Get More Volunteers Without Begging: Lesson 5.2 - Brainstorming leadership candidates

FYI - The free resources I provide are made possible by the volunteer appreciation gifts that I design and sell through links on this site that add no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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 5.2 video transcript

This lesson will cover the best ways to brainstorm a good long list of candidates for leadership positions. The more positions you have to fill, and the greater the responsibility involved, the wider you have to cast your net to make sure you get enough good candidates.

Many groups carry out a big recruiting push in the last few months of the school year to find Board members and other leaders for the coming year. That’s a good time to pull out all the stops in your brainstorming efforts. But using some or all of these methods is helpful at any point in the year.

Proven ways to brainstorm a long list of good candidates for PTO leadership positions

Brainstorming as a group, especially if you can do it together in real time, is more fun than doing it alone and will help you generate good results faster. It may not always be possible, but worth doing if you can.

Keep an open mind. And build out a wide circle of candidates.

Start (but don’t stop) with current volunteers.

Who stands out?

When people are doing a good job, you naturally notice them during the year. Hopefully, you’re also thanking them for their help and encouraging them to consider other opportunities. These are your top candidates, of course, and you will probably contact them first about specific jobs.

Many of the same names will come up, of course, but new ones usually do too. And even one dedicated person can make a BIG difference –- as you well know!

Who likes to work together?

Approaching friends to team up as co-leaders can work really well.

Who is paying attention?

You probably know who attends your meetings, but there may be some quiet, helpful types in there somewhere, so check the sign-in sheets to make sure you don’t miss anyone. If you use an email service provider, like MailChimp or Constant Contact, you can also check to see who is opening your email announcements.

This is a good way to see who is engaged even if they are keeping a low profile. And it’s also worth noting who is liking and commenting on your social media posts.

Who are the idea people?

Who ask questions and gives feedback and suggestions, whether in person or by email or social media. Who has a special interest in an issue, like anti-bullying, or healthier eating, or having more science or music in school, or whatever, that they want to influence?

And who are the critics? At least the ones who might be willing to be part of a solution. Asking critics to help with something specific is often either just the invitation they need to get involved or a good way to quiet them down.

Even though it’s smart to start with your current volunteers, you don’t want your limit yourself to them, of course, even for leadership positions.

Go beyond the people you all know well and your typical volunteers.

Consider Moms AND Dads, “stay-at-home” parents AND those who “work” for pay, busy people AND busy people.

Because everyone’s busy and everyone cares.

  • Get referrals - Gathering suggestions from lots of different sources will help you widen the circle of people you consider. Getting ideas from Administrators, teachers, other staff and other volunteers and parents always turns up hidden gems, like people who are new, or like to help behind the scenes.

  • Reach out to new families – New kindergarten families and families that have moved into the area are often eager to learn the ropes of the school and meet other families. Even if they are not familiar with how your group works, they often bring plenty of relevant work and volunteer experience.

    Some will even be open to leadership roles, including Board positions. You don’t have to wait until orientation, or welcome packets go out, or until your volunteer fair to connect with these families. Brainstorm in your group and ask around to come up with names of newcomers you should reach out to directly.

  • Don’t rule people out because they’ve said “No” before -- or even “Never”: Situations change. Attitudes change.

    I was one of those people and I’ve recruited many others. I said I would “never” join the Board, and I meant it. Two years later, I was Secretary and then Co-President. But that was only after our group took some important steps to make Board positions more manageable.

    Don’t rule out past “Nos” and you will be pleasantly surprised here and there.

And you should never feel bad about asking someone to help, even if they’ve said no before. As long as you’re doing it respectfully and not twisting their arm. Because all families benefit from PTO activities, and everyone shares responsibility. Whether they can and do meet that responsibility by doing a volunteer job, or offer their support in other ways.

Racking your brains and gathering ideas from a lot of sources will really pay off, especially when you have to recruit a lot of leaders at one time.

To help you brainstorm some great candidates, 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 5.2 - Brainstorming leadership candidates  from  Get More Volunteers Without Begging.  Free video training for PTO leaders created by Jen B. Cosgrove,