Want to know why your PTO has trouble attracting or keeping volunteers?
It’s all in how they are recruited!
This post will teach you the number one mistake PTA and PTO groups make when it comes to recruiting new volunteers.
The Mistake: Volun-telling
The number one mistake PTOs make when recruiting new volunteers is volun-telling potential volunteers for tasks.
It’s when someone else signs a volunteer up to do something they never actually signed up to do.
The assumption is being made that the volunteer is willing to do the task, but no one has bothered to check with her first.
Why this mistake is so bad
Plain and simple, it’s a morale killer.
It makes people feel like they’re not appreciated!
And who wants to help an organization that treats them this way?
If your group has a habit of volun-telling people, then that’s much of your problem of why you have a small or non-existent volunteer base.
Honestly, how would you feel if someone let you know that you sure were missed at last night’s PTO meeting, but that didn’t stop you from being in charge of Carnival!
Crappy and walked all over.
And those are real good motivators, right?
A Real Life Example
Before my kids were even enrolled in school, I had a friend named Tammy, with a son a few years older than my own.
Tammy and I met through a Pre-School Co-op.
We chatted pretty much daily because the Co-op was such a hot mess, but we became friends instantly and she would share the details of her life with me frequently.
One day she was telling me all about the PTO at her son’s elementary school.
She was pretty involved, wasn’t able to attend one of the recent meetings.
Much to her surprise, she found out after the fact that she’d been “volunteered” to make cupcakes for her son’s class.
She was livid, especially since she wasn’t a baker, and her son had just been diagnosed with a gluten allergy.
She had no plans on bringing wheat into her home, so making cupcakes for the class wasn’t on her to do list.
What’s more, Tammy felt like the PTO members took her for granted.
She had taken the time to let them know she couldn’t be at the meeting, and they could’ve at least checked with her to see if she wanted or had time to bake the cupcakes.
She ended up making the cupcakes because she didn’t want to look like a jerk.
But she wasn’t happy about it at all and it turned her off from helping out with PTO events going forward.
What a huge miscalculation this PTO made!
Yes, the cupcakes got made, but they lost a dependable volunteer in the process!
What to do instead
The thing is that this mistake is actually super easy to avoid making in the first place.
Have the common courtesy to ask someone if they can handle a task or job in private.
And once you have them on board, then make it public knowledge.
Not hard at all.
Take a bit of pre-planning and thinking.
I really hate to see people called out during meetings (“Hey Suzy, wanna be President next year?”).
Instead, check with them privately, so they won’t feel the peer pressure to say yes.
The last thing you want is for volunteers to feel goaded into helping, when they don’t have the time or skillset to complete the task well.
And that’s just how healthy organizations work!
Once you quit volunteering parents for tasks they didn’t actually sign up to do, you’ll see a big difference in your volunteer base!
The Only Type of Volunteer You Can Volun-Tell
I’ll leave you with one final thought about the mistake of volun-telling.
There’s actually one person who you can volun-tell on the regular, with minimal consequences…
And that’s your spouse!
I’ve volun-told my husband for lots of things over the years.
One year he was the impromptu emcee for the Let’s Make a Deal Night.
Another, he was the Bingo caller.
And another time, he was the Treasurer for the Junior High.
Of course, I did know my husband’s general availability and willingness to help before I let him know what he’d be doing!
So feel free to volun-tell your spouse all you want.
Just don’t take the same liberty with anyone else!
Prefer to learn more about this mistake and why it’s so bad for your PTO?
Over to you!
Have you ever been volun-told?
How did it make you feel?
Let’s hear the details in the comments!
Need more help with getting + keeping volunteers?
The Membership Master Plan is for all groups who are ready to boost their volunteer base with simple to implement strategies.
Along with the Guide, there’s also editable forms and flyer templates so you can focus on the details of getting more members and volunteers without having to worry about coming up with what to say.
That’s all been done for you, so you just have to customize the template, print and either post on social media or send home!