Get More Volunteers Without Begging: Lesson 5.1 - Ask more parents directly

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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 5.1 video transcript

Everything you do to create a strong volunteer mindset and make it easier for parents to volunteer, like the steps covered in Lessons 1-4, make it more likely a parent will say YES when you ask them to do specific job.

That’s because you’re creating a positive environment. Where parents know their help is needed and appreciated and the work is manageable and rewarding. That’s an environment where you’ll hear more YESes.

How to persuade more parents to take PTO leadership positions

This section, on Positive Persuasion, will show you how to ask and what to say to get more YESes -- even when the environment is not perfect. Because let’s face it. There will always be room for improvement, and we can still do a lot of good for the kids.  

One of the biggest challenges school parent groups face is persuading parents to take leadership roles, especially on the Board, but on other committees as well. Without steady leadership, it’s much harder for groups to achieve their goals or even stay “in business.”

The good news is that simply by asking more people directly, in addition to broadcasting requests, you’ll persuade more people to take leadership roles. Even if you don’t love asking people for things directly, especially things as valuable as their time, we’ll look at ways to make it easier for you and well worth your time and energy.

Leadership roles should be open to everyone. And you should advertise them on your Web site and through broadcast emails and other announcements. But even the most amazing flyer will not be enough to fill most leadership roles.

Too fill most leadership roles, you have to ask parents directly. 

The goal isn’t to pressure people or “put them on the spot.” That can backfire. Asking directly makes it easier to persuade a good candidate to say yes to a good opportunity.

Personal contact works for a number of reasons.

  • It’s the only way to reach many parents. Parents are bombarded with requests for help. In every part of their life. You know this because you’re a busy parent too!

There’s no way parents can help everywhere. So many deal with the constant requests by tuning out general, “We need help!”, messages broadcast to everyone. They’re still willing to do their part. But you probably won’t get their attention, or persuade them to make your request a priority, unless you contact them directly.

  • It’s a nice vote of confidence. Asking someone to consider a leadership position because you know they would do a good job is a nice compliment, even for veteran volunteers. And a personal invitation to a newer volunteer is often just the vote of confidence they need to accept more responsibility.

  • It’s easier to make strong connections through personal contacts – Makes sense, right? Talking directly to someone makes it easier to show appreciation for their talents and the work they’ve already done and share your own enthusiasm for the group. It makes it easier to really listen to their ideas and questions and respond.

Talking in person is the best way to create strong connections, but it’s not always possible and many people prefer phone or email. Fortunately, phone and email contacts can be very effective also.

recruiting school parent volunteers in person

You have a number of effective options for recruiting leaders through personal contacts, including group events and meetings

  • A volunteer appreciation event is the perfect setting for showing how the school community values volunteers and encourage parents to consider new responsibilities.

  • Meetings with the Principal are valuable because developing a stronger relationship with the Principal and other educators and getting the “inside scoop” are some of the most appealing benefits of leadership for many parents.

    Social meetings, like coffees where the Principal, the Board, and other leaders mix and mingle with current and prospective leaders, work well. So do “backstage pass” gatherings where you invite one or more prospects to sit in on a Board meeting and share their questions, concerns, and ideas.

  • Even when your Principal cannot attend recruiting events and meetings, in-person meetings are still one of the most effective ways to recruit candidates. Keeping it casual, by meeting over coffee, lunch, or drinks, or taking a nice “walk and talk” around the neighborhood or school track works well.

recruiting school parent volunteers by Phone, text, email

It’s easier to “read” people in person, but phone conversations also work well. Especially if you and your prospects are comfortable with one of the growing number of video calling options available. It’s also easier to get someone on the phone than it is to schedule time in-person.

In general, personal email messages are less effective than in-person and phone contacts for filling most leadership positions, because you’re not communicating in real time and it’s easier to misinterpret what someone says in text only.

But personal emails are still far more effective than broadcast emails and announcements for filling leadership positions. Also, some prospects will actually respond BETTER to personal email than in-person contact because that’s how they prefer to communicate. Their schedule might not have any flexibility, they may be more introverted, etc.

Texting works best when you’re asking someone you know pretty well to do something and you can keep things short and sweet. It doesn’t lend itself to the more in-depth back and forth that is usually needed for higher level leadership positions. Still, it’s much more personal than a broadcast message and EMOJIS! If you rely heavily on texting and your candidates are good with it too, then by all means, use it to recruit leaders.

If you’re wondering what to say to parents to get them to say YES when you meet with them or get them on the phone, or whatever, we’ll dive into that in Lesson 5.3. Before we do, however, let’s make sure you have a good list of candidates to talk to. Lesson 5.2 will cover creative ways to brainstorm candidates.

To help you persuade more parents to lead, check out the 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 5.1 - Ask more parents directly  from  Get More Volunteers Without Begging.  Free video training for PTO leaders created by Jen B. Cosgrove,