Nine mistakes PTO Presidents make and How to Avoid them on styled desktop

9 Mistakes to Avoid as PTO President

Great leaders welcome opportunities for growth with arms wide open like a big beautiful rainbow.

They aren’t defensive or closed to learning how to be a better person, and in turn, a better leader.

They constantly seek new tools to add to their tool bag of leadership tricks and are delighted when they discover a resource to help them!

Because you’re reading this, I know that you’re a great leader, looking to improve…

So I’ve detailed 9 different mistakes PTO Presidents make in this post for you so you can avoid them!

Mistake #1: Making It Up As You Go Along

Oh friend, if you don’t have a plan, you’re on the road leading away from success, I’m afraid.

I’d even go as far to say that not having a plan, and just making things up as you go along, is the perfect way to self-sabotage.

You very well may have lived your life up until this point by flying by the seat of your pants.

But PTOs aren’t teams of one.

You’re working with a fabulous group of volunteers.

And the majority of people cannot work on a just-in-time-schedule!

Now I know PTOs aren’t super complex organizations, but they do have lots of moving parts with many volunteers involved.

And in order to function well, everyone needs to be on the same page, working on the same plan.

For example, my PTO recently was approached by the local skating rink to have a fundraising night where the PTO would get 100% of the entrance fees.

At first, the Family Events Chair and I were super excited for this unexpected windfall and wanted to jump at the chance.

But when we double checked the schedule, there was a Pizza Night Fundraiser and another family fun event within days of the proposed skating night.

If we didn’t have this plan together, we probably wouldn’t have known about the conflict and we would’ve been hurting all three of the events!


As President, your calendar is absolutely key to survival.

I like to keep my working calendar on Google Calendar and make it public for parents and staff.

It just makes sense to take advantage of technology to cut down on the number of flyers sent home.

After you create your calendar of events, send it home once and then have parents subscribe to the Google Calendar to have updates auto-magically appear on their calendar!

PTO calendar template to publicize PTO family events and fundraisers. Plan out your entire year to work towards your PTA's goals for a successful year! #ptoanswers #pto #pta #template

Mistake #2: Not being a big enough cheerleader

Another key mistake that too many PTO Presidents make is to not encourage volunteers and other leaders enough.

Now you totally don’t have to be that constant peppy cheerleader by any means.

But you do need to acknowledge and give props to all volunteers a lot.

It’s important to do it while volunteers are helping and especially after so they really feel the love.

Being super appreciative of volunteers will make them feel included and part of a team.

And that makes it more likely that they’ll keep helping!

Solution: 19 Different Ways to Thank Your Volunteers

Mistake #3: Micro Managing

Yep, you know faster ways to get it done.

This is absolutely true.

But what is also true is that you didn’t have it all down when you first started either!

Give the new volunteer some time to come into her own and help as she knows how.

Otherwise, you’re going to run off helpers and you’ll be stuck doing everything yourself!

Being a party of one PTO is a recipe for disaster.

For the PTO and for you personally, as well!

Avoid the temptation to micro-manage volunteers.

Give volunteers the tools and information they need, but don’t make them follow your script.

Let them develop it on their own.

This ensures the volunteers feel respected and empowered.

Solution: Delegate the right way and let it be.

Mistake #4: Trying to do it all yourself

I know you’re Super Mom, able to do oh so much each day.

But listen up: You absolutely cannot do everything yourself.

Nor do you want to, if you are really honest with yourself!

In order to avoid a melt down at some point, you must embrace one of the essentials for success: delegation, baby!

Solution: Again, delegate.

Mistake #5: Failing to communicate

The best way to have others feel like they’re working as part of a team along with you is to keep them in the loop.

It’s all well and good if you are doing all of these great things for your PTO, but if others aren’t on board and in the know, then it’s not going to be worthwhile.

Because you’re coordinating a team, you have to stay on top of what everyone is doing, plus what’s coming up next.

Everyone doesn’t need to know all the little details of what’s going on, but the decision makers need to have enough information to be able to make an informed decision.

Solution: Pick a platform to talk to officers when you can’t meet in person. Group Me, private Facebook Groups and Slack are popular options.

Mistake #6: Not filling open positions

Woman, if you don’t fill positions that open up due to volunteers needing to step down, then you are going to overwhelm yourself with work!

As President, your plate is super full already, whether you realize it or not.

One of the most frustrating things about being PTO President is how things can seem to be going along just swimmingly, but then something happens and it consumes your whole world.

Aim to keep yourself as free as possible so that you have the capacity to respond when something like that pops up.

If you’re already maxed out, you won’t have the bandwidth to respond appropriately and you’ll be even further in an unrecoverable hole.

It doesn’t matter when the office or committee chairs need to be filled, and it’s your job to find a replacement and get them voted in at the next meeting.

Solution: Find replacements asap to decrease your workload.

If you can’t find one person, consider having a group of volunteers do the job as a committee.

Event budget planner printable on colorful desktop

Mistake #7: Not writing things down

Most Presidents don’t take the time to write down how or why they did things. So this means that the next person who steps into the President role has to re-create everything!

I don’t think President’s are doing this on purpose, but it’s because they’re not thinking about the consequences of not documenting things is.

The loss of knowledge and experience that leaves with officers each year is staggering.

This means that your PTO is being stuck where it is instead of getting better year after year.

Don’t do that to your PTO!

Help it get better by writing down or typing up the details involved in Meet the Teacher Night, the Scholarship committee and the End of the Year Picnic.

Ask other committee chairs and officers to do the same: document all the details!

Solution: There are terrific Event Planning and Summary Sheets in the PTO President’s Success Kit designed to combat just this issue.

Mistake #8: Not being organized

Girl, get yourself together! Literally.

You are wasting so much time by not having what you need together. But I’ll cut you some slack and assume that maybe that’s because you’re not sure what you do need.

To get organized as President, you need a few essential things.

First, you need a binder.

In the binder, you’l need all of the information you’ll reference often, like contacts, account information and even a paper calendar.

When all of this sort of information is collected together and organized in a lovely binder, you’ll save time having a quick reference book instead of having to search for it!

Another game changer for getting organized as President is to get yourself a PTO bag.

In the bag, you’ll store:

  • Your binder
  • Pens
  • Sharpies
  • Clear packing tape
  • Gum and tic tacs (in case your mouth gets dry during meetings)
  • Hand lotion (self care is important!)
  • Paper clips
  • Bag organizer (affiliate link)

Mistake #9: Not following bylaws and standing rules

The biggest mistake I see President’s making is a HUGE one!

And that’s not following the bylaws and standing rules.

Take this in: PTO bylaws and standing rules are not there to follow when you wish and ignored when you don’t.

It doesn’t mean that the bylaws and standing rules can’t be updated to suit the needs of your group.

But you can’t willy-nilly ignore them and act as if they don’t apply to you.

They do.

And you’re acting outside the scope of your authority by not following them. So don’t do that, okay?

If you feel your standing rules and bylaws are in need of an update, here’s the correct procedure to follow.

And now…

And there you have it. Nine different mistakes to avoid and be a better President as a result!

Want event more guidance on pitfalls to avoid?

Watch this!

9 Mistakes PTO Presidents Make | PTA President Best Practices

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