Get More Volunteers without begging: Lesson 1.2 - Essential leadership principles

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About this FREE class

All class topics - For a complete list of lessons in this class, click here.

Each lesson in the Get More Volunteers Without Begging training class is a short, animated video that explains steps in a clear, entertaining way. If you haven’t downloaded the class guide that goes with it, you can now.

  • Done-for-you notes - The downloadable PDF Class Guide includes a detailed summary of each lesson, so you can just relax and absorb the video.

  • Ready-to-use recruiting tools - Get access to one-of-a-kind volunteer recruiting videos and time-saving marketing templates and resources so you can start getting more parent volunteers right away.

Lesson 1.2 video transcript

If a small number of volunteers is doing practically all the work for your group, that’s not fair. It’s not good for the overloaded volunteers, or for your group or the school community you’re dedicated to helping.

You can change the situation by using these four key principles to guide your group’s decision making and shape your policies and processes. 

1. PTO work should be shared fairly

Everyone benefits from PTO programs, so everyone is responsible for making them happen. That includes Moms AND Dads. “Stay at home” parents AND those who “work outside the home.” Busy people AND busy people. Because, newsflash, everyone’s busy with important priorities, like taking care of young and aging family members, our health, our homes, paid work and every unpaid job under the sun.

Nobody has the right to expect others to do what they can’t or won’t do themselves -- no matter how understandable the reasons that they don’t might be. And a small group of volunteers should not expect themselves to carry the whole load either.

The main point here is that the PTO work that benefits all families should be a BIG group effort. And I’ll show you how to make this a reality.

2. EVERYONE should be welcome to volunteer and ALL help should be truly appreciated.

I think it’s fair to say that most school groups try very hard to do this. To roll out the welcome mat, hang up the Help Wanted sign, and welcome any help they can get throughout the year. They just need more parents to accept their invitation!

I’ll show you how to make your invitation as welcome as possible and persuade more parents to accept it.

3. PTO activities should be subject to volunteer support.

Sometimes I hear leaders say this in very blunt terms: No volunteers? No activities!

Which I get. It’s good to be clear and direct. There are also positive ways to say this that will help you motivate more parents.

For example:

Together, we do a lot of good for the kids and the school.

How much good we can do this year will depend on how much help we get.

Sounds reasonable. Right?

Words alone will not make parents volunteer in droves, of course. But making it clear that PTO activities will depend on volunteer support lays a strong foundation for all of your recruiting efforts during the year.  It also makes it easier to introduce volunteer sign-up deadlines, which are a powerful recruiting and planning tool.

I’ll show you how to send a clear, positive message about volunteering to families and how to use sign-up deadlines to motivate parents and make planning less stressful.

4. School parent groups should be run in a volunteer friendly way.

We’ve all heard about making things kid friendly, family friendly, or user friendly. So, what do I mean by volunteer friendly? Running your group in a “volunteer friendly” way means achieving PTO goals without overloading volunteers. Making your group more “volunteer friendly” involves making volunteer responsibilities, including leadership roles, more manageable, so they can be balanced with other important priorities.

This is a really important principle. Leaders joke sometimes about trying to find other parents who are “crazy” enough to serve on the Board. We joke about people practically -- or literally -- running away from us because they know we need volunteers.

And it doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to make volunteer roles, including leadership roles, more manageable. So parents see that volunteering can be balanced with other priorities and not take over their lives. That it’s rewarding, not something they should run from.

I’ll show you how in this class.

Using these key principles to guide your decision making and shape policies and processes, will help you create a strong volunteer mindset at your school. Where the work is shared fairly and achieving all your group’s goals is easier and less stressful.

I’ve created a mini poster to help you keep these leadership principles in mind during the school year. There’s a link to it, plus helpful lesson notes in the Class Guide.

Do you have questions or comments about this class? I would love to hear from you -- and help! Please email me using the Contact link below or in the Guide.

See you in the next lesson!

Lesson 1.2 - Four essential leadership principles  from  Get More Volunteers Without Begging.  Free video training for PTO leaders created by Jen B. Cosgrove,