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Letter to encourage participation?

16 years 1 month ago #143545 by PresidentJim
My best recommendation would be to work on three things this coming year...

1. Hit up the Kindergarten parents. These guys are a resource just waiting to be tapped. Think about it, many of them are excited, and maybe a bit hesitant, of their first born starting their elementary career. Many of them want to get involved, but don't know how. Now many some of them will ask about getting involved and may even show up to a PTO meeting. Of those few some may come back to another meeting. But unless you get them engaged you'll lose their interest quickly.

2. Make you PTO fun. My first year as PTO President a couple of years ago I started a new tradition of a Back to School Ice Cream Party. We run it the day before the first day of school and promote it as a FREE "meet your child's teacher" event. We've even gone so far as to invite the mayor, local political figures, the Superintendant of Schools, etc. We try to hold it outside, and have music, prizes, games, ice cream, etc.

I have a PTO information table and have articles from PTOtoday about involvement. I allow the parents to take from the table as I find the less saleslike the information is the better.

I include an e-mail sign-up list for PTO information, which includes PTO meeting invites, event information, etc.

3. Communication. Not sure what your group is doing in this regard, but when I took on the role of President I found that this was an area that my groups was very weak in. The previous year they had one newsletter go home throughout the entire school year. The PTO portion of the website was a single picture of the old playground, which had been replaced by the PTO 2 years earlier. I decided that this would be one of my priorities for the year. I created a brand new PTO website, which information about our events, fundraisers, getting involved, spirit items, parent resource sites, our caladar, pictures of our events, and much more. I created a monthly, color newsletter thaat discuuses all of our past and upcoming events. These things got the word out so that anybody who wanted to would know how to get involved.

Here we are two years later and the active membership has increased from about 8 - 10 to over 40, including a male active involvement increase from zero to five or 6.

Hope these ideas help,
PresidentJim
16 years 1 month ago #143501 by MsMonk
EEK! We have the opposite problem! Our bylaws require 16 Executive Board members; 2 co-presidents, a secretary, a treasurer, a member from administration, a school board member, a teacher/faculty represenative from 3 levels of Elementary, a represenative from Junior High/High School, and we have 6 Parent Represenative positions (At this time, we only have 4 filled, and decided to post the openings when school resumed in Fall.) I don't know how our PTO does it....but we only have 650 kids in 4K-12!

We were having a problem where the same people were doing everything....and we had people who wanted to come to PTO meetings, but our bylaws state that only PTO executive board members may partake in voting...so I campaigned for a committee system. You all are probably laughing...but it took me a whole year to convince everyone, and get the committees rolling. NOW everyone knows who is in charge of what. And...we're spending more time preventing fires, than spending time putting out fires. NOW people who want to volunteer for specific events may do so, attend the meetings they want to/can...AND they may vote at their committee meetings. Who wants to got to a boring meeting and not have a say in what happens?

We send a volunteer survey prior to the beginning of the school year...and we have a HUGE bike ride/spaghetti supper fundraiser the weekend after labor day, which everyone loves to work at....loopy huh? I love it!

I just took over the volunteer committee that I proposed, and will do a 2x a year survey. We are in an artsy resort town and people's availability changes in the winter. Some people go south for the winter...and some retire here to get some peace. I am looking to tap into the artsy population that takes the winter off...and needs something to do. I also want to find some nice senior citizens, and even some special needs people. I am also doing a take home project for a few people where they will read a book, and put it 'on tape' for those kids who don't have someone who reads to them...and for our Hispanic students (About 10%), whose parents speak very little English.

Good luck to all!
Monk
16 years 1 month ago #143082 by dlf
I really don't see meetings as that significant of an issue as far as attendence. All of our information is distro'd via our website and our emails and also our newsletter. We conduct meetings and information exchanges all the time via our emails and get committee briefs etcetera via the same mechanism. I hold the meetings in order to assist those folks that don't have the access to emails to be informed; and frankly we think that if folks are happy then really just let things move along. Having said that, our last volunteer lunch we invited over 150 volunteers...so we must being doing something right.

d
16 years 1 month ago #143067 by scrapchick87
Have you ever considered calling people and asking them to participate, calling for volunteers, meetings, events?? This has increased our turnout by 80%, it really works. It is a lot of work, especially when you have 600+ student like we do, but get a few volunteers to help make the calls, create a script and go for it.
16 years 2 months ago #142400 by Jcbmom2001
We too have this problem. I put out a monthly newsletter and in the last one I put in there if we didn't have anyone to chair Market Day for the upcoming year we won't be doing it. I have been asking people for two years and since I couldn't get anyone I have been doing it myself. Don't you know it I had two people say they would chair it for the next year. Now, I hate guilting parents in to these things but I didn't have any choices. I just don't understand why parents don't want to help any more.
16 years 3 months ago #142342 by Schroeder
I was/am having the same problem with my group. I was averaging about 5 people at a meeting and had a core group of about 6 people running all of the events and fundraisers. I also lost my treasurer mid-year and my secretary was stepping down at the end of this year and I was already serving without a VP! After sending this message, I had 40 people show up at my meeting AND many signed up to take on tasks for next year. I also heard that one parent, who was a room parent, made calls to her class to encourage them all to come, which helped a bunch. So, I don't think it was my message that was entirely responsible for getting folks to come to the meeting. I also told people that while I was pleased to have this great turnout, I would prefer to have 30-40 regular volunteers than the same number of people at all my meetings! Since my message of desperation, I have had lots of folks step up and have delegate many of the events and programs to them!

I have posted my letter in the File Exchange section of this site (which is awesome) you can find it here: www.ptotoday.com/filesharing?task=doc_details&gid=301
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