Friday, October 29, 2010

Raising Money For Specific Activities

I understand that PTA is supposed to be for all children, so is it inappropriate for our PTA to raise funds to support and/or sponsor an activity that benefits less than the full school (e.g. an activity limited to a particular grade, or to those students who want to participate in the specific activity, such as a chess club)?  What concerns are there if the activity is going to involve school staff and/or be a school activity? If the PTA does fundraising to help defray the costs, can we allocate the proceeds only to support those students who participated in the fundraising?  
The answer to your first question is yes, subject to certain conditions.  First, you are correct that PTA’s purpose is to help all students, but that doesn’t mean that PTAs are limited to those activities in which all children can or will participate.  It only means that the scope of all PTA activities taken together should support the entire school community.  Second, you should make sure that the particular activity is within your mission, as laid out in the PTA’s Articles of Incorporation and in the 1023 form filed with the IRS in seeking tax exemption for the PTA.  If not you will need to amend those documents.  Third, the activity has to be provided for in the budget, at least in a general sense, such as student enrichment activities.  Again, if not, the budget would need to be amended at a general membership meeting to include the activity.  
To answer your second question, if the support is for a school activity, such as a field trip, the best practice is to make a grant of the moneys to the school district, restricted so the funds can only be used for that particular activity at that school.  If it is to be a PTA activity, then the PTA should be involved in all aspects of the activity, including advertising, making logistics arrangements, handling the funds, and signing any applicable contracts.  Remember that if transportation is involved, the PTA liability insurance policy from AIM does NOT cover transportation. 
The answer to your third question is an absolute unqualified NO.  Resources of a tax exempt nonprofit are to be used for the well-being of the public as a whole, and not to benefit any particular individual or individuals.  You can provide scholarships based on need but not on the basis of whether the child’s parents are PTA members or participated in the funding.