The Basics of PTA Membership

While membership is the responsibility of the entire PTA board, each PTA should have a designated membership leader. Membership chairmen are appointed; membership vice presidents are elected. For details on the responsibilities of the Membership chairman/vice president at a unit PTA, see “Job Description for Membership Chairman/Vice President” in the PTA Toolkit.

The membership chairman/vice president works with a membership committee and serves as chairman. The membership committee consists of members appointed by the president, or the president-elect if the committee is formed before the school year begins. Committee members should include teachers, students, if appropriate, and represent your school population. Under the direction of the membership chairman/vice president, the membership committee:

  • sets membership goals,
  • designs a membership marketing plan with outreach promotions,
  • calendars events and activities throughout the school year,
  • submits a budget to support the membership program, and
  • implements and evaluates the final plan.

The membership plan must be approved by the executive board.

Develop a Membership Marketing Plan

Set attainable membership goals.

Plan a membership promotion campaign that uses a variety of methods and outreach activities to promote the value of PTA membership. Go to the California State PTA website, capta.org and the National PTA website, pta.org, for membership campaign ideas, resources and current membership incentives and award programs.

Your membership plan should include a theme, if appropriate, a membership calendar and a membership budget.

Membership Theme


Create a membership theme for your membership campaign, if appropriate. Choosing just the right theme for your PTA can make a big difference in your membership growth for the year. The membership committee, the membership chairman/vice president and the president should work together to develop the membership theme.

For theme ideas, go to capta.org.

  • PTAs may select the current California State PTA or National PTA theme.
  • The school mascot or a community symbol can serve as inspiration.
  • The theme should appeal to everyone your PTA is trying to reach.
  • Consider using theme-related incentives and rewards to promote membership growth.

Membership Calendar and Budget


Membership promotion is year round and should include a membership kick-off and a mid-year membership push. Work with the president and the principal to calendar membership events and promotions. Include due dates set by council and district PTAs for membership dues remittances, and for awards and incentives. California’s membership year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30.

Prepare a membership budget to submit to your executive board. Include a list of expenses for membership promotions, incentives, and events for the entire year. If your PTA uses California State PTA membership envelopes, the budget should also include the cost of envelopes purchased from the council or district PTA.

Implementing a Membership Marketing Plan


It is the responsibility of the membership chairman/vice president and the membership committee to implement your membership marketing plan. Responsibilities should be shared by membership committee members. Duties could include:

  • preparing invitation letters or the new Customizable Membership Marketing Tool Instructions flier and envelopes for first day packets or school registrations;
  • preparing invitations to join for teachers, staff and administrators;
  • sharing responsibilities at membership kick-off or promotional events;
  • preparing promotional fliers, banners, posters, social media postings, etc.;
  • tracking membership progress for incentive rewards;
  • staffing a membership promotion booth or table at school or community events;
  • making special invitations to community leaders, local businesses, elected official, community workers, after school program providers, past PTA leaders, past Honorary Service Award recipients, retired teachers, administrators or staff members. Invite everyone to join PTA!
  • creating welcome packets for new arrivals at your school.

Membership Envelopes


Membership envelopes are available for purchase from your council or district PTA for a nominal fee. They can be used to encourage membership participation. Envelopes can be included in welcome or registration packets and can be used to collect relevant information about members. Two board members need to be present when the membership envelopes are opened. Proper PTA financial procedures should always be followed.

Membership Dues


Membership is effective as soon as dues are paid although certain rights may not activate until thirty days after dues are paid, such as the right to make motions, debate, hold an elected office, and vote. A portion of the membership dues collected stays in your unit. Membership campaigns are not to be considered fundraisers. Dues should be kept affordable so that everyone can join.

A portion of the membership dues (known as per capita) is sent through channels to the council, district, state and National PTA. These pass through monies are used to support those levels of PTA who, in return, support the unit with leadership, training, advocacy and other needed services.

Membership dues may differ in amount in each PTA and are listed in the local unit PTA bylaws. Dues amounts can only be changed by updating the unit bylaws and submitting them through channels for approval by the California State PTA parliamentarian. A unit-initiated dues increase will not go into effect until the association’s bylaws have been updated and adopted by the membership.

The dues portion not belonging to the unit must be forwarded through channels at least monthly. Once dues have been forwarded through channels, dues cannot be refunded to an individual member. To remain in good standing, a unit must remit through channels the required per capita membership and insurance. The district PTA will be notified that the unit is “not in good standing” by the California State PTA office by December 15 if dues for at least 15 memberships have not been received. If dues are not received by March 31, the unit is delinquent and the unit’s charter shall be withdrawn by vote of the California State PTA Board of Managers at its April/May meeting.

Donations can be solicited, but must be kept separate from membership dues in all financial records and reports.

Members join at the unit PTA. As unit PTA members, they are also members of their council, district, California State PTA and National PTA, and are represented at these levels of PTA.

Membership Cards


Membership cards are provided by California State PTA and distributed through PTA channels (units receive them from their council, if in council or their district PTAs). Each member should receive an official membership card from the unit PTA upon payment of dues. The same PTA membership card is used by all PTAs.

Membership information is filled in on the card before the membership card is distributed. The National PTA unit number is used as the Unit ID number on the membership card. Membership information can be printed on the card using a computer printer; a membership card template is available at capta.org. Information can also be printed by hand or stamped onto the membership cards. Electronic membership cards are now available from district PTAs. These electronic cards which contain the unit’s ID number and member’s name, may be saved on the members’ Smart phone or tablet, and serve as proof of membership.

The California State PTA membership year is July 1 to June 30. Membership cards in California expire on October 31, allowing a grace period (from July 1 to October 31) for our members to renew their membership. During this grace period, members are entitled to their full membership rights, including approval of the PTA budget and program at the summer or fall association meetings.

As each PTA is a separate and individual association, members having children in more than one school may pay dues to support the PTA in each child’s school.

Member Contact Information and Membership List


A membership list must be created and maintained by the membership chairman/vice president. A regularly updated copy should be provided to the secretary and the president. The list should include member name, contact information and the date the member joined. Membership lists can be hand-written, or kept using computer software or programs such as PTA EZ™. Lists should be kept confidential within PTA organization. PTA recommends that membership lists be kept for 3 years in the event of an audit by the Internal Revenue Service.

Memberships


Any individual who subscribes to the purposes and basic policies of PTA becomes a member upon payment of dues to a PTA or PTSA unit. The rule of thumb is one dues payment=one card=one association vote.

Student Membership


Student membership is a vital part of the association. Membership is open to students of all ages. Please see Involving Students for additional information.

If a PTA unit chooses to include a student membership dues structure with lower dues for students, the bylaws must be amended to reflect this structure. The student membership dues should be at least equal to the portion of dues which are forwarded to council, district, state and National PTA.

Administrators/Teacher/Staff Memberships


Administrators, teachers and staff members are valuable members of the association. They should be invited and encouraged to join and participate. A PTA unit can choose to include a teacher/staff membership dues structure. The unit bylaws must include that dues structure.

Family Memberships


If a PTA unit chooses to include a family membership dues structure, the bylaws must be amended to reflect this structure. The number of members per family should be specified, and the dues paid per member should be at least equal to the portion of dues forwarded to council, district, state and National PTA. Please consult with your district parliamentarian for specific language regarding family memberships.

Charter Memberships


Charter members of a PTA are those who are present and pay their dues or whose dues are submitted at the organizational meeting of a new PTA. Charter members who pay dues at an organizational meeting held between April 1 and June 30 are considered members for the following year and are entitled to a new membership card without payment of dues. For more information about Charter Memberships, please contact your local PTA district.

 

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