Saturday, June 11, 2011

Can a unit promote a local business that offers a discount to PTA members?

A local business is offering a discount to our members as a way for us to attract members and for them to attract new customers.  However I thought that PTA was supposed to be noncommercial and not endorse individual businesses.  Can our PTA agree to promote the discount to our members without violating those requirements?

You are correct that Article 2, Section 1(h) of the Uniform Bylaws states that “[t]he organization or members in their official capacities shall not endorse a commercial entity or engage in activities not related to promoting of the purposes of the organization.” 

However in the situation you describe the discount would benefit members and encourage others to join the PTA, so promoting the discount to your members would be “related to promoting the purposes” of your PTA and not be in violation of the Uniform Bylaws. 

Having said that, there are several factors you may want to consider. 
-- First, is the product or service being offered one that is aligned with PTA’s purposes?  For example, promoting a healthy food product or activity for kids clearly would be, while an oil change, probably not so much, and a discount on dangerous or harmful products is probably something that your PTA would not want to be associated with.  These are business judgments that your PTA’s board of directors would have to make weighing the benefit to the PTA and the membership as well as the needs and circumstances served by your PTA. 

-- Second, there may be other businesses – including some  owned by your members –that might welcome a similar opportunity.  While you don’t have to try to contact every business in town, you may want to put the  word out generally before accepting the first opportunity that presents itself.  Finally you may want to include a statement to the effect that the offer is being made available to your members as a convenience to them, but that if they choose to take advantage of it the business relationship is strictly between them and the business.