floral file folder with office supplies on white background

How to Organize PTO Records

Have you just been handed a bag full of papers purporting to be everything you need to know about how to do your PTO volunteer job?

Do your PTO board members waste time recreating event flyers because the digital file can’t be found?

Does your PTO have communication issues that make the entire process more frustrating that it needs to be?

If you’ve answered yes or you’re looking for PTO organizing tips, then this post is for you!

This post covers the main areas to focus on for fast results!

Get a Mailbox

IRIS USA Portable Letter Size File Box with Built-In Organizer Lid and Handle for Hanging Folders, Large, Black

If you don’t have one already, establish a PTO mailbox at school for incoming mail and document exchanges to go.

In schools where PTO volunteers are in the building often, use a portable file box* as a mailbox.

Inside the mailbox, label one folder for each officer and committee chair.

Instead of running around to each others’ homes to trade receipts, or get a reimbursement check, the file box can meet those same needs.

Keep it easy to find things in the file box by arranging the folder tabs alphabetically in one position (left, center, or right) instead of staggering them from left to right.

Create Procedure Books

Printable PTO President's Success Kit on colorful desktop

Each Officer, Committee Chair and event needs their own procedure “book” aka binder .

The binder should have all the information about what their job entails and what’s been done in the past.

What Information do PTO Binders need?

What information should go in each binder varies based on the office or event.

All the information should answer the basic Who, What When Where and How for the specific position, namely:

  • Contact information for PTO, school and district administration members
  • Copies of flyers and planning documents for past programs and events relevant to the position
  • Forms (think reimbursement requests, check request forms, etc.)
  • Current copies of Bylaws and Standing Rules
  • And anything else that helps the officer or committee chair do their job.

For more information about how to set up organized officer binders, check out this post.

The Secretary Binder Kit makes getting organized so easy in mere minutes!

Keep documents and information for the right amount of time

In short, it depends on which officer or committee chair we’re talking about!

Recording Secretaries and Treasurers have to comply with IRS document retention rules.
But most other PTO officers and committee chairs don’t.

Secretaries have Special Rules…

For PTO Secretaries, retain bylaws, meeting agendas and minutes, plus documents relating to the formation of your PTO permanently.

And So Do Treasurers

PTO Treasurers should keep some documents permantly:

  • anything relating to the tax-exempt status
  • IRS determination letter
  • year end treasurer reports
  • plus audit and financial review documents

Seven years is the right amount of time to keep cancelled checks, check registers, 990 forms and bank statements.

Monthly treasurer reports should be kept for three years.

More advice for getting organized as Treasurer.

PTO PTA Treasurer's Planner and Organizing Kit
PTO and PTA Treasurers love the simplicity of this planner that has a place for everything!

All Other Officers and Committee Chairs

For all other officers and committee chairs, keep enough on hand to guide you…
but not so much that you need more than a 2 or 3 inch binder to hold everything!

Officers with a lot of information (hello, Presidents!) should establish an archive binder full of reference material that isn’t needed on the daily.

Establish a Permanent Address

Ask if your school will set up an email address for your PTO.

If not, set up one on Google for free.

Make sure you’ll always be able to access the account, even if the password is lost.

Do this by setting up the recovery email address to your personal email account.

Then start using this email address for all PTO work.

It’ll make it easier for you when you transition!

Here’s why:

Email will go to the dedicated PTO email address, and not to your personal email address.

This means your personal inbox will be less cluttered with information you don’t need.

Which means no worrying about forwarding emails to the new officer and new officers.

And if you’re the new officer, no worrying about what’s not being forwarded to you!

Plus, there won’t be any question about who to email, everyone can continue to email the permanent email address.

This just makes too much sense to pass up!

Centralize File Access

Develop an online archive of materials for your PTO, organized in a secure, cloud based system.

Having a dedicated place for all files to live ensures everything is in once place.

A bonus to having this system is that it “disaster proofs” your PTO in case of lost binders or files.

My PTAs use Google Drive, and the files are organized by topic, not by year.

Organizing files by topic means you can see everything on that topic in one place.

No need to rather hunt for the right files in different files years.

To make this system work, remind volunteers to upload the documents and files throughout the year into the online storage system.

This ensures the filing system grows into a robust archive!

Over to you!

You now have the basics of how to whip your PTO into shape organizationally!

Have more questions on this topic? Let me hear from you in the comments.

Resources You’ll Love

Really want to set up your group to win?

Get a The PTA/PTO Success Kit bundle!

It literally has everything you’ll need to set your group up for organizational success with tons of tried and true guidance, with tips, tricks and templates to make for the best term possible!

The kit comes with resources for every officer and committee chair, with binder kits that’ll have everyone organized in mere minutes.

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