Procedure Books—Preserving Your PTA’s Knowledge

Portrait Of Beautiful Young Girl SmilingEvery PTA has that one person, the one who took over an event and turned it into something more than it ever had beenbefore, the event that every parent and child at your school looks forward to all year. Their kids were spaced just right, and they’ve been doing this job for years and years. But now that youngest child is getting ready to leave your school, and now you’re faced with the challenge of finding someone new to fill those big, big shoes being left behind. Your task is a lot less challenging if you have one key item in your possession—a procedure book that explains everything that this special volunteer did over the years to make the event what it was.

Why Have a Procedure Book?

PTAs have volunteer turnover built into them. People rarely stay involved in a local PTA once they no longer have a child at a school. Procedure books play two critical roles for a PTA:

  • Preserving a PTA’s Knowledge: Volunteers may move on, but a procedure book preserves what they did, how they did it, who they contacted, what was spent, and much more. Your PTA has worked hard over the years learning how to meet its goals, how to make programs and events successful, and how to meet all of its legal responsibilities. A procedure book means all that hard work isn’t wasted by being lost when a volunteer moves on.
  • Helping to Recruit New Volunteers: Stepping into a new PTA position, whether as an officer or a chairperson, is a bit like a journey to a new land. A basic procedure book serves as a map of that new land, while a detailed procedure book can be a wonderful guidebook. A procedure book makes it easier to find someone willing to take on a PTA position, knowing that they are not setting off into that new land with nothing more than a flashlight and a hearty wave from their fellow PTA members.

What Should Go In a Procedure Book?

A procedure book should contain all the materials needed to accomplish the work of the office or committee, plus any additional information a new volunteer would find helpful. A three-ring binder makes it easy to add and remove materials to keep the contents up-to-date. A set of tabbed dividers can help keep sections organized. The items listed below are suggestions for a procedure book, but are not necessarily complete. If you feel that a certain document would be helpful to the person following you, be sure to include it in the procedure book.

  • Contact Information
    • Contact information for the chairperson/officer (name, address, e-mail, phone number)
    • Other relevant contacts (e.g., other officers, committee members, etc.)
  • Goals and Responsibilities
    • Job description for the position
    • List of overall goals
    • Plan of work for the year
    • Budget information
    • Reimbursement procedures and forms
    • Tax-Exempt Letter
  • Event Planning
    • Materials from previous year(s), including past budget and how it was spent, previous contacts, promotional materials, etc.
    • Event planning templates, including timelines, volunteer responsibilities during event
    • Correspondence related to the event (e.g., e-mails, notes of phone calls and conversations, etc.)
    • Materials distributed by the committee (e.g., calls for volunteers, flyers, posters, etc.)
    • Post-event committee reports, including how budget was spent, who was contacted, who volunteered to help, what went well, what went wrong, and what you would do differently the next time
  • PTA Administrative Information
    • Bylaws and Standing Rules
    • Agendas and Minutes
    • Financial materials (budgets, financial reports, etc.)
    • Contact information for all officers and chairpersons
    • Calendar of events and responsibilities for each month
    • Records retention schedule

At the end of the year, the PTA president should be sure to collect the procedure books from all of the officers and chairpersons who are not continuing in their current position. They should also collect a copy of each committee report form at a minimum for the PTA’s records so at least a basic procedure book can be recreated if one should not be returned.