After months of preparation, organization, extra work to compensate for lack of volunteers, scheduling, and excitement, your activity is done. The sleepless nights worrying if you have enough napkins, thumbtacks, dollar bills, or shopping bags are over. The numbers- telephone numbers, budget needs, fundraising goals, supply costs, volunteers needed to make it work- they have all been counted. Your event was likely a great success! You did good! Nice work on a job well done.
Right. You did do a good job. You worked hard to make something happen, and the kids and families at your school benefit from the effort and energy you (and your committee) put into the event. Thank you, I say sincerely and with great feeling. It could not have happened without you!
Unfortunately, there are people who were not happy with the event. This is where a great conflict happens, and I want to address it so that you can get on with the patting on the back part.
Critique is good. Criticism helps work out kinks. People have ideas on how to do something differently, and their ideas can often bring about a fun twist to a future event. Let them speak, and do not take offense. Thank them for their input, and make a note of it for the next event. It might come in handy for whoever chairs next year.
That said, there are a few strong emotions that might get in the way of a good critique. If you are faced with a "Critiquer" who is very emotional or angry, of if you are feeling angry in the face of this critique, take a breath. Listen to what the person is saying, and try your best to remove the emotion from any statement. In other words, try and find the very basic complaint. Do not take the criticism personally- generally people are not angry with YOU, they are frustrated with a perception they have created from an unhappy experience. See if you can solve that problem: either by restating the rules, apologizing, taking notes for the future, or taking action.
Although the timing of complaints can often ruin the good feelings of your great event, remember that they are still an important part of the process. Again, avoid taking them personally. Take them in, note them for the future, and keep on smiling.
The end of the calendar year is often recognized as an opportunity to reflect back on all of your Personal and Local Unit success for the year. It is also a great time for everyone to assess where you are as a group. Grab a coffee or hot chocolate, and as a Board, look back on the goals your unit established at the start of the school year.
· Begin with the positive! What has worked well as a Board? Enhancing what is strong will only bring more success. Then you can take a more progressive look at what did not work well. Maybe the program was tailored in such a way that by placing a leader with a different skill set, it would be launched into success. Maybe personalities are clashing. Did your unit have a few bumps in the road at the start of the year?
· Be sure and evaluate it! Come up with plans and ideas of
how you would do things differently next year. We all know that ignoring
problems only makes them bigger, but this brainstorming exercise should be a safe place to throw out some fresh perspective, and an opportunity to change the way you have done business in the past.
· Start your New Year off right! I found this great quote on goals "Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." (Carl Bard)
What better way to establish a goal then to ask your members! There
are many ways to survey your members; you can send one home through kid mail, at a General Membership Meeting, or you can email a link to an online survey (Survey Monkey is free and really easy to use!). Creating attractive incentives to getting a response is one way to get them back in.
Everybody has a few minutes to give feedback, so you want to be sure that you carefully evaluate what important information you are trying to capture in the survey with quick and direct questions. What do you want to know? What kind of information are you trying to capture as a Board? Results can play a key role in identifying strengths, areas to improve, or even where organization improvements can be made. Be ready to respond to the information you collect in your surveys, and always thank your members for taking the time to participate. Use the data collected in your decision making as you establish or enhance the goals for your Unit. And as always have fun doing it! Please feel free to share with your
by Virginia Muniz
Region 7 Director
Washington State PTA
Consider encouraging units to conduct a mid-year Financial Review.
A financial review can assure members that funds were properly
administered. It demonstrates that Board of Directors properly performed
its responsibilities, provides a reliable, verifiable point from which the
incoming Board can begin its financial stewardship, and can reassure
membership that the PTA funds were properly handled. It can also reassure membership that the board of directors fulfilled its duty of being financially responsible.
A review can provide a point of reference for the incoming board of directors. (New treasurer should never take possession of books until
they have been reviewed.) Treasurer should not take the request for a
financial review personally—it is sound business practice.
• Qualified accountant
• Committee of PTA members
– At least 3 members
– No check signers for the period being reviewed
– No family members (recommendation)
– Incoming treasurer
– Treasurer should be available by phone
• Checkbook/canceled checks
• Bank statements/deposit slips
• Income/expense ledgers
• Paid and unpaid invoices/bills
• Legal documents notebook
• Copies of minutes, both Board and general membership
• Copies of monthly/annual financial reports
• Copy of budget for period being reviewed
• Copy of last financial review report
• Count of membership cards received, distributed, voided, undistributed
• Other material/information
requested by financial review committee
• Blank copy of
Financial Review Checklist
You don't have to be computer literate to get on the bandwagon. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and request to be added to a ListServ that interests you.
Sometimes, you are added automatically. For example, all elected officers should have been added to the Listserv by the WSPTA folks at the beginning of the summer. If you would like to be on one or more, send an email to email@example.com and ask to be added. It is that easy!
A few thoughts on what to expect from your parents:
1) Some folks can dedicate time, some can only promise to sign up. Everyone should feel that their contribution is appreciated and welcome.
2) Avoid over-scheduling. If you are finding that it is difficult to get volunteers for all the great programs your board wants to run, I encourage you to discuss your options! Scale back. Don't stretch your volunteers too thin!
3) Thank your members! Send a note to each person who joined your PTA. Send thank you cards to volunteers after an event. Send invitations to those interested in a future event.
4) And remember: whether or not your volunteer is a member of PTA, all parents should be welcome on the team. You do not have to be in PTA to volunteer at your school.
From Bill WIlliams:
I want to let you know about a new tool that we have created to assist
you and you board colleagues carry out your fiduciary duties. As those of
you who have attended PTA & the Law are aware,all board members are
responsible for assuring that certain necessary actions – filing the annual
corporation renewal, filing the federal income tax return, etc.—are carried out, even though the task of actually completing these steps may be assigned only to one individual.
To help board members keep track of these required actions, we’ve created a“Required Actions Checklist” that we recommend that you
download and make a copy for each of your board members as an easy way to keep track of who’s responsible for which action and note when they’ve been accomplished.
Believe it or not, some leaders don't feel we need to Outreach to our
communities. Here are 5 reasons I feel so strongly that we do:
The reality of our nation and the world is that we are becoming more and more diverse. And K-12 enrollment has mirrored this diversity.
Since 2000, Washington's minority populations have grown rapidly - our
Hispanic population has increased by 71%, our Asian population has increased by 49%, and those identifying themselves as Multi-Racial have increased by 41%.
WSPTA's Outreach is focused on serving those who have differences in age, culture, economic status, educational background, ethnicity, gender geographic location, legal status, marital status, mental ability, national origin, organizational position, parental status, physical ability political philosophy, race, religion, sexual orientation and work experience.
One of WSPTA's objective is "Increase, retain and diversify our
National PTA's mission is "To make every child's potential a reality by
engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children". We cannot accomplish our mission if we are not reaching EVERY family!
Washington State PTA
National Standards for Family-School Partnerships
Welcoming all families into the school community—Families are active participants in the life of the school, and feel welcomed, valued, and connected to each other, to school staff, and to what students are learning and doing in class.
Communicating effectively—Families and school staff engage in regular, two-way, meaningful communication about student learning.
Supporting student success—Families and school staff continuously collaborate to support students’ learning and healthy development both at home and at school, and have regular opportunities to strengthen their knowledge and skills to do so effectively.
Speaking up for every child—Families are empowered to be advocates for their own and other children, to ensure that students are treated fairly and have access to learning opportunities that will support their success.
Sharing power—Families and school staff are equal partners in decisions that affect children and families and together inform, influence, and create policies, practices, and programs.
Collaborating with community—Families and school staff collaborate with community members to connect students, families, and staff to expanded learning opportunities, community services, and civic participation.
The complete document is available online at: http://www.pta.org/Documents/National_Standards.pdf
1) Ask each of your committee chairs and executive committee members to keep a folder/binder with notes, ideas, and training. The binder stays with the office or committee so your next leader knows where to begin!
2) Support a committee of 2 or more people for every event, program, and actvity. This committee will be a part of the process, and can be a great asset when looking for a new chair in the future.
3) Allow and nurture collaborative efforts for your events, programs, and activities. When people feel that their input is considered and welcomed, then they feel more invested in the whole process. Valued volunteers are valuable volunteers!
What do you suggest? What has worked for your team?
When a PTA creates a budget, it is making a plan on how and where to spend money. The general membership approves the budget and tasks the Board of Directors to oversee the management of the funds. This budget is just a proposal and is not set in stone. How much money a PTA actually has in the bank can change based on fundraising, matching funds, and donations. Remember, just because the budget says there is a certain amount of money for an event doesn’t mean that money is really there.
To avoid overspending for events, every committee needs to submit a Committee Report/Plan of Action to the Board of Directors BEFORE spending any money. This report outlines what the committee plans to spend money on, how much money the committee plans to spend,
and how much money the committee plans to bring in at the event. This
report needs to be looked over closely by the Board of Directors and discussed before being approved. Once approved, either as presented or with changes, the committee can then go out and spend the money the Board has approved.
Too often we see PTAs with committees that just go out and spend what was listed in the budget and then end up spending more than the PTA actually has or raises at the event. An auction is a perfect example. An auction might have a budget of $10,000 to cover everything from decorations to invitations to facility. Often though, an auction committee will go out and spend this $10,000 without a Plan of Action/Report to the Board and it turns out that the PTA really didn’t have $10,000 in the bank. This might be made up if the auction brings in a lot of money, but what if the auction doesn’t bring in much money at all? Not only has the PTA now had to take money from other items in the budget to cover the $10,000, but it also did not bring in as much money as expected and has to cut events or programs.
Committee Reports/Plan of Action are also a good way for the Board of Directors to ensure that PTA events and programs are really aligning with the PTA mission and goals. Having a Science Fair is educational and fun, but is bringing in a snow cone machine for the event necessary? How does it meet with the PTA mission and goals? How does it make the Science Fair better? These are questions that need to be answered for all PTA events/programs but without a Committee Report/Plan of Action the Board does not know what to ask.
Region 2 Director
Council Leaders will be writing articles relating to their committee or favorite interest. You are encouraged to respond! Ask questions, add your experiences, contribute to the conversation. We are all in this together!