Volunteer Appreciation in your Parent Teacher Group, are you doing enough?
Can you imagine what the world would look like without volunteers? Think of all of the good that is done every single day in every single community all around the world- all thanks to volunteers. Also imagine what our schools would look like without volunteers? Yikes! I shudder to even imagine how vastly different just our one school would be without the positive impact of the many volunteers we are fortunate to have. For one, what would happen to Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week? What about Box Tops and other fundraisers? The list could go on and on…
Showing your appreciation
Let’s be honest friends, there sadly can be a dark side to volunteering. It can be a challenging, frustrating, and often lonely job at times. But I don’t think it has to be that way. Please trust me that there are little things you can start doing today to change that. I fully believe it starts with showing appreciation for our valuable volunteers and it starts at the top.
Some might say, “No one appreciates me or thanks me. I do so much for this place. I just don’t have time to now start thanking everyone else.” To be honest, if you want to keep the volunteers you already have while also recruiting new volunteers to your team, showing appreciation to everyone is essential. We can’t wait for someone else to start. If there isn’t already a great foundation of volunteer appreciation inside your Parent Teacher Group (PTG), it all starts with you!
Volunteering is like a job!
It is really hard to successfully manage a thriving PTG without a solid crew of hardworking and dependable volunteers. While we don’t get paid for the work we are doing, it often feels like a part-time or even full-time job, am I right? The past few weeks have felt like that for me!
I know I often joke to my friends and family that while I am not employed at my child’s school, I might as well be. I certainly spend a lot of time there and/or “work” at home doing so much behind-the-scenes. I bet you can relate too!
While volunteers don’t get paid in money, they can get paid with kind words and other demonstrations of gratitude. Think of the appreciation that you give your volunteers as one of their forms of “payment.”
Volunteer Appreciation in your Parent Teacher Group, are you doing enough?
Take care of your volunteers!
As silly as it might sound, I actually have started to think about Parent Teacher Groups as a type of business of sorts. I think that might be part of the way my mind works now. My husband and I own a local business, a chiropractic clinic, and I often see so many similarities between the business and volunteer worlds. Just like the notion that any profession or business needs to take good care of their employees and customers/clients, we need to take good care of our volunteers too! In a way, we could think of our volunteers as both our employees AND our customers, which means we need to pay extra close attention to them!
If our volunteers aren’t happy and don’t feel appreciated, they will walk away and never come back (and likely tell all of their friends about their negative experience along the way.) Of course, that is the last thing any of us want! So, let’s talk about our volunteers and let’s talk about appreciation.
Here a few easy ways you can show your appreciation to your volunteers that do not take a lot of time or money!
1. Get Personal!
Try to make more personal connections with your volunteers. Reach out to them. Let them know you care about them. Of course don’t be fake about. But the best way to make strong connections with your volunteers is if you put in the time and effort to actually do it.
All relationships take work and a strong PTG/volunteer relationship is no exception. Say hi on the playground, send a few individual email/Facebook messages thanking them for coming to the last meeting they attended. Let them know that you care about them and are grateful for their support by telling them exactly that!
When you have a big event coming up, send out a few personal messages to ask them for their feedback. People really respond well to that personal outreach. They love knowing someone cares about their ideas!
2. Thank them, thank them, and thank them some more!
Handwritten notes make a big difference. Have you sent any this year? I know, they take time and you don’t have any. I get it! Just remember it all starts at the top. If your volunteers don’t feel appreciated for the help they are providing, what is the likelihood they will continue?
Not sure what to write? Tell them how much money was earned during an event they worked at. Share with them how much the students loved an event that they helped with.
Don’t have time to write out every word? Let me help! Use my partially written Volunteer Thank-you note below and fill in the details. Take it a step further and ask the Principal to sign too! Who wouldn’t like a special note straight from you and the principal with lovely expressions of gratitude for their time and dedication?
3. What do they want?
Discover what your volunteers are looking to get out of their involvement, not what you want to get out of it. Send volunteers a survey to find out why they got involved. Ask what is most important to them! Ask your volunteers when they are available. Better yet, put it all together in their membership paperwork at the start of each year. That way you have everything you need in one place and can easily work from there! Finding out these details from your volunteers shows them that you care about them and that you appreciate not only what they can contribute to your group, but that you also appreciate their availability and their interests.
4. Stay Positive
I know it is easy to get overwhelmed and you might want to vent from time to time. Just don’t do it to your volunteers or even in front of them. Instead of focusing on the fact that 5 parents out of a school population of 500 showed up to help, focus on your admiration to those 5 people who did support you/your PTG. We can get caught up wasting so much time and attention focused on who isn’t helping us. In the end, we can easily lose track of the awesome support that is already there. By leading the group with a positive outlook, you will have more time and attention to focus on the amazing volunteers who are already there helping you!
National Appreciation Week AND beyond
National Volunteer Appreciation Week falls on the calendar in April. This year it was just this past week! While I think it is a great idea to use this time each year to officially thank volunteers, don’t let a date on the calendar tell you when to start (or stop) showing your appreciation.
If you can find ways to help keep your volunteers happy, feeling like they belong, and believing they are valued, you will be able to keep more of your volunteers year-to-year. I bet your volunteers will also become your best networking resource for attracting even more quality volunteers as well!
Here are a few free printables that I’d like to share with you!
Want even more ideas for Volunteer Appreciation?
Check out my post Quick & easy ideas to say thank you during Volunteer Appreciation Week!
Now that we have discussed a variety of ways you can easily use to show your appreciation to your volunteers, it is time someone thanks you!
Thank YOU for all you do for your PTG. In case someone hasn’t told you lately, I hope you know the volunteer work you are doing is making a huge difference to so many people.
Thank you SO much for having such a giving heart and going above and beyond for your school, students, teachers, staff, and families! Thank you for showing up early before the school year started and staying late after school many days! Thank you for staying up late at night to finish details for that fundraiser. Thanks for checking in on the weekend and responding to those emails! Thank you for taking time off of work so you could help at school! Thank you for finding a sitter for your kids so you could work at that event! Thank you for sharing your time over many weekends for this volunteer gig! Thank you for all of the many amazing things you do every month, every week, every day of the year, big and small!
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