Friday, February 14, 2014

Preventing Theft in Your PTA

We would all like to think that no one in the PTA family would steal from the PTA, but the fact is that each year right here in Washington at least a few people do. There are several easy and common-sense steps your board can take to prevent such theft.

First, be vigilant (and relentless) about getting a treasurer’s report to the board each and every month, whether your board is meeting or not. Reports should be built around the approved budget and should include:

  • bank balance(s) at the beginning and end of the month;
  • expenses and income since the last report for each line item; and
  • expenses/income for the year to date (since June 1, 2013.) 

If there is no board meeting during the month, the report should be mailed or emailed to each and every board member.

Second, compare the amount which the treasurer’s report says is in each bank account to the balance that is shown on the most recent bank statement for each bank account each month. The bank statements for all accounts should be reviewed, signed and dated monthly by a non-signer and the comparison can be made at that point. The amounts may not be identical, but they should be close and the treasurer should be able to precisely explain any differences.

Third, compare the account balance (the amount of money your PTA has after all expenses for the month have been deducted and all  income has been added) shown at the end of last month’s report to the balance shown at the beginning of this month’s report. They should be the same.

Fourth, if you know that funds should have been deposited or spent during the past month, take a moment to see where that transaction is reflected on the treasurer’s report. For example, if you had a fun run last month, you should see income showing up on the line item for fundraisers in the income portion of the statement. Likewise, in the months when membership dues should be sent to your council or to the WSPTA (October, January and May) you should see an expense reflected on the membership dues line item in the expenses portion of the report.

Finally, if you do not understand something on the treasurer’s report, ask. It is likely that if you do not understand, someone else does not understand also and is not speaking up. It is your responsibility to monitor the fiscal activity of your PTA and it is your right to get the information you need to do so.

In most areas of our lives, politeness and trust are keys to successful interactions with others. That is true in PTA as well, without a doubt. But when politeness and trust get in the way of board members’ asking for what they need in order to understand the finances of their PTAs, bad things can (and sadly, sometimes do) happen.