Thursday, July 22, 2010
PTA Theft: How to Keep Funds Safe
It's something parent groups never should have to worry about . Theft is one of the biggest threats to your organization, but also one of the least discussed. There have been several instances where PTA, PTO, or PTSA groups have been victims of fraud, embezzlement, and theft.
Any company or group that deals with money needs to take steps to prevent theft, no matter how small the group. It is much easier to create policies to prevent theft beforehand than it is to explain to children that the money they worked hard on raising is gone.
But rest assured, there are simple steps you can take to help safe guard your group.
Never appoint just one volunteer to handle the money alone.
If you have more than one set of eyes keeping track of the books, you will greatly reduce the risk of fraud because there will be a sense of accountability. Create a system that requires multiple people to check the balances and sign their name to it, and then give it to the president for final approval. When people know their work will be checked multiple times, they will be less tempted to do something wrong.
Implement a rule that requires two signatures on every check.
At least two people should be responsible for signing parent group checks. Make it a rule that a check must be signed by the treasurer and the PTA, PTO, or PTSA president. This will ensure accountability between the two people responsible for the checks, and both people will know where the money is going.
Apply rules to handling cash.
Make sure cash is placed in a locked cash box and not just stored in an unlocked container. Don't leave the cash in the school overnight, and don't let members take the cash home. If the only option is to leave the cash at the school, make sure it is stored in a secured location, preferably with video surveillance so it will always be monitored. Another thing to keep in mind is not to let just one person handle the money at cash events. Always have two people in charge of the money, from handling it to counting it. Create a "cash received" document and require every member that counts the money at the end of the event, to sign their name to how much cash they counted.
Write the rules down.
Make a list clearly stating every rule. Print the list and hand it out to every group member at the first meeting of the year. If the rules are clearly stated and given to every member at the start of the school year, then members and volunteers will know what is acceptable from the very beginning.