10 Steps to Increasing Volunteer Engagement for Parent/Teacher Organizations

Most schools struggle with getting enough volunteers to run all of the programs supported by the PTA/PTO/PCE’s. Another challenge is that they may have volunteers on signup sheets, but the same few are active and carry most of the load. If these statements are true for your school, below are 10 steps to increasing active parent volunteers.

  • Encourage PTA/PTO/PCE membership. If parents sign up for membership, then they will feel more obligated to volunteer and also allows for the collection of contact information for sending out volunteer requests. Create excitement in the classroom for students to encourage their parents to sign up for the parent organization membership. Create a contest between classrooms for a total percentage of membership signups per class. Place posters around campus to show who is in the lead and update it frequently. Some teachers and students are competitive and just want to win so appeal to that side of them and offer a reward as simple as pencils for the classroom or a pizza party at lunch.
  • Announce the programs funded by the parent organization. Develop a list of programs funded by the parent group. Most people are visual so you can create a graph or pie chart showing the program and allocation of money for each of the services or supplies provided to the school. Use social media, website and school bulletin to post the information.
  • Define all volunteer positions for each program. Some people don’t feel the need to volunteer because they don’t realize how many programs are funded by the parent organization and how many volunteers are needed to run each one. Using social media, school bulletin and word of mouth, outline the positions that need to be filled and the details for each role. Some parents are too shy to take on an entire program, but will help or co-lead. Let them know what positions are filled and assure them that they would have support.
  • Appeal to heart strings of the parents. Share the benefits of volunteering, such as the satisfaction of knowing you made a difference, gained skills, new friendships, modeling community service to the kids. Talk about the short-term and long-term benefits to the students, teachers and school.
  • Personally invite. It is easy to ignore an email or announcement requesting volunteers, it is a lot more difficult to say no to someone face to face that needs your help. The person asking is also saying that they believe that the person has the skills and can handle the job. Some people need the nudge or a cheerleader for support.
  • Recognize current volunteers. Nobody wants to step into a job that nobody wants. Don’t sound desperate pleading for volunteers, instead talk about current volunteers and create desire for them to want to be a part. If you make it sounds like they would be a new member to this elite group sharing ideas and support for the school, they will more likely sign up.
  • Appeal to the skills and personalities of individuals. Some parents are busy with the stresses of work and raising a family and are good with mindless tasks such as stuffing envelopes or copying flyers and distributing into teacher boxes. Some are more domestic and enjoy making baked goods for a bake sale or manning the booth. Other parents take pride in their professional skills and are proud of their contacts with businesses in the community and coordinating events. Know your audience and then ask for help with greater success.
  • Define the time commitment. Be generic when outlining the time commitment required for each role. If you list the number of hours, it can be overwhelming and turn people away. Instead, quantify it by days. Explain that you need help for an hour during an event, a full day during an event, weekly for ongoing tasks, or for a month or specific time period for planning an event.
  • Show gratitude to volunteers. Although we would like to think that we are performing community service for the betterment of others, we are all human and also enjoy recognition. Sending little notes of appreciation to volunteers, giving inexpensive or homemade gifts, publicly recognizing them in a meeting or bulletin helps keep volunteers and create desire for others to be a part of the group.
  • Mentor new volunteers. To reduce the stress in volunteers and to increase the chances of success, mentor the new volunteers. When new volunteers are needed because the current volunteers are graduating or leaving the school, encourage parents to shadow the leader for the first year so when they step into the position, they already have an idea of what they are doing.

Fun Services understands and appreciates commitments of volunteers and their benefits to the students, teachers and schools as volunteers are needed to run the school carnivals, casino nights, holiday gift shops and other fundraisers or family fun events offered by Fun Services. Let us come to you and share 15 minutes of fun at your next PTA/PTO/PTC general meeting or board meeting. We will talk about our programs, share with you ideas from other schools, and bring a treat. To schedule a meeting call 800-300-6380.

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