The first step to find more volunteers for your Parent Teacher Group.
HI PTG friend! How are you today? The sun is shining here right now and that always lifts my spirits. In the Midwest, where I live, there is an ominous prediction about an upcoming snowstorm. One that I am not happy to hear about. Do you think if I just pretend that spring is here, snow won’t come? Wouldn’t it be nice if life worked that way?
I know, I know, we aren’t really here to talk about the weather are we? Today I have something a little less pleasant that I feel needs to be addressed for your sanity and mine! It might be a little controversial, but I hope you will stay with me because I have a secret to share!
I wanted to talk with you all about the big bad problem Parent Teacher Groups (PTGs) face everywhere. Whether you are a part of a PTA, a PTO, or one of the many other parent/school groups that serve the schools/students/families in every city and state in the U.S., the majority of us all deal with this same struggle.
Can you guess what it is?
Wait, I know you can. Because every time I talk to a PTG volunteer (in my school, a school in our area council, a PTG in a neighboring community, or in one of my on-line PTG leader groups), the struggle is the same. The struggle is real!
Where are all of the volunteers?
Were you like me when you joined your PTG? You finally worked up enough nerve to attend the first meeting, you looked around the room, only to see a handful of people? Did your jaw drop? Were you wondering if there had been some miscommunication about meeting date or time?
Or maybe you attended or a planning session for a PTG event and there you saw the same 3-4 parent volunteer faces over and over. Were you shocked? Was your mind thinking, “Um, where are all of the other parents?” Is your head nodding in unison?
Did you know that you aren’t alone?
Did you know that if you asked almost any other PTG around the nation, they would all agree with you. Their biggest struggle is finding volunteer support. I feel better now that I got that out there! How about you?
Okay, I am SURE that there are some very fortunate PTGs that have tons of volunteers (so many they don’t know what to do with them all). They probably have actual elections for board positions each year because multiple people mysteriously want the job. I am sure these mythical PTG unicorns exist. I am glad for them. I wish them well. I hope their volunteers continue to line up like they are waiting to taste the newest holiday caffeinated concoction at Starbucks. That story just isn’t ours.
Secret to the road of success
Before we even talk about how to find more/new volunteers (better saved for another conversation altogether), I want to share with you a secret. It is something I feel has really helped me as a PTG leader. It has also helped my PTG move away from blaming attitudes and negative viewpoints about our lack of volunteer support. I think it is the first step to help you find more volunteers for your PTG.
It is really easy to become disillusioned about the lack of support from the larger family population at school. You might start to question, “What is wrong with them?” or “Don’t they care about having an awesome school?” and even “Why should I bother if no else one cares?” You might possibly ask, “What is wrong with me that I can’t find help?”
Before we go any further, you have to stop yourself right there! You have to eliminate those negative opinions from your mind and language about the families in your school.
Trust me on this, continuing to think those thoughts is not going to help you. It isn’t going to help your PTG. Certainly, it won’t strengthen your school. Nor will it benefit the kids that you are there for in the first place! In the end, It isn’t going to attract more volunteers. These dark thoughts will likely make you feel worse and worse and your PTG won’t thrive.
The secret I want to share with you is something that I feel could really help you and your PTG just as much as it has helped me/mine. It is the first step you should take to find more volunteer support for your Parent Teacher Group.
Volunteering at school in the Parent Teacher Group is not for everyone and that’s OKAY!
We could go round and round about the whys and hows and benefits of being involved in a PTG. For sure, we will talk about those another day. For now, I think it is really important to understand that in order for your PTG to thrive, taking this first step is essential. Tell yourself, “Volunteering at school in the PTG is not for everyone and that is okay!” Let’s say that again, “Volunteering at school in the PTG is not for everyone and that is okay!”
Family life is so complicated. Mine is, yours is, everyone’s is. Am I right? Why waste your time passing judgement on someone else?
The truth is, we know very little about other people, their families, and the burdens they carry. Yes, you have them too. We all have our own set of issues. Why spend your time, energy, and emotions thinking about what someone else should or shouldn’t be doing? You will not get quality volunteers with this mindset. In fact, you will likely turn off potential volunteers because no one wants to be judged.
Tell yourself this, Volunteering at school in the Parent Teacher Group is not for everyone and that is okay! When you are at a planning session with your board members or group of other active volunteers, be sure to tell them too. Keep repeating it over and over until you believe it!
I know taking this first step can be hard and will require some work. You might have to stop yourself in the middle of a frustrated rant about lack of volunteer support and remind yourself, “Volunteering at school in the Parent Teacher Group is not for everyone and that is okay.”
When you open your mind and heart to the idea that this gig we (usually) love and are happy devote our time to is just not for everyone, you may be surprised at what happens.
Instead of thinking negative thoughts about the families at school, you will begin to look at them with acceptance for who they are. Through that process, you will be able to meet families where they are and find what they have to give (without judgement).
For some it might be joining your group each year and offering their support through membership. Some may choose to not join, but are more than willing to help work a bake sale shift or donate to the teacher meal that is planned for Teacher Appreciation Week. Some families are happy to donate money, but don’t necessarily have the time to give. Each person you meet has something different offer. We don’t all have to be the go-to volunteer and that is okay!
If you are interested in the power of positive thinking and the impact it can have on your PTG, check out this other post I have written: The power of your own mindset and how it might make or break your PTG.
I really hope you will give my secret tip a try. Send me a message, share a comment….I’d LOVE to hear from you and learn about any positive effects you experience! It will probably take some time, but I do believe it can be very effective!
In the meantime, keep up the great work you are doing! All of your efforts and skills that you share with your PTG, school, and students are making a huge impact on the lives of so many people! You are a rock star, keep up the great work!