PTA Donations during Covid-19 Crisis

During the PTA Council meeting on March 24th, a number of folks asked about the possibility of the PTA units contributing funds to help those in need. After the meeting, we contacted the California State PTA Treasurer for some guidance. She got back to us with detailed answers that should help your Units in approaching these questions:
  • IRS rules allow a 501(c)3 nonprofit (which is all our PTAs) to donate any amount of funds to another 501(c)3 organization with a similar mission. The emphasis is on similar mission, which would exclude agencies like the Red Cross but would include the Berkeley Public School Fund. Since the PTA Mission focuses on our school communities, any nonprofits that share these goals are eligible for PTA funding without concern from the IRS.
  • Donations to organizations without 501(c)3 standing are subject to the same limitations we published for supporting the recent bond campaigns. The totals for these types of donations can not be a "significant" amount relative to the giving PTA's budget. As discussed for the bond measures, "significant" is not well defined in the regulations but the rule-of-thumb is about 10% of income. The focus on organizations with similar missions apply to these donations as well.
  • PTAs may not provide funding directly to individuals or families, even within your own community. It gets back to the mission and what the organization was formed to do. PTAs were not organized to provide these kinds of support to individuals so are not allowed under the current regulations. PTAs can help with efforts to fundraise and advocate for these efforts, but may not be active in collecting or dispursing funds.
  • PTAs can help by advocating for these organizations and help with promotion of funding for individuals and organizations. The key is that none of the funds raised would use PTA bank accounts for collection or payment of these funds.
As with all PTA expenditures, any donations need to be approved by the Units measurement as detailed in your bylaws.
The State Treasurer did provide some ideas on what our PTA units might consider doing:
  • The PTA may pass a hat/envelope at their meetings or other PTA events if people wish to make a donation as long as the funds collected are not deposited in the PTA account.  (This assumes being allowed to meet in person and is thus not applicable any time soon, but I wanted to include it for future reference.)
  • The PTA may also advertise any and all benefits/fundraisers being held for individuals or families in need or local charities who are assisting those in need, regardless of who is organizing them.  That includes letting everyone in their community know GoFundMe campaigns, etc.
  • The PTA may also help with a fundraiser by advertising it and encouraging volunteers, but it cannot be an official PTA activity and all money collected must go to the organization holding the fundraiser  Checks cannot be made out to PTA and no deposits may be made to the PTA account on behalf of another organization or family in need.
  • The PTA may sponsor a food/diaper/necessities drive or solicit donations of those items to be given to a local food bank, etc.  "Necessities" could include personal protective equipment (PPE) for local hospitals and medical facilities if that's a need in your area

The State PTA will be adding this guidance and more to the California PTA COVID-19 Resources page in the next week. This message will also be posted on the Berkeley PTA Council website for reference to all. We are also considering setting up a page on the website to collect and publish resources provided from our community - send any suggestions to for now. Questions on funding and donations should be sent to

Thank you all for your efforts during this crisis. The Berkeley Community has time-and-again show the value we place on our schools and community of families. There are still lots of struggles ahead and changes that will be needed even after this crisis is over. Together we will make it better for everyone.