Top 10 Ways to Ruin Your Next PTA Year

Train_wreck_at_Montparnasse_1895As a PTA leader, you’re probably busy wrapping up this year of school. However, some things done (or not done) now can really mess up next year’s PTAactivities.

  1.  Don’t bother with a nominating committee.
    Yes, it can be difficult and uncomfortable asking someone to be an officer or committee chair, and it’s certainly easier to take anybody willing to do a job and let them do it. But just because someone is willing to do the job doesn’t mean they are the right person to do it. Taking the time and making the effort to personally ask someone who has the skills to do a job well will make your PTA much more productive next year, so read up on what your nominating committee should be doing.
  2. Don’t use procedure books.
    Every PTA has that one person who really took ownership of an event and made it special year after year. With some well-spaced kids, they may have been running the event for ten or more years. Now their youngest child is moving on, and everyone is busy thanking them for their years of service and wondering how the PTA will fill those big shoes being left behind. A procedure book can help with that transition, covering who was contacted, what the budget was and how it was spent, what was done, and what could be done differently the next year.
  3. Don’t pass on materials.
    It seems so obvious—you’re leaving a position, and you need to pass on all the materials to your successor. Yet this simple, common sense task fails to happen more often than you would guess. Far too often, district and region directors hear from new PTA officers that they didn’t get any materials to help them do their jobs. If you’re an outgoing president, make sure your officers and committee chairs are passing on their procedure books and other materials. If you’re an incoming president, keep in touch with both your new officers and chairs and the outgoing officers to make sure your board has the tools they need to be successful next year.
  4. Don’t update signatures and passwords.
    You’ve got new officers for next year, and while there may be some who are continuing on, the list of those authorized to sign checks has likely changed. Make sure you update your signature list with your bank. If your PTA has a Facebook page, uses online banking, or has other password-protected sites it uses, make sure that the current username and password are passed on to the new person in charge of the site. Once that new person logs in, they should change the password for protection.
  5. Don’t send in dues or unused membership cards.
    Part of being a PTA unit in good standing is having at least 25 members, paying your PTA’s membership dues, and returning any unused membership cards to the Illinois PTA. Not doing those things can result in your PTA being listed as delinquent, which means that new materials like the Local Unit Packet and new membership cards won’t be sent until those items are taken care of. Be sure to use the Dues Remittance Form to make any outstanding dues payments before the end of the year, and use the Membership Card Return Transmittal Form to return any unused membership cards.
  6. Don’t provide any start-up funds.
    A PTA cannot spend any funds unless a budget has been approved. So how do you handle those expenses that occur prior to adopting your PTA budget at your first general membership meeting? By providing start-up funds in your current year budget. Even if you haven’t provided for start-up funds yet, it’s not too late to amend your budget to add a line for start-up funds, and you can probably fill it with some unspent funds from other budget line items. With those start-up funds, next year’s PTA will be able to have those sample spirit wear t-shirts to display at registration or have funds for a kindergarten kickoff event prior to the new budget being adopted.
  7. Don’t do an audit.
    Both your bylaws and the IRS requires your PTA to perform an audit at least annually after the end of your fiscal year. The audit provides your members with the reassurance that the PTA funds were spent as intended and guarantees that your new officers are taking over with a clean set of books. Your bylaws will spell out how your audit committee works, and you can find a sample audit form and sample annual financial report on the Illinois PTA website. The audit is adopted by your general membership at your first meeting of the year prior to adopting the new budget.
  8. Don’t file your 990 with the IRS.
    Once your PTA’s audit is done, you should have all the information needed to file your Form 990 with the IRS. If your PTA has gross income of less than $50,000, you only need to file the online Form 990-N, which only takes a few minutes to fill out. Failure to file a 990 with the IRS for three consecutive years results in your PTA losing its tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status, meaning that you have to pay to reapply for the status and pay taxes on your PTA income until the status is regained.
  9. Don’t register your new officers.
    Illinois PTA sends out a Local Unit Packet late in the summer to every PTA that has registered its new officers and makes sure that they are signed up for the Illinois PTA Weekend Updates as well. Without that information, the Illinois PTA can’t share the information that those new officers need to be successful. Be sure to register your new local unit or council officers as soon as they are elected so they can get the materials and information they need. Even if you have the same officers as last year, you still need to register them to confirm their contact information.
  10. Don’t bother with training.
    You wouldn’t babysit your neighbor’s kids without learning what their bedtime was or if there were foods they couldn’t eat, so why would you want to run a PTA with a budget of tens of thousands of dollars (or more) without learning how to follow IRS rules or have a smooth-running meeting? Illinois PTA training courses answer all your basic and not-so-basic how to run a PTA questions. Contact your district or region director to find out when courses are being offered in your area or to find out how your PTA can host a training. Be sure to read the Illinois PTA Weekend Update to find out about online training opportunities, and check out National PTA’s e-learning library as well. All PTA officers should take PTA 101: Your Road to Success. In addition, PTA presidents should take the President’s Course and treasurers should take Money Matters 101.