How To Track Payments for your School Group
Updated: May 26
The struggle is real…how do you collect money from your members and tie it to a form they are filling out. Back in the day, things were simple. When you were running your crazy sock fundraiser, you collected a form with an attached check (or cash), which was somewhat straightforward to manage. Now that much of the school group work is online, you may be wondering how to manage your Venmo, Paypal, checks, and other forms of payment. And how do you tie those to the forms people are filling out to order the books, crazy socks, etc.? Here are some ways we have seen booster clubs, PTAs, PTOs, PTSAs, and other parent-teacher or school groups solve this issue.
Let’s start with the simplest method – adding one field to your form to indicate payment type. You can ask people to fill out the form only after making a payment and then check a box for a payment method. Then you could assume everyone followed the rules and only dig deeper if the funds don’t reconcile. This doesn’t allow for robust tracking, and we all know from doing this year after year that you will have to do a deeper dive at some point because things won’t always reconcile! This method is best for a smaller group with a limited number of people filling out the form.
The second method is to take the above suggestion one step further. Use a program like Zapier to connect your Google Form to a Google Spreadsheet. In essence, you set up a “zap” that sends over the name and form of payment from each Google Form submitted to a spreadsheet. You can then add a column to that shared spreadsheet to confirm you have received payment. This method is simple and free and ensures you have tracking for the above method. It still requires that the treasurer confirm each payment coming through against the spreadsheet, so there is still a lift required by that board member.
The third method is to leverage existing technology. This could be technology by the fundraising company, e.g., spirit wear platform, or your membership technology. Most fundraising companies have money management built into their platform, and if they do not, you may consider switching to one that does. This requires no time by any PTA board member as the platform manages the order, the payment, and the delivery. Alternatively, your membership management platform may have a module that allows for the collection of funds and/or collection of forms. If it doesn’t have both, you may still be able to use a Zapier solution to connect it to the missing elements.
Finally, you could leverage a platform made specifically for this purpose. There are several cloud solutions whose sole purpose is to solve this issue – allowing nonprofit groups to collect forms and money and to track those two things together. They are typically no charge to use. The downside to using one of these is that it is yet another platform for the PTA and parents to manage. It is, however, the least cumbersome for the PTO board as everything is built in.
There is no right answer here, and you may decide to use each method for different purposes during your school year. Let us know if you have other creative ways to solve this issue. We always like to hear from school group leaders.