Claiming expenses is a pain – finding receipts, remembering to give them in, the Treasurer having to deal with them. And I should add that I am not always good at practising what I preach!
However, I believe it is important for volunteers to claim expenses for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it is important that your fundraising events are financially viable after expenses. We all invest so much time and effort into running events and other fundraisers, it is important to be able to assess which of your events make the most money, and focus your efforts on them. Whilst members of the current team might not need to claim their expenses, PTAs by their nature have a turnover of volunteers and the next bunch may need to claim their expenses.
And past events are often used as a guide to the future, so you are not doing the longevity of your PTA any favours by masking the potential profit (or lack thereof) of an event by not claiming for expenses. When volunteer numbers are low, accurate profit records can help you choose which events you continue, and which you may have to shelve. It is important to have a good idea of the costs of running your charity.
It is important for good record keeping that expenses are recorded. You don’t want to encourage the bad habit of not claiming expenses and volunteers ‘claiming back’ in other ways, such as free entry to events etc.
In addition, someone’s personal financial position should not be a barrier to volunteering. Whilst for some, they can easily afford to buy a box of tea bags, sweets for the disco etc. that is not the case for everyone. The budgets for many families are finely balanced and they don’t have the money to spare.
But volunteers from families with little spare cash are equally as valuable with the time they can give, ideas, and contacts. If the default position in your team is that volunteers don’t claim expenses, some potential volunteers may not be comfortable in becoming involved. They may not want their financial status to be widely known, or feel uncomfortable rocking the boat and pushing to claim their expenses. I have yet to hear a PTA complain that they have too many volunteers on the team, so you don’t want this to put them off.
If you are personally in the fortunate position to not need to claim expenses, you can always donate them back to the PTA. This could also have the added benefit of being eligible for gift aid! Whilst the end result will be the same, the charity accounting records will then be accurate for events and show your donation separately.
So get yourself a little envelope, pop your receipts inside, along with a note of what they are for, and make a habit of claiming them. When you already give up so much of your time for volunteering, what difference will a couple more minutes make?