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Will the presidential election impact the need for school fundraising?

by Sandra Pfau Englund on Aug 03, 2016

It’s difficult to measure how much money volunteer-led school fundraising groups – you know those parent teacher organizations, athletic, arts and other booster clubs – raise to cover education costs where government dollars fall short. The best estimate I’ve seen is $4.5 billion plus.  Probably plus, plus, plus. This parent-led fundraising for “free” public education is unique to the U.S. which got me wondering whether the presidential election will have any impact on the funding of “free” public education. I took a look at what the leading candidates, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Gary Johnson, had to say about public education.

Clinton appears to support public education.  She’s stated that the U.S. should “commit ourselves to the idea that every young person in America has the right to a high-quality education, from pre-school all the way through college.” (Take Back America Conference 2007).  She supports universal pre-kindergarten for every 4-year-old, and debt-free college if you attend a public college or university (2015 CBS Democratic primary debate in Iowa, Nov. 14, 2015).  

By contrast, both Trump and Johnson, have said that they would reduce or eliminate the U.S. Department of Education.  On Fox News Sunday, October 18, 2015, Trump said he would “be cutting tremendous amount of money and waste and fraud and abuse. But no, I’m not cutting services, but I’m cutting spending.” Trump has said “education has to be local” (Announcement speech, New York City, June 16, 2015), and that public education would improve with more competition. “If you look at public education as a business – and with nearly $300 billion spent each year on K-through-twelve education, it’s a very big business indeed – it would set off every antitrust alarm bell at the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. Who’s better off? The kids who use vouchers to go to the school of their choice, or the ones who choose to stay in public school? All of them. That’s the way it works in a competitive system.” (The America We Deserve, by Donald Trump, p. 83, July 2, 2000).

Johnson stated that he would abolish the Department of Education and that similar to Trump believes competition will improve education. “If you had full-blown competition when it came to education you’d have educators making $30 million a year because what they do is they’d be laying down templates that would positively impact all educational earners.  Everything in our lives is competitive and as a result of it being competitive things are better and better and better.  But why can’t we apply that to our schools”.  (Adam Carolla radio show, May 2016). 

The bottom line – I don’t see volunteer-led school fundraising going away or even reducing in size regardless of who is elected president in November.

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 5,500 member organizations in 50 states and DC 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.


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