For a number of reasons, female volunteers are often more prevalent than male volunteers at schools. Common sense and a quick google search tell us the more a child's parents or guardians are involved and interested in their lives, the better. Considering how much of our children's time and energy is spent at school, volunteering for the PTA is one way to get to know more about how they spend their day. Plus, a variety of active volunteers provides different perspectives, ideas, skills and more fun for all.
One strategy to get more volunteers is to add more males into the mix. So what's a PTAer to do? Listen up because opportunity is knocking.
Check out our how-tos for tapping into this underutilized volunteer resource . . . MEN and for getting more volunteers in general.
1. Create an opportunity for dads to get to know each other
It's always nice to see a familiar face, especially when walking through a crowded gym to help out with a bake sale. Make that more likely to occur by getting parents together socially. Aim to do it early in the day after school starts, and try to do it more than once during the year.
You can plan some activities that are broadly enjoyed by men, but it's not necessary.
Be sure to pick an activity where conversation is required. Movie night is out, but try a bowling night, parents' night out, game night at a parent's home or a potluck at school. Reach out to your parent community and ask what they are interested in doing or what has worked out well in the past, and ask if anyone would like to help out.
The focus of this type of event is for everyone to get to know each other. Introduce yourself to as many attendees as possible and briefly mention what you do at school, but leave it at that. This isn't the time to whip out your Spring Auction volunteer sign-up sheet. However, if you meet someone who expresses interest in helping out at school, get their name and contact information and note what they said they'd like to do. Then, follow-up ASAP by adding them to your volunteer coordination hub.
2. Create a volunteer opportunity where dads get to work together with their child(ren)
Parents appreciate the experience and time spent volunteering with their kids and their kids benefit from this as well. This is especially true for busy families who may already have less time to spend with each other than they'd like. Remind parents that this quality family time can also involve older siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. Additionally, volunteers, especially first-time volunteers, may be more likely to sign up and feel less intimidated with a child in tow. So much winning!
3. Let the men know they're a priority and recruit with intent
When you have a need for volunteers, consider your male parent population and don't hesitate to reach out to them personally to ask for help. Mention (possibly again) that you're actively looking to increase your volunteer pool and part of that involves adding more males into the mix.
The PTA doesn't have to do all the recruiting. If you have an active male volunteer ask him if he knows of any fathers who'd also be interesting in helping out and suggest he reach out to them. Ask school staff members if they know of anyone who may be likely to help out. Suggest current volunteers bring their partner or a friend along next time they sign up to help.
4. Make the men feel welcome, comfortable and appreciated
Keep in mind that this may be one of the first times your new recruit has participated in a school event. As always, greet them when they arrive and thank them for coming. Introduce them to as many people as possible, reiterate what they'll be doing and answer any questions they might have before moving on.
Everyone wants to be acknowledged, especially when donating their time and energy, but too much attention can make people uncomfortable. When sending out a thank you email or addressing a crowd, keep it sincere and simple, while recognizing your newbies. Say something like, "Thank you to everyone who helped out today. It was great to see so many new faces." Keep it light and positive.
5. Keep 'em coming back for more
Getting people to sign up to help is one thing, but the real victory comes when they show up, do a great job, and even better, come back to help again. Don't forget to get their contact information and communicate with them regularly, whenever possible and relevant. Remind them that volunteering at school is a great way to meet like-minded people, make new friends, gain professional contacts, learn something new and make a difference.
On top of all that, it can be a lot of fun.
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