No Refund Coming? Tax Fraud is Still a Threat

LifeLock is a financial sponsor of National PTA, and has been invited to submit a blog post as part of their engagement with PTA. National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product, or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.

Even if you expect to write a check to the Internal Revenue Service this year—rather than receive a refund—you should still file your taxes as soon as possible. Why? You’re still at risk of becoming a victim of income tax fraud.

Fraudsters don’t care about your actual tax or income figures. All the crooks need is your personal identification information—your name and Social Security number. Everything else— address, job information—they’ll make up, so that they’ll get a return, of course.

If you’ve been the victim of identity theft or a data breach, the Identity Theft Resource Center says that becoming a victim of tax identity theft is a very real possibility. In other words, your personal information is “out there,” and a tax thief may have it and put it to use. The crooks get to work as soon as the filing season opens. (This year, that was Jan. 19, 2016, for electronic tax returns.)

The General Accounting Office says the IRS paid out $5.8 billion for the 2013 tax year. So many tax returns being processed means that if you’re the victim of tax identity theft, it could take months to resolve your claim. As painful as it is to gather your documents and file your taxes, it’s no doubt much easier and less stressful than discovering you’re a victim of identity tax fraud.

Here are three different ways you can report a tax fraud issue:

  1. If you suspect someone stole your identity and used your Social Security number, then complete Form 14039 and mail a printed copy to the IRS.
  2. If you suspect fraudulent activity or abusive tax scheme by a tax return preparer, then complete Form 14157 and mail a printed copy to the IRS.
  3. If you suspect or know of an individual or business that isn’t complying with tax laws, then use Form 3449-A and mail to the IRS, Fresno, CA 93888.

Take advantage of LifeLock’s protection plans. As a proud supporter of National PTA, LifeLock is offering all PTA members and their families a very special offer. Learn more about the offer.

You can also visit the Identity Theft Resource Center and Internal Revenue Service websites for additional resources.


Cory Warren is the blog editor of LifeLock UnLocked.

Income Tax Fraud: File Early to Reduce Your Risk

LifeLock is a financial sponsor of National PTA, and has been invited to submit a blog post as part of their engagement with PTA. National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product, or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.

Income tax fraud is on the rise. According to CNBC, the total amount stolen from taxpayers may hit $21 billion in 2016, up from “just” $6.5 billion in 2013.

Federal and state agencies have invested in new technology to thwart fraudsters, but security reporter Brian Krebs reports identity thieves are already testing those defenses.

Why is the problem so bad? LifeLock’s expert Nada Baiz says a big reason is because filing a fraudulent tax return is relatively easy. All you need is a name, date of birth and Social Security number. That’s it! All of the other details— address, employment, salary and refund information —can be made up by the criminal.

Baiz says with all the data breaches we’ve seen lately, criminals can easily find the necessary sensitive information—possibly yours—to file a fraudulent return. Here are a couple of tips that’ll help you get through tax season unscathed:

• The best preventive measure against income tax fraud is to beat the criminal to the punch. File your income taxes ASAP. That way, the fraudster will be the one receiving the message that the IRS already accepted a tax return with your Social Security number.

• Do your homework and research your CPA or your tax prep software. You want to be sure you are filing taxes with a trusted professional tax preparer— one who is properly licensed and has a positive clientele history. The same is true for the software that you are using. Make sure it follows safety protocols.

Take advantage of LifeLock’s protection plans. As a proud supporter of National PTA, LifeLock is offering all PTA members and their families a very special offer. Learn more about the offer.

You can also visit the Identity Theft Resource Center and Internal Revenue Service websites for additional resources.


Cory Warren is the blog editor of LifeLock UnLocked.

Middle School Fundraising: Lessons Learned

(Sponsored)

Northhampton Area Middle School 2 (002)Northampton Middle School, in Lehigh Valley, Pa., is fortunate to have a dedicated group of PTA volunteers and a modern, new facility. With only one middle school serving the entire borough, it’s a tight-knit community. However, with tightening visitor regulations for the security of students and faculty, the PTA experienced an unintended consequence—a significant barrier to getting volunteers into the building.

Joan Begliomini with Northampton’s PTA said it is a huge hurdle. While everyone wants the school community to be protected, their security process complicates fundraising and program efforts.

“All volunteers now face the same level of scrutiny as school employees,” Joan says. “They must go through a state police check, they must have had a documented negative Tuberculosis test and they either must have lived here for longer than 10 years or they must be cleared by the FBI.”

Northampton PTA has a legacy of providing countless programs and services that support student success, help the teachers and enrich their community. Fundraising helps to make these programs possible.

“We pay for agenda books for the entire student body,” says Joan. “We support teacher requests on a rolling basis. We provide the rewards tied to the school-wide anti-bullying program. Then there’s the whole Teacher Appreciation Week! It’s a lot, and it’s important, and we need to generate the money to do it all.”

Given the stringent security measures, it may not be surprising that the PTA turned to an online fundraising platform from Schwan’s Cares that requires very little volunteer support.

Joan says it’s an easy, straight-forward fundraiser.

“We absolutely love it,” says Joan. “Everything is delivered directly to people’s homes. We don’t have to take possession of inventory, sort out the orders, hope that people will pick it all up on time.”

Even with an easy fundraiser like Schwan’s Cares, Joan cautions that PTAs should not to forget the other big hurdle that comes with a middle school population—the kids themselves.

Through trial and error, Northampton PTA landed on two essential tactics that have proven effective for promoting the fundraising campaign directly to parents and caregivers:

  1. Take advantage of parent-teacher conferences. At Northampton, schoolwide parent teacher conferences occur in October. The PTA makes sure they have welcoming volunteers to greet parents as they arrive and give each visitor information about the Schwan’s Cares fundraising campaign.
  2. Use social media. Facebook has been critical to the Northampton PTA’s fundraising success. It allows them to update the school community and answer questions in real time. While they have approximately 150 paid members—which includes 100% teacher participation, Joan proudly notes—there are 374 followers on their Facebook page. So they know they can reach more of their school families through social media than they would through their member list.

Northampton PTA still asks the school to remind students about their fundraiser in the morning announcements during the active campaign, as well as the annuity period [with Schwan’s].

“We know it probably goes in one ear and out the other with the kids,” says Joan. “But the teachers do listen closely, and we have had wonderful teacher participation in the fundraiser as a result! The announcement is a little trigger to remind the teachers, so we still do it.”

Joan offers one final piece of advice for all the fellow middle school PTAs out there. “Find a teacher representative who truly embraces your PTA. At our school, it’s Mrs. Transue, the 8th grade science teacher. She advocates for all the other teachers to join the PTA, always attends our PTA meetings and dutifully participates in our fundraisers like the Schwan’s Cares campaign.”

For more info about the fundraising opportunities and discounts available to schools and PTA members through Schwan’s Home Service, visit PTA.org/Benefits.


Kris Carey Prevatte is the Associate Director of Corporate Alliances for National PTA and a former local PTA president in Maryland.

Schwan’s Cares is a financial sponsor of National PTA. National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product, or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.

Sch Cares-PRI_Boxed-RedSince 1952, Schwan’s Home Delivery has helped families share delicious, home-style meals. Schwan’s Home Delivery offers home delivery of over 350 foods—all made with premium ingredients and requiring simple prep. With Schwan’s Cares, your PTA supporters enjoy all of Schwan’s delicious foods, and your organization earns up to 40% back on every purchase during your 45-day fundraising campaign, and 5% back for the next 90 days. Schwan’s Cares is hands-free: you manage your fundraiser entirely online, your supporters order online or by phone, and Schwan’s Home Delivery will deliver directly to each supporter’s door. You’ll never need to deliver food or collect money. Start your campaign today by visiting Schwans-Cares.com.

Small, but Mighty Voice for PTA

RamstadPTA

(Left to right): Ramstad PTA Officers: President Nancy Tschetter, Treasurer Traci Barker, Secretary Jen Schultz

In towns across America, PTA volunteers are working tirelessly to support their community’s students, faculty and families. National PTA’s Kris Carey Prevatte shares this story of how one small, but mighty PTA in North Dakota—with a highly transient military population—has cracked the code on managing an online fundraiser so their PTA gets the resources they need to do great things.

Nany Tschetter, Traci Barker and Jen Schultz could be mistaken for sisters. They look alike, they have the same cheerful “let’s do this!” demeanor, and they often finish each other’s sentences. Together, they run the Erik Ramstad Middle School PTA.

Though their PTA has more than 100 paid members, a combination of factors have contributed to a common reality facing local PTA leaders—a few must do the work of many.

Still, Ramstad PTA has a reputation for providing excellent and consistent support through its work in serving meals for the entire faculty, running open houses, hosting an annual 8th grade dance, funding grants to teachers, sponsoring after school clubs and Junior Achievement, an annual PTA Founder’s Day luncheon and more.

Like many PTAs, Ramstad has prioritized helping those in need. The PTA officers and the school administration have worked out a discreet way to eliminate barriers.

“If a kid wants to play soccer but can’t afford cleats, we quietly can fill that need,” says Nancy. “We have the blessing of our membership to do this within a certain threshold, and [the members] know that they won’t ever get details on who got what.”

It takes a lot of funds to provide these programs, which means fundraising is critical to help where help is needed. During a recent interview by phone, I asked Nancy, Traci and Jen about their PTA’s fundraising committee and if they could connect me with their fundraising chair. For a moment, there was silence on the line; then gales of laughter.

Nancy caught her breath first and said, “We don’t have committees. We are the committee!” They explained that the three of them meet monthly and stay connected through group texts.

“When something for the PTA comes up, we text each other and figure out which of us can handle it,” said Traci. “With the bigger projects, we try to evenly divide the work.

To keep things simple, the trio is extremely selective about the fundraisers they launch. For the past several years, their top performing fundraiser has been through Schwan’s Cares.

“The first year we did the online fundraiser with Schwan’s, my daughter happened to be president of the student council,” said Nancy. She rallied the other kids to get their parents involved and also got a social media campaign going among her classmates promoting the fundraiser. Having a student-to-student promotional element gave it extra oomph.”

Traci noted, “We have a lot of military families and this kind of online campaign works well because we frequently see kids coming and going within a single school year. So families were comfortable ordering the products knowing they could have them delivered wherever they were going to be. Also, their extended family members and friends spread out across the country could order from Schwan’s and all be contributing to Ramstad’s fundraiser.”

Jen added, “Another thing that’s awesome about the [Schwan’s] fundraiser is that you don’t need to go door to door. You can pull up the fundraising order page from your phone and order easily from anywhere. We love it.”

After doing the same fundraiser for a few years, the group has some tips for running a Schwan’s Cares online fundraiser:

  • Timing matters. “Don’t start this campaign during back to school time!” cautioned Jen. “Between school clothes, supplies and writing all those checks for this fee and that fee, parents are out of money—and they’re emotionally spent, too.” The group favors a pre-holiday November start. “People can load up on great foods to have in the freezer for the holiday hosting season,” added Traci.
  • Incentives can improve results. The first year, the PTA dangled fancy incentives, such as gift cards and speakers as a motivator for families to hit big fundraising goals. The PTA sent home printed information about the fundraiser and the incentives, after piggybacking off a school event to get people excited about how the funds raised would be used in the school. The second year, the PTA didn’t offer incentives and their revenue dropped.
  • School support makes a world of difference. “Our principal Ione Sautner and our librarian Carla Luehe are amazing!” Nancy said. “Carla, for example, carved out time with the students at the start of our campaign to show them the fundraising page on the website and how to navigate the site. We believe it made a huge difference in the participation rate because the students could show their parents at home.” Ione has empowered the PTA to do a few “robo calls” during the school year, and the PTA always does a call to all parents (not just PTA members) at the start of their Schwan’s Cares campaign.”
  • The annuity period is crucial. With this fundraiser, there is an active campaign and then an annuity period where you still earn a percent of all the sales from customers related to your campaign. “If your initial campaign isn’t as successful as you wanted, don’t be too alarmed,” said Nancy. “We raised just as much money during the annuity period and that has been huge for us. Repeat business is what made this fundraiser so successful.”
  • Consider using one main campaign page. “We have done it where each student’s family had their individual fundraising pages,” said Nancy. “It was easier on everyone to do the one main page. The individual ask is done in a call or email and then you have the link, so you can personalize the ask.”

For more info about fundraising opportunities and discounts available to schools and PTA members through Schwan’s Home Service, visit PTA.org/Benefits.


 

Kris Carey Prevatte is the associate director of corporate alliances for National PTA and a former local PTA president in Maryland.

About Schwan’s Cares, an official National PTA Member Benefit Provider

Schwan’s Cares is a financial sponsor of National PTA. National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.

Since 1952, Schwan’s Home Delivery has helped families share delicious, home-style meals. Schwan’s Home Delivery offers home delivery of over 350 foods—all made with premium ingredients and requiring simple prep. With Schwan’s Cares, your PTA supporters enjoy all of Schwan’s delicious foods, and your organization earns up to 40% back on every purchase during your 45-day fundraising campaign, and 5% back for the next 90 days. Schwan’s Cares is hands-free: you manage your fundraiser entirely online, your supporters order online or by phone, and Schwan’s Home Delivery will deliver directly to each supporter’s door. You’ll never need to deliver food or collect money. Start your campaign today by visiting Schwans-Cares.com.

“At my PTA”

pta-alternate-fundraiser-exlarge-169

(Photo Credit: Dee Heinz)

If you are a parent or educator, then you probably have a story to tell that begins with, “At my PTA…”

This week, one of those stories gained major media attention for a PTA that took an innovative approach to fundraising—often called a “non-fundraiser.” You may have seen it on Facebook or media outlets like CNN. The Facebook post celebrates the humor PTA leaders had in addressing what most family-school organizations (and all nonprofits) have to do to operate—raise money. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out. It’s creative, real and admittedly, hilarious. It’s certainly relevant to today’s busy parents, grandparents and educators.

I have a story too. At my PTA, we’re using the PTA National Standards for Family-School Partnerships to guide our approach to membership, events and yes—even fundraising.

Using these standards to guide your PTA plan is one of the things that makes PTA different than other family-school organizations. In fact, our National PTA Schools of Excellence program has proven that when these standards are used, families feel more welcomed and valued, more involved in supporting their child’s academic success, and more informed about and engaged in improving the school. They also feel more connected in their community.

Family School Partnerships croppedPTA’s National Standards shift a PTA board from planning around a calendar to focusing the plan on the needs of your students, teachers and school. By the time you get to the calendar stage of planning, every PTA effort and the calendar itself reflects the standards in action:

  1. Membership recruitment ideas that make all families feel welcome and valued;
  2. Communication strategies that allow your families and teachers to plan their involvement in PTA, and encourage ongoing feedback about PTA’s efforts;
  3. Educational PTA programs and events that link to learning and guide families on the ways to support student success;
  4. Advocacy efforts that speak up on behalf of every child’s needs and improve the school as a whole;
  5. Shared decision-making about the mix of fundraising activities that will support these school improvements;
  6. Fun, family experiences that create pride and school spirit, while connecting families to other people and resources in their community.

At my PTA, we began our planning process by sending out a survey to families and teachers that helped us to understand what they perceived about our efforts. Then we canvassed the community—sharing the most frequent feedback we heard—and we asked more questions about what we still needed to know. All of the feedback has resulted in a drumbeat of reoccurring messages explaining how we will:

  • Support our students and teachers by…
  • Improve our school by…
  • Create a welcoming and supportive school community by…

Once we determined our objectives, we sat down with the calendar and made sure everything on it achieved one of the bullets above. Will we fundraise? Oh yes, we will. We are a nonprofit advocacy organization—we have to in order to fulfill our mission! But when we do fundraise, everyone will know how the money raised will make the school a better place for our kids. At my PTA, that’s what we care about most.

Do you have an “At My PTA” story you want to share? Email Programs@PTA.org. We want to hear it and highlight you in one of our future blogs, e-newsletters or magazine articles!


Mary Pat King, MS is the director of programs & partnerships at National PTA. She is also a vice president for her local PTA.

Increased Access to Healthy Foods for SNAP Participants Through New USDA Funding

shutterstock_220126873On Sept. 29 in Richmond, Va., the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that $31.5 million will be available to assist those who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to easily access and afford fruits and vegetables. The funding will come from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program, which was established in the 2014 Farm Bill. SNAP recipients encounter many barriers when accessing healthy foods, such as finding fresh fruits and vegetables. However, this program will involve stakeholders to work together to improve healthy eating among SNAP participants and remove the barriers that they face.

Grant recipients will work closely with others at the community level to initiate pilot projects as well as large-scale and multi-year projects. These pilot projects will work closely with the SNAP agency within the specific state and may include incentives for SNAP participants by working with SNAP retailers, improving marketing for healthier food options and supporting for local and regional agricultural producers. In addition, these incentives will make their products more accessible to SNAP participants, which specifically targets underserved communities.

A goal of SNAP is to replicate the successful initiatives that this funding supports. This may be technological advances of the benefit system or the increase in purchases of local and regional agricultural products by SNAP participants. Ultimately, the outcome for the projects that receive the funding will be an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption among SNAP participants that is sustained well beyond after the project has ended.

Learn more about the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program and read the press release announcing the funding.


Stephanie Simms is the School Nutrition Policy Fellow for the National PTA.

Top 6 Ways to Fundraise for Your PTA

PayPal_blog1. Throw Themed Event  — Increase parent and student involvement in activities by planning creative activities events. If you have a PTA board, assign a chairperson to each event during the school year to split responsibilities. Plan fun events/activities, charge admission, and provide food. Be sure to offer online registration and sponsorship options to capture more participants. Events ideas include

  • Halloween Festival: Set up booths for mask making in the school gym, make ghoulish foods and punch, play music and perhaps play a scary movie.
  • Walk-A-Thon/Fun Runs: Stay healthy and help fundraise at the same time! Set a $75 fundraising goal for each student, and have students raise funds online from family and friends.

2.  Seasonal, Annual, and Year-Round Fundraiser Drives: Offer Prizes for Most Money Raised – Plan different types of fundraisers for each category to keep parents engaged. Hold a Direct Donation drive annually or seasonally. Get the Principal involved, or offer the class that raises the most funds to dump a bucket of ice on their favorite teacher!

3. Restaurant Takeovers – Partner with a local or chain restaurant that offers fundraising opportunities. You can hold a family night out at a restaurant, publicize the event on school social media/websites, provide signage, and hand out vouchers.  Your PTA can earn 10%-20% of the proceeds, which will be donated back to your PTA. This provides quality family time, PTA bonding, an easy way to give back to the kids, and is a win-win for you and the restaurant! You can even hold a double whammy: Hold a field trip for the kids, then end the trip with lunch/dinner at a host restaurant. Here’s a list of chain restaurants that offer school fundraising opportunities.  You can also partner with local businesses (i.e. tshirt printing businesses, nurseries, private children clothing stores) to promote their business with your PTA, and in return you will return 10%-20% of the proceeds sent from the PTA!

4. Offer Sponsorship Levels or Membership  Packages – Each PTA collects memberships, but offering sponsorship packages ranging between $100-$500 that includes items such as local business coupons, a PTA mug, a child’s shirt, and a couple event tickets will pay off! Provide more incentives by recognizing sponsors on websites and at schools.

5. Art Contest + Spirit Gear — Hold a drawing/painting contest amongst the students. The winning artwork can be featured on mugs and posters, and be sold as a fundraiser. Selling Spirit Wear online (t-shirts, hoodie sweatshirts, branded school supplies) can also bring in thousands of dollars if designed well!

6. Make it easy for donors and sponsors to give money online.
Leverage digital tools to help organize and conduct campaigns, and provide a convenient way for Auntie Josephine to be able to donate with her credit card. For instance, the National PTA has partnered with the PayPal for Schools solution to offer online donation, fundraiser, and registration platforms and links to be easily emailed or posted on social media. And Auntie can donate at any time, any day while watching TV 500 miles away.


Liz Nguyen is a guest blogger from PayPal, and manages the PayPal for Schools solution. She has helped hundreds of PTAs, schools and nonprofits build online fundraisers and payment solutions to raise money for education advancement. PayPal provides an easy way to collect your PTA funds online. Take advantage of special school rates and specials by visiting www.paypal.com/education or emailing paypalforschools@paypal.com.

IRS Releases Shorter, Easier Tax-Exempt Status Form

IRS_Form_1023We are pleased to share with you that after National PTA’s extensive effort to advocate for an easier process for small charities applying for and reinstating 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, the IRS has delivered Form 1023-EZ. Unlike the original 26-page Form 1023, the new Form 1023-EZ, which is available as of July 1, is a mere three pages. The IRS estimates that as many as 70 percent of all applicants will qualify to use the new streamlined form. Most organizations with gross receipts of $50,000 or less and assets of $250,000 or less are eligible. This change will not only enable the IRS to speed up the approval process for these smaller charities, but also will result in additional resources to review applications from larger organizations.

In addition to advocating for a more streamlined application, earlier this spring, National PTA provided feedback to the IRS on the potential form, including suggesting to reduce the gross receipts threshold to $50,000. National PTA will continue to work with the IRS to make the reinstatement process as seamless as possible for those PTAs that are struggling with revocation.

While the new application must be completed online and submitted at pay.gov, National PTA has provided a pre-populated Form 1023-EZ to be used as an example as well as simplified instructions which PTA members can access by visiting National PTA’s Tax-Exempt Revocation webpage, PTA.org/taxhelp. National PTA also will be providing a webinar at the end of August. Look for more information on the webinar to come soon!

The new form should make the application process for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status much simpler for PTAs. We encourage you to share this information with local leaders across your state. For questions and more information, send me an email at lwhite@pta.org.

Lindsey White is a senior accountant for National PTA.

Share Delicious, Healthy Recipes with a PTA Cookbook (and Raise Money too!)

This week on the National PTA Facebook page, we posted an image of an adorable cookbook created by the Pennsylvania State PTA for its annual convention.  Our online friends were quick to click that “like” button, as requests for “MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE!” found our wall and our inbox.  We hear you loud and clear, friends, and we’re happy to share more information on how to get started with your own PTA cookbook.

Following Pennsylvania PTA’s example, creating a cookbook full of nutritious recipes is a great way to expand your PTA’s work on childhood nutrition, health, and physical activity. By creating a resource, you are helping families who are looking to find ways to lead healthier, more active lives. Many people complain that eating healthy is hard; especially when they don’t know what to cook or if healthy foods will still taste as good as unhealthy alternatives.  But word of mouth is a powerful thing and when a healthy recipe is recommended by a friend with the assurance that “you won’t believe this is low-calorie/low-fat, etc.,” people tend to listen!

Here are a few tips to get your PTA cookbook underway:

Where to Start:

Organization is absolutely essential to any large project, and that requires having all the information you need upfront. One of the biggest pieces of the puzzle is figuring out who your vendor/printer will be. Over the past several years, a slew of online cookbook vendors have popped up, many of whom are focused specifically on compiling cookbooks for fundraisers. This can be a great resource; especially if you’re not sure you have the manpower to type out and format the cookbook. If you’ve got the time, your local office supply store like Staples or Kinkos can also print and bind your cookbook, and will most likely be a less expensive option.

Be sure to perform due diligence in comparing price points and breaks for things such as printing per page (black and white, color), binding options, shipping and handling, and any additional processing fees. Talk to your vendor directly to ensure that there are no surprises when you put the order through.  With pricing information in hand, you’re ready to figure out how many recipes you should collect.

How Many and What Kinds of Recipes You Should Collect:

How many recipes you should include is linked directly to the number of contributors you will have and your pricing points. Be realistic about the number of recipes each contributor will provide, and don’t forget that for every recipe you include, your page count, and total printing costs, will change.

Before you send out your call for recipes, glance through a few of your own cookbooks to get a feel for the layout. A few of the typical food categories include: appetizers, soups and salads, breads, side dishes, main entrées (poultry, beef, pork, seafood, vegetarian), crockpots and casseroles, snacks, breakfast, holiday fare, and desserts.  Make your selection of categories keeping in mind that 1) keeping the number of categories relatively low will help simplify your task 2) if you’re using tabs, the more tabs you have, the more expensive your final cookbook will be.

Who Should Contribute:

As it goes with PTA generally, so it goes with creating a PTA cookbook: The more the merrier! By including as many contributors as possible, you are not only gaining more tasty recipes from your community, but you’re also widening the base of people who will most likely purchase your cookbook. Not to mention, many hands make for a lighter load!  Take advantage of the collective knowledge of your group and pull in as many “must have” recipes as you can. Do you have any local “celebrities”? How about principals, teachers, superintendents, coaches, local business owners, restaurant chefs, nutritionists, etc. that have wide ties to your community?

Following Pennsylvania PTA’s example again, it’s a great idea to recruit a local chef to contribute some cooking techniques and tips for your cookbook!

Sending Out a Call for Recipes:

When you send out your call for recipes, ask for original or modified recipes. As tempting as it may be to simply pull a recipe from a cookbook, those materials are copyrighted and protected by law. If contributors include replication, make sure that the source is cited.

We recommend sending out calls in two waves. For your first call, ask for recipes by providing a template (see below), submission instructions (email or mail), and setting a deadline. After the deadline passes, take stock of the recipes you have received so far. When you’re ready for the second call, you will be able to specify what categories you need more of. You may need to reach out to get the recipes you need.

Use a Word document template. This step can make your life so much easier if you’re relying heavily on emailed responses. By providing the template, you ensure you get all the information you need and you spend less time typing up recipes. Templates can include the following fields:

  • Recipe Name
  • Contributor’s Name
  • List of Ingredients (with amounts)
  • Cook times and temperatures
  • Recipe Yield and Serving Size
  • Preparation and Serving Instructions
  • Nutritional Information (if available)
  • Contributor’s Note (this is a great way to personalize the recipe and let the contributor let a little of his or her family shine through)

Personalize Your Cookbook

The more personalization there is to your cookbook (and individual recipes), the more precious your book will be to your buyers and contributors.  PTAs often hold drawing contests to pick the front cover, but there’s more space than just the cover. Why not find a way to fit more drawings into the cookbook on empty white pages or divider/tab pages? You can also ask contributing families to have their child draw a picture of the meal to include with the recipe.

Promote, Promote, Promote!   

Make sure that you give your group ample opportunity to get the word out about your PTA cookbook.  Work with administrators to get in contact with other parents and families. Use your social media networks to connect with friends and family members who want to purchase copies. Meet with local businesses to see if they are willing to keep copies to sell in their stores. If any major school or community events, check with organizers to see if the PTA can sell there.  Promote, promote, promote!

Undertaking a fundraiser is a big job, but breaking down the task into smaller pieces and planning from the get-go will make your job easier.  Many thanks go to the Pennsylvania PTA, and Jean Lisiecki and Julie Lesitsky, for their advice and assistance!

If you have any questions or suggestions for future projects, please feel free to comment below and connect with us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ParentTeacherAssociation


Emily Karsnak is a Marketing and Communications Specialist for the National PTA.  

Proposed Family Engagement Bill Will Strengthen Education

Earlier this week, the Family Engagement in Education Act was introduced in the Unites States Congress by Representative Todd Platts (R-PA), Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE). Known as S.941/H.R.1821, this legislation will help increase parent and family engagement throughout our country and lead to student success. See news release here: http://tiny.cc/2niwy.

Simply put: parent engagement equals student achievement. Parents, grand-parents, other family members and all adult role models can bring the needed dedication and experience to the table to help make student success a reality.

For years, school districts and local schools have lacked the resources to implement research-based practices that meaningfully engage parents. This legislation can help provide the resources that take increased engagement to the level we all agree is needed.

The bill would provide incentives to districts and schools to implement best practices, such as parent leadership academies, placing family engagement coordinators in schools, and professional development for educators on how to partner with families.

The Family Engagement in Education Act would also strengthen the sole federal program dedicated to parent engagement, the Parental Information and Resource Centers (PIRCs), to scale-up research-based strategies for engaging families. PIRCs currently serve more than 16 million parents in all 50 states.

As policymakers in Washington work to fix No Child Left Behind, this bill puts forth a framework for true partnership with parents and families in education reform efforts – and it does all of this without authorizing any new federal spending.

We know that partnership is pivotal in ensuring reforms passed on Capitol Hill are sustainable in our districts and schools. There is a lot going on in our nation’s capital and we know Congress has a full plate, but PTA leaders, members and all families should share their support for this legislation and contact their Representatives and Senators to urge them to do the same. For information on how to do this, visit http://capwiz.com/npta2/home/.

For 115 years PTA has worked to better the health and educational experience for every child. Now is the time to add your voice to this very important conversation. Get involved and support S.941 and H.R.1821, helping make every child’s potential a reality!