Finding volunteers is a critical part of a PTA leader's job. Not only do we need volunteers to support PTA activities and events, but teachers and school staff also need volunteers... AND you want to keep those volunteers engaged and coming back.
Create a warm welcoming environment. Say "Hi" and introduce yourself to families that you don't know, it will help families feel like it's OK to "get involved". Consider wearing name tags at your PTA events and meetings (at least at the start of the year).
Let volunteers know they are needed and their ideas are valued. If someone volunteers, make sure you acknowledge their interest -- and when they show up -- take time to welcome them, introduce them to others, and orient them with the task. Also ensure they have a specific job to do. There is nothing more frustrating for parents than taking time to volunteer, and then having nothing to do when they show up.
Be prepared to overcome obstacles. Some parents may want to help, but don't know how to get involved, have transportation problems, childcare concerns, a language or culture barrier, or have family or economic challenges. The National PTA offers tips to overcome roadblocks. You may also like to talk to your Parent Liaison Officer to get a sense of the challenges families in your school face and review our Diversity & Inclusion page.
Thank them! Consider hand written notes, a wall of thanks with volunteer pictures, recognition in your newsletter, verbal recognition at your events, or host special volunteer appreciation events.
Organizing Your Volunteers
Many PTAs now use integrated management tools that allow families to "Sign Up" for volunteer events in their PTA's management software or website, which makes it easy to organize and communicate with your volunteers. (If you haven't considered an integrated solution, visit our management tools page for ideas).
It's a good idea to start the school year with a "Volunteer Campaign."
Talk to your principal about sending home a paper Volunteer Flyer in the Back To School package
Have your management tool ready with ALL volunteer opportunities for the year (both for the school and the PTA)
Set-Up a table at Back to School Night and Open House
Consider starting a special program for father figures (like Watch D.O.G.S. from the National Center on Fathering)
Consider including a goal, like volunteering for 3-5 hours over the course of the school year.
Ensure your Volunteer Flyer gives parents some options for how they can help;
Volunteer for a specific event (list them with a checkbox)
Volunteer for a specific task they can do at home
Volunteer in the classroom, or be a room parent
Volunteer in the front office to make copies
Volunteer in the library to shelve books
Interested, but would like to more information
Volunteer expertise in a specific areas (e.g. STEM night, Reading Night, Fitness Night, etc.)
Remember: When you get your Volunteer Flyers back, add them into your volunteer management software or create a spreadsheet so you can easily contact them. And always send an acknowledgement to thank the person for volunteering!