Get More Volunteers Without Begging: Lesson 4.2 - Make other leader and helper roles manageable

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Lesson 4.2 video transcript

In lesson 4.1, we looked at how to make Board positions more manageable. In lesson 4.2, we’ll look at making all volunteer opportunities, including other leadership roles and helper roles, manageable for more parents.

Making it easier for more parents to volunteer with your PTO

All parents are busy and all parents care about helping their kids succeed. Whether a parent can and will use some of their valuable time to help their kids through PTO work depends a lot on whether that work can fit in their schedule.

  • Some parents can help at school or outside of school.

  • Some parents can only help outside of school.

  • Some parents will help a little.

  • Some will help more.

  • And some will help even more.

Some won’t give time to the PTO (although they may still donate money) for a number of understandable reasons. PTO work is important, but it’s not the only important priority any of us are juggling.

As long as parents don’t expect others to do for them what they can’t or choose not to do, we should respect their choices. We all have to say “No” at times, after all. And we shouldn’t make each other feel bad about that.

Your group doesn’t need 100% of parents to volunteer to be successful and share PTO work fairly. You need more volunteers than you have now, especially if a small group has been doing everything.

And tailoring a list of jobs to fit volunteer availability is the way to do that. Because one size does not fit all. Right? So let’s look at the steps you can take.

In school parent groups, volunteer roles fall into two main categories: leading and helping.

  • Leadership roles involve planning, project management, and carrying out plans, including possibly coordinating the work of other volunteers. Common leadership roles include elected officers, committee chairs, subcommittee chairs, and coordinators.

    They could be responsible for one-time projects (like planning a family math night, or organizing concessions for a dance) or for ongoing jobs (like serving as Social Committee Chair, Box Tops Coordinator, or Room Parent). Leaders help recruit and coordinate helpers.

  • Helper roles involve doing tasks, like making copies, or selling tickets, or helping kids at lunch, that have been defined by someone else. Of course, plenty of parents take on both leadership and helper roles during the year.

The main point is that you can make leader and helper roles manageable and accessible to more parents by dividing them into smaller parts.

Parts that can be done at school, outside of school, or either.

There are a number of ways you can divide up work, including task, date, timeslot, location, group involved, or some combination.

Sometimes slicing a job by task or date will be enough. Or you might need to slice and dice and experiment to create the right mix of jobs to match volunteer availability.

For example, take a job that repeats every day, like lunch/recess volunteer. You could ask parents to sign up for one or more daily shifts and specify how many volunteers you need per day. Or, if you find that you need more volunteers to handle the younger grades, or if many parents are not able to commit to the full lunch time, you could split up shifts further.

The bigger the volunteer job, the more you will have to break it up to get the work done without overloading anyone.

Defining tasks that can be done outside of school makes it easier for more parents to volunteer.

Events often require the highest number of volunteer hours to plan and carry out. Parents also want to enjoy at least part of the event with their children. So, it pays to slice and dice the work up in creative ways, including shifts.

Offering small volunteer roles (even ones as small as bringing cups to an event), benefits your group. It shows parents that helping the kids takes a big group effort. It says that all help is welcome and even small contributions add up to big things.

Getting parents involved, even through small steps, is so important.

New parent volunteers will feel good. They’ll do more. They’re your future leaders.

To help you connect with more of these future leaders, I’ve created a quick reference guide of common volunteer tasks. Some volunteer tasks, like lunch/recess duty, must be done at school. But many others, can be done outside of school. And the more tasks like that you can offer, the more parents there’ll be who can fit them in their schedules.

For that quick reference guide and other time-saving notes, check out 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 4.2 - Make other leader and helper roles manageable  from  Get More Volunteers Without Begging.  Free video training for PTO leaders created by Jen B. Cosgrove,