Volunteers do not necessarily have the time, they just have the heart

Parental Engagement PTAs
05 May 2021
Kerry-Jane Packman
Kerry-Jane Packman is Executive Director of Programmes, Membership and Charitable Services and an accomplished fundraiser with over 20 years’ experience of working within the charity sector driving successful funding operations and generating income from multiple sources. 
Parents are the backbone of a PTA, whether that is as committee members or as a volunteer. However, maintaining motivation can be challenging at times and we wanted to help.

With this in mind, we channelled our energies into finding a way we could celebrate, inspire and support our PTA Heroes. Those volunteers that contribute their time, energy and ideas to the PTA who are in our view the unsung heroes of the parent community. We wanted to shine a spotlight on them.

Therefore, from 21st to 25th June, we will be hosting our first National PTA Week. 

National PTA Week, founded by Parentkind, is a week-long celebration of PTAs (both members and non-members) and the incredible work they do within their school communities. The week offers a range of PTA workshops, to support and inspire PTAs to achieve their fundraising goals, enabling an even greater contribution to our children’s schools. 

If that is not enough, National PTA Week also provides a platform to champion the impact of PTAs, why every school deserves one, and celebrate our most inspiring PTAs.

After a challenging year for school communities and fundraising, it is not only a prime time to celebrate and re-energise efforts so you can hit the ground running in anticipation of the new school year but also a great opportunity to build a team spirit and sense of community within your PTA. The more valued your parent volunteers feel, the more likely they are to feel relaxed and, in turn, be more dynamic. 

Each parent is an individual and what is seen as motivation for one individual may not be for another, so I thought it might be helpful to share some of my tops tips from my experience that can help you get the best out of your volunteers. 

What motivates your volunteers to give their time?

PTA committee members and parent volunteers will have a variety of motivations for wanting to get involved and giving their time which can even be multiple reasons from: gaining new skills and experience, to give something back to the community, to meeting new people, or to give them something to do or simply having an affinity to their child’s school. If you can understand the reasons why each of your volunteers wants to volunteer, it is much easier to help ensure you are fulfilling their needs. Sit down with them and work out what is going to provide the most value for their own reasons for volunteering, as well as what is going to be beneficial for your PTA.

What impact and difference is your PTA making?

Time is precious and if volunteers do not feel their time is being used in an effective way, they are unlikely to continue. Its sometimes easy to list the activities you are doing, but what difference are they making? How is the work of the PTA and your parent volunteers making an impact to the school?

When was the last time you thanked your volunteers?

A simple thank you at the end of their volunteer shift doesn’t take much effort but it does take some thought. Some PTAs send birthday cards to their volunteers, award them with certificates to recognise their contributions and even have volunteer of the month or year awards for example. How can you make your volunteers feel special and valued? Maybe attempt to check-in” with them and ask what they would like? The effect of recognition and praise plays a huge part in keeping volunteers motivated.