Transaction Fees for On-line PTA Payments - Who Should Pay?

Updated on August 21, 2013
J.B. asks from Boston, MA
19 answers

I am a PTA treasurer and we are going to begin to offer on-line payments this year for things that don't require, say, a signed permission slip - annual dues, admission to family events, spirit wear, etc. Parents will of course be able to send in cash or a check, we are offering an additional payment method for convenience.

On-line payments of course incur processing fees. We're using PayPal Standard at the non-profit rate of 2.2% plus $0.30 per transaction. So our $5.00 annual membership would be $5.41 via PayPal.

If your school does are the transaction fees handled? I think that those who are using on-line payments should pay the processing fee so we would build it into the price - the membership would be $5.41 if paid on-line, of which we would get $5.00 (and then from that we pay the national and local organizations so really we make $1). A $10 item would be $10.52 online. I don't want to nickle and dime people, but I don't think that PTA monies should be used to pay transaction fees that would be racked up for the convenience of the person paying.'s also a huge convenience to us to handle fewer checks, less cash and make fewer trips to the bank so as an organization, we are benefitting.

I think that parents in my district are used to paying transaction fees for paying for school lunches on-line so I don't think it would be a big deal, but I don't want to come across as petty.

If you were going to pay a fee on-line would you be annoyed at a charity passing through a transaction fee to you or would you understand that they are being good stewards of the organization's funds by doing so?

Thanks for your feedback!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers


answers from San Diego on

I've never had a problem tacking on an extra dollar or whatever to cover fees when using paypal when it's a charity or non-profit organization.
I do mind if it's a for profit, they can and probably do bake it into their overall price.
Just be honest about what the extra is for. I don't see many people having an issue with it. And if they do, you have given them other ways to pay that don't include the small extra fee.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I think that having the parent pay the fee makes sense. I suggest that doing so would be any easy sell with good pr.

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Columbia on

My main gripe with all PTA/PTO fundraisers and so forth is not knowing where their profit is going. I don't have a problem with paying a fee to use the system, but if there is also some kind of profit in there...I want to know what it is, and where it's being used.

As an aside, I also suggest this for all other fundraisers. For every fundraising packet you send home with the kids, include a letter to the parents telling us what the funds are being raised for specifically. If my kids don't know why they're selling stuff, the packet goes straight into the trash.

Kristina, I kind of feel like you're lecturing me. But I'm going to chill and take the optimisitc route in thinking that was not your intent.

Not every parent has the ability to attend PTO/PTA meetings. And we shouldn't have to in order to be apprised of what is going on. It's not a social club where only those in the "in crowd" get the information. I have kids in different schools, and am spread too thin when it comes to activities already.

I shouldn't have to come to a meeting to figure out where the money is going that the PTO/PTA is USING MY KIDS to raise. It should be information that is readily shared. All too often, those fundraisers take away from precious classroom time. There's an assembly to present the fundraiser to them, time used in class to turn in forms, more time to get the stuff that was ordered, another assembly to pass out prizes. I don't agree with these types of fundraisers at all. And the PTO doesn't get 100% of the profits, which means some company is profiting off my kids' work.

If the PTO/PTA's were to write a letter at the beginning of the year with their fundraising goals and where that money were going.....I'd just write a check. 100% of the funds could go towards those purchases instead of wasting valuable time needed for education.

Sorry for the rant. This is a sore point for me and the reason we don't participate in fundraisers.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We call it a convenience fee and tack on the percentage or $1 per transaction.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think the parent payer should pay the fee.

I have been frustrated at a volunteer group I work with, they do not want to allow online payments because they "feel bad" asking people to pay the fee, but they don't want to pay it themselves.

Online payment is a great option to include. I really don't think that anyone who wants to pay online would mind the small fee.

ETA: When the "fee" is about 50 cents, like in your above examples, that's the price of a stamp to mail in a check too!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Seems to me like the simple thing would be to inform those who CHOOSE to pay online, that there is a small transaction fee (and what the amount of it is). Then, they are free to pay whichever way suits them best. If they want the convenience of paying online, they pay the fee. If they don't want to pay the fee, then they will pay by check or cash like they would have had to do without the option.

Either way, the option is up to them. And they are fully informed BEFORE they make a decision about how to pay.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would pay the fee, as a parent, or send in money. I send my kids in with checks for school lunches, or walk cash in myself. Otherwise I end up paying $7.50 every time I pay for all 3 kids to have money in their accounts. That would get me a latte and a souffle at Panera for breakfast one day - a much better way to spend $7.50 :).

I am like Christy Lee as well - I hate not knowing where the funds go (my kids are in activities 5 nights a week, plus my husband just went back to school) so going to meetings is not an option. I also work full-time so I can't go during the day. We do NOT do school fundraisers for this reason either.

I also big time dislike the "gifts" they get the kids with - sell a pizza and get an eraser! I just take my kids and buy them a small gift myself. We do fundraisers for their extra cirriculars because I know where the money is going.

I also saw last night that the PTA in our school is run by two married couples. One of which was the coach and team mom of my son's All Star baseball team last spring. They were on point with baseball, but I can see it not working out for the PTA. So no, we do not spend the $5 per person to join...whether online or in the school.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

As a parent, I would be perfectly fine with paying a few cents to do it online and be done with it. Then, I don't have to send in a check via my child and then wait for weeks before it gets cashed. Totally worth it to me.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Our school only allows online payments for the lunch program and they eat the fees because the school wants the convenience of having funded lunch accounts.

That is what it comes down to, who benefits the most by the transaction, that is who pays. Considering we send our kids to school every day with a backpack it seems you are the ones getting the benefit so you need to ask yourself is it worth the fee.

What will happen if you put the fee on the parents is you either make it very clear that there is a fee and most will not use the service or you don't make it clear and you will be ripped a new one and end up eating the fees anyway.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

in the couple of groups to which i belong where PP is used, it's a convenience for the buyer so the buyers pay the additional fee. i'm cheap, so i send checks.
not petty of you at all.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Would I be annoyed if I had to pay the fees? No. As I understand the organization is "not for profit"'s helping the kids...

For our PTA? We, the parents, pay the fees.

You are not charging the fees upfront, correct? You are allowing the system to calculate the fees, right?

There are people who are "seasoned" Paypal users...there are others who are I would ensure that I put the directions to pay via Paypal on-line as well so that those who are new to paypal will now when paying they are to select

"I am sending money for goods or services" or
"I am sending money to family or friends"

They will type the amount they are paying and see the fees there.

Make sure that the charges you put out - cover 100% of your fees. Tell the families up-front that they are paying the fees. You might get some push back. But some people don't realize that in a school of say 500 students - .30 cents adds up fast! (if all paid on-line - that's $150) not to mention the 2.2% fee!

Encourage parents to pay on-line! It is secure!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

The parent pays.
BUT, mention it upfront.
Nothing is more frustrating than donating online THEN having fees tacked on because its the payment method chosen by the group.
Is there no other alternative? Square, etc?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Interesting question --I guess if the parents are already used to paying transaction fees on line for school lunches than they probably won't have a problem. You still give them a choice of how to pay. If you pay your taxes with a credit card or college tuition (at some universities) you incur a transaction fee. I am not a big pay pal fan and I don't have a pay pal account, so I guess I would be sending a check. However, If I make a donation to a charity with a credit card, I don't expect to pay the costs of them processing the payment.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

As long as parents can still pay by cash or check if they wish, I don't see a problem with the parent paying the convenience fee if they'd like to use PayPal instead.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think it's perfectly acceptable to expect the parents to pay the fees.
Of course you may have a few complainers (aren't there always?) in which case you can cheerfully remind them they can always write a check if they don't wish to be charged the fee.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I think you just raise the prices to include the transaction fee. If it costs $5 to join the PTO and the transaction fee is 41 cents, why not just make the fee to join $5.50 for those who pay online or with a check? It's obviously more convenient for you and the parent to pay online. If I had the choice, I'd write a check for the $5 if I have to pay a convenience fee, but if it's the same price either way, I'd pay online which is easier for everyone.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

At my school I am sure we would probably eat the fees to be honest. In addition, most of the families do not have a computer in the home as we have days where we open up the computer lab to families for use, so that method would probably not work out so well.

Regarding Christy Lee's comment about fund spending, PTO/PTA is required to present where/how/how much at the meetings and put it to a vote. If you attend the, for my school, monthly meetings you would know where the funds are going. Spending of funds, esp. with PTA MUST be put to a vote and can not just be spent. These meetings are the first Monday of the month (for my school) and open to all business - this is where you would likely source that information.



answers from Washington DC on

Our community pool does this and states that you can either send a check to the treasurer or you can do an online payment. The online fee is x.

For my Meet Up group, I don't quibble the .50, but if you have people paying many ways and some would lose a lot and some not at all, then you should give them options.

As long as the group is up front about the fee (people know about PayPal and/or convenience fees by now) then I would not be upset.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I think if the school wants to do this then they should pay the fee. If you don't want to pay the fee then take the money up the old fashioned way. It's basically to save your committee time and effort to do it this way right?

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions