Councils exist to serve local PTAs, to educate local PTA leaders, to create a stronger awareness and relationship between local PTAs and the school district, and to facilitate programs that are more effective on a larger scale.
One of the biggest determining factors in the health of a local PTA is whether that local PTA has effective council support. Yet councils frequently face challenges when it comes to finding and recruiting council volunteers and officers.
Here are eight concrete actions (many of them can also be implemented virtually) that a council can take now to build their volunteer base and engage future council leaders:
- Provide ongoing recognition for local PTA leaders.
A robust, year-round recognition program for local leaders and programs provides a wealth of information about potential future council leaders, and creates an immediate, positive connection. It is also a way to share the work of PTAs across the district.
- Bring people together frequently.
Social opportunities in the form of roundtables, discussions, and input sessions are a chance to create relationships with the next generation of council leaders.
- Focus on council communication.
One of the most critical roles of a council is communication. Councils are a hub of information coming from local PTAs, community organizations, the school district, WSPTA and National PTA, and much more. Reliable, complete, relevant, and accurate communication will increase council visibility and volunteer engagement.
- Create opportunities for volunteers to participate in council projects.
Delegating those small-but-critical jobs is an investment in the future of the council!
- Learn and use people’s names.
People are much more likely to do something for someone when they feel a personal connection. Using names helps create that connection.
- When the going gets tough, “watch for the helpers.”
It’s a well-known phenomenon – many of PTAs strongest leaders come from challenging PTA situations. When things get difficult, as Mr. Rogers would say, “watch for the helpers” – they’re your future leaders.
- Keep an eye out for volunteers in transition.
PTA has frequent transitions. Kids grow and change, and volunteer opportunities change as well. Presidents complete their terms. Volunteers may be “between commitments” or “ready for a change.” Middle and high schools need different types of support. Strong volunteers can often be persuaded to make a change during one of these transitions.
- Have some fun!
The work PTA does is important, and the needs being addressed are real. Making time and space for a bit of fun makes the hard work worthwhile and encourages volunteers to stick around when things become challenging.