We’ve all been there ourselves. So be the change you want to see and do what you can to keep your school’s moms and dads from feeling the same way!
1. Not being contacted.
Even if you don’t have an immediate job for everyone who signs up, chances are you will have places for them as the year goes on. So it’s important for someone in your group to contact each and every person who’s interested in volunteering. What's more, a warm and welcoming “we’ll be in touch soon” will go a long way toward letting them know you value their willingness.
2. Being given bad jobs.
Some volunteers are willing to do anything and everything, from collecting tickets to cutting up paper to emptying trash after events. But overall, you’ll have better luck getting volunteers to return if you make their experience a positive one. Find out what they like to do—are they crafty? Do they like organizing? Are they natural delegators?—and try to match them with jobs that will suit these talents or traits.
3. Feeling you’re unprepared for them.
Make sure that if volunteers show up to perform a task or offer a service, you’re ready for them to do so. And if plans have changed or you’re short on materials (or things just aren’t lined up properly), communicate that to them in plenty of time. This lets them know you care about their time and effort.
4. Being left out.
Little undermines a parent group’s efforts to attract new help—and make volunteers feel good about themselves—more than the perception that it’s a clique. So if it’s an issue, do what you can to dispel that image. Having members wear name tags and making a concerted effort to get to know new volunteers are simple steps that even the playing field.
5. Not feeling appreciated.
Some groups make the mistake of treating volunteer appreciation as a once-a-year event, or of breaking appreciation into “tiers” based on how much or how often certain volunteers contribute (a verbal thank-you for some, a gift for others). But if you really want to grow volunteering at your school, you have to let your volunteers know you appreciate them all year long.
6. Being micromanaged.
Once you assign a volunteer a job, make it clear that you’re available to help. But if your volunteers are confident in their tasks, let them set their own course. They’re building confidence for the long-term, and you’re getting the help you need.
7. Being undermanaged.
It can be equally frustrating for volunteers to feel like once they’re on board, no one is looking out for them—especially new ones getting comfortable in their role. Setting up some check-ins can be helpful, particularly if the task is involved.
Originally posted in 2015 and updated regularly.