How to Recruit New Volunteers for the PTA

We’re in the final countdown of summer break. (You’re welcome for that little ear worm.) Anyway, leaders of the PTA, PTO, Parentcrew, whatever they call it at your school, are trying to figure out how they’re going to gather new recruits to be home room parents, run the fall/spring carnival, throw various holiday parties in the classroom.

Wild Thing cookie bags for book fair week

Wild Thing cookie bags book fair weeks or birthdays

Some people go about this ethically and make a case for school pride, parent involvement and student achievement. We’ll call that Plan A.

If you want to get people to actually join your group and DO STUFF, you’re going to have to go with Plan B.

Thanksgiving juice boxes

Thanksgiving turkey and Pilgrim juice boxes

Step 1: Invite all parents to some kind of mandatory-sounding meeting. This could be Curriculum Night, a Meet the Teacher mixer, anything that implies information will be given they will need to know. Just say carpool in the note home and 80 percent of the parents will show up, if for no other reason than to complain about lanes or drop off/pick up procedures.

holiday s'mores and cocoa for teachers

Holiday s’mores and cocoa for teachers

Step 2: It’s still hot. It’s August for crying out loud. Jack with the air conditioning. It should be just slightly warm in the room…enough so men coming straight from work will loosen their collars.

Step 3: Serve adult beverages. This will seem very hospitable. You will seem like a friendly group. It will also help warm up the group, literally and figuratively.

Valentine's Day Kindergarten love

Valentine’s Day Kindergarten love

Step 4: Let a few of the VeryImportantInformation speakers drone on just the slightest bit too long. You’ll make your pitch last.

Step 5: Be adorable and quick with your pitch. You want to get them out of this meeting. You feel their pain. You’re on.their.side. Most importantly, be funny…and lace every joke with the slightest hint of parental guilt.

April Lucky Penny

April lucky penny

Step 6: Stand between the exit and the parents with your clipboard and sign up sheet in hand. A simple signature is their ticket out of that hot room, which now seems too small because it’s filled with so much expectation and obligation.

All they have to do is bring snacks to one party this year? Done! Just need a craft for Valentine’s Day? No problem! They just got the deal of a lifetime!

Now, do not be alarmed if you see them gasping for air in the hallway as they exit. This is normal. They were just emotionally waterboarded.

This may seem the tiniest bit harsh. I understand why some would shy away from these tactics. But this is not a time for lollipops and sunshine. This is elementary school. This is serious business.


3 thoughts on “How to Recruit New Volunteers for the PTA

  1. This post is about me isn’t it.

    I am being inundated with requests to join the PTA because I followed your advice. During the Kindergarten Open House the other night….the gym was HOT, there was zero water to be found and the three people that went ahead of me (one of them was drunk) talked too long. My speech was short and to the point and they got to leave right after!

    YAY PTA!

    • Not just you! I have been giving this advice for years because this is how I got tricked into running a bunch of stuff.
      I figured out the formula. So I feel compelled to share.
      Congrats, by the way. And thanks for proving my point!

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