10 Ways to Get More Volunteer Sign Ups

Many schools and PTA leaders hear the phrase, “We just can’t get enough volunteers.” Parents are over committed and over scheduled.  

Here at ParentSquare, we see a lot of wish lists and volunteer requests going out to parents. Here are some tips and strategies that teachers, PTA leaders and school administration have used to increase their sign ups.

1. Your post subject line should signal help is needed

Parents quickly glance at the subject of a post and if there is no indication that help is needed, parents can miss your sign up.  Below you can see examples of do's and dont's for subject line. Make it clear that there is a sign up.

Help Needed for Book Fair vs. Book Fair

Harvest Carnival Sign Ups vs. Harvest Carnival

Holiday Party - Bring a Dish to Share vs. Holiday Party

2. Never underestimate the value of planning ahead

Understand the needs and create a master list of jobs and assign the right number of volunteers for each one. This is critical to busy parents who want see that their time will be put to good use and that the volunteer opportunity is well organized. 

3. Shorter time slots get more sign ups

If you are getting sign ups for a Book Fair and you need people to help for 3 hours. Break the slots into 30 min time slots. Most parents are not able to commit to long time slots.

4. Provide volunteer opportunities outside of school hours

Working parents want to help too, but so often volunteer opportunities are during school hours. Provide creative and flexible volunteer opportunities that working parents can do when they have a chunk of time. For example: addressing envelopes, stuffing folders, counting tickets etc…

5. Keep your volunteer request fun and positive

We see a lot of posts requesting volunteers with guilt as the subtext. Parents don’t like being guilted into volunteering.

What not to post
“Since no one helped out last week, we really need you to sign up to sell popcorn this week.”

“We see the same parents in our class volunteering and we need some other parents to step up this week.”

What to post
"There are easy ways to help this week. Sign up for one that works for you”. 

“I would love some extra help from angelic souls who are willing to donate some time for the sign up below”

6. Provide childcare when possible

Childcare is an obstacle to parents volunteering.  If your biggest school fundraiser is an all day event, consider providing childcare so parents are freed up to help.

7. Provide clear direction and materials for volunteers

Volunteers want to know exactly what is expected of them. Give them clear instructions for their volunteer duty so they can feel successful.

Face Painting
Face Painting costs 2 tickets. You should spend 10-15 minutes on each design. Do small, easy subjects on their faces. Don’t get too complicated.

8. Talk to parents face to face and add them manually to a volunteer sign up

If you are coordinating a volunteer sign up, talk to parents in person to find out their volunteer preferences, what they have on their plate for the week, and what works best for them. It goes a long way if you are willing to work around their busy lives. Ask them if you can add them to a volunteer sign up for a certain task/time slot. Tell them they will get a reminder the day before their sign up.

9. Provide plenty of thanks and recognition to your volunteers

Recognizing and appreciating your volunteers is what keeps them willing to sign up for other volunteer sign ups in the future.  You can Message Volunteers after the event to let them know they were key to the success of event.  Consider providing a very small inexpensive appreciation gift to volunteers like hersey kisses or a hand written card.

10. Send an update to fill in any open volunteer spots

If you notice after a few days that there are still open volunteer spots in your sign up you can send an update on ParentSquare. Let your families know there are a few open spots that need to be filled.