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3 Ways Your PTO is Wasting Money

Normally, PTOs are on the hunt for the next greatest fundraiser so they can raise gobs of money.

But what if you could cut costs and use the savings on programs and fun things for students and the school instead?

That’s a better idea, right?

Because just like your personal household finance, you can balance your budget one of two ways: earn more money or spend less.

This post will focus on how to spend less in the way of rooting out where your PTO is likely wasting some money.

You can then use the information to figure out where the potential cost savings are, and then trim down expenses!

Not Using What You Have

The first PTO money waster comes in the form not using what you have and in many cases, duplicate purchases.

Is PTO property scattered at different volunteers’ homes?

If so, it’s likely you’re not even sure what you have, which makes it double hard to use it up.

So take inventory of what you have.

Contact all volunteers, both present and former and do a community round up of PTO property.

This doesn’t mean everyone has to bring it to the school, but ask what people have and if it’s usable.

Collect items from volunteers who are no longer actively involved.

Compile the results into an inventory list and distribute it to every officer and committee chair in your group with the intention of using it up before spending money on new items.

This will result in immediate costs savings because you’ll stop re-buying supplies you’ve already purchased.

The next step is to get it all organized.

Clean out and organize your PTO storage closet in school, or if you don’t have one, get one!

The storage room could be an old book room, supply closet or even a small closet in the school computer lab.

A seriously gross box of PTA records…

A Real Life Example of the Price of PTO Disorganization

An old water stained box was recently given to me by a fellow PTA volunteer.

“This is everything we’ve done for Founder’s Day since the beginning of time. I have no idea what’s actually in here” she told me as she loaded the box into my car.

I couldn’t wait to get into the box to see what was there!

When I did, I was a little excited and horrified at the same time.

First, there were programs from not only Founder’s Day, but also the PTA Scholarship Luncheon that had been put on for years.

Ok, so cool history stuff that we should preserve.

But as I digged into the box further, I discovered both used but perfectly usable and brand new table numbers meant to be used for the events, but everything was covered covered in mildew as well as some mold. Yuck.

Improperly stored PTA property damaged by water and mold. Yuck.

And there was also a box of printable Avery labels that I thought was salvageable.

Then I spied a bit of fuzzy mold on the outside of the box as well as on some of the sheets of labels! Gross.

So the table numbers and box of labels went in the trash because of the mildew and mold.

In all probably $20-$30 down the drain.

Not much, but I’d certainly rather have that money in the PTA bank account to use for another scholarship for a graduating Senior!

And this is just one box from one of my PTAs.

If we did a full accounting, sadly all the waste would add up pretty quickly.


The way too much gets purchased in the first place is by guessing at how much is needed for PTO programs and events.

The very first time you have an event, it’s likely you’ll not have a good idea of what to expect.

But after the first time, you definitely should have a very good idea!

Start tracking participation levels and write down what was purchased for the events.

Make note of how much is left over and other factors that could’ve influenced turnout and participation.

Here’s an non-fancy example from a Staff Appreciation Breakfast I coordinated many years ago:

A great PTO mantra is waste not, want not.

Tracking what’s left over after events is a great start!

The Event Planning worksheets inside the President’s Success Kit help track all of this information.

The specific details are hard to remember over time and memories for exact numbers aren’t reliable.

Most volunteers never write any of the information down which means that the next volunteer needs to start from scratch.

Tracking this information will save your PTO not only money, but also time, which is priceless.

Here’s another great resource for figuring out how much food to serve at Staff Appreciation Luncheons and other PTO events.

Using Expensive Software and Subscriptions

One final waste of PTO money is what is spent on software and subscriptions to run your group.

Think website, email service, etc.

Aim to keep your group’s administrative overhead costs low.

Ask for discounts or look for deals available to non-profit organizations if your PTO is a 501c3 organization.

Because paying a monthly or annual subscription fee isn’t necessarily good use of your group’s funds.

And wouldn’t you much rather spend the money on something that directly benefits the students or staff?

Silly question, I know!

So evaluate the programs you’re using that have a monthly or annual cost associated with them.

Is there a solution that works just as well as the more expensive program?

For most PTOs, the biggest chunk of change is spent on the money management software.

The costs to use Quicken or some similar program can get super pricey when you calculate it out over the years.

But Quicken is far from the only option for PTO Treasurer software and there’s a much more cost-effective solution that will save your group a bunch of money: the Treasurer’s Finance Manager.

Watch this!

3 Ways Your PTO is Wasting Money | PTA Money Management and Financial Responsibility

Quickly Save by Making this Switch

The Treasurer’s Finance Manager is a fantastic cost-effective alternative to other PTO money management systems.

Comparable systems are much more and come with an annual subscription, but without additional benefits or features.

So just what is the advantage of paying more then?

Check out this post for a primer about what to look for in PTO Treasurer Software.

Many have significant drawbacks such as the ones outlined in this post.

So that’s why I recommend learning more about the Treasurer’s Finance Manager and how it’s just what your PTO / PTA needs!

Another way to get organized so you can stop wasting money is to use the Event Planning Forms inside the President’s Success Kit.

The Officer and Committee Chair Summary forms are also fantastic tools for tracking the details of events to help waste less and save more money!

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