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School Booster Clubs: Handling Cancelled Events, Donations and Other Matters During COVID-19 Restrictions

by Sandra Pfau Englund on Mar 18, 2020 12:53 pm

School booster clubs are being hit with the need to cancel events, return donations, and otherwise deal with the impact of school closures and social distancing restrictions during the COVID-19 health emergency.  To help you manage these issues, Parent Booster USA (PBUSA) is providing some answers to frequently asked questions, and other tools.  Please let us know as other questions arise.  We will continue to provide as many additional resources as we can. 

Our school is closed.  Do we have to cancel our events planned during the closure?

Generally, if your event is planned using school facilities, you likely will need to cancel while the school is closed.  If your event is planned for an off-site venue, you should follow the directions of your school, and local, state and federal government and health authorities.  

Our contract does not have a cancellation provision, or the cancellation provision does not mention epidemics or health emergencies.  Can we still cancel?  If there are penalties in the contracts, are the penalties enforceable?

Many events will need to be cancelled while schools are closed, and government officials are recommending or requiring social distancing precautions.  If your contract does not include a provision allowing for cancellation due to the current circumstances, the vendor may be able to enforce the penalty provisions.  Try to work with the vendor to mitigate the situation.  Some ideas include: (1) agreeing to reschedule for a later date, (2) agreeing to a “credit” for amounts paid to be used at a later date, a (3) a reduction in the cancellation penalties so that each party, the vendor and the booster, each share in the hardship.

Should a vendor send your organization a notice and bill for cancellation fees, you may consider waiting to pay the fees.  In most cases there is time to negotiate with the vendor and attempt to come to a reasonable agreement.  If the vendor hires an attorney and you receive a “lawyer’s letter”, it is still o.k. to try to negotiate with the attorney yourself or hire your own attorney to negotiate for you.  Once there are attorneys involved, however, you should communicate through the attorneys rather than directly with the vendor.  Should you receive a notice from a court, you may still attempt to negotiate through the date stated to appear in court.  The bottom line is that you are generally in a better position to talk and negotiate before any fees or penalties are paid.  

We received donations for an event that now must be cancelled.  Are we required to return the donations?

We recommend that organizations be as flexible and reasonable as possible.  Consider contacting all the donors, whether individuals, corporate or private foundations, advise them of your situation, and offer to refund the donations.  If your organization can still use the donations for a future event, you may consider asking the donors if they are willing to let your organization keep the donation for the future event or need.  

To the extent that we all can be kind, reasonable and flexible, we can weather the current situation together.

If you have additional questions related to COVID-19, school closures and the like, please email us at info@parentbooster.org.  We will respond as quickly as we can, and provide updates to this blog as questions come in. Parent Booster USA provides information and resources to help schools and volunteers set up and manage booster clubs and parent teacher organizations. Our resources are for educational purposes. Please consult an attorney or other professional if you need help with your organization’s specific facts and circumstances.


The only organization of its kind in the US, Parent Booster USA is about helping school support organizations (parent teacher organizations, high school booster clubs and other school fundraising groups) handle the state and federal government paperwork required of fundraising groups.

Founded in 2004 by an attorney skilled in nonprofit and tax law, Parent Booster USA has more than 4,000 member organizations in 48 states with a 95% annual renewal rate. We provide peace of mind for parent volunteers, school administrators and school district leadership.


Sandra Pfau Englund

Founder of Parent Booster USA

Sandra Pfau Englund was a working mom in 2004 when she volunteered for her son’s elementary school PTO. The nonprofit and tax law attorney quickly became mired in trying to organize the group’s finances, tax-exempt status and fundraising compliance. If it was this complicated and time consuming for someone with her professional knowledge, she wondered how other parents and booster groups managed. From that experience, Parent Booster USA was born.

Sandra is a sought-after subject matter expert and has been quoted by NBC’s TODAY show and in Forbes and The Wall Street Journal, among others. She is published and speaks throughout the country on issues related to nonprofit legal liability, financial controls and audits in a post-Sarbanes-Oxley world, board development and fundraising.

Learn more at sandrapfauenglund.com.

YOU SUPPORT THEM, WE SUPPORT YOU

With PBUSA membership, we file all the IRS and state paperwork. We keep your booster club up and running year after year.