PTO Money Management: How to Avoid Being a Piggy Bank

how to avoid PTO being used as a piggy bank

How do you handle multiple requests to fund pet projects of parents, teachers or Principals?

Managing your PTO’s finances so that you don’t feel like a piggy bank is crucial for a well-functioning PTO!

This post will cover some of the best strategies to get in control of what the PTO budget pays for.

Strategy #1: Partner with Your Principal

If you truly feel like your PTO is being used as a piggy bank, then chances are your PTO isn’t on the same page as your Principal or school staff.

After all, if your PTO was being asked to fund things that PTO felt was important, then you’d have no problem writing that check.

It’s when funding requests come in for things that you don’t believe PTO should pay for that becomes a problem.

So how to fix this?

You have to talk with your Principal.

I always recommend communicating with your Principal early and often.

Even if all of the requests are coming from teachers and not the Principal, you’ll want to get her help.

She can help to reset the expectations of the staff and help them realize the function of the PTO.

If requests from the Principal are the issue, then you still need to talk directly with her.

As mentioned in How to Partner with your Principal, she may have had a previous experience with a PTO that paid for anything she asked for.

So your new desired to be in more control of PTO money will take some explanation and getting used to.

That blog post has some really great advice on forming an effective partnership with your Principal, so read it!

Strategy #2: Develop a Budget that’s in alignment with your group goals.

I’m all about planning and goals.

Because if you don’t know what your goals are, then how will you know what to do?

You won’t!

So get yourself some group goals.

This is a discussion for the Executive Board to have.

I recommend having it early in the year or even during Summer Break.

Also, without the goals, you won’t have a really good reason for saying no and you might feel uncomfortable declining the request.

Additionally, the budget will give you the confidence to politely refer to it as being the plan for the year.  

You’ll be able to say, “Mrs. Thomas, that is a great idea!  We don’t have room in the budget to fund that program this year because we’ve already allocated all the funds.  But I’ll make sure to discuss it as a possibility for next year with the executive board.  I’ll be in touch if when we decide!”

Need help designing a budget? Read this.

Strategy #3: Offer a mini grant program

A PTO sponsored grant program is something all PTOs should have in place, whether or not they feel like random funding requests aren’t a problem.

And that’s because sometimes great ideas come up during the year and you’re going to want to have a way to pay for them without having to re-work the budget.

Carving out a section of your budget to pay for these pet projects accomplishes a few things.

For the PTO it sets limits on the amount to spend on the pet projects.

And, you’re kind of meeting people half way on paying for items that aren’t in the direct scope of your priorities, but are in the general scope. This makes teachers and Principals feel like the PTO is meeting their needs as well.

After all, PTO is one big balancing act of the interests of parents, students, staff and Principals.

A mini-grant programs can go a long way in keeping that balance going.

Having a set amount of money designated for staff grants means that the rest of your budget won’t be affected.  

You won’t have to make mid-year adjustments to make your income and expenses balance, because this fund has already been baked into your budget!

For the specifics of setting up a mint-grant program along with how to effectively structure the program, check out next week’s post.

Strategy #4: Learn to Say No, Tactfully

When someone asks your PTO to pay for something that you know is outside the scope of your budget and the interest of the PTO, then you’ll need to politely decline the request.

Here’s some really good language to help with that:
“I understand the PTO has paid for XYZ in the past.  This year, we’ve taken a look at our goals and we don’t have the funds.”

See what I mean about having the financial goals and overall budget strategy helping you out?

When you have a plan, it’s easy to stick to it and not get started with random money requests!

In Sum…

This post has covered four different strategies to use to stop feeling like a piggy bank for pet projects.

Real quick, here they are again!

  1. Get on the same page as your Principal.
  2. Get some goals and a budget that reflects those goals together
  3. Start a mini-grant program
  4. Just say no.

Start implementing these strategies and your PTO will become more in control of your money just like that!


Ease Money Management Problems

Say goodbye to common money management issues when you use the Treasurer’s Finance Manager.

It’s the simple, and easy to use system you’ve been looking for to spend less time managing your PTO’s finances.

With no annual subscription to pay for, it’s an economical option that’ll save you time and hassle!

Watch this!

For even more on this topic, give this video a watch!

Recommended Reading

Posted in Finances and Money Management, PTO Officers and Leaders and tagged , .

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