Membership – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Where can one join PTA?
PTA is a membership association and people join a PTA unit each year by paying membership dues. People cannot join PTA at the council or PTA district level. Every PTA member in California belongs to at least one PTA unit. If you have children in different schools, you may join at each school.
Is PTA only for parents?
No! Remember the T in PTA stands for teachers, and if your unit is a PTSA, the S stands for students! But don’t stop there. Invite school staff, school district staff, grandparents, business leaders and neighbors to become members. Attend a school board meeting and ask the school district trustees and administrators to become PTA members.
What does “Per capita” mean?
“Per capita” means “per person” and refers to the portion of membership dues that does not
belong to the PTA unit. The amount of membership dues is set by each PTA unit (the amount is listed in each PTA’s Bylaws) and includes the following:
National PTA portion———————————————————— $2.25
California State PTA portion————————————————– $1.25
PTA District portion ————————————————–check bylaws
PTA Council (if in council) —————————————–check bylaws
PTA Unit portion———————————————————– remainder
Remember, the PTA unit can only keep and spend the unit portion; the rest belongs to the other levels of PTA and must be remitted to them.
Can we have “levels” of membership?
There is only one level of PTA membership but sometimes PTAs may wish to encourage or recognize financial support or contributions of differing amounts. The actual per person dues amount, however, must always be specified in the bylaws and members must be allowed to join at that price.
If the PTA wishes to solicit donations with levels of contribution, it is done as a separate project from the membership campaign. The membership campaign invitation should be for membership enrollment only. (Membership dues and donations to the PTA budget should be recorded separately.) Forexample, a gold donor/patron could reflect a contribution of $100; a silver donor/patron $50, or whatever names and amounts the PTA decides. The details of the donation project should be outlined in the standing rules and approved annually by the membership.
A membership drive is not a fundraising project; membership in PTA should be affordable to everyone. A good rule of thumb for membership dues is to collect an amount that will cover per capita for the constituent organizations – National PTA, California State PTA, district PTA and council PTA, if in
council – and a small portion of each membership for liability insurance premiums.
What about “Family Memberships”?
The California State PTA discourages group and/or family memberships. The concept of group memberships (e.g., family memberships) must include the payment of per capita dues and a membership card issued to each member (California State PTA Toolkit ). The PTA’s bylaws must stipulate the number of members considered a family. If a PTA unit wishes to include a family membership dues structure, the amended bylaws must be forwarded (through channels) to the California State PTA parliamentarian for approval.
May we charge students a lower rate of membership dues?
Yes, you may have a student membership rate. However, student dues must be listed in your bylaws and must be enough to cover the portion of dues that is forwarded to council, district, state and national PTA. Student members’ dues may not be subsidized by the unit. The California State PTA Toolkit states:
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 that are forwarded to council, district, state and National PTA.
Do we have to use the PTA membership envelopes?
No, you can develop a flyer or another method of collecting membership money, but whatever recruitment form is used in your unit; it should be retained and alphabetized. Keep them until the next membership campaign begins.
Do we need to keep a membership list?
Yes, every PTA needs to keep a list of their members! (California Corporation Code Section 6320 provides that every California nonprofit corporation – like the California State PTA – shall keep a record of its members.) PTA membership chairmen should keep a list of their current members as they join. Keep the list updated as new members are enrolled. Include the member’s name, address, phone number and child/children’s name(s). The date they enrolled is also important. If your PTA can communicate electronically, get email addresses from your members as well.
Who should have the Membership List?
A copy of the membership list should be kept on file with the president, secretary, treasurer, and membership chairman. The secretary needs a list to verify who is eligible to vote during meetings. If no list is available, all those in attendance must be allowed to vote. The nominating committee should receive the list as a resource for considering members to be proposed for PTA offices. The nominating committee must verify that those persons nominated are members and eligible for office.
How should I fill out the membership cards?
Each individual member—not family—should receive a membership card. The card should include your unit’s 8-digit National PTA ID number (which can be found in your unit bylaws), a unique identifier in the right corner beginning with CA, the unit name and the member name. You may hand-write the cards, stamp them with a name stamp, or print them on your computer printer.
Must we distribute membership cards?
Absolutely! There are several good reasons that every member should receive a membership card:
- The card shows that dues have been paid.
- A membership card entitles the member to a ballot in any voting situation at any level of PTA.
- The “user” and “password” for the National PTA “Members Only” portion of their web site is emailed to the member when the membership card is activated. Members must be able to access that benefit and Member Benefits (discounts) described on the website.
- Convention attendees must show a membership card when registering to attend convention.
- Applicants for PTA scholarships and grants must provide a copy of their membership card.
Each member should get his/her own card; no cards should say “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” or “Smith family”.
Where do I put the expiration date on the new membership card?
The expiration date is no longer listed on the membership card. The membership year for the California State PTA is July 1 to June 30, but members are given until October 31 to re-join. This gives all members the opportunity to vote on the PTA program and budget at the beginning of the school year (August/September).