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PTA, Fund Raising, Sponsorship, and Endorsements
Many people think that PTA’s only purpose is to raise money — and bake cookies. Did you know that when PTA began in 1897, its main goal was to help protect children from poor working conditions? It is ironic that today many PTAs are putting children to work to earn extra money for their school. Unfortunately, in some cases, it appears that the only goal of a PTA is to raise money.

Are you aware that there is a WS/FC School policy against children in elementary schools selling door-to-door?

PTAs are prohibited under Federal Law from engaging in substantial business activities that are unrelated to their tax-exempt purposes, which are legally defined as “educational and charitable”. Even if the revenue resulting from the activity is nontaxable, the activity can still result in tax trouble if (1) fund raising becomes the primary focus of the PTA or (2) the activity is commercial. The IRS requires that the primary focus of PTA activities be noncommercial. (See Section 3 of your bylaws.)

An activity may be considered commercial IF it consists of selling goods or services that do not contribute significantly to education or advocacy of children, even if the revenue raised is used for education or advocacy. The IRS looks at the source of the funds, not the use of the funds, to determine commerciality. Most PTA fund raising activities are exempt from federal income taxes because of the following:
...they are conducted only once a year, or
...at least 85% of the work of the activity is conducted by volunteers, or
...they consist of selling donated merchandise (e.g., a silent or live auction of donated merchandise).

The 3-to-1 Rule
National PTA urges that PTAs apply the 3-to-1 rule: 3 kid-oriented projects to every fund raising project. ONE of the services PTAs can perform is raising money (the parents, NOT the children) to help off-set some school expenses; however, this should NOT be the PTA’s most important activity. (Hint: Legislators and county commissioners are the people who are supposed to fund public schools. PTA members should be lobbying them for increased funding for public education.)PTA is a non-profit, noncommercial organization – which means PTA and its logo may NEVER be used to endorse products, services or businesses. PTAs may NOT lend or sell membership lists. (PTA membership rolls are a list of the members of a private [PTA] organization. Releasing names and addresses is an invasion of the members’ privacy.)
Approved Forms of Acknowledgement
Approved forms of acknowledgement of businesses who donate to your school include:
1. advertising that stays within postal regulations and does not jeopardize the Objects and nonprofit status of PTA. Newsletters sent by bulk mail will be checked at the post office to make sure they conform with the law and if they don’t conform, you will not be allowed to use the bulk mail permit to mail them. Be sure that you check your newsletter closely to make sure there is very little advertising and a lot of information.

2. small statements that the activity or product was donated by a sponsor. Use their name, address, logo or slogan. For example, “Many thanks to ABC Printers, 200 Paper Street for printing this newsletter.” Statements should not take up more than a couple of inches on the page.

3. a sponsor’s logo, slogan or statement that does not compare or provide qualifying descriptions.

4. neutral descriptions of a sponsor’s product line or service, not comparisons or statements encouraging members to use the specific product or service. For example: “If you shop at XYZ Grocery, please thank them for sponsoring our Field Day.”

Businesses may “sponsor” PTA programs and projects, BUT sponsorship for nonprofits, such as PTA, is NOT the same as a PTA endorsement for that company. You MAY say, “IF you shop at XYZ, please tell them the name of our school and thank them for their support.” You may NOT say: “Shop at XYZ to earn money for our school.” This is a fine line, but PTAs MUST adhere to it.
>>>Never use children, no matter what their age, to sell anything. It is the responsibility of the adults—the PTA members, who set fundraising as their goal—to conduct the sales. It is not the National or North Carolina’s PTA mission to turn children into salesmen! It is also against the WS/FC School System’s rules for young children to sell “door-to-door”.

>>>Don’t use children as “couriers” for the forms, merchandise or publicity. Excited children tend to strike out on their own and begin selling door-to-door before the parents are even aware of the sale.

>>>Fundraising should not be a part of the school day. Information sessions or “pep rallies” to excite the children about raising money steal time from their school day when they should be learning.

>>>Gear prizes and awards toward parents, families and/or the entire school. Most incentives offered today are aimed at getting the children excited about the sale.

>>>Children should NOT be handling money. Money should be turned into the PTA fundraising chair DIRECTLY by the adult sellers to avoid children carrying large sums of money and becoming potential targets for robbery.

>>>Bottom line—If we, the PTA, are serious about not using children in our fundraising efforts, we must “walk-the-walk” and not involve them in ANY aspect of the selling activities.


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