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Deciding the Best Use for Your PTO’s Money

How in the world are you supposed to decide what to spend all the money that you’ve raised through your PTO’s fundraising on?

How do you figure that out?

Are you supposed to go looking on Amazon for random things just to buy?

Uh, actually no.

I really recommend having a solid plan in place.

Create an Annual Budget

So, the process of figuring out what to spend your PTO’s hard earned money on begins by creating an annual budget.

This way, your PTO have a plan for how much your group is going to bring in through either fundraisers or donations, and then how much you’re going to spend.

And if you happen to have a windfall year where you have a whole lot of money, then you can look to what some of your school needs are and use some money to fill those needs.

There are certain things your PTO should not be using group funds on, so be sure you’re aware of the list before creating your budget to stay inline with federal regulations and guidance.

Ask Teachers, Staff and Administrators

One of the easiest ways to figure out what you should be spending money on or to get ideas for possibilities is to ask, the people who are in the schools all the time, like your school’s staff, teachers, and administrators.

A really quick way to make this happen is just to send them a link to a SurveyMonkey or Google Form with open-ended responses questions like:

  • What would make your job easier?
  • What would make the school more awesome?
  • How can the PTO support you better?

Ask for a wish list of items.

Don’t put a financial cap on it because you may actually be able to fulfill requests that are currently outside of your group’s budget.

For example, maybe one of the wishlist items is a teacher lounge makeover, complete with new furniture.

That sounds like and totally is a big ticket wishlist item, but you could make it happen using some of your PTO’s Staff Appreciation Budget, and fill in the rest with donations.

But if you’d set a dollar limit cap on the wishlist items, maybe you never would’ve know that this is something the staff and teachers would like and the project never would’ve happened.

So keep the sky as the limit and let everyone dream big to start with.

Also, you’ll get a better variety of answers, and it’ll just be really interesting to hear what people say.

You’ll probably find that the survey answers will clue you into things that you weren’t aware of and also things that will make the teacher and staff’s lives easier!

And you might realize that it’s pretty easy to fulfill the wishlist, which will make everyone feel really good, especially the PTO since you’re doing something so impactful and desired.

At the end of the day, happier teachers lead to happier kids, which lead to happier parents.

So, it serves us as PTO leaders to listen closely to what the teachers and school’s staff want and make that happen for them whenever possible.

Ask Parents

The other way to figure out what to earmark PTO money and resources is to get school parents together and figure out what they have to say.

Maybe even meet at the school and walk around the building.

Is the recess equipment kind of shabby?

Is the playground equipment falling apart?

Are the water fountains are kind of old and gross, and a water bottle fillers would be more ideal?

There are so many options that could be good uses of your PTO’s time, energy and money that would improve the school experience, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Ask Students

Finally, don’t forget to survey the school’s students too.

It’s a great way for kids to learn to advocate for themselves and learn how to express their needs and wants.

Watch this!

Prefer to watch instead of read about the process of figuring out how to spend PTO money? Give this video on the same topic a watch:

Deciding the Best Use for Your PTO's Money | PTA Money Management and Budgeting for School Groups

Over to you!

So, there are just a few ideas to help you get started, but really look within, look to see what your school community needs.

I would start there before asking other groups what they’re doing.

Certainly, you can use the ideas from the other PTO/PTAs as inspiration, but that’s not the recommended starting point at all.

You need to start within your own school community because that is when you are going to be meeting the actual needs that are there.

Happy planning and budgeting!

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