Get Volunteer Involvement Avoid the Mid-Year Decline

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Focusing on acknowledgement as well as communication can easily help motivate your parent teacher group’s volunteer recruitment efforts.

It is typical for parent teacher group leaders to begin the new school year using a calendar crammed with activities and volunteers. However after December, volunteer involvement starts to diminish, additionally by the beginning of the second semester, the same main group of people are arranging pretty much everything. Thankfully, we can avoid the thinning of the volunteer involvement by connecting with volunteers, acknowledging their hard work, and constantly finding new volunteers to recruit.

By doing a little extra work in the beginning, by treating volunteers well when they first sign up, you have an opportunity to keep the volunteers for the entire year as well as the remaining years they are at your school. Most of the time, after they signup no one immediately contacts them. So they figure they have enough volunteers in the PTO. Make sure you are thanking volunteers/parents for offering to help – especially when the volunteer slots are full. Ask them if they would like to be on stand by if there is an opening on the committee. Once they initially volunteer – even if it’s for an event at the end of the year and they signed up in the Fall – reach out to them immediately and follow up throughout the year. Another good idea is to create quarterly or seasonal signups. Often the volunteers forget they have signed up and make other commitments and you will find yourself scrambling to get a replacement.

An additional essential factor to trying to keep volunteers is to express to them exactly what they mean to you. Although many volunteers will say they don’t volunteer for the acknowledgment, no one gets offended by a “Thank You”. Arrange a middle of the year event just for your volunteers, for example a lunch, tea, brunch… just to show your appreciation. In some cases, the volunteers help out in the classroom so the teachers host the event for their classroom volunteers. The teachers prepare the food, coffee, doughnuts, cider etc. At the end of the year print out certificates of appreciation for the parents. If your school holds Honor Award Assemblies for the students each quarter or semester, hand out awards to your top volunteers – or Volunteer of the Month. You can also announce your Volunteer of the Month in your monthly newsletters or on the school/parent teacher organization group website or social media page.

After you establish a main group of volunteers, encourage them to talk to others about volunteering and ask them to bring a new parent to an upcoming open meeting or gathering. You can hold a recruiting competition, friendly of course. The winner can get a gift certificate, special parking spot, or a name badge with his/her honor list.

On a regular basis share what your group has achieved and give thanks for doing his or her role in those successes. Reach out to recognize them, you couldn’t have accomplished it without their support. Publicize the PTO’s accomplishments in the school newsletter, the local newspaper, and through announcements at events.

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