Recruiting, engaging and retaining volunteers are challenges many P&Cs face, but the new school year brings with it potential ‘new blood’. Here are five sure-fire ways to improve initial volunteer engagement:
Feed and water them! A cuppa and something to eat go a long way to creating a welcoming environment. Offer this after a full school parade (perhaps when captains receive their badges) or host a BBQ sausage sizzle to welcome new families on a Friday evening.
Say hello to a stranger. Make it a committee rule that committee members don’t congregate together and chat but mingle with others at school activities and fundraising functions, actively drawing newcomers into conversations. It takes real resolve to do this. It’s much easier to gravitate to those you know, but do you want to come across as cliquey? Of course not! Instead, the harder you try to make a new person feel welcome every time, the better your fundraising efforts will be.
Seek out and listen to ideas. Nothing screams ‘you are important’ more than asking what people think, or if there are any little ideas they can add to existing plans. Make a deliberate effort through your decision-making processes to stop and invite input.
Reward them. Every time a parent or carer volunteers at your school, their name goes into a monthly draw for a prize. It may be something that costs nothing but is highly desirable (like a car parking space for a week) or a donated voucher for coffee and cake at a local coffee shop.
Profuse thanks! Volunteers need to feel special. It can be as simple as a verbal ‘thank you’, a mention in the newsletter or presentation of thank-you certificates at the end of term (or build up for speech night). Take the presentation one step further and get students to present certificates to their parents. That beaming smile of pride on a child’s face is priceless!