annual budget


Fall 2021 Fundraising Facts

58% of groups had profits up from previous year
14% of groups had profits about the same both years
28% of groups had profits down from previous year


How Parent Groups Spend Money

Leaders told us these are their top priorities to decide spending:
43%: how many students and/or staff will benefit
31%: how well it fits with the group's mission and goals
14%: how urgent the need is

 

Parent groups plan to increase their spending in 2021-2022 across most budget categories.
55% expect to spend more on family events
45% reported that they’d be spending more on student enrichment
42% will increase spending on teaching aids and classroom supplies
42% plan to spend more on food and drinks
37% will increase spending on teacher and staff appreciation
34% expect to spend more on school equipment or renovations (including playgrounds)
$38,069 average planned spending across all budget categories (more than double the planned spending in 2019-20)

 

Here’s how much parent groups plan to spend this school year, by budget category:
$11,473: school equipment or renovations (including playgrounds)
$4,705: student enrichment (assemblies, field trips, author visits)
$4,556: teaching aids and classroom supplies
$3,789: technology purchases (hardware and software)
$3,337: food and drinks
$2,702: family events
$1,838: teacher and staff appreciation
$1,622: principal’s discretionary fund

 

Biggest budget changes:
food and drinks up 231% from 2019-20
school equipment or renovations up 207% from 2019-20
technology purchases up 60% from 2019-20
teaching aids and classroom supplies up 46% from 2019-20

 

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