Tell us about your school.
Decoy Community Primary School has over 400 pupils and is in Newton Abbot.
What were you doing before to organise PTA events?
I joined the school fairly recently myself, but from talking to other people that did it before, they had very few volunteers helping to run the Summer Fetes. We usually needed external caterers, but this meant they also took a fair bit of the profit. Summer fete volunteers used to be recruited via paper reply slips mainly. It took a lot of hard work and effort to get people involved, and the organisers generally gave up a lot of their personal time taking on a lot themselves.
What did you do this year?
We used PTAsocial to help us recruit people to help. We decided to do our own BBQ this year, with burritos and pulled pork. We asked volunteers to help for one hour each only, so we needed a lot of people to get involved – it was a mammoth job. The event ran from 4pm till 9pm, and we ended up with 49 helpers, which we were really pleased with. Many of them were new to me — I hadn’t met them before. We only signed up to PTAsocial two weeks before the summer fete – in hindsight, we probably should have signed up sooner so it was a bit manic but still had the desired effect.
Did you fundraise more than before?
We made £1300 more than the year before! This was mainly because the extra volunteers enabled us to do our own catering this time. Result!
Did PTAsocial help with the admin side?
Yes, it was so much easier than the previous year apparently. The previous PTA Chair was behind PTAsocial 100%. She had organised our PTA events for the last 10 years, and her hard work had always paid off, raising lots of money and holding successful events. But things have changed now, and people want to use their phone to get stuff done, reply to a quick email, or use social media like Facebook. This is the way people do things now, and PTAsocial helps our PTA connect to people in a way that suits them. This also took a load of pressure of our committee as the volunteers could sign themselves up to rota slots without us having to coordinate it for them.
What was the overall impact of using PTAsocial?
PTAsocial helped us to involve more parents that before, by making specific volunteering opportunities clearer and smaller, more manageable for the average parent. To have 49 people on board this year was amazing, so I’d say it’s had a great overall impact. In fact I can’t see how I could have done without it. People often lean on their personal network to recruit helpers. In my case, I actually didn’t know that many people since I had not been at the school that long. Publishing all the little jobs online meant more people had the chance to get involved without feeling daunted – it was really inclusive. Organising the summer fair helped me get to know people! Having an online profile also helps to figure out who’s who and put faces to names.
What was the reaction from parents in your school?
We had lots of good feedback about the Fete, and parents I have not spoken to before have approached me to say how much they enjoyed it and that they will help again. They told me they found PTAsocial easy to use. People can see exactly what they are signing up to, which is really important. They all want to enjoy the summer fete themselves, understandably. By volunteering for just an hour, and signing up to a clearly defined timeslot, they are still able to enjoy the fete. There was such a buzz at school after the event and people were already talking about going bigger and better next year – Decoyfest!!!!
What is the number one benefit of PTAsocial for you?
It’s the ease of not having to run around and chase people you don’t know – and no more handling bits of paper, or writing all the details out. We can’t imagine not having it now!
Lisa Vallance, Chair of Decoy PTA