Stillwater Elementary PTA  2.16.24   •   Serving Duvall & Carnation, WA   •     Riverview School District

2015 Hop-a-Thon Fundraiser Survey Response

Thank you to those who have completed our Hop-a-Thon survey.

We have looked over the survey answers, and there is one repeating theme that we feel the need to address. In addition, there was a comment made in regards to the location of our retreat, and we want to clear up any misunderstanding on this item.

Several responders mentioned that they would be more likely to participate if they knew specifically what the money is being spent on. Here are some example comments:

“I would be more clear on where the fundraising is going toward and get better support before effort to raise money. Had I known we were buying wireless microphones for the lunch room, I wouldn’t have donated. Clarify that they would also be used for music, I’m more likely to be on board.”

“I like to know specifically what you will use the money for.”

“Not sure what money would be used for.”

“I would like to know more specifically what the money will be used for and decide if it is something I support.”

“Just knowledge of where my money will be spent.”

When we began planning the Hop-a-Thon, we did look at the materials that were sent out last year and determine we needed more details on our fundraising goals and efforts. We knew we needed more details on what the PTSA funds at Stillwater. However, what most people will not realize, is that we LEGALLY CANNOT advertise specifics. The PTSA is a non-profit corporation that funds many different things at Stillwater. We have a budget with over 60 line items, and each of those line items depends on our fundraising efforts each year to keep them on the budget. If we were to say that we are “fundraising to provide new microphones for the cafeteria and music programs,” or that we are “fundraising to get 3 new pieces of playground equipment at Stillwater,” then we are legally bound to purchase those items no matter if our total yearly fundraising goals hit or not. That could mean the sacrifice of other vital budget line items, or the end of the PTSA itself if we have no budget left to keep the organization afloat. So, we are required to state that we are “fundraising for the PTSA and the PTSA funds this…” That is the statement we made on our Hop-a-Thon materials, and we listed some examples of what the PTSA funds that are usually popular with our students to help get them excited about fundraising. However, in the October PTSA newsletter we provided a full write-up on the PTSA budget and what we are fundraising for this year. We then posted that article to our website, so that we could reference it on the Hop-a-Thon materials for anyone who wanted more information regarding the PTSA budget and what we fund at Stillwater, http://stillwaterptsa.org/ptsa-budget/

When it comes to school and classroom grants, we have $3,000 set aside in our budget this year for grants. We award the grants in March and the staff at Stillwater all have the grant forms to fill out and turn in by the end of February to be considered for approval. We currently have 3 grants submitted to us. However, because we have a budget to stick to and cannot award every grant submitted, we again cannot list specifics. That is why we have to say we are fundraising for the PTSA and one item the PTSA funds is school and classroom grants. The PTSA general membership approves the budget each year. They approve a preliminary budget in June for the following year and then a final budget in September. All PTSA members are welcome to come to these meetings and ask questions regarding the budget before it gets approved. If anyone has specific questions about the PTSA budget after reading this and the article on the website previously mentioned, please reach out to Lindsey or Jen at president [at] stillwaterptsa [dot] org.

The other item we want to provide clarification on is our retreat based on this comment from the survey:

“I also hesitate donating to Stillwater because of your “retreat”. I don’t think it’s in the student body’s best interest to fund your offsite meeting at a nice hotel in Bellevue. Volunteering should be done with no expectation of reward in return. I “get” that work is done, but it could be done at someone’s nice house. I’ve gone through this on a Board of Trustees at a college, and the work was overwhelming. Yet we met at the home of another Board member.”

Every year that PTSA board meets over the summer, for a meeting that is commonly called “a retreat,” to make the general plan for the PTSA for the following year. We do hold monthly board meetings at the school that are about 1.5 hours long, but since the retreat is the time to plan out the entire year, it takes quite a deal longer. As a result, last year our retreat was held at one of the co-presidents house and the co-presidents supplied the food from their own pocket, no PTSA funds were used. The same model will be used for the retreat for the 2016-2017 school year. There is NO line item in the budget for a retreat. There is a yearly convention that this commenter could have been referencing and just used “retreat” mistakenly. Every year that Washington State PTSA holds a 3 day long convention. This convention provides vital training and networking for all PTSA board members across the state. While the PTSA is a volunteer organization, it is also a non-profit, and with that comes a great deal of knowledge requirements and responsibility. The convention is usually held at a hotel and there is a fee per person to attend. There is a line item in the budget to not only pay for the convention fee for the executive board members, but to pay for a hotel IF the convention is far enough away. The convention this year is in Yakima, Washington, so the executive board members that attend will be staying in a hotel. Last year, the convention was in Bellevue and the board members that attended did NOT stay overnight.

We hope this clears up any questions about the PTSA budget and why more specifics were not listed on any of the Hop-a-Thon materials. We wanted to provide this clarification so people would understand why there are no specifics listed again come our next fundraiser. Please, reach out to Jen or Lindsey at president [at] stillwaterptsa [dot] org if you have any follow-up questions. We will continue to do these surveys, as it not only helps us to make any adjustments for the next event but also provides us insight into any issues we might need to clarify further. Thank you for your support!!