Volunteers are the heart of our team. Without volunteers event organization can become a difficult task and leading a PTO chair could be the toughest, because no one can succeed without the help of others.
So now when we know how important volunteer participation is, how do we recruit volunteers and get the maximum help to have a successful year ahead?
Here are some tricks and tactics that can help you improve parent and volunteer participation and help your parent group bloom and blossom throughout the year:
- Make a personal connection:
Volunteers do not necessarily have the time, they have the Heart.
Parents just need a personal connection in the team, as they already have the purpose and are ready to do anything for the purpose, i.e, their kids.
You can easily befriend the parents and have them join the meetings and volunteer for events.
As soon as you try building a personal connection with all the parents, they would themselves feel so connected to the PTA/PTO and would be happy to volunteer.
Your personal message saying "I'm really looking forward to see you at the meeting, it's been so long when we last met." would have much more impact than an instagram/facebook story!
- Be specific about the responsibilities and timings:
When requesting the volunteers, be very clear about the timings and responsibilities. May be one can spare 2 hours on a Wednesday afternoon handling your field trip but might not be ready to give a whole day.
Being specific is really important, not just while inviting, but also at the event. Understand, everyone has their share of responsibilities and you just cannot overburden them.
Burnt out volunteers will scare off the interested parents who had a thought of helping you with your next event.
- Match tasks that best fit the skills of volunteers:
Let the volunteers have a positive experience of small responsibilities initially, for example, organizing an event, or leading a department in the fun-run, or any responsibility based on their skills. Give them their time to move ahead with their work.
Might be, you can ask them in your next event if they would like to head the fundraising chair!
Big change comes from hundreds of tiny steps, and they all matter.
- Don't give negative annotations for turning in volunteers:
Have you heard the statement "If we do not get 5 more volunteers, we might need to cancel the event."
Such messages do not create a positive, ready to volunteer feeling among the parents, rather creates a negative, compulsive and overwhelming feeling which may give you results. Parents may come up actively and join but they will not be doing it willingly.
Creating a positive environment for impactful work is very necessary. Work doesn't seem tough when we work happily and willingly.
- Remember the relationship:
After all, your volunteer base absolutely depends on your relationships. Thus, you need to think about your relationship before you think about the creative theme documents for the read-a-thon beginning the next day.
You must stand on your words, especially regarding timings and responsibilities, if you want your volunteers to come for every event.
Consider them friends before volunteers, always.
Just changing the recruitment won't be enough. You need to find the root causes for less participation and heal all the pain points permanently. For this you might consider to make some amendments in the work pattern, such as:
- Reduce workload and volunteer hours:
Minimizing the hours your group spends to have a successful year makes it easier for parents to volunteer. The main goal of a PTA/PTO is to help schools achieve more. You do this by raising volunteers and money to provide valuable learning experiences, resources & staff, support beyond what the school budget alone can provide. Your group has the flexibility to decide how would you achieve the goals for fundraising, and thus it depends on the decisions of your group whether or not your volunteers will be overloaded and burnt-out. Take your decisions wisely.
- Shift to high priority and valuable activities:
Notice which task takes maximum time of your volunteers and how useful it is. Ask yourself if there is a way to automate it. Brace yourself to considering only the high priority tasks that can provide considerable output. You can simply have a cold-shoulder for the activities that do not end up contributing to your final goals and objectives. For example, you can automate the tracking of cash/check pledges for your fundraiser using an online platform or you can send monthly newsletters instead of weekly as it takes a lot of time, etc. Basically, prioritize tasks for volunteers.
- Lessen the number of events in your group schedule for the year:
Take a less is more approach for at least those events that need volunteer participation. Cut back the number of events and activities in your group's schedule for the year. Less number of events will leave you with highly energetic, enthusiastic volunteers. This means your group can organize quality events with happy and vibrant volunteers with the same results. Isn't it better?
Using this approach, you will see an increased volunteer participation and all the events being driven positively.
- Conduct volunteer friendly events:
Make an event or activity volunteer friendly by reducing the number of hours you spend to hold a successful event. One way to reduce hours is to shorten the duration of the event. If an event is a few days long, consider reducing the number of days or hours per day that you are open. Or you can simplify it by outsourcing some tasks such as tracking of cash/check pledges and online donations, or the management of the talent show, etc. You can also consider doing simple and efficient events instead of highly complicated events, such as you can increase the number of raffles and auctions in place of a golf tournament or a fun-run.
Take your time, evaluate the tips, and try not to over-burden yourself as well as your volunteers. Have a great year ahead!
"Strive for continuous improvement instead of perfection."
Who are we?
We are a Digital School Fundraising platform using which you can create a customized fundraising campaign for your PTO absolutely for free. You get a campaign page with a sub-domain of your choice and student fundraising pages with goal splitting capability. Parents can share the student pages on all social platforms, invite friends & family via emails. PTOs can track donations/pledges in real time. The tool can save valuable volunteer hours that can be invested elsewhere.
So, start your campaign today with PTSA Fundraiser.