Reaching out to volunteers
What do you picture when you
imagine a PTA? A group of mums chatting in the
playground? A gathering of women planning the summer fair over a
coffee? But times are changing, and with work patterns becoming
more flexible and childcare shared with dads, grandparents and
friends, maybe it's time to mix up your PTA and get a more diverse
bunch of people involved. Just think of what you could achieve with
all those extra volunteers…
Experiment with holding meetings at different times
of the day and make it clear that everyone is welcome. If you're
survey parents add a question directed at dads to discover what
time of the day would work best for them. John Adams from parenting
blog Dadbloguk.com says: 'PTAs can be incredibly welcoming and
recognise the contribution dads can make. But it's true that many
dads work full-time and struggle to attend committee meetings held
during school hours or to help at events held straight after
If you would like to attract grandparents, how about
writing a letter addressed directly to them, which could be
sent home in book bags and passed on? Members of the local
community can be reached through local newsletters, parish
magazines and social media. Identify specific jobs that would be
suitable for the groups you're targeting and ask as directly as you
To get dads to dip their toes in the PTA, put out a
call for jobs that may appeal more to them. Could they help
make-over the school garden, repaint the shed or lend a hand on the
barbecue? Nick Roe, PTFA member at his daughter's school in East
Sussex, says: 'I joined when we moved to the village to get a
better understanding of how the school worked and to meet
like-minded parents. There are two other dads who regularly get
involved in the PTFA: one is the treasurer and one looks after
Try running an event that will appeal to men in
particular. 'PTAs need to make sure dads know they are welcome at
social events,' says Adams. 'If events aren't promoted as being
open to partners, men are unlikely to attend. That's a missed
opportunity because then the dads don't engage with the PTA.'
Find something locally that has a big male audience
on which you could draw. For example, you could approach your local
football team about holding a football fair with matches,
activities and speakers from the club. Activity-based events, such
as a LEGO building challenge or a recycled craft challenge, are an
excellent way for families to connect.
Once you have a captive audience, be sure to hand out
information about what else they can do, why the help is needed and
what it will achieve.
Tip: Hold a meeting outside of usual PTA
hours once a term so that people who wouldn't usually be able to
attend can come along.
More and more grandparents are helping out with
childcare, so it's a natural transition for them to become involved
in the school community - you may be surprised at how many are
already on your playground. Senior supporters potentially have more
time to contribute than their offspring, but they aren't just an
extra pair of hands.
With a lifetime of experience, many grandparents have
specialist skills and expertise to bring to your committee: a
retired accountant would make the perfect treasurer,
for example, and an experienced seamstress might like to run your
second-hand uniform shop. Grandparents will have established
networks of local friends, so as well as gaining new members, you
could attract more event attendees too. Whatever role they play,
inviting grandparents to participate actively gives them the
opportunity to share their time and talents in a way that benefits
the whole school.
Making friends: Your governing document
contains information about who can be a member of your
organisation. Usually, only a PTFA or Friends Association will
allow people who don't have children at the school to become
members. Only members can hold elected roles on the
Put your school at the heart of the community by
inviting local residents to join up. Appeal for help through social
media and by writing letters, or, for maximum impact, hold a
targeted event. Take a look at what's happening in your community.
If you don't have a local cinema, could you run a movie night? If a
comedy club has shut down, try holding your own comedy night.
Spread the message at your event and make sure
attendees know how much you've raised for the school and what
you're planning to do with it. Show them what you buy and the
impact it has on the children. If your fundraising project will
also help the community as a whole, promote this to get even more
people on board.
If you have a local Lions Club, Rotary Club or
Women's Institute, speak to them to find out how you could work
together. You may be able to exchange experience, facilities or
equipment, or borrow volunteers for big events.
When appealing for help, try to tailor the job to
the person - it's not just about how well they can man a stall at
- Organisational skills lend themselves to planning
fundraisers, making volunteer rotas, creating schedules and putting
together event guides.
- Secretarial skills mean the ability to take minutes
or organise communications.
- Writing skills are fantastic for appealing to
businesses for sponsorship.
- Design skills will come in handy for putting
together posters, flyers, newsletters and event programmes.
- DIY and maintenance skills are ideal on open days
when renovating areas of the school. They also come in handy for
making games and props for events.
Share this page