Tips for a successful fair event using PlanSocial
We highly recommend you watch this video before you set up a big and complicated event on PlanSocial.
It is well worth watching as it will save you lots of time setting up the event, and you'll be glad to get more volunteers as a result too.
If you don't want to watch the video... this is a quick way to set up your stalls:
1. Add an activity for your first stall
2. Add a task for the first rota timeslot (just add the time as the task title, e.g. 10.00-10.30) and add a description explaining in simple terms what a volunteer would need to do
3. Set the minimum helpers to the real minimum you need to run the stall for that timeslot (edit & press ENTER to save)
4. Set the maximum to the most you need for that timeslot - this means it will show as "Full" and help guide people where help is really needed instead
5. Now you can copy that task using the COPY button, and just hover over the title to edit the timeslot timings
6. Repeat for the other timeslots
7. Once you are happy with that stall (Activity), copy the whole activity now that it already has all the tasks and helpers added, then hover and edit the activity title.
8. Repeat for other activities that require the same number of helpers on each timeslot. (I.e. set up one activity for a stall that needs 1 helper per timeslot, and copy that activity for all similar stalls. Then set up another activity with timeslots (ie tasks) that need 2 helpers per timeslot, and copy that activity for any similar stalls.)
... And this is how you'll increase your chances of getting more volunteers involved:
1. Add a welcoming and compelling event description
Step into the shoes of a new parent at the school and explain simply what the event is about and how much fun it will be (hopefully?!). Also explain that new volunteers are always welcomed and all they need to do is pick a task below and tick the box to help.
Don't be afraid to let them know that the event will only be a success if parents muck in and do their bit to help. Sometimes PTAs hold back from spelling out just how badly you need help, and parents bumble along in ignorant bliss, never realising just how much they were needed.
2. Allow the main focus to be on the tasks you want volunteers for
Tidy up the page to tuck away tasks the committee are already doing - e.g. put them in an Activity called "Organiser tasks"
3. Ask for lots of helpers, and make your timeslots small
This might be a scary leap for you to take if you've struggled to rustle up 20 volunteers before, but remember you've probably needed them to help for 2-3 hours each. Parents are much more willing to help when they don't have to spend too long on the stall, say 30, 45 or 60 minutes (max!).
There's safety in numbers - if they see 100 helpers are needed then they are more likely to say yes, because they know the work will be shared out well. It can work well to assign a stall to each class - so they feel a sense of responsibility and don't want to let the side down. It's also great to get the kids involved if possible (unless it involves bar work!)
4. Don't forget to ASK for help!
Once you have published your fair stalls and have tasks waiting for volunteers, you need to let people know! :) If you are still building your community, make sure you have the register link (find it on the settings tab of your Manage page) shared in any regular school /PTA newsletters.
If you send out messages from the school office, include the link every time. Put the PlanSocial register button on your website, put the link on your social media pages. Post it regularly so people are often reminded to sign up or volunteer. You'll need to ask several times to get onto people's radars. We suggest a weekly email on the run-up to your fair. If you don't ask, you don't get - right?
Remember when you want to email your list, make sure you post your message on the Event (not News page) message wall, and -- very important -- select "Post & email community" before clicking POST. That's how people will get emailed, and that's how you get volunteers coming on board in waves each time you post, updating the signup sheets/rotas in real time so there is no duplication.
One thing that puts newbies off -- sometimes keen-bean committee members put up a load of tasks and then immediately start to volunteer for lots of slots, booking out a whole stall very selflessly. This can unfortunately backfire, as new would-be volunteers get the impression that a) they need to follow suit and volunteer all day or b) the committee don't really want new people to come on board. So remember don't hog the rota -- give people a chance to offer their time, and then get your regular helpers to fill in the gaps if needed.
5. Remind your helpers what they promised to do...
The day before/or morning of your fair - post another message on the Event wall, and this time pick "Post & email helpers". This emails only those who are helping, and reminds each individual of what tasks they are down for. You can also print off a paper copy of your volunteer signup sheets from the Event page using the Task Tables button.
Hope your fair goes superbly - let us know how you get on!
Email us if you get stuck on anything -- we'd love to help you.