Last week we helped you to set some goals for your PTA. It’s a pretty safe bet that one of them is increasing volunteer hours. So have you figured out how they break down? How many hours do you and your committee spend on PTA business? How much extra help do you get from other parents? Odds are that just a handful of you are doing the lion’s share.
More people helping vs. same people helping more
We’ve often blogged about the benefits of getting more people involved. Y’see, we agree it’s a wonderful start if you’ve got 5 people who are super-keen, and willing to commit lots of time. But you and I know that those folks are about as rare as a nit-free year at school…
By involving more people, it’s obvious you can dramatically increase your total volunteer hours. But the wider impact is on your school’s sense of community. You’ll help parents get to know each other, discover broader skill sets to tap into, inspire a sense of shared responsibility, and promote pride in your school!
Also, you guys work so hard fundraising that you inevitably sacrifice quality time with your family, and also struggle to pass on the baton next year when people see just how much you had to commit. If more people helped, it would be less daunting to inherit, so handover would be easier too.
So… we figured you could do with some help getting your main points across to parents, and especially target those who have never really helped out before. We’ve put together some campaign ideas to help you to grow your numbers. Let’s get to it.
What stops new people from getting involved?
We spoke to lots of school parents, especially those who were less inclined to volunteer, and asked them why they don’t help. Their point of view was that …
- They feel disconnected from the PTA, or that it is too much of a “cosy” group
- they don’t feel they have relevant skills to contribute
- they don’t know what specific help is needed, without having to ask
- the effort to actually find out and then volunteer is more than they feel they can manage
- they are worried about having to do more than they want to
- they are worried about setting a precedent, and becoming part of the small minority who end up doing everything
You might feel a bit miffed at the “cosy” bit – especially if you have made a huge effort to keep the door firmly open. However, it’s a perception that’s darned hard to shake off. The main trouble PTAs seem to have is communication. Your PTA might already be really good at it, but if you’re open to a few tips on getting your messaging right, read on.
So let’s just cut to the chase. What it boils down to is that school parents need to know:
- what your PTA does
- what it’s got to do with them
- why it matters
- what impact their help has
- what specific stuff needs to be done for a particular event
- how exactly to do it
Tailor your PTA messages to get more parents involved
You probably already explain what your PTA does and why on your school PTA web page (points 1-4). If the page has been there a while, it’s worth revisiting to see if it still reflects your current aims. To leverage any social media channels you already use, repeat this information there in the About section.
Then make sure you drive the messages home by breaking them up into pieces and putting out short, simple statements one at a time, throughout the school year. Announcing or “posterizing” (is that a word?!) specific news about fundraising goals met works well. Of course sharing real-life photos (e-safety rules permitting…) of successful events gives that warm, fuzzy feeling too.
You can post your messages on Facebook, tweet them, pin them and email them out to parents or put up as posters around the school. The main idea is to get the message across loud and clear that you want every parent to be part of this.
Using the #MakeAPledge and/or #PTApledge hashtag makes it easier for parents to echo and strengthen your social media campaign, and enables you to connect with a bigger movement of PTAs and parents everywhere making a difference.
What exactly can they then do to help?
So now they have a better understanding of what you’re about, and that you really asking them to help, not just other people. Next, how do you address points 5 & 6, so that they actually take action?
Well, this involves planning your volunteering tasks so it can easily be shared out by a lot of people, without your committee being the bottleneck in all this. We’ll be covering that in more detail next week… so make sure you subscribe to our blog if you haven’t already!
Posters for you to use:
Here are some example poster ideas we’ve come up with for you. You can either make your own similar posters or just use these if they are helpful. You’ll find these and lots more over on our posters page, where we’ll be adding even more over time.
To support our theme this month, we’ll be using the following hashtags on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest to involve our 100k+ social media following of active PTA volunteers:
#PTAgoal: proclaim your goals to the world in 140 characters or less and hashtag it for good measure to inspire other PTAs and volunteers!
#PTApledge: get your volunteers to pledge to do even one thing this year to support the PTA and ask them to commit to it publicly with this hashtag for us all to retweet, repin or share.
#PTAsocial: have you opened up your volunteering opportunities to get a load more parents involved, and get a little help from a lot of people now? That’s what we call making your PTA social! Use this hashtag if your PTA takes this approach.
So folks — tweet, post and pin away, and see what others are saying too. We’re all in this thing together!