Fundraising for Small Groups Newsletter

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December 16, 2018

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Recruiting Volunteers for School Events

by Jennifer Lawton

Schools need enthusiastic volunteers for many different types of events. Having dedicated volunteers can make the difference between an event succeeding and raising funds, and an event that simply falls flat. Here’s some ideas that will help you find volunteers for your school's next event.

  • Recognize the challenge

    Many parents are genuinely crunched for time, it is not that they don't want to help or don't truly care about their school. According to the Association of Fund Raising Distributors and Suppliers; PTA membership has been at approximately 6 million for the last five years. In the 1950's, PTA membership soared to 11 million. But in today's busy world many parents just find it hard to spend enough time with their children let alone to volunteer at their school. How can you work around this? Offering shorter volunteer shifts and discovering volunteer projects that can be tackled from home in weekend and evening hours can be a great way to get parents to step up to the plate. Make projects seem accomplishable and tell them point-blank how much time is involved in a task.

  • Recruit early

    Finding parents to volunteer at your event early will help make your event run smoother because volunteer projects will be accomplished quicker and things overall will be more organized. Encourage people to get things done ahead of time wherever possible. Decorations can be bought weeks or even months in advance, research can be done about pricing for items such as renting equipment for an event. Getting volunteers early can often mean that more volunteers will jump on the bandwagon because the project seems more manageable.

  • Get personal

    Don't just post a flyer asking for volunteers and wait for people to sign up. Ask people to volunteer and hold out a sign up sheet. Make telephone calls to parents and ask them to get involved in some way. Point out jobs they would be good at doing. Compliment their leadership skills and offer them a bigger role than what they originally signed up for. When you interact with your volunteers personally you develop the relationship with them. Relationships mean everything when it comes to volunteering.

  • Make connections

    New volunteers may feel a bit overwhelmed with their project and it is helpful if they have someone else to turn to. Assign a more experienced volunteer to check in on them every once in awhile to see how they are doing. This also helps them develop a stronger relationship with the school as they make new friends with other parents.

  • Motivate!

    Keep your volunteers motivated by using a simple tool: positive feedback. Coaches know about the power of positive feedback and they use this tool with their teams regularly. Use this tool and tell your volunteers what a wonderful job they are doing and how much you appreciate them. Tell them what they do as an individual helps make the group project successful. Tell them also about the progress of the group project and how much closer you are to reaching your goal because of all of their hard work. Telling someone "what a great job" could make all the difference.

  • Say “Thank You”

    You don't have to spend a lot of money to say thank you to your volunteers, a handwritten note or a personal telephone call from the director of the project or the Principal could be the most valuable gift you could give them. A fun idea is to take a photograph of everyone in front of the project you have accomplished and put this in frame for everyone as a meaningful thank you gift. If you do something that involves everyone's names, be sure to double-check spelling everyone's names and also mention everyone that was involved with the project - and to say "thank you" again and again!

    Your school project is sure to be a success with the help of your volunteers. Like the saying "it takes a village to raise a child", it truly takes a group of caring, dedicated parents to manage a successful school project for your children.


About the Author:

Jennifer Lawton writes about topics of interest to K-12 teachers, parents and students. She’s a frequent contributor for a site that will match your PTO, elementary school group, sports team or other group with the best school fundraisers.

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