ANSWER: The WSPTA encourages local units to ask teachers to join, pointing out among other things that more members increases your unit’s capacity to provide the grant program, but the WSPTA discourages using membership as a requirement for receiving a grant. Under the Internal Revenue Code, organizations that are tax exempt under either Section 501(c)(3) or (c)(4) are supposed to operate for the benefit of the public at large and not for their members. Accordingly there’s a risk that if the IRS were to audit your local unit, the grant program would be viewed as an “inurement” or benefit to the member and not a benefit for the general public.
To make sure the funds are going to be used as you want them to be used, you can make a restricted grant of funds that can only be used for the specific purposes set forth in the grant document. You can find a form that can be used to make a restricted grant in the Money Matters section of the Leadership Packet. A copy of Money Matters is also available online under the Leadership Resources tab of the Washington State PTA website. (This site is password protected, as it is only intended for PTA use. If you don’t know the password, please call the WSPTA office.)