This is a sponsored post. I’ve been compensated by Cheddar Up to write about my experiences using the payment platform. All opinions are 100% mine and haven’t been influenced by the sponsorship agreement.
A frequently asked question in the PTA/PTO Super Star Leaders Facebook Group is how best to collect and handle money.
Leaders are especially curious to know about easier ways to collect money and also how to accept credit cards as a PTO.
Turns out the answers to both questions are pretty easy!
Why Accept Credit Cards
But first, why the question about accepting credit cards?
It’s simple, really.
We’re personally using checks and cash less and less and see the convenience of using credit cards and making online payments.
But a bunch of PTOs have yet to jump into the cashless world!
And one of those reasons is the cost of doing business with credit cards.
One of the biggest objections PTO leaders have about accepting credit cards is that PTOs usually get stuck footing the processing fee.
The fee is relatively small, usually around 2%.
Since most PTOs are non-profits operating on strict budgets, that’s an expense too big to swallow for many groups.
It cuts into the amount left to spend on things PTOs really care about.
What if there was an easy to use solution that addressed all of these concerns?
Turns out there is!
Enter Cheddar Up.
What’s Cheddar Up?
If you’re unfamiliar, Cheddar Up is a service that enables users to accept credit cards and online payments in an online store-like setting without the hassle of coding a website or eating credit card processing fees!
Also, in case you’re wondering, the name is a mash up of slang for money and paying up (who knew?!?).
I first learned about Cheddar Up a few years ago, since they’d partnered with Ohio PTA.
But I hadn’t been in a position to use it until last year.
And boy, did I use our Cheddar Up account this last year!
Let me cut to the chase and clue you into the fact that Cheddar Up has been a game changer for me and my PTAs.
And so when Cheddar Up approached me a few months ago to work with them, it wasn’t a hard decision since I was already a fan!
But exactly why am I singing the praises of Cheddar Up?
Read on and you’ll see!
Collecting Money Made Easy
Last year, I served as the Fundraising Chair in one PTA and President in another.
As Fundraising Chair, I was laser focused on raising as much money as possible, all while minimizing my time and all expenses to the PTA.
And because I had taken on such large positions, I knew I needed to be smart about my time.
I was actively looking for tools that would minimize time, hassle and paper chasing.
As it turned out, Cheddar Up was just the ticket!
How Cheddar Up Works as an Online Store
The real beauty of Cheddar Up is that all the work of selling items and collecting money becomes a non-issue!
Selling Spirit Wear
For the Spirit Wear Sale at our Middle School, I couldn’t rely on selling items in person.
Kids never had enough money on them to buy items and too few parents were coming into the building during the day.
Plus, I have a professional organizing business to run.
This situation called for a different solution.
First, I considered setting up a separate website to handle sales.
I’ve done it before, so that wasn’t a roadblock.
But the amount of work that goes into setting up the store with the annual fees and weekly maintenance coupled with the on-going training I’d have to provide, was way too much.
Instead, I opted to create a sales page via my PTA’s Cheddar Up account.
First, I added the item title and typed out some details.
Next, I added a picture of the t shirts, flannels pants and spirit socks.
Then came custom sizes and number available so we wouldn’t sell more than we had on hand.
Much to my surprise, I was even able to set up special bundle pricing so easily!
Next came adding in form fields for the Student Name and Homeroom for easy delivery.
To let parents know about the sale, I created a custom link and posted it on our Facebook page.
I even added the Cheddar Up link to the flyer and then added a pdf order form to the Cheddar Up order page just in case parents preferred to send it the old school method.
The whole thing took me not even 30 minutes to get up and running.
About the same time as the Spirit Wear Sale, I ran a catalog fundraiser sale for the same school.
I’ve run catalog fundraising sales before and knew I wanted to avoid kids bringing in wads of cash or having to deal with bounced checks, so I used the PTA’s Cheddar Up account to accept payments.
Not too many parents paid online, but the ones who did were grateful for how easy the process was.
I personally liked how simple it was to see if people had paid for their orders yet and liked not having to bug the Treasurer for the information.
I also liked being able to collect a little more information from payers- sometimes it wasn’t the parent paying for the fundraising order.
It was nice to be able to link the student with the payment without having to call the person who made the payment.
I simply included a few information fields and I was set.
It would have been super frustrating to only get the email of the person who paid!
Fundraising is time consuming enough without having another layer of difficulty layered on.
In the Spring semester for the elementary school where I was President, the Executive Board took a look at where we stood in December with fundraising for the year.
The numbers were not quite where we wanted them to be, so we decided to add on another fundraiser.
A local family amusement center offered a Spirit Night event where we could sell discounted packages and keep a portion of the ticket price.
Fun, unique and seemed simple enough to execute.
Our PTA had to handle the financial side of things: collect all money, deal with ticket sales and distribution, then pay the amusement center at the end of the night.
Just like with Spirit Wear, selling tickets during the school day to sell tickets was not only impractical, but impossible because there weren’t enough school events before our reserved date.
We decided to use our Cheddar Up account to sell tickets, which ended up making the whole process easier!
As the tickets were sold, the Cheddar Up app sent me a fun notification.
It was fun to hear my phone go off for each sale!
When I logged in to the app on my phone, I could see exactly how many tickets had been sold and I also had access to each buyer’s email address.
That made it easy to follow up with each buyer to make sure they knew the details of ticket pick up.
The fundraiser ended up going super well and we earned a nice amount with not too much effort!
Later on in the Spring, our school community had not one, but two house fires that affected school families.
A PTA liaison at another school contacted us about supporting the families and of course, we agreed!
Since both families were displaced from their homes, we decided to collect donations to help cover living costs.
And the fastest way to get the donation drive up and running was to use Cheddar Up!
In less than 5 minutes, our Treasurer set up the donation collection page and shared the link out to the community.
Because we were collecting donations we decided to cover the transaction fees for all donations.
One of the nice things about Cheddar Up is that it has flexibility with the transaction fees baked right on in to the program!
With other online payment processors, the organization collecting money has to pay the transaction fee- there’s zero choice about that.
But with Cheddar Up, you have an option: Pass along the fees to buyers or literally flip a switch (er, click a button!) and eat the fees yourself.
Covering the transaction fees makes perfect sense for situations where you’re asking for pure donations and there’s no overhead to account for.
The last way I used Cheddar Up to solve an otherwise time-suck of a job is to sell off extra yearbooks at the end of the school year.
Our Elementary School Principal likes for the yearbooks to be distributed right at the end of the year, so there is usually very little time to sell extra books.
In the past, we’ve had as many as 10 books left unsold. This year, using Cheddar Up, that number was slashed to two.
Once again, I set up a sales page just like I did for the Spirit Wear sale.
Getting an accurate count of how many books were available for sale was crucial, since there was no chance of getting anymore from the yearbook publisher.
It was nice to know that I didn’t have to keep track of how many books were left- the Cheddar Up system literally took care of the math for me.
And since the last few days of school that are especially hectic, I really appreciated that!
Reaction from parents
The reaction from parents about using Cheddar Up was a little surprising.
I was a little shocked to hear from parents that they didn’t mind paying a bit extra, but they actually preferred having the ability to pay online to more traditional methods!
One mom raved about Cheddar Up since it saved her a trip to the bank. She paid for things all year long using it.
Another parent mentioned that Cheddar Up saved them from worrying that the teacher might misplace their payment or order form.
Overall, I would say to not worry about the small convenience charge. Parents who don’t mind will happily pay it.
But here’s the real kicker: Parents who don’t want to pay the transaction fee can still reserve an item and send in a check!
In other words, parents truly have options!
Reaction from Treasurers
And to be completely transparent, the reaction from both PTA Treasurers was similar to that of the parents.
Both work full time, so anything that would save time and hassle was ideal!
Neither had a problem using Cheddar Up at all.
They both liked that they could simply click a button and have the money transferred into the PTO bank account auto-magically!
No having to deal with bounced checks.
No worries about safeguarding cash payments or even counting cash!
Win-win for PTO leaders!
Prefer to watch and not read about my experience with Cheddar Up?
You’re in luck!
Over to you!
The nice people over at Cheddar Up want to give you an opportunity to try their platform this school year.
You can always use the free Cheddar Up plan, but they have more advanced features and reporting options in their Team plan.
And what’s more, they’re offering a 30% discount on the annual Team Plan!
Use this link to sign up and get going with great features like multiple admins, more in depth reporting and recurring payments!
How do you plan to use this great platform? Tell me in the comments!