Almost everything a PA/PTA does is accomplished through the work of parent volunteers. Recruiting and managing volunteers are therefore extremely important jobs in any PA/PTA. Some PA/PTAs create a specific board position with overall responsibility for volunteers; others distribute responsibility for managing volunteers among the individuals running various PA/PTA activities, events, and fundraising efforts. Regardless of who takes immediate responsibility, attracting volunteers, managing their time wisely, taking advantage of their skills and talents, and showing appreciation to encourage their continued involvement should be priorities of all board officers and the PA/PTA in general.
There are a number of ways to recruit volunteers, and PA/PTAs typically employ several. Keep in mind that parents are more likely to get involved if its clear that their help is needed and valued, regardless how much time they are able to give.
Volunteer Recruitment Events
Prior to Covid, some PA/PTAs held a “Volunteer Fair” at the beginning of the school year, where parents were invited to learn about the PA/PTA’s work at the school and opportunities to get involved. Often, parents could visit different stations where PA/PTA members who had been active in various PA/PTA efforts described and answered questions about their work. With some creativity, these events can also be held virtually. As with the in-person fairs, it is a good idea to ask parents to to sign up to help with PTA activities or events that interest them during the event itself.
Appeals for Specific Activities/Events
Over the course of the school year, PA/PTAs usually make specific appeals for volunteers as needed. Individuals chairing upcoming activities or events determine the number of volunteers they need, the type of work to be done, and the approximate amount of time required for specific tasks. They then communicate these needs to the parent body through notices home, emails, flyers, announcements at PA/PTA meetings and other school events, and word of mouth.
Informal efforts to recruit volunteers can be just as important as those formal efforts described above. Board members and anyone involved in PA/PTA work can have a powerful effect on parent involvement through their everyday communications with other parents — by talking to parents about all the things the PA/PTA does for the school and the children, the need for volunteers to make those things happen, and the many ways parents can help.
Once parents volunteer to help, their work needs to be managed well to ensure both that their efforts yield the maximum benefit to the school and that their experience is positive so they will want to volunteer again. PA/PTA board members and those individuals managing volunteers for specific activities and events should make every effort to be as organized as possible so volunteers feel that their time was well-spent, assign tasks that match volunteers with their skills and interests, and show appreciation for volunteers’ contributions.
Some aspects of managing volunteers have been made easier by free online tools (a few are listed below). These tools allow you to publicly display your volunteer needs, and easily sign-up and schedule volunteers.
Free online tools for signing up, organizing and scheduling volunteers: