How to Parents to Show Up for Your PTO Events

How to get parents to show up for PTO events

Have you ever planned an awesome PTO event and thought you’d have a ton of families show up for the event, but in reality, no one comes?  So frustrating!

One of the biggest reasons why parents don’t show up to PTO events is that they’re simply not finding out about they event! It’s not like they wouldn’t want to come to a night of free entertainment at the school that their family would love.  The main reason that they’re not coming is that they probably didn’t hear about the event, so they couldn’t come.

How to fix this issue?

You have to publicize events numerous times, in different ways, on different platforms to increase the odds of parents finding out about the event.  Keep putting the info out there, even if you think it’s too much.

And when you publicize the event, your PTO needs to be super clear about the details of the event, namely the when and the where.  Usually what’s happening at the event is clear, but the other details might not be.

Parents are busy, and have tons of information coming at them, so sometimes they miss the finer details.  And sometimes they miss the not so fine details too.  Like the location.

See, back when my kids were at the lower elementary school, the PTA would put on an annual carnival.  The amount of the games and booths we had made it impossible to hold at the elementary school, so it was always hosted at either the Junior High or High School.  All of the flyers home and posters around school made the location very clear.  Yet every year we would have families going to the elementary school, thinking the carnival was there!  To make sure these families didn’t miss out on the carnival fun, we always made sure to post signs at the elementary school with the right location.

Taking that carnival as an example, here is the timeline we generally followed as far as publicity for the event:

6 months out: Announce the date in the annual calendar of events and on district calendar

1 month out: Announce the date, location and time in PTA newsletter, and on Facebook and put up posters around the school and facing out on entrance doors

2/3 weeks out: Send home donation and volunteer requests with paper flyers, in PTA newsletter and on Facebook.  For indoor recess, have kids color carnival coloring pages.

1 week out: Send event, donation and volunteer reminder in PTA newsletter, paper flyer and on Facebook

Week of: Send home color sheet good for 2 free game tickets home with every completed coloring page brought to the event, make daily announcements about the event during morning announcements, and on Facebook.  Some years a carnival program was sent home and reminder stickers were attached to every student the day before the event.

That’s heckuva lot of reminders and opportunities for parents to realize that this is a big event and your child will be upset if they miss out on all the fun!  The years when we really nailed the publicity part of the event made for the most successful and well attended events (as long as the weather cooperated for this Winter-times event!)

Want even more tips on how to get parents to show up to PTO events?  Watch this video:










Posted in Planning, Communication + Organization, Volunteers + Parent Involvement.

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