We asked our Facebook community to share one thing they’ve done to help recruit volunteers. We think you’re going to find lots of good nuggets in this list. Also, we’ve added some of our resources that fit with these great tips. Just click on the images below to get them.
1. Talk to the complainers.
I single out and work on the complainers. People complain about what they don't understand. We had a guy move in our community and complained about our ball fields. We educated him that we as parents built the best ball fields the best we could on our own as parents. He slowly came around and soon became the best caretaker we ever had. He passed the torch on to volunteers after him. We all made a great friend too. —Sheldon G.
2. Keep track of newly enrolled students and reach out.
When I was PTO VP, I made sure there was a welcome letter for all transfer students after the beginning of the year. It had info about our school pride days, how to get a school T-shirt (an order form included), class parties and homeroom parents, Friday popcorn, dates of upcoming PTO meetings, and other info that new families rarely get. —Lucy Anne T.
3. Ask teachers to pitch in on specific projects.
If the teachers are happy with the events that the PTO is doing, then parents are more likely to take notice. I really like doing things with teachers. We started an art night last year with the art teacher and its success was largely due to her and other teachers who jumped in at the event. We hope to expand upon that. Several parents expressed interest in helping after that event. —Cheryl R.
4. Post photos on Facebook of fun PTO events.
We try and post pictures of all of the fun stuff our PTO does on the school Facebook page to give people an idea of what is going on in their child's school. It’s a little less scary to walk into a new situation if you have a general idea of what that event looks like. —Kelly T.
5. Let friends know about the PTO work you do.
I befriended a mom in my daughter’s class. We texted a lot and she would often ask what I was doing that day. So after a short time she asked if there’s anything she could do to help me because I was doing so much [at school]. She didn't realize how much needed to be done and the small amount of PTO volunteers we had. Now, she helps when she can. —Shelly B.
6. Give a special volunteer a reserved parking space each month.
We honor our Volunteer of the Month with a reserved parking spot—the spot closest to the main entrance of the school—for the whole month. It has been a great way to publicly recognize our loyal volunteers and to spark interest among others. —Bridget W.
7. Ask for feedback after every event.
We follow up our events with an anonymous online survey for volunteers asking what we did well and where we could improve. People really seem to respond well when they know that we care about their experience and we appreciate and value their time. —Kristen P.
8. Find out which parents may need babysitters.
I've found a friend willing to babysit for a parent volunteer with a toddler so she could occasionally volunteer during the school day. —Rebecca A.
9. Ask parents what they want to do.
We ask our families how they can help—do they have skills to lend or is there a product they can donate to our silent auction. —Jennifer L.
10. Give shy or low-key parents behind-the-scenes jobs.
Some parents are shy and might not be comfortable working an event, but still want to help. I have a couple [who] do inventory after events, which takes the task off my shoulders. Every job counts! —Jenn T.
11. Ask parents to volunteer for very short chunks of time.
We ask for volunteers for shorter time periods rather than a whole day or whole Saturday morning, as the case may be sometimes. One- to three-hour shifts are much easier to fill than eight hours. —Becky N.
12. Connect with neighborhood parents.
The summer before my first year as president, I struck up a conversation with another mom at our neighborhood park. Turns out her daughter was starting kindergarten in the fall. She was excited and nervous at the same time. To this day, she still tells everyone I recruited her before her daughter even started school. —Kim B.
13. Let event helpers attend the event for free.
We offer free concession tickets or admission to PTO-sponsored events when parents lend a hand or donate goods. —Jennifer B.
14. Woo incoming kindergarten parents.
We hit kindergarten parents hard—before school even starts! At the open houses in April and August, we start collecting their email addresses. We hold a coffee just for them on the first day of school. The entire board attends and chats them up. We have separate clipboards and signup sheets for every single event and committee. And maybe, just maybe, those happy kindergarten parents will rub off on everyone else. —Lisa P.
15. Do something unexpected at meetings.
We started doing cook-offs at our meetings. People [who] have that negative and boring view of PTOs see us as a fun group now! —Heather C.
16. Send personal thank-you notes.
We have a different fun theme for every PTO meeting where we provide activities for kids. After the event, I personally send a thank-you note and an invite to the next meeting. I also include my personal number. —April G.
17. Offer to give parents a ride so they can volunteer.
I volunteered to pick up [a parent] on the way to the event. I passed her street on my way and she didn't have transportation. —Jill C.
Originally published in 2016 and updated regularly.