The main differences between a PTA and a PTO are fairly simple. The national PTA is a formal membership organization headquartered in Chicago. Local groups that choose to belong to the PTA must pay dues to the state and national organization and abide by state and national group rules. In return they get member benefits, and they get a voice in the operations of the larger organization. The national PTA maintains a Washington, DC, lobbying office and most state PTAs advocate at their respective state capitals, as well. The PTA carefully protects its name, so that - in theory - only dues-paying members of the group can call themselves "PTA."
For more PTA/PTO Fundraiser Ideas and Articles please see:
- PTA Fundraising Ideas
- PTA Fundraisers
PTO, on the other hand, is a more generic term. It generally represents the thousands of parent groups that choose to remain independent. These are most often single-school groups that operate under their own bylaws.