31+ Secrets Your PTO Needs To Know

31 Secrets Your PTO Needs To Know

Get free auction and teacher appreciation donations, reward incentives, design resources, tech hacks, and more.

by Kerri Beauchesne



Design and Tech Help


1. Get Premium Canva for free. Canva lets you create custom social media graphics, flyers, and more using its library of professional design templates. Tip: If you’re using someone else’s Canva design, make a copy first so that the original design doesn’t get lost.


2. Generate QR codes to use on flyers, stickers, and more using QR Code Monkey. (And definitely invest in a good label maker!) 


@ptotoday Nothing better than a label maker and some QR codes Greenwood Elementary PTA President @Cortney Hall #ptolife #ptamom #ptalife #ptamomsbelike ♬ original sound - PTO Today


3. Free fonts! Jazz up PTO marketing materials with fresh new fonts available for free through Fontbundles.net.


4. If your group has 501(c)(3) status, you can apply for a free Adobe Express Premium Plan membership. Adobe Express offers free templates that make it easy to customize your own social posts, marketing materials, and videos.


5. Use Genius Scan (a free, fully functional mobile document scanner) to scan documents and create PDFs or import existing PDFs, rearrange, delete pages, or combine.


6. Upload a PDF to Canva using the “Import File” button, and Canva will convert the PDF to a useable Canva file. All the graphics and text will become editable.



7. Facebook page management tip! Sensitively maintain control of your PTO’s Facebook page without offending anyone by outright deleting comments. When moderating a business page, you can “hide” comments and the original poster won’t know that you hid their comment. They (and their Facebook friends) will still see their comment, but others won’t.


8. Download PTO Today’s free mega-bundle of 20+ printable treat tag tags (and signs) that can be used for teacher appreciation, bus driver appreciation, custodian appreciation, volunteer recruits, and family events like boohoo/yahoo kindergarten send-offs.



Save Money (and Get Free Stuff)


9. TheShareWay is a directory of donors that makes it easy to find food, beverages, auction and raffle items, and more.



10. Purchase items tax free for your school using the Amazon Tax Exemption Wizard.


11. Many national retailers have discretionary funds for donations within the local community. Many PTO leaders have secured succulents and other plants from Lowe’s for Teacher Appreciation Week or workshop crafts from Home Depot. If your organization is a nonprofit 501(c) 3, you can request a Target GiftCard donation through the Target Local Store Giving program.  



12. Get free kids’ reward certificates—they make great readathon incentive prizes! Panda Express offers meal cards through its Panda Express Achievement Awards Program. Some Sonic restaurants also offer reward certificates; contact your local Sonic to request these certificates, call 800-569-6656 to get in contact with your local franchise office, or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


13. Apply to receive a free bike donation from Strider—a hot silent auction item! (More on planning a silent auction).


14. Check with local restaurants to see whether they’re willing to donate free (or discounted) food or beverages. Texas Roadhouse has been known to donate salad bar fixings and rolls, while Wendy’s has donated potatoes for a “spudtastic” teacher appreciation hot potato bar! Chipotle also provides event donations for silent auctions, raffles or fundraisers through their Community Roots program (you can apply here). 



15. Score up to 10 free movie tickets from AMC for your school auction. (If the program is currently closed, check back regularly.)


16. Apply for a product donation from Vineyard Vines.


17. Stock the middle school restroom with RedDrop Girl Power Kits. During its 10,000-kit giveaway to schools and organizations, RedDrop is providing individual kits that contain pads and wipes for only $1 per kit. Title I schools can apply for a donation of junior period cups from Saalt; apply by filling out the Google form here.


18. Need watermelon cut into 800 slices or ice pops frozen but lacking in freezer space? Some local grocery stores will donate labor or freezer space.


19. Did someone say Pop Its...on clearance?! (IYKYK.) Hit clearance sales in early September and after the holidays at retailers like Walgreens to stock up on incentives for fundraiser raffles and prizes.



A post shared by HelloPTO (@the_pto_life)


20. Score freebies, deals, and offers just for PTO and PTA leaders from PTO Today and partners. With new offers added throughout the year, you can find freebies for your school, participate in fun giveaways, get product fundraising samples, take advantage of sign-on bonuses, discover new programs, and more! Check back regularly for newly added offers.


21. PTO Today Plus members get VIP access to PTO Today freebies, like our popular teacher appreciation gift packs and free samples. Learn more about becoming a PTO Today Plus member.





22. Family Tech Talk is a free parent webinar on Internet safety offered by PTO Today that your group can offer to your school's families. This live Zoom webinar and Q&A is hosted by an Internet safety expert and covers a wide range of technology issues that every family is facing in some way today. It covers the latest popular apps and games, managing screen time, dealing with conflict online, using the camera wisely, and helping kids use the internet in safe and positive ways. Presentations are available in English, Spanish, and additional languages. And, this event is Title I approved for parent and family engagement!



23. Grab your board and spend a few hours with us at a PTO Today Expo—you’ll walk away with tons of ideas and free samples! You’ll get to meet with a variety of fundraising and arts & enrichment vendors, watch live demos, enter raffles, snag tons of freebies, and so much more.


@ptotoday We’re hitting the road this spring! Visit www.ptotoday.com/events for FREE registration until 1/20/23. Use promo code EARLYBIRD at checkout! #ptomom #ptamom #ptaparent #ptoparents #volunteer #pto #pta #ptoparent #schoolvolunteer #ptalife ♬ Happy - DJ Keblinger$


#PTOlife Hacks

24. Use a scale to quickly count flyers.


25. Use a fitted sheet instead of plastic tablecloths at events.



26. Keep your parent volunteer cool in a mascot costume using a personal ice vest.



27. Stick things to walls at school using Gorilla Removable Mounting Putty.


28. When you don’t want to spend $40 on card stock...spend $5 on five stacks of $0.99 plates from the dollar store instead!


29. Need volunteers? Use middle and high school students who need to log volunteer hours to run games and activities.


30. Glow dance tip! Use fluorescent poster board and neon tape for a fun glow-in-the-dark dance floor. Just add black lights!



31. Spiritwear organization hack! Roll and rubber-band T-shirts for easier storage, access, and inventory tracking. After banding, use clear bags to separate sizes.


32. Need to transport lots of individual drink orders for teachers across town? Ask your local liquor store for wine boxes that have dividers in them, or use these honeycomb drawer organizers to hold drinks in place. 


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