1. Reach Out to Newbies
Get in contact with incoming kindergarten parents as well as parents of any new families by email to welcome them as school is starting up. If there aren’t many new parents or if your whole board is willing to tackle this job, send handwritten notes to make the welcome more personal.
2. Low-Key Get-Together
Try an off-site get-together with new parents at a local coffee shop or park (weather permitting) as a way to get to know them. Keep it casual and don’t talk PTO business. Just get to know each other.
3. Buddy System
Find some veteran volunteers who would be willing to take new volunteers under their wing. Encourage them to check in with new volunteers and help involve them with projects to work on.
4. Consider New Ideas—Really!
New volunteers can sometimes irritate veterans when they have so many “new” ideas (that you’ve already tried) or question they way things are done. While there is an occasional know-it-all newbie, most are just trying to be helpful. Genuinely listen to what they have to say and give them positive, but honest, feedback. You’re bound to get some useful new ideas out of it.
5. Seating Matters
Avoid seating arrangements at general meetings in which the old-timers cluster together. That gives off a clique vibe, which can be damaging to a group. Instead, encourage veterans to mix with new people. Try making a game out of it. At the start of the meeting, announce that you want to do something fun! Have people count off numbers 1 and 2. Then ask the “1s” to move one seat to their right. Have the “2s” move two seats to their left. This should mix up the group enough that the original seating has been thoroughly rearranged.
6. Survey Says...
After an event, check in with new volunteers and ask them how it went. Did they like the job they did? What didn’t work? Get their feedback on how they think things could be improved. If possible, implement something that they have shared. It goes a long way toward helping volunteers feel like they matter.