Dramatic photo of the Lincoln Memorial

Will the presidential election impact the need for school fundraising?

by Sandra Pfau Englund on Aug 03, 2016 10:17 am

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.

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.


Running an Effective Meeting

Sandra Pfau Englund

Aug 30, 2019

Booster club bylaws often reference Robert’s Rules of Order as the “rules” for managing a meeting. Have you ever read Robert’s Rules? It’s a good way to get a good night’s sleep!

O.k., so, having no rules leads to muddled, oftentimes chaotic meetings. On the other hand, using strict Robert’s Rules of Order can result in confusion or imbalance, dominated by those very few who understand Robert’s Rules. According to Sandra Englund, founder of Parent Booster USA, it’s far better to use a simplified form of parliamentary procedure. Using Sandy’s Simple Parlipro for Nonprofit Organizations, you provide a solid framework for your meeting that encourages everyone to participate and stops any one person from controlling it.

Meetings should not be all about the rules. According to David Gillig, Senior Vice President of Children's Hospital and Health Center in San Diego, a meeting should be 80% inspiration, learning and fun, and 20% business. Busy parents are more likely to attend if they feel as if they will gain something for themselves, and their kids, out of the meeting. We recommend that you start the meeting with something fun or educational — our parent engagement blog talks more about this.

Place reports at the end of the meeting; consider providing digital or written copies of reports that parents can read outside of the meeting. No one wants to sit through standard reports. One exception is financial reports. Always include the treasurer’s report. The treasurer’s report should include a written budget and a report that shows how money was raised and spent. Making bank statements available is a good way to help ensure accountability. You can read more on financial accountability here.

It’s good practice to put start times for each item on the agenda. This helps ensure that the meeting stays on track and flows effectively. It’s particularly important if you are discussing any controversial issues in which it is more likely that someone will filibuster! Having a rule that each person gets an opportunity to speak once, before anyone is given a second opportunity to speak, helps encourage more participation.

Below is a sample agenda to help you get the most out of your booster club meetings. Start your meeting by reviewing the agenda. This is where you can explain the “rules” you’ve set for the meeting, including for example, that you will work to stay on-time to help ensure that the meeting starts and ends accordingly. You can also mention here, or just before the Q&A time with the principal, that each person will be provided the opportunity to speak once before anyone speaks for a second time. The report time is kept brief to allow the bulk of time to be given to the information provided by the principal. Minutes need approved; although a little unusual, we included approving the minutes at the end to allow more time for the more important matters up front.

ABC Booster Club
1. Call to order & Review of Agenda 6:00p
2. Guest speaker – Principal Melissa Everly discusses school remodel plan 6:05-6:25p
3. Q&A 6:25-6:35p
4. Financial report 6:35-6:45p
5. Other reports 6:45-6:55p
6. Approve minutes from prior meeting 6:55p
7. Next Meeting 6:59p
8. Adjourn 7:00p

Planning and structuring your meeting for success if the key to having an effective meeting.


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