FAQs for Staff Appreciation

We know that many of our units had lots of great plans for Teacher Appreciation Week on their campus. School closures are causing us to rethink what teacher appreciation looks like this year. Our leadership team has given us a few ideas for ways to celebrate as well as things to avoid so you don’t violate PTA policies and procedures.

Can our PTA buy restaurant gift cards for our school staff members since we cannot hold our annual staff appreciation luncheon?

No. Giving a gift card is the same as giving someone cash. In addition, giving a volunteer cash or a cash equivalent like a gift card on behalf of the organization may cause them to be considered an employee or an independent contractor by government agencies. And the IRS considers cash gifts (including gift cards) as reportable income on the recipient’s tax filings. For these reasons, our policies and procedures expressly forbid giving gift cards purchased with PTA funds: “PTA funds cannot be used to purchase personal gifts for staff or volunteers, such as gift cards.”  (See Recommended Budget Line Items in the California State PTA Toolkit)

What can PTAs do for staff appreciation while schools are closed?

  • If local businesses or members of the community wish to donate gift cards/certificates to school staff, you may facilitate that donation.   
  • You may pay for a staff appreciation meal for all staff members by paying a restaurant directly.  Many restaurants are now offering “fixed price” menus for pickup and/or delivery. You may pay a restaurant to provide such a meal to each staff member at your school and then let the staff know how to contact the restaurant to pick up/receive delivery of their meal.  (Remember, your PTA’s total expenses for hospitality, including staff appreciation, may not exceed 5% of your yearly budgeted expenses.) 
  • You can issue a “rain check” for your usual staff appreciation activities and plan to hold them as soon as in person school resumes or whenever large gatherings of people are permitted again. 
  • You can send thank you cards (by mail, email, or social media) thanking staff for all their amazing work during this trying time.  Notes from parents and/or students will be particularly meaningful. You should work with the school principal to determine the best way to distribute these notes to the staff.

For more information on handling PTA financial transactions during the COVID-19 outbreak, visit COVID-19 Resources for PTA Leaders

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