Many PTA committee members and volunteering enthusiasts fall into the trap of thinking that it's not too much trouble to run a fair stall single-handedly for the duration of the event, which can be 2-3 hours typically. Very commendable, we hear you cry! But there are three potential problems with this approach:
1) It may be fun this year, but next year and the next and the next, ad infinitum until your child leaves? Meh, not so much! You need to be careful not to make a rod for your own back... and it might be tricky finding a replacement as committed as you!
2) You may think you are doing everyone a favour by doing it all, but actually for the same reasons you feel good about doing it, so would others. They might actually like to do a short stint, but don't want to miss out on being with their family for the whole event. Giving more people a chance to do just a little is actually good for the community as a whole. Dispel the myth that it has to be all or nothing.
3) You may not realise it, the tight-knit group of friendships you have made with your regular hard-working PTA crew... well we're sorry to tell you this can sometimes be perceived as a .... dare we say it... "clique". Don't freak out -- we're not saying it's true in your case, but it's not uncommon. However well intentioned your merry band is, this situation can inadvertently evolve.
Why not open up your volunteering opportunities by breaking them up into small pieces and inviting EVERYONE to volunteer, EACH time. If you think to yourself "I know, I'll just drop a little email to the same people who did it last year," -- try your best not to slip into this habit. It happens all the time, but can lead to a downward spiral. Then 2 years later you wonder why it's always the same ones....
This is just a suggestion, but... what if you were to make the rota slots shorter than you would normally? Say 20 or 30 mins?. Anything longer than 45 mins and you'll could put off the majority of would-be volunteers. People with small kids, or friends they want to catch up with. They might feel that it's going to get in the way of their enjoyment if they have to commit to that sort of time.
Some tasks do have a tricky handover, e.g. you might need a long stretch to get a rhythm going, get used to not burning the burgers, that sort of thing. But -- running the cash till, or selling tickets? Just a 20 second changeover, and off you go to have some fun! Getting more people to do just a bit to help will over time change the mindset of your school community. It will be more about "When's your rota slot?" rather than "Oh, are you helping this year? See you later, a lot later!"
Some PTAs tell us they worry about making the slots too small because they won't get enough volunteers, and that it will scare people off if they see that 80 volunteers are needed for an event. Well, our response is... what actually scares a lot of parents is when they see a huge event, with only 8
martyrs volunteers. Now that's a bit scary. Maybe 80 is great. Because 80 means each person does a little something, something doable by an ordinary mortal.
So here are our top tips for converting event-goers into event-helpers:
1) Make the slot as short as is practical, bearing in mind handover etc
2) DON'T immediately fill all the slot with your usual volunteers - give newbies a chance to spy those empty rotas and think about it for a bit
3) Do the usual playground schmoozing, and eye-catching posters, etc
4) Make it clear that things are changing, that the PTA is now able to chop up the jobs into tiny pieces so everyone can play their part in improving our kids' school experience, don't be apologetic... but of course no bullying! (It's actually really hard to refuse to help for 15-20 mins, unless you are breastfeeding twins or something)
5) Give the odd e-nudge via PTAsocial event update emails, this usually results in a flurry of website visits and number of rota slots getting filled in waves
6) Ideally have class reps or committee members to work on small groups of potential volunteers and keep everyone up to date via PTAsocial's group messaging feature, assign Event Managers to different sub-areas, task them with finding volunteers for their bits, and give them a class group or two each to focus on.
7) Remember that delegation is the way forward - monitor your rotas in real time, even from your smartphone (if you have one). And remember to enjoy the event too! Take a break and be there with your family. That's what it's all about, after all.
We hope this helps you to think about a different way of doing things, making it easier to share the tasks and widen your volunteering base by requiring less effort from each individual. Now go forth and make your PTA social!