While running a PTA is a volunteer job, to the state of Illinois and the federal government, it is running a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. With that official role comes some legal obligations, most of which focus on financial issues. Here are seven tips to help you get your PTA year off on good financial footing.
- Close your books. Take care of any last deposits and payments. Remember to make your final membership dues payment.
- Prepare for your audit. Your bylaws spell out how your audit should be conducted (Article XI, Section 5). Remember that no one authorized to sign checks can serve on the audit committee, but your treasurer should be accessible to the committee when they are conducting the audit to answer any questions or clarify procedures. Make sure the committee has all the financial records, including treasurer’s reports, checkbook register, the ledger (or other record of income and expenses against the budget lines, such as a spreadsheet), deposit and expense vouchers, copies of meeting minutes, and the previous year’s audit report. The committee may also need access to the online banking information.
- Conduct your audit. Remember that the purpose of an audit is to ensure that all of the money coming into the PTA and being spent by the PTA is tracked properly. Be sure that the committee fills out and signs off on the audit report form. The audit report must be accepted (not approved or adopted, as it cannot be amended) by vote of your general membership at your first PTA meeting before you adopt the budget.
- File your 990 form. Once your audit is done, you have all the information needed to file your Form 990 with the IRS. For most PTAs, this is a simple online postcard form. Be sure to keep a copy of your receipt from the IRS saying that your PTA has filed the form properly.
- Consider incorporating your PTA. If your PTA is not incorporated, consider doing so to protect your officers. In Illinois, this is done through the Illinois Secretary of State’s office. If your PTA is already incorporated, make sure that your annual incorporation fee and form was filed with the Secretary of State.
- Plan next year’s budget. Last year’s budget is a good starting point for planning the budget for the coming year. While the pandemic has made PTA financial planning a challenge the last few years, considering how your PTA has spent funds in the past and how your PTA might like to change that in the coming year helps deal with some of the uncertainty. Also, remember that a budget is not carved in stone, but is a best estimate for how the PTA intends to raise and spend its funds. As the year goes on and financial situations change for good or bad, the budget can be amended to drop a fundraiser that is no longer needed or to reallocate funds from an event that couldn’t be held.
- Get trained. Illinois PTA offers both online and in-person training for all PTA leaders, with additional courses specifically for PTA Presidents and PTA Treasurers. Contact your district or region director for the next training opportunities, and don’t forget that you can attend training in a different region that is near you if that works better for your schedule. National PTA also has online training courses available.
Photo © 2011 by Ken Teegardin under Creative Commons license.