Let’s face it, PTA officers have a tough job. Not only is their involvement completely voluntarily (i.e. unpaid), it often requires countless hours and the wearing of many hats throughout the course of a school year. These PTA officers are angels on campus when it comes to fundraising for their schools, too. Based on the student age group, they may be asked to put together a major event such as a carnival, casino night, or school dance that requires the knowledge of vendors, negotiating pricing, gathering manpower to run or chaperone the event (which, once again, will require the assistance of unpaid volunteers)… it’s no wonder that PTA membership and parent involvement can sometimes be scarce.
However, even though PTA roles can be time-consuming, they can also be a lot of fun. Taking on a role is also a great way for parents to participate in their child’s school. But it takes a village, as they say, so in light of that, Apex Leadership Co. offers tips to help PTAs increase membership and parent involvement.
Start with a Great Leader — When trying to attract new PTA members and volunteers for events, it helps to have a great team of PTA leaders who are naturally good at gathering people together. Some people just have a knack for “recruitment,” and those people are the ones that should be in charge of bringing in new PTA participants! When seeking out PTA leaders, school administration and staff should look for those parents that are already on campus a lot or that are always the ones chatting up a group of other parents after drop off. A little charisma goes a long way!
Welcome New Families — Families that are new on campus are often looking for a way to connect and get involved. Whether that’s new kindergarten students and their parents coming into the school for the first time or new families that have relocated to the area, PTA officers can help them feel like part of the school community by inviting them to join the PTA. This not only helps families feel welcome, it gives parents a chance to make friends in their new community and an opportunity to get involved in their child’s new school.
Bottom line: Today’s parents are short on time and they need to prioritize what little free time they do have.
Make it Fun… and Easy — So becoming part of the PTA or serving as a volunteer really needs to capture their interest as something they want to do, not have to do or feel obligated to do. PTA members should consider this in every aspect of the organization from what time they hold their meetings (for example, many working parents can’t make a PTA meeting scheduled in the afternoon right after school gets out) and where (or in person or via virtual format), to how often meetings are held, and even how long each meeting lasts (efficiency is key!). All of these things are going to be considered when a parent is thinking about becoming a member or volunteer.
Create a True Community — It’s also important to be open to all ideas and suggestions in order to create a solid unit that is working together for the good of the school. Ultimately, the PTA organizations’ decisions should be the result of the collective opinion of all involved. Those schools’ PTAs that have been run the same way with the same leadership for a while could actually intimidate new members if they don’t feel they have a “say” or are really being listened to when they offer new ideas. It’s important as a PTA, especially when looking to expand and bring in more members and volunteers, to serve as a true community, to welcome in new ideas, and to allow each member to feel like they have a purpose or a role within the organization.
Share the Wealth — The PTA has a lot to do! There are many tasks to manage. Without enough help, the job can certainly become overwhelming to just a few key players. That’s why it’s important to gather as many “recruits” as possible and give each member a role that suits their skills, talents, and interests. This ensures they not only enjoy their participation, but that they feel they have something valuable to contribute. It’s also vital not to bog down any one person with too much of the workload. Spreading the tasks equally will make it much easier and much more fun for everyone involved.
Pass on the Hassle — Planning and executing a fundraiser that will reach or surpass the school’s goals is no easy feat for any PTA organization. But that’s what Apex Leadership Co. is here for! Whether a PTA has a lot of members and/or volunteers (or not!), Apex’s easy fundraising formats are designed to take the hassle off the schools, PTA and parents. Consider teaming up with Apex when it comes to putting on a fundraiser to maximize the school’s opportunity for earnings while also making it fun for the students and easy for the parents.
Everyone likes to feel as though their participation matters, and in a PTA organization every single person makes a difference.
Show Appreciation — Volunteers and members work hard and commit a lot of time (and sometimes even their own funds to help out), so it’s important after a big event or at the end of the year to thank everyone involved for their dedication. Whether it’s a small token of appreciation (a gift card to a coffee shop always brings a smile), an appreciation breakfast or happy hour, or even a little ceremony, those that have given their time will likely consider giving again if they feel appreciated.
There are many things to consider when building PTA membership and volunteer participation. Apex Leadership Co. encourages PTA leaders to think about their strategy for recruitment early on in the year (but it’s never too late!) and not be afraid to shake things up when it comes to how the PTA is run. It’s really about how the organization can best benefit the school as a whole, and there are multitude of ways that can be done! So get creative and have fun with it!