Saturday, March 19, 2011

Can our PTA raise funds for a charity?

The students in our school have read about the earthquake, tsunami and  nuclear reactor accident in Japan and want to raise funds to help children who have been displaced or lost their families in this tragedy. Is this something our PTSA can support, and what pitfalls should we be concerned about?

First, a PTA can certainly inform its members of fundraising activities that  other persons or organizations are conducting. Second, if the PTA wants to conduct a fund-raising activity on its own, or use the PTA account to transfer funds that others have collected, keep in mind that any such action must be (1) consistent with the PTA’s mission, standing rules, and adopted budget; and (2) consistent with the 1023 or 1024 form it submitted to the Internal Revenue Service. Third, keep in mind that it’s an unfortunate truth that there are those who may try to take advantage of people’s desire to help for their own enrichment.

After the earthquake in Haiti in January of 2010, National PTA published a list of recommended charities to which individuals can safely contribute. That list is still posted here and while some of the charities listed there are specific toHaiti, others also support relief efforts worldwide, including Japan. Also, you may want to read or listen to this report (“How to Make Your Donations Count) from National Public Radio, which cautions against making contributions for specific purposes, rather than to support relief organizations generally, allowing them to allocate the funds where the needs are  greater. (Ask anyone who has attended PTA & the Law recently about the pitfalls of restricted and designated funds).