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Why the Ohio Auditor wants school districts to have online fundraising policies

Although teachers across the state are using online tools to raise money for extra classroom resources, a majority of Ohio school districts may lack policies regarding crowdfunding.

According to an Ohio State Auditor survey of school districts, less than half of respondent districts had policies regarding crowdfunding. Around one fifth of the state’s districts responded.

State Auditor Dave Yost warned that lack of policy creates risks like compromising student confidentiality or using donations for personal use.

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Teachers spend an estimated $600 of their personal money each year to buy things not provided by school districts or parents, like school supplies and specialized furniture for students with special needs. Crowdfunding helps alleviate personal spending.

“It is a credit to Ohio’s teachers that they are willing to make a significant financial sacrifice for their students,” noted a news release from Yost’s office. “But these sacrifices can do only so much.”

Yost’s report urges school districts to adopt policies regarding crowdfunding to avoid any potential risks and ensure money is used for the right purposes.

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The auditor’s recommendations say crowdfunding policies should:

• Require that all crowdfunding campaigns be reviewed and approved by a designated school administrator.

• Ensure that crowdfunding campaigns comply with state and federal law, as well as the school district’s codes.

• Designate certain crowdfunding websites to be used for school crowdfunding campaigns

• Make sure funds are used for their slated purpose

• Require school board approval for donations

• Make sure the school district has ownership of the funds raised

Local school districts are already addressing the issue. Kettering City Schools, for instance, has a policy that requires superintendent approval for crowdfunding campaigns. Dayton Public Schools said it will consider such a policy in August.

Dan Wilson, the treasurer of Mentor Village schools and Kirtland Local schools in Northeast Ohio, was one of the advisors to Yost for the report. He said the guidelines would help both districts and donors.

“Using these guidelines will ensure compliance with federal and state regulations as well as assuring the donations will support the intended students,” Wilson said.

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