Volunteers Archive

A strong volunteer base makes for a healthy long-term parent group. You'll find ideas in the articles below to help you get greater parent and community involvement in your PTO, and to express appreciation for time and talents shared. Get more ideas and information on the PTO Volunteer Recruitment & Recognition page. (For articles about getting more moms and dads engaged at school, go to the Parent Involvement archive.)

  • Get Kids Involved in Your PTO or PTA

    Parent groups can serve their schools better when students have a say.
  • Why Parents Don’t Volunteer (and What You Can Do About It)

    No-nonsense advice on why people stay away from your parent group—and how you can get them to be part of it.
  • Facebook Graphics for PTO Volunteer Appreciation

  • How To Be an Effective PTO or PTA Volunteer Coordinator

    Make the most of this important role by concentrating efforts in the right way.
  • Ideas To Make Your PTO or PTA More Fun

    If parents have a good time, they’ll be more likely to keep coming back. Here's how to make volunteering more fun for everyone.
  • 10 PTO Leader Resources for Dealing With Difficult People

    We had a lively discussion on our PTO and PTA Leaders group about what to do when parents complain and drag you down. Many leaders offered great tips for dealing with difficult people. (Catch a few gems in the video at the bottom of this post.) We wanted pass along some of our best resources on handling negativity and what leaders can do for themselves to stay positive and enjoy (not just tolerate) the upcoming school year! 1. Don’t avoid your most challenging parents. When you try to understand the likely reason why someone is confrontational, you’re better able to diffuse these awkward situations. Resource: How To Deal With Difficult People 2. Share responsibilities so you’re not a (cranky) one-man show. Be willing to offload tasks so you stress less and have more time to devote to your important goals. Resource: Polish Your Delegation Skills 3. Reach out to fellow leaders for comfort and validation. Try connecting with other PTO and PTA leaders locally and online to share experiences with folks who really get you. Resource: Build a Leader Network: Help Is All Around You 4. Give yourself a break. Schedule occasional downtime or just pure fun so you stay healthy (mentally and physically). Resource: A Key To Avoiding PTO Burnout: Take a Breather 5. Embrace personal organizational systems. Find the time-saving tactics that work best for you and commit to using them so that you’re doing less PTO busywork. Resource: Reduce Your PTO Stress 6. Meet criticism with a smile (even if it’s a slightly fake one). When a parent points out what stank about a recent event, thank them for their feedback and move on. Resource: How To React to Critics 7. Put the kibosh on gossip. (You think you can’t, but you can!) If you hear putdowns, address them quickly and publicly by saying you know there have been rumblings (don’t mention anyone by name!), but here’s what’s really happening. Resource: Stop the PTO Drama 8. Get a fix on what makes what makes your volunteers tick. When you understand personality types, you can better resolve the inevitable problems that crop up among volunteers. Resource: Managing Personality Conflicts 9. Get a fix on what makes you tick. Take our quiz to understand your strengths as a leader. Knowing what you’re good at better prepares you to handle any situation. Resource: Rate Your Leadership Skills 10. Try to have a good laugh at least once a day. One of the best ways to get rid of negative energy is to have a good belly laugh. Check out our Facebook page when you can because we are committed to posting something silly on a regular basis. We believe in the power of laughter...check out the image below! Resource: PTO Today on Facebook As a bonus, we wanted to share some advice from PTO and PTA leaders that we collected for this video:  Originally posted in 2016 and updated regularly
  • 6 Ways To Shake Things Up in Your Group

    Things feeling stale? Sometimes a little change is all you need.
  • Volunteers: Use Them or Lose Them

    The way you follow up with interested parents can make or break your volunteer recruitment efforts.
  • Rethink Your School Volunteer Recruitment

    When your appeals for help aren’t getting results, it’s time to try something—or someone—new.
  • 27 Easy Jobs for PTO Volunteers

    Offering volunteers a range of tasks that can be done fairly simply (and many at their convenience) increases your chances of getting them on board.
  • 17 Ways To Get More Parent Volunteers

  • Grandparents Are Great!

    Take advantage of a valuable resource by including elders in your events.
  • 11 Quick and Easy Volunteer Appreciation Gifts

    Let your volunteers know you care with these simple expressions of thanks.
  • Do This First for a Successful PTO Year

    Success isn’t just about what you get done—in fact, sometimes real success involves doing less.
  • 7 Things Volunteers Hate

    Help your parent group’s volunteers have a positive experience by avoiding these missteps.
  • 6 Keys to Volunteer Appreciation

    When it comes to thanking your volunteers, it's always worth the effort.
  • 6 Ways To Boost Parent Involvement

    Use these tips to get the help you need.
  • Why Don’t People Volunteer?

    The real reasons people don’t help, and what you can do about it.
  • Small Parent Groups, Big Achievements

    Short on volunteers? Learn from others how to keep your PTO running smoothly with a small group.
  • Don't Make the Biggest Volunteer Appreciation Mistake

    What not to do when it comes to showing your volunteers that you care.
  • A Culture of Volunteer Appreciation

    Ensuring that your volunteers feel valued is the best way to keep them coming back. And it isn’t hard to do.
  • 15 Ideas From 15 Years

    To celebrate PTO Today’s 15th anniversary, we put together 15 of our favorite smart, creative, and just plain fun ideas shared by readers.
  • 9 Simple Involvement Builders

    From using social media to simply asking for help, here are easy yet effective ways of getting more parents to pitch in.
  • What Does a Room Parent Do?

    Are you thinking about volunteering as a room parent? Find out what to expect and get some helpful pointers from a veteran room mom.
  • How To Cultivate Long-Term Volunteers

    With some thought and planning, you can turn occasional helpers into committed volunteers.
  • How To Respond to Common Excuses

    Try our No-Excuses Response Guide when "I'd love to, but..." is the answer you get from potential volunteers.
  • 6 Ways To Connect With New Volunteers

    School volunteer recruitment tips geared toward bringing in people new to your parent group.
  • How To Fix Volunteer Recruitment Roadblocks

    The most common challenges to engaging new parents are actually fairly easy to fix.
  • 9 Steps for Better Volunteer Recruitment

    Building your volunteer base starts with creating relationships. Follow these steps to success.
  • Developing New PTO and PTA Leaders

    It takes ongoing effort to cultivate the parents who will run the group after you retire.
  • Build Your PTO Volunteer Power

    Successful strategies PTOs use to connect with parents, recruit new members, and grow their volunteer base.
  • Insights From a First-Time Volunteer

    How do newbies perceive your parent group? A new volunteer’s insightful look at how others view the PTO.
  • Are You Planting Roots?

    Success has a life cycle; make yours last by nurturing new leaders.
  • 6 Volunteer Recruitment Tips for Volunteer Coordinators

  • Volunteer Appreciation Done Right

    Don’t wait for the big annual event to say thanks. We’ve rounded up a bunch of volunteer appreciation ideas that can be used year-round.
  • Beat the Midyear Volunteer Slump

    A focus on recognition and communication can help energize your group's recruitment efforts.
  • A Tale of Two Volunteers

    Bridging the newbie-veteran gap.
  • Working Moms Are Top U.S. Volunteers

    A survey identifies working mothers as the most likely to give of their time.
  • Making School-Church Partnerships Work

    Handled well, relationships with local religious organizations can lead to positive outcomes for schools and students.
  • Service Groups Lend a Hand

    Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary, and other community organizations can provide a lot of help to parent groups.
  • Confront the Fear of Quitting

    Concerns about how they'll be treated if they stop volunteering makes some parents avoid getting involved at all.
  • When It's Time To Change

    This time, Dad has to volunteer.
  • This Dad Is Having a Blast

    A background in design and illustration can make for one explosive family night.
  • Just Say No to Dues

    Dropping dues from your budget can pay off in higher involvement and more willing volunteers.
  • Mother-Daughter PTA Team

    A 17-year-old shares a seat on the executive board with her mom to make a better school for her little sister.
  • Change Your Micromanaging Ways

    Could you be a micromanager? If so, you're probably limiting involvement in your group. Here's how to lighten your grip without having everything fall apart.
  • Superintendent Starts Dads' Clubs

    Overcoming the skeptics, a superintendent created thriving involvement among dads at all of an urban district's schools.
  • Don't Say It!

    12 casual comments that discourage involvement, 12 positive alternatives that build it.
  • Protect Volunteers From Legal Risks

    Having a few key policies in place can minimize the risks to parent volunteers.
  • New Laws for Screening Volunteers

    Three states passed laws in 2007 that addressed fingerprinting or doing background checks on school volunteers.
  • Recruiting Preschool Parents

    Involvement by parents whose children haven't even started school yet is great for everyone: They get a low-stress introduction to the school, and your group expands its membership base (and the pool of future leaders, too).
  • Connect With Grandparents and Seniors

    Reaching out to grandparents and seniors will pay dividends. Here’s how to make it happen.
  • 25 Ways To Catch and Keep School Volunteers

    Volunteer recruitment tips to bring them in, keep them happy, and avoid the pitfalls that will keep them from coming back.
  • A Tool To Manage Volunteers

    PTO Manager helps you find and track volunteers, and manage your finances more efficiently.
  • Tax Breaks for Volunteers

    School or parent group volunteers may be entitled to some tax breaks for their contributions; tax professionals recommend taking deductions only if the group is a registered 501(c)(3) charity.
  • Recruit Volunteers by Phone

    "Can you make a few calls?" may be the single phrase volunteers least like to hear. A simple system can make the task less stressful and more successful.
  • Do You Really Want Help?

    Often it's easier to just do things yourself. But for the long-term health of your group, your time can be better spent.
  • The One-Hour Pledge

    You'll get a lot more people to volunteer if they know there's a limit to their commitment.
  • Build Your Volunteer Base: 11 Ideas

    Tried-and-true ideas to nurture volunteers and make sure that every involvement experience is a positive one.
  • 26 Ways To Build Involvement

    Getting more parents to participate is as easy as A, B, C when you follow this list of best practices.
  • Care and Feeding of Key Volunteers

    Your core members are so important to the success of your group. Make sure they're getting what they need out of their volunteer experience.
  • 10 Tips for Classroom Volunteers

    A teacher and PTO leader offers tips on how class moms and dads can help—and have a more rewarding volunteer experience, too.
  • Time: The New Currency for Volunteers

    Time is a precious commodity for today's overcommitted families. To get them involved, show them you understand and offer a variety of ways they can participate.
  • Orienting New Members

    Help newbies hit the ground running by creating a welcoming atmosphere and giving them the opportunity and information they need to be able to contribute right away.