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.
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.
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.
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.