Is your PTA Committee struggling to get more help? We’ve all been there - but now it’s time to make this a bumper year for you and fellow volunteers.
It can be a thankless task trying to hang around the school gates with a clipboard. Here are some tried and tested ideas on how to get a few more people helping out…
Meet and greet
Many PTAs hold a coffee morning, cheese and wine evening or a drink at your local at the beginning of the school term. Parents are sometimes more willing to attend a social event than yet another official school meeting. A relaxed, informal evening is an excellent opportunity to outline the work carried out by the PTA, and for parents to get to know each other and also learn what they can offer.
Divide and conquer
In larger schools, reaching out to so many parents can be daunting. If you can focus your efforts on gaining at least one or two allies in each class, this can help to raise awareness about PTA activities. Having PTA Reps or Room Parents is an effective way to gain support across the school.
For larger events it’s also useful to assign certain stalls or activities to particular classes, so they can source the stall helpers from that class. Getting the Reps to gather contact details for their class at the start of the year is a great way to get started.
Be specific, be concise.
Many people will only be comfortable stepping forward for a specific task with a known timeslot or workload. Give enough detail so they know up front what they are dealing with, but not so much that they have to get through the equivalent of War and Peace to figure out what they’re doing! On the PTAsocial app, you can set up activities and task with full descriptions for each part, handy info to pass on to next year’s committee and volunteers too!
Communication is key for a successful PTA. This can come in many guises, either a noticeboard outside school and/or a termly newsletter. Some parents complain that they do not know about events, or what is funded by money raised. It’s a good idea to outline the events coming up and state what you are raising money for.
If you need £1000 for play equipment then say so, and show fundraising progress along the way. Using Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest can be a nice way to drip-feed this information and garner support and get snippets of feedback.
Make it personal
Whatever communication you use to potential PTA volunteers, try to make it personal. It’s astonishing how many school websites have a generic “Our PTA” web page that is faceless, nameless, with no contact details and still attempts to be warm and welcoming. Sorry, it doesn’t quite pull it off.
At the very least, a contact form or PTA email address is needed. Ideally, stipulate the names of your Chair, Secretary and Treasurer and include their children’s names and classes. Many parents will know who your children are before they know you! Naturally, be aware of sharing too many details on public webpages, so having a private login or membership site is advisable.
Outline the benefits
If parents are keen to get involved but need a push in the right direction, why not remind them how rewarding volunteering on the PTA can be. As well as improving the children’s whole school experience, they feel proud of their school when you show it’s worth your time. They feel proud of you for getting involved.
You already know how great it feels to make a difference, and make new friends and learn new skills along the way too. Share your enthusiasm, but allow people to feel comfortable starting small, and dip their toe in with a small task.
More and more grandparents are picking up from school plus the majority have retired. Remember when looking for new members of the Friends/PTA to ask Nanas and Grandads and Aunties and Uncles too. Help can come from any family relative!
Keep it real
Finally, be honest about the PTA and what commitment is expected. Outline how many meetings there are on average each year, how many events are held, and what goes on. Bear in mind that the less pressure there is on those attending, the more likely they are to show up again next time. Plus, think about the times of meetings that suit most parents, and whether you can offer more than one option.
Publishing all PTA volunteering opportunities online (easy with an online PTA tool like PlanSocial!) takes the strain off the few who are able to attend the meetings, so they don’t end up doing everything. Most people don’t feel able to commit to a lot. The key can be to chop up the work into manageable chunks that can be divided amongst a larger volunteer base. Small, discrete tasks are more likely to be taken on by somebody new.
Do you have any other ideas to find new PTA volunteers? Get in touch!
PlanSocial provides private community hubs for schools. Sell tickets and collect online donations. It makes organising events super-easy and inclusive by allowing volunteers to pick out specific, manageable tasks. Start a hub for your school community in 2 minutes.