Tips For Getting Parent Volunteers

You CAN Get The Volunteers You Need

Kidstock/Blend Images

It is a problem faced by almost any group that does not try to make a financial profit - how do you get volunteers?  When your pool of potential volunteers is mostly super busy parents, it can seem like a monumental task to get the volunteer help needed to organize any event or fundraiser.  Following these tips can help take you from feeling all alone and overwhelmed to being a member of a functional team.

Start Recruiting Early

Gillian Blease/Ikon Images

 Put the word out early and often about your event. People plan vacations and  fill up their schedules sometimes months in advance.  Try to have your event on the school calendars at the beginning of the school year.  Letting people know early, even before it is time to assign specific tasks, will help people to mentally set aside some time to help out.  

Tell People Why It Matters

Altrendo Images/Altrendo

Make sure that people understand why and how the activity they are working on will benefit the school, the community and the children.  Be specific about this!  For example, volunteering at a school carnival means that children will have a fun, safe place to go while raising money for a school activity or equipment.  

Find Out What Is In It For Them

Tarik Kizilkaya/ Vetta

It is easy for people to want to volunteer if they know how it will make a difference for them.  Tell the exactly who will benefit from this project, how the project works, and even why it matters.  Be specific.  Instead of saying "help us raise money for a playground", you can say "Your time at the bake sale booth will help us raise money to purchase new equipment to replace the old, broken equipment on the school playground, giving our children a fun and safe place to play enjoy recess and get necessary physical exercise."

Work With What They Offer You

Tom Merton/ CaiaImage

You think you have everything organized.  You even wrote out a list of exactly what you would need each potential volunteer to do, and when.  You will probably find that people will be able to do only part of one of your tasks. For example, maybe they can't be there on the big day, but they can design flyers and get them to other team members who can post them.  Take what people are willing to give while continuing to let people what you still need.

Have A Clear, Central Method Of Communicating

Klaus Vedfelt/Digital Vision

 It takes a lot of people to make an organization or event run smoothly.  Make sure that there is a place that everyone can access regularly to see who is doing what, and when.  One middle school used a group access Google doc to organize their annual Spring Garden Bazaar.  Other groups have sued private Facebook pages.  Old fashioned newsletters and regular email updates are still effective.  Just be sure to find the best communication method for all of the people in your volunteer group.

Provide Good Support

jessica Peterson/Tetra Images

 You remember how it feels when you start a new job and you have a million questions?  Your new volunteers feel like this at times.  If your volunteers know where to go for help or to ask questions, they will be able to succeed in their task, which means they are likely to actually do it  Don't rely on websites or instruction manuals alone.  Even if they describe a process, make sure to provide your volunteers with information on who to contact if they have any questions.

Go For Diversity

Justin Lewis/ Stone

The stereotype of an involved parent is a stay at home soccer mom.  While women who choose to stay at home may have more time to give to your volunteer effort, don't limit yourself.  The National PTA has discovered that by taking steps to encourage fathers to get more involved entire organizations benefit.  According their website, men have tendency toward being action oriented which helps to get work done quickly, and keep planning meetings on track.  

Parents from other ethnicity and cultural backgrounds can bring new ways of doing things to your organization, keeping it alive and vibrant. 

Most important, the example set that all kinds of parents support the school and its activities shows children that their education and success are important.

Continue Reading