6280517815_e5d397bfd5_bIt is a question that is often heard—why be a PTA? Why not be an independent parent organization rather than paying PTA dues? For many PTAs, the answer is because of the many PTA programs like Reflections, the online training courses and other leadership resources, or even the member benefits. But the one thing that really separates PTA from other parent organizations is probably one that you don’t hear mentioned all that often—advocacy.

Why does PTA advocacy make a difference? Here’s one recent example. Last year, the IRS proposed a rule that would have hurt donations and memberships not just for PTAs, but for all non-profit groups across the country. The rule would have required all PTAs and other non-profits to collect Social Security numbers and other tax-identification numbers from donors.

Illinois PTA became aware of this issue shortly after it was proposed, and brought the matter to National PTA’s attention. Illinois PTA, National PTA, other state PTAs, and many other non-profit organizations provided testimony on how the proposed rule would make charitable organizations targets for identity theft, require a tremendous amount of additional paperwork, and reduced donors’ willingness to make contributions. Last month, after a flood of 38,000 mostly negative comments, including those of Illinois PTA and National PTA, the IRS withdrew the rule.

Chances are, this proposed rule and its subsequent withdrawal wasn’t front page news in your local paper and didn’t make the evening news broadcast. How many independent parent organizations even heard about this rule, much less spoke up against it? Without PTA advocacy and the ability to speak for millions of PTA members across the country, this rule likely would have become law.

Illinois PTA and National PTA advocate for the needs of children, families, members, and volunteers on many issues. Here in Illinois, we serve as the voice of families and children on many state committees, ensuring that their needs and concerns are heard. This proposed rule is just one recent example of how your PTA membership lends strength to our voice, a hidden benefit provided by your PTA dues.

If you would like to lend your individual voice to PTA advocacy efforts, be sure to sign up for the Illinois PTA Legislative Advocacy Network (under the “Quick Sign Up” bar) to get Illinois PTA action alerts.

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