School Community Participation
The Dummies’ Guide
to sharing your knowledge
All parents new to a school (and even some who have been around a while!) have questions about how things work, what to do, who does what, where things are and so forth.
My suggestion is that the P&C shares their knowledge by creating a Dummies’ Guide or ‘frequently asked questions’ for school families. This is best done at the start of a fresh year, or as soon as practical thereafter.
The benefits for fundraising include:
- you can let families know your fundraising calendar (if it has been decided);
- you can let families know how they can volunteer throughout the year. You can even be specific, for example ‘we need a photographer to volunteer at the fete’ or ‘we need somebody to co-ordinate the cookbook fundraiser’;
- you can set your general expectations for your fundraising. For example, I heard about one fete co-ordinator who reportedly spoke at parent information evenings to let families know that their school fete was an opportunity for those families that could afford it to splurge so that the fundraising goals could be achieved. (From all reports it was effective!);
- you get to ‘sell your benefits’ to reinforce the important contribution made by the P&C, which makes families more receptive to supporting you financially.
Your Dummies’ Guide might also include topics like these:
- how parents can get involved in the school (e.g. by helping with reading, swimming, fundraising)
- the philosophy of your P&C, for example, your commitment to being inclusive and welcoming
- what facilities are operated by the P&C
- ‘who’s who’ in the P&C
- what/how past P&C efforts have been able to contribute to the school, and importantly what benefits these have had for the children
- how after-school care/tuckshop/ uniform shop/swim club works
- what support is offered to families
- any music/sport/art/special interest programs that are offered at the school
- what happens if your child has problems at school – who is the first contact?
- a map of the school, including the best parking.
As you plan to create your Dummies’ Guide, it is important to invite contributions from the principal, who may wish to write a welcome message and communicate other important information such as the school’s anti-bullying policy. Also ask your convenors to contribute.
It is also a great idea to send a quick survey out to your parents, simply asking them what they wish they knew when they first joined the school community. You might be surprised by the responses.
I can sense the lightbulbs going off for seasoned fundraisers reading this… I can see you thinking: ‘If we create a substantial document, we can get it properly designed and printed and then sell sponsorship/advertising in it!’ Now that’s the kind of fundraising thinking I love!