What is it?
Your PTA could be run by the most dedicated team ever, but you’ll achieve bigger and better things if everyone knows what you’re doing. Increasing visibility will help recruit volunteers, increase donations, build relationships outside the school and embed a culture of supporting the PTA at your school.
Don’t be shy – shout your achievements, and those of your hardworking team, from the rooftops!
According to the Office for National Statistics and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, in the past year nearly one in three people – around 20 million people – have done voluntary work. Their hard work accounts for nearly one per cent of the country’s GDP. These volunteers are the lifeblood of every PTA, and nothing would happen without their dedication. It can also be a rewarding experience for the volunteers themselves – research by national volunteering charity TimeBank reported that a quarter of people aged between 35 and 44 found volunteering was beneficial to their health.
Five ideas for getting the word out
1 – Social media posts
Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are your friends here; update them regularly with your news.
2 – Newsletter
Does your school have a newsletter? It’s the perfect place to showcase the PTA’s triumphs.
3 – Press release
If you’ve got big news to share, take it to the papers. Find out how to write a press release and who to approach.
4 – Noticeboard
Ask the school if there’s space on the noticeboard to add a ‘Who we are and what we do’ sign about the PTA, including contact details for new volunteers to get in touch.
5 – Welcome pack
Welcoming the new intake of pupils is ideal for letting a whole new group of parents know what you do.
You’ll need to keep your message clear
What’s your most important point?
Whether it’s a social media post or a noticeboard poster, be clear about your main message.
Be specific about your goal
What message do you want people to take away? Do you want their time? A donation? Is it a date for the diary?
Stick to your key message
People have busy lives and short attention spans, so stick to your most important point, and don’t get side-tracked.
Long blocks of text can be off-putting to readers. Break things up into sections that are more appealing to read.
Read it and read it again
Double check for spelling mistakes which can be distracting to the reader and can undermine your message.
Benefits of visibility
- Increased donations – when your message is clear (‘We’re fundraising for X to help the children do Y. This is how much we need to make it happen’) people are much more inclined to donate money, especially when you stress how much the children will benefit from it
- Increased volunteers – enthusiasm can be contagious; when people see that you’re passionate about what you’re doing, they’re more likely to want to join you
- Sponsorship opportunities – when the community sees how active the PTA is, they’ll be more inclined to help out. Approach local businesses and see if they’re interested in making a donation or sponsoring an event or sports team
- Setting an example – you’re sending a message to staff, pupils and the community that volunteering makes you part of something bigger.
Increasing your visibility is a virtuous circle – the more work you do, the more volunteers you’ll attract. And the more volunteers you attract, the more you can do.
Who are you and what do you do?
Don’t assume everyone knows what the PTA does and who runs it. New parents at the school might be itching to throw themselves into things and just not know how – don’t let that enthusiasm go to waste; make sure they know how to get involved.
Have people expressed an interest in volunteering with the PTA after seeing the good work you do but not followed through? Have a quiet word to find out what might be stopping them – is childcare a problem? Or maybe it’s a transport issue? Once you find out what the hitch is, work on coming up with a solution.
Play to people’s strengths
Make it clear that there are enough jobs to appeal to everyone – don’t let shy volunteers be put off because they think they might have to be the exuberant host of a quiz night, when they’d prefer to stick to behind-the-scenes roles. The reverse is also true – if you have a frustrated showman in your midst, don’t let them hide their light under a bushel when hosting a talent show or bingo evening could be their chance to shine.
Let people show off their skills
Do you have an artist in your team? See if they’d put their talents to good use with signs and posters for events. An IT whizz? They’d be great at handling your social media presence. Enthusiastic amateurs are just as welcome as professionals.
One-off roles or ongoing?
Some people are going to prefer to help out for single events – for example, a summer fair they’ve seen you promoting – which has an end date. It doesn’t mean it’s the only event they’ll get involved in, it just means they like concentrating on one thing and crossing it off their ‘to do’ list when it’s over. Other people might prefer an ongoing role.
At home or on site?
Many busy parents might prefer to volunteer for a role which can be done at home, after the children have gone to bed, because they like the flexibility. Others might take the opposite approach, and prefer a task that’s done on site to keep a boundary between their school and home life.
Free time is becoming a rarity in people’s increasingly busy lives, so promote the opportunities of micro-volunteering – this involves recruiting people for essential yet small, time-restricted tasks such as clearing up after a fête or being an event’s designated first aider. Find out more in our micro-volunteering article.