Schools are constantly in need of assistance. Parent Associations and other groups are an important part of schools as a way to raise funds, provide important materials, and valuable resources for students. But, unfortunately many of us do not have the available time needed to help out because of the hectic family schedule. So how can you be of assistance?
Providing extra money is one way to help out. However with the current economy or your own financial situation, that might not be a possibility. Another often-overlooked option is providing assistance remotely, that’s right, virtual volunteering.
How can you help?
Some programs are actively looking for people to fill certain roles that can be done from home. Other times you will be presenting an original idea. The best place to start is by talking to the people who organize events and run associations. As they will often assign tasks it will be up to them to fit you into the list of things that need to be done. Here are a few examples of things you could volunteer for:
- Data Entry – Many schools need assistance with maintaining records and keeping things up to date. With current technology it is a simple matter to perform some of these duties remotely.
- Bookkeeping – While some schools have people responsible for this function, other schools or associations use volunteers to assist them. Many schools and clubs now have two people to share the traditional role of the treasurer. One to collect money, go to the bank , interact in person with the school, provide reports at meetings and a person who can work remotely doing the bookkeeping and other financial duties. This is made so much easier using online accounting software such as Xero, no more having to transfer ‘the books’ between people.
- Sponsorship Research – Finding businesses and individuals to sponsor events as well as donate time and materials for fundraisers involves a lot of phone calls which can easily be done remotely.
- Grant Applications – The application process is something that can be done from home quite easily and is always in demand. Grants are a wonderful way to raise funds for schools.
- Research – Sometimes being able to research an idea or requirement can be a useful way to volunteer your time. Looking into different fundraising opportunities and providing reports on findings is a good example.
- Social Media – If you love social media maybe you could administer the parent association’s facebook page or fete page. Keep up to date with what’s in the newsletter, turn a few emails into posts and you are done.
- Newsletters – If your school has a big event happening, a fete or centenary celebration your school might run a special newsletter that needs putting together or your P&C might appreciate some help putting together their portion of the school newsletter.
- Graphic Design – Schools and Parent Associations are always producing banners, signs and flyers if you’ve got skills in this area this can be a huge help (and there’s always Canva) especially when there are large events like fetes on.
- Quotes – If you’ve got the specifications for what your school needs, give someone the job to call around to arrange quotes or find options.
- Gifts for Teachers or special gifts for those who’ve gone above and beyond – There are plenty of parents out there who would be more than happy to show off their online shopping skills, once the collection is done or the budget is allocated, give them a budget and away they go! Even getting reimbursed is easy thanks to software like Xero. Reimbursements are as easy as taking a picture of your receipt using an app! Thank you internet!
- Marketing & Websites – If you have skills in these areas the fete convenors would love to hear from you!
- Class Rep – A class facebook group, email list or phone list, a few reminders and booking a Mum’s dinner or a Dad’s night and this is a great way to get to keep on top of what is happening and get to know the other parents in your class (make sure privacy laws are followed when collecting contact details).
Another option for virtual volunteering is to partner with someone else to help with events and activities. While you almost always need someone on hand to organise and set-up and event, there are many aspects of planning and preparation that can be done remotely. Working in tandem can be an effective way to help out.
- Arranging Field Trips – Confirming dates and reservations along with arranging with transportation needs.
- Organising Mixers and Events – Reserving locations and handling invitations and confirmations.
- Fetes – Organising and confirming the entertainment schedule, food vans or market stalls.
Virtual volunteering is a wonderful way to help out. Not only is it a way to participate, but it can easily be fit into a busy schedule. Even a little bit of help can go a long way so why not see what you can do to lend a hand.
Originally published November 22, 2011