Grad Night Organization
The "Executive Committee" should consist of at least a Chairperson, Treasurer, and Secretary, sometimes called "officers."
This person is responsible for overall planning and operation of the Grad Night event. Some schools use one or more Co-chairpersons. Important skills to look for in a chairperson are:
- Organizational and leadership skills.
- Ability to delegate responsibility.
- Willingness to talk to everyone about Grad Night.
- Ability to conduct meetings.
- Ability to keep committees on task.
- Ability to supervise and coordinate.
- Ability to have a good relationship with the school administration.
- Ability to remain calm under pressure.
You might find it helpful to have the Chairperson be a senior parent and the co-chairperson a junior parent. That way the junior parent co-chair becomes the chairperson the following year. This concept can also be used for the major committee chairpersons.
If you have a co-chair ensure each person knows his or her responsibilities. Clearly define whether "co-chair" means "assistant to the chairperson" or "equal" partners. It is important the co-chairs be compatible and share all information about the Grad Night event.
The chairperson and co-chair(s) should coordinate the work of all committees, understand what each committee's duties are and keep them on task. Often committee duties overlap, which is why coordinating the separate committees, is critical to the success of Grad Night.
The Chairperson and Co-Chairperson should:
- Read the Gradnight.org guide.
- Read reports from previous Grad Nights.
- Introduce yourself to the school.
- Review inventory of equipment and supplies and make notes if repairs are needed.
- Fill committee positions.
- Prepare an article for the first school newsletter mailed to parents and graduates.
- Schedule the first Grad Night committee meeting (Sept.).
- Be present at the "back-to-school" night with a display and recruiting table for volunteers.
- Attend a Gradnight.org Training Workshop.
Word to the Wise: Two signatures should be required on all checks with no more than one signature from any one family (authorized signers should not be married to each other).
Word to the Wise: This statement needs to contain a record of all income (including cash, materials, and services) and all expenses (including donated items used as prizes or favors). See this document for additional information.
Word to the Wise: If the Grad Night is sponsored by another organization (such as a PTA), give the records to that organization's treasurer, so they can include it in their records.
Duties should include but limited to the following:
- Open a checking account to handle income and expenses.
- Prepare new check authorization signature cards and file with the bank.
- Prepare a budget and submit for the Executive Committee approval.
- Maintain the budget and report at each Executive Committee meeting.
- Maintain accurate records of income and expenses.
- Prepare a financial statement for income tax.
- If required, file income tax forms (See Taxes, below).
Duties should include but not limited to the following:
- Prepare the minutes of each Executive Committee meeting and submit for approval.
- Handle all correspondence as requested by the Chairperson.
- Notify the Executive Committee members of dates of the next meetings.
- Serve as historian - clip news stories and keep a photo album of the GRAD NIGHT event.
- Prepare or approve press releases and promotional material content.
Other Members of the Executive Committee:
The Executive Committee could also include other major committee chairpersons who are needed to plan and execute a successful Grad Night. Some of their tasks will be to:
- Choose a Grad Night theme.
- Approve a budget.
- Set board policies and procedures.
- Select the entertainment, games, and activities.
- Enlist the help of key people (school and district administrators and community business leaders and/or off-site facility manager).
- Obtain liability insurance coverage.
- Secure sponsors and endorsers.
- Decide on the location where the Grad Night event will be held.
- Find people willing to serve as committee chairpersons and volunteers.
- Successfully "sell" graduates on the Grad Night idea.
Meetings should be held at least once a month beginning in September or October. If you are a first time Grad Night School, meetings may need to be scheduled more often especially as the night of the Grad Night event approaches.
Getting Information To The Parents
- Obtain pre-addressed mailing labels from the school. Note: be very careful with these labels. Do not give them to any other organization. Most schools strictly forbid selling, giving, or using their mailing list for any purpose other than to disburse information directly related to a school-related activity.
- Publicize the Grad Night and related fundraising activities in the local newspapers.
Checking Accounts and Tax DonationsThis information is a guide only. If you are unsure about anything, consult an attorney or CPA.
Word to the Wise: Many accountants or attorneys will work with the Grad Night organizers on a "pro-bono" (free) basis as a donation to Grad Night. If possible, find an attorney who has a student in your school. Remember to keep the questions strictly related to Grad Night and give the attorney and law firm credit for their donation.
Your Grad Night will need a bank checking account. Prior to opening an account, the bank will require an identification number. The number provided to the bank should be the "Employer Identification Number" (EIN) issued by the Federal Internal Revenue Service. This number is also known as a "Taxpayer Identification Number" (TIN).
Word to the Wise: An individual's Social Security Number (SSN) should not be used as the identification number on a Grad Night checking account.
To Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- PTA Sponsorship - If the PTA or another organization sponsors your Grad Night, the EIN should be provided by the sponsoring organization. The EIN number should remain with the Grad Night account as long as the group is sponsored.
- Independent Grad Night - If your Grad Night is not sponsored by another organization, an Employer Identification Number (EIN) should be obtained from the Internal Revenue Service as follows:
To Obtain an EIN by Phone:
Obtain Form SS-4 by calling 1-800-829-3676.
- 1. Fill out Form SS-4 including:
- 2. Name of the organization (true legal name) and Address.
- 3. Reason for Applying Organization's starting date and fiscal year.
- 4. Principal activity or service. Answer all questions--Some will be "N/A" (not applicable).
The IRS can issue an EIN over the phone and request that you write the number on the SS-4 form and then return the completed form to the IRS by mail or fax. You may begin using the number as soon as it is issued over the phone.
To Obtain an EIN by Mail:
- 1. Obtain Form SS-4 by calling 1-800-829-3676.
- 2. Fill in Form SS-4 and mail it back to the Internal Revenue Service.
- 3. The IRS should respond within 6-weeks.
- 4. If a response does not arrive reapply or call the IRS.
TaxesThe following information is a guide only. The rules change!
Check with the IRS or your Tax consultant before taking any action.
Your Grad Night Should be a "Nonprofit Charitable" organization
- Non-profit - All Grad Nights are "non-profit" organizations (Grad Nights do not make a financial profit). Donations to strictly "nonprofit" organizations are typically not legal deductions on income tax forms.
- Charitable - Some Grad Nights also qualify as "Charitable" organizations. Donations to "Charitable" organizations are typically legal income tax deductions.
Word to the Wise: A Grad Night may be a "charitable" organization if it meets one of the following criteria:
- A local school PTA sponsors the Grad Night and the local PTA is designated as a charitable organization.
- The Grad Night is an independent non-profit corporation and has obtained a charitable status designation (501(c)(3)) from the Internal Revenue Service (See this document for more information).
Grad Night Income Taxes
Independent Grad Nights
Word to the Wise: Money and donations from all sources must be combined to determine the total income.
Independent Grad Nights are typically "nonprofit" and do not have to pay State or Federal income tax. However,
income tax forms probably will be required to be submitted regardless of the "non-profit" status:
- If the total value of all donations, goods, and services is from $25,000 to $100,000, then Federal Tax Form 990EZ (short form) typically should be filed.
- If the total value of all donations, goods, and services exceeds $100,000, then Federal Tax Form 990 (long form) typically should be filed.
Grad Nights Who Are Sponsored by Another Organization
If your Grad Night is sponsored by another organization (such as the PTA), you will typically be required to provide all your financial information to the sponsoring organization treasurer. The sponsoring organization will combine your Grad Night income with their income and file the proper income tax forms.
Applying For Status As A Nonprofit CorporationThe following information is a guide only. Contact an attorney or CPA for exact information
Word to the Wise: Many attorneys will work with the Grad Night organizers on a "pro-bono" (free) basis as a donation to Grad Night. If possible, find an attorney who has a student in your school. Remember to keep the questions strictly related to Grad Night and give the attorney and law firm credit for their donation.
Nolo Press publishes a complete guide to do-it-yourself non-profit creation, available at local bookstores or online.
There are at least three major benefits to applying for status as a nonprofit corporation:
- Your Grad Night should be exempt from paying federal and state income tax.
- Donors to your Grad Night should be eligible for tax deductions for their donations.
- Your Grad Night should be eligible for liability insurance as a non-profit corporation.
To Do List: Incorporate and Obtain Tax Exempt Status
- Prepare written "By-laws" for your organization. The "By-laws" should be typed and signed by the current officers.
- Call the office of the Secretary of State at 916-657-5448 (automated telephone system). Follow the recorded instructions to obtain official forms and information on how to incorporate as a non-profit public benefit corporation.
Word to the Wise: An alternate method to obtain the forms is to contact the Secretary of State via the Internet. The address is: www.ss.ca.gov
- Draft and approve your Grad Night "Articles of Incorporation." Submit the "Articles of Incorporation" and the By-laws to the Secretary of State. There is a filing fee.
- Apply for an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service (for more information see this document). Complete and file Internal Revenue Form SS4.
- After approval of your Articles of Incorporation by the Secretary of State, apply for Federal tax exemption (under tax code Section 501(c)(3)).
- Obtain an "Application for Recognition of Exemption," package from the California Internal Revenue Service (package 1-023).
- After approval of your Federal tax-exempt status, apply for similar exemption from the California tax board (form 3500). There is a fee. Include a copy of the bylaws, Articles of Incorporation, budget, and a fact sheet.
- Annually report your Grad Night income and expenses to the Federal IRS using Form 990 or 99OEZ.
When to Apply:
Most first-year Grad Night committees are too busy planning, building and selling the Grad Night project to take the time to follow these procedures. It is advisable that subsequent committees take on this project as Grad Night becomes established.