Do parents outwardly or subtly think of your PTO or PTA as a clique? Most of the parent leaders I know are quite open to help, but their habits sometimes earn them an unintended clique reputation.

For example, did your group or school recently ask parents to fill out forms to determine their interest or availability? If so, here’s a great way to get that clique name: Put those forms into a drawer and don’t contact the moms and dads who offered to help.

In my experience, PTOs and PTAs do this because they are rushed or busy or trying to get hard stuff done quickly, and existing volunteers and old regulars are so much easier to connect with and count on than newbies. It’s not “we don’t want your help”; rather it’s, “we were so busy just trying to survive that we forgot to do the work necessary to actually get new help.” But to an outsider, that comes across as cliquey.

My advice: Assign one volunteer whose singular job is to attract, communicate with, and help new volunteers. Make sure every single person who checked the “yes” box on your volunteer form gets a personal contact from your PTO. You say you want help. Now you need to prove it.

I have more to say about avoiding a clique reputation in my column called “The Truth About Cliques.” And we have a lot of good information on getting new help on our volunteers topic page.