I have a great challenge ahead of me. We would like greater attendance and involvement at our meetings, however, I need ideas on how to get more people to attend.
Several people have voiced their opinions that the meetings are boring and would like to have fun. What do you do at your meetings? Do you have topics, speakers, events???
Our meetings have little turn out, so we started having each grade do a program that night. It is a way for the parents to see there kids sing or whatever the program is and we get more at the meetings. The bad thing is that we do the program 1st and most of the parents get up during the meeting and leave. So once they are there they don not have the interest to stay. We can get a cafeteria full of people but for the business meeting we have less then an 1/4 of them stay. For some reason the principle will not let us do the business first and then do the program. The other down side is that we only have parents from that grade there. We have 750 students and at the last meeting we had 3 that were not from the 5th grade, and only had about 10 parents who stuck around for the business.
I was President once and I had someone DJ and had a big turnout because I advertised so to speak by sending home flyers atleast 2 times before a meeting. Then I always served refreshments and had door prizes. As well, I sent home a survey in September asking what can we do to get you to come out and you would be surprised how brown bag dinners, incentives got them out.
No more of just coming out to be informed no no you have to have BAIT nowadays!
We have the same problem, 700+ parents and only 35 members. Our PTA now has one full school year under its belt, and we have some ideas for next year.
Currently, we meet the third Thursday evening of each month, alternating between the libraries at both schools we serve. We offer free pizza and beverage, a free childcare, but still have LOW attendance.
So, next year we will try having at least 2 meetings right after school starts. We have no bussing, so parents are already at the school to drop off their kids. We are also in a rural area where alot of parents don't want to drive back into town an hour or so after getting home.
We are also expanding the childcare in that it won't just be kids running around the gym or drawing some pictures. We hope to implement planned activities: movies, arts and crafts, magic shows, etc. If we can get the kids excited to come to the activity, then maybe the parents will follow.
We have also spent about $50 and created a PTA Treasure Box, filled with cool pencils, feathers on top, bendable, pinwheels on top(all from Oriental trading) and each kid gets one with encouragement to take it to use at school and let other kids know that they got it free at the PTA meeting.
I have noticed that meeting attendance does not gauge the success of your PTA. Many of our schools have 400+ members and only get a handful of parents attending the meetings. But when it really counts, we had more volunteers than you can shake a stick at at my school. (100+ for our jog-a-thon)
Parents are so much busier now. We have many working mothers, two working parents households, grandparents/caregivers, and on top of that, we have soccer, baseball, scouts, etc. Add to that heavier homework loads (some so different and difficult that parents have to study to help them) So they may not be at the meetings. If they are active elsewhere, then they are comfortable with what you are doing. The only meeting we had where there was more than 15 people was when we voted on where the additional fundraising funds were going to go - $15,000 surplus above budget, 75 parents showed up to vote, that is still from a membership of 500 and the very next meeting had 10 people. We have babysitters, we offer food, we've had speakers and had the kids perform (kids performing does bring out the biggest crowd but many leave after the performance), we've had meetings at 6:30, alternating 3:30 to 6:30, one meeting a month, two meetings a month, daytime meetings, potlucks, a christmas party, door prizes, even the lure of the very hot topic of rezoning. I have 30 units under me and no matter how many members they have (5-500), they all have the same question, how do we get more to attend the meetings? Perhaps, we have to concede that we can't.