An Audit Checklist Keeps Your Parent Association on Track!

Vol. 15 No. 7

advancement eletter Vol15 No7 checklist

When the Parent Association is clear about the role it plays, this organization constitutes one of your school’s strongest assets. Its mission is to support the school’s strategic and operational goals. An annual audit of the association’s functions and responsibilities keeps it on track and avoids potential problems.

A Parent Association annual audit—best carried out in the context of a more general mid-school-year review—has two parts:

  • The first is a self-review in which the Parent Association examines its functions and considers its own mission, as set out in its bylaws and guidelines.
  • The second is an external review in which the Board approves (or recommends revisions to) the Parent Association’s self-review.

Provide the following checklist to the head of your school’s Parent Association to help keep it on track. As the association undertakes its self-review process, encourage the use of this checklist as a guideline and edit it as appropriate for your school’s mission and goals.

  • Parent Association bylaws and operating guidelines exist.
  • These bylaws and guidelines clearly state the organization exists “to support, financially and in other ways that may be requested by the school’s administration, the institution’s mission and strategic goals.”
  • These bylaws and guidelines are reviewed at least every two years by the Parent Association and the Board to ensure they remain compliant with the school’s mission and strategic goals.
  • The Parent Association writes its annual agenda each summer, consistent with its bylaws and guidelines and reflecting the administration’s financial and financially related plans for the next school year. (This may include annual administrative agenda items that deal with fundraising and school-defined needs that may be met by fundraising and related support-focused activities.)
  • The Parent Association revisits its committee structure each summer to create, recreate, and modify committees based on its agenda for the coming year.
  • All fundraising activities initiated by the Parent Association are coordinated with the Development Office.
  • All proceeds from fundraising activities are placed in an account that is administered by the Business Office. The Parent Association has access to this account but no control over it.
  • The Parent Association communicates its mission in the school’s publications, especially the newsletter and on the school website. The goal is to regularly remind the parent body of the association’s role and “non-role” (i.e., both its appropriate responsibilities and efforts, and those outside its purview, such as governance and management decisions).
  • Besides informative articles, public acknowledgments of support—of all kinds—for the school are featured in a regular “Parent Association corner” in the newsletter and on the website. This further enforces in your parents’ minds the organization’s core support function.
  • Trustees and the School Head meet regularly with the Parent Association’s leadership and membership. This gives the organization opportunities to hear about and discuss adjustments to the institution’s strategic and operational plans. The Board might designate one or more Trustees to attend the Parent Association meeting following each full-Board meeting.

Keep in mind that a Parent Association member should not serve on the Board. Much Board-level interaction must be kept confidential. The Board is future-focused while the Parent Association operates in the day-to-day. So there is little benefit and much potential danger in such constituent representation.

Additional ISM Resources:
The Source for Advancement Vol. 11 No. 8 Reflecting on Parent Associations
The Source for Advancement Vol. 12 No. 6 Working With Parent Associations
The Source for Advancement Vol. 13 No. 8 Newsletters: Important for Prospective, Current, and Past Parents

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 39 No. 2 Parent Association Bylaws
I&P Vol. 40 No. 2 Consolidate and Coordinate Your Parent Communications

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