Your school PTA Christmas fair is likely to be one of the most important items in your school fundraising calendar. It’s a popular event that families look forward to. There are dozens of stalls to source stock for, set up and manage on the day, food to organise and serve, Santas and elves to recruit, presents to wrap… the list goes on!
How is your PTA managing all of this? Many PTAs use a spreadsheet to manage the stalls and tasks, followed up with paper and email appeals for help. Sometimes they use Facebook and Twitter channels to ask for volunteers.
Several PTA meetings are held to dish out the tasks and use those vital Class Reps to reach out to the parent community. They need to use all the charm and persuasion they can manage to drum up some support.
This can be time-consuming and slightly uncomfortable if people start to slope away when they see you approaching with a clipboard. The most enthusiastic volunteers are willing to spend 3+ hours helping, but unfortunately, this is only off-putting to the rest of us mere mortals!
Getting more PTA Christmas Fair volunteers
There are many reasons why some people don’t help out, so it's important to focus on what would motivate somebody to volunteer their time or skills for their PTA. Here are some suggestions to get more parents helping out at this year's PTA Christmas Fair:
1. Make a complete list of all the stalls, and offer everyone the chance to help. Don’t just re-use last year’s list of stall organisers — they’ll be stuck doing it for years!
2. Instead, ask them to write down in detail the steps they took to run their stalls. This may seem tedious but it will help to share the knowledge. Plus it makes it easier for a new volunteer to step in. It’s their get-out clause! If you don’t have an escape plan, nobody else is going to want to join the flock.
3. Keep a detailed record of answers to key questions such as:-
• Who were your stock suppliers?
• How much stock did you order?
• What did you pay for it?
• What did you sell it for?
• What sold well, and what was leftover?
How is your PTA managing all of this? Many PTAs we have spoken to use a spreadsheet to manage the stalls and tasks, followed up with paper and email appeals for help. Several PTA meetings are held to dish out the tasks and use those vital Class Reps to reach out to the parent community and use all the charm and persuasion they can manage to drum up some support.
Keep a note of whether they seemed keen to help again next year or would like a break. It’s best if on electronic copy rather than a paper file. File pages go missing. An electronic record is easier to share, modify and re-use.
5. List each and every task or rota slot that needs a helper on the day and make this available to the wider school community, not just the core group of helpers. Again, this is important for several reasons:
• It gives everybody visibility of exactly what is involved and demystifies it,
• It gives new faces a chance to volunteer, confident that they understand the tasks, and
• It promotes the good work that the regular helpers do — hardly anyone really appreciates the extent of the preparation involved.
6. Make time slots only half an hour rather than an hour. This may take more coordination, but an hour is quite a long time to leave your other half or a friend looking after young kids. If you are running a really easy stall you could even make it 15 min slots, hardly a blip on a fairgoer’s visit – reducing the barrier to volunteering drastically. Those that are happy to offer help for longer can simply sign up for several slots!
7. Allow everyone to see who else is helping on the stall. This means that friends can sign up together in the same rota slot, and be sure to pass the time happily working together.
8. Make sure the PTA Christmas Fair stall organisers have contact details handy for all the volunteers. They can fire off a quick email or text to gee them up and make sure they are up to speed and on time.
9. Keep an open channel to gather feedback, suggestions and of course update the notes with an event ‘post-mortem’, recording each potential improvement for next year.
10. Don’t forget to thank everyone afterwords, and have cause to celebrate pulling off a wonderful community event through united efforts. Share facts and figures and ideally lots of photos with the entire community, subject to adequate privacy measures being in place.
If the above list makes sense to you, and you want to get moving on it right away, you can take a giant leap forward by creating a free PlanSocial Hub for your school PTA, which makes it much easier!
Remember, the more people who take part in organising and volunteering, the greater the sense of ownership, pride and pleasure in making a difference to our kids. Make it social, you won’t regret it!
Over to you
How successful have you been in recruiting volunteers for your PTA Christmas Fair this year? Is it an easy task or do you struggle to get people to step forward? Have you tried reducing your volunteer slot durations? Do you have any tips to share based on your experiences as a volunteer recruiter or fair organiser? Contact us to let us know!
PlanSocial provides online payment and community hubs for schools and PTAs. List events and volunteer opportunities, sell tickets and collect online donations, connect parents directly with others in their kids’ classes to build a strong community spirit. Create a hub for your school community in 2 minutes.