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Volunteers are essential in keeping a PTA organized and running well. FutureFund supports PTA volunteers through a number of ways, from keeping the team organized (via our integrated parent/volunteer directories) to facilitating easy communication amongst volunteers and committee members.
This article is meant to help your PTA/PTO attract new volunteers. Feel free to use these ideas to help grow your volunteer team!
Recruit All Year Long
While back to school time is usually the most popular time to recruit new hands for your community projects, keep in mind that every fundraising event is an opportunity to expand your volunteer list.
Keep a clipboard handy at your events for parents that have the time and desire to help to sign up with their availability and their interests. You never know when your next group of volunteers will be ready to sign on the dotted line.
Understand Volunteer Limits
Once you can appreciate that not all parents have the time to commit to organizing school programs, it should take some of the pressure off of finding the perfect group of volunteers for every single event that you throw.
As long as their heart is in the right place and they’re putting forth the time to volunteer, they should be an asset to any event that they’re assigned to.
Follow Up with Everyone
Anyone who signs up to volunteer for events deserves a call back or a quick chat for the generosity of their time.
Even if it’s just a quick interview to confirm their availability and their comfort levels with different aspects of the event process, it’s important that they understand that you see them and you appreciate their willingness to help.
Flexibility is a Must
Try to give a job to anyone who is available, even if their availability is only once every other week to once a month. If one of your volunteers has young kids and they’re having trouble finding a babysitter, try to give them a job where they can bring their kids with them. Your volunteers will notice you going the extra mile to accommodate them which will inspire them to sign up again and again.
Maximize Volunteer Potential
Try to pair volunteers to activities within their wheelhouse if at all possible. For example:
- Did any artists offer to help out at an event? Add a face painting station or art class booth to your next fundraiser!
- Know any engineers or physicists? See if they would be willing to host a paper airplane building class and subsequent paper airplane contest for the kids in the community!
Trying to match your volunteers with their comfort levels will not only let them know that you value their contribution, but it will allow them to feel like their time volunteering for your event was their time well spent, which is a win for everyone involved.
Expand Your Circle
Don’t just depend on school parents for your volunteer pool. Consider the community members and their strengths when looking for volunteers for your events! Include high schoolers, college kids, and various other professionals while looking for hands to fill the event gaps.
Also, keep in mind that events and event prep aren’t the only places where volunteers are needed: the school itself might need some extra hands during the school day or any event that they’re putting on separate from the PTO/PTA.
Sweeten the Deal
Don’t be afraid to throw in a few freebies or emphasize the benefits to your volunteers for their time.
- Trying to appeal to some high schoolers? Remind them that volunteer hours and giving back to their community will look GREAT on their college applications.
- Were you able to swing some free movie passes or other donations from some local shops? Offer them to your volunteers in exchange for their time during an event or the event prep.
You’ll not only show your volunteers your appreciation, you’ll give them something tangible to take home after they’re done helping with your event.
The number one rule of any event or gathering is for everyone to have fun! Your volunteers are signing up because they want to contribute to the school and give back to the community. They’re more likely to sign up again if everyone is having a silly, goofy time while enriching and providing entertainment to better the community.
No Gatekeeping Allowed
We’ve all been the newbies in a given situation and feeling confused and out of the loop isn’t fun. Make sure all of your volunteers are on the same page for their tasks.
Also, if anyone seems lost, feel free to give them whatever tips and tricks that you found useful at that stage in the volunteer process. We want to make sure that everyone feels included, comfortable, and confident with their job and knows that they’re a valuable part of the volunteer team.
Hilight Time Commitments
You may find it useful to have the jobs broken down by the time commitment on your volunteer sign up sheet. This way, the parent is aware of what they’re signing up for and they can pace their volunteer and non-volunteer time in a way that’s comfortable for them.
Patience is Key
Be aware that it will sometimes take several conversations before a potential volunteer is ready to report for duty. Please note that this is perfectly ok. Just be mindful of when someone crosses from thinking about it to uninterested.
Volunteer from Anywhere
Provide as many volunteer options as possible from as many locations as you can. Let parents know that simple tasks like cutting out paper shapes or updating and monitoring a voting website for a virtual event is the perfect job for someone who wants to volunteer but is stuck at home.
Brag a Little
Don’t be afraid to brag about the club or your events to parents face to face. If other parents see how proud and enthusiastic you are about your events, they’re more willing to get involved and join in on the fun.
Save the Guilt Trip
It can be disheartening to put a lot of time and energy into an event only to have a fraction of the committed volunteers show up to help execute it. Try not to pile on the guilt to those that showed up to help. Starting an event on a low note can be contagious to anyone who encounters the vibes and can take an event from stellar to awful.
Try Not to Micromanage
Don’t micromanage your volunteers. There are plenty of ways to do the same thing and letting them conduct their activity in a way that’s comfortable to them will be more fun and less stressful to your volunteers and to you. This, in turn, will encourage them and build their confidence in their own abilities and make them more likely to volunteer in the future.
Make sure to remind your volunteers about how thankful you are for their help and remind them that the event would have been possible without them. Because let’s face it: no matter how good of a planner you are, there’s no way for you to be everywhere and doing everything at once.