One of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is an increased interest in PTAs offering “free”/subsidized (or scholarship) memberships. Here are a few important tips on how to successfully offer scholarship memberships.
- PTAs may not use general funds to contribute to a membership scholarship fund. This is an IRS rule.
- A local PTA may set up a restricted line item in its budget specifically to accept donations to fund membership scholarships – this requires a vote by the membership.
- These funds may be used to pay for partial or full financial assistance for PTA memberships.
- Treasurers must track donations to and expenses from the membership scholarship fund using the separate restricted budget line item, as referenced above. Any unused funds carry over from one year to the next and can only EVER be used to cover the cost of PTA memberships.
- A membership form may ask specifically for people to donate to the membership scholarship fund – to be put towards a PTA membership for another member or a staff member.
- PTAs are advised against the idea of “overselling” online memberships to provide scholarships. Do not allow your PTA members to purchase a second membership (through your PTA’s online join feature) to be donated later to a recipient member. There are a few reasons for this: the purchaser’s receipt would not reflect their donation, the PTA would risk selling more scholarship memberships than there are recipients (and still have to pay the membership dues), and a PTA would not be able to carry over excess donated memberships to next year. It is better to accept the restricted donations into the PTA’s bank account and then to pay for and assign scholarship memberships in your membership database when assistance is requested.
Sample language for Scholarship requests and donations on membership forms
- Scholarship assistance requested (completely confidential) 100% assistance or partial assistance $_____ (fill in amount)
- I would like to donate to the scholarship fund $______ (fill in amount)