To ask how you encourage people to help at school events?

(214 Posts)
JohnCusacksWife Sun 31-May-15 23:41:29

Just that really....we have a school roll of just under 250 but can only ever muster the same 10 or so helpers for fundraising events. How do we engage and enthuse other parents to help, even for an hour or two? We've tried everything we can think of but to no avail. At this rate our fundraising will diminish which means no food/gifts at Christmas parties, no leavers do, no IT purchases or major sports kit for the school. All advice is much appreciated!

Lindor Sun 31-May-15 23:46:30

The only thing that had any success for us was approaching people and asking them directly, with photocopy of jobs to be done/time slots that needed filling in hand.

Obviously you can only catch parents who do the school run, and it's time consuming.

Good luck!

vvviola Sun 31-May-15 23:46:59

(Admittedly from parents perspective here) I'm not sure you can. Some people are the enthusiastic helping types, others aren't. Some people just don't have the time/energy/mental space.

BUT as someone who has either been a full time student or worked full/almost full time while my kids were in school (plus having a non-sleeping preschooler which means helping out gets tricky) - one thing that did help was offering ways to help that didn't involve physically having to be at an event.

I've happily sewed (badly) costumes for plays, repaired stuff for the infant classes, managed email lists. None of which ever involved me having to drag an uncooperative preschooler to an evening meeting or take time off work.

TheoriginalLEM Sun 31-May-15 23:49:42

i might adopt that approach lindor. It never fails to amaze me how much people don't help. Quite happy for their kids to use the stuff we buy though. Same old faces all the time. moaning about it being the same old faces

MayPolist Sun 31-May-15 23:50:07

I think the parents are sending you a message loud and clear.How about listening?
leavers do -leavers parents pay for.
Xmas party- put a food list up for parents to sign up for food they will bring.
Sports kit- Local sponsor
Major IT purchase- don't know all ours comes from budgets

Fatmomma99 Sun 31-May-15 23:50:22

Oh where to start... (not that I ever managed it when I ran the PTA).

Ok... the playground is your best bet: smooze every mum you meet.

Do a variety. We run events (for example) with alcohol (not for the kids, obbs) and without, because the Muslims/non drinkers don't come to those.

Think creatively about what events to host.

Have events where parents are invited and other events which invite the community (folk round here love a bingo night)

And the biggest thing: Involve the children. If they mither to attend, they'll bring their parents along. Our school runs cake bakes (eg a valentines one) where making the cake (or whatever) is the homework (so loads of participate with the prep) and then the kids come along because they want to buy back their cake. Every item costs around 10p (falling down to 2p and the swanky parent with the OHMYGOSH cake selling at between 2 - 5 pounds). Event takes 1/2 hour after the school day and raises about £300 - £500.

Gook luck!

TheoriginalLEM Sun 31-May-15 23:52:22

we getthe same old excuses - ive got kids you know!!Really?? no shit! I work!! so do i -two jobs. Its an hour or two of peoples time i may just be suffering from a jaded outlook

WorraLiberty Sun 31-May-15 23:52:54

It's difficult OP.

When I helped to run my DC's fundraising committee, the school had 950 pupils and yet we had about 10/15 kind of regular helpers, but we really needed a few more.

The only thing that made a slight difference was that we got the school to send letters home/include in the weekly newsletter, stating that helpers didn't have to be parents/carers/grandparents or even relatives. They could be anyone with a little time to spare.

We had a few pensioners from the local British Legion come and help us out and also some teenage ex pupils, who had younger siblings at the school.

Perhaps you could put some flyers up in your local newsagents/supermarket/pensioners clubs?

Some people want to become volunteers but they don't know where or how to start and if they don't have kids or they've all grown up, they might not consider their local school needs them.

JohnCusacksWife Sun 31-May-15 23:52:56

May, maybe you're right. Perhaps if we just chucked it for a year people might either decide these things are worth a bit of their time or not. At least we'd know. And here the budgets hardly cover pencils never mind IT!

redcaryellowcar Sun 31-May-15 23:54:28

I have a ds starting school in September so I'm not really sure, but pre dc I worked and volunteered in sport and I think some suggestions may work in a school context, write a mini job description and time needed, so the person you approach knows what they are taking on. Ask for help at a specific event for a limited time frame eg, could you cover the welcome desk from 9-10? I agree with asking in person. If like me (now) they have other younger children suggest as pp says that they help by doing something from home, eg baking brownies, creating a flier or poster, I also find my baby is cute enough to persuade even the most grumpy shop keeper to part with a raffle prize.

Gibble1 Sun 31-May-15 23:55:52

To enlist help for cubs and scouts, I directly approached parents with a particular task which I thought they could/would do. They are far happier to do a task than to sign up to a thing.

spillyobeans Sun 31-May-15 23:57:34

Shame but dont know how much you can make someone help out if there just not interested confused.

WorraLiberty Sun 31-May-15 23:57:57

And also, don't assume the parents know where the fund raising money is spent.

If they have it spelled out that the kids will be missing out on these things, they might take a bit more notice.

Some genuinely don't have a clue what comes out of the school budget and what doesn't, and why would they really?

JohnCusacksWife Sun 31-May-15 23:58:38

Thanks all...when we have major events like Xmas/summer fairs we do ask for helpers for anything from 1hr to the whole afternoon - whatever people can manage. But even getting people for an hr is a struggle.

I know everyone's busy but so are we. It just gets a bit demoralising after a while. The last time we suggested cancelling a disco because of a lack of helpers we got loads of complaints....but still no offers of help.

TeddTess Sun 31-May-15 23:59:13

My dds are yrs 4 and 6 and i have done a lot of helping out but now tbh have become a bit jaded... seems to be raising money, a lot of hard work, for the PE teacher to spend on team football kits, rain jackets (FFS) etc... all really not very necessary, why can't they just wear our very distinctive PE kit?

anyway... to get people to help i think you have to give events to a class/year group at a time. then within that they have to be very very specific what jobs need to be done and ask people to help. I always found if you tell people exactly what needs to be done they will agree, no busy or not person wants to agree to a job that could turn it into an all day shocker!

JohnCusacksWife Sun 31-May-15 23:59:45

Worra, that's a great point, thanks. And one I'll be making at our AGM.

TeddTess Mon 01-Jun-15 00:00:30

i also agree with getting the kids involved. why can't they run the stall at the christmas/summer fairs? why do they need the mums to do it?

that way the kids would nag to go, the parents would bring them and would be much more likely to stand around spending money on teas, cakes etc!

TeddTess Mon 01-Jun-15 00:01:42

do you have reps from each class/year group? or just one overriding committee?

JohnCusacksWife Mon 01-Jun-15 00:02:39

Not sure primary kids could run stalls on their own without some supervision but its certainly worth looking into.

funnyface31 Mon 01-Jun-15 00:05:17

Can I just add that sometimes (not always) PtA's can become very clique and this prevents new helpers joining.

What about a coffee morning linked to an event (breast cancer/ or similar) see how many people come and ask for support then. Lots of parents don't have time to run around collecting items but happy to stand on a stall twice a year.

JohnCusacksWife Mon 01-Jun-15 00:06:37

We have a Parent Council comprising parents of pupils from P1 - P7. The Fundraising Group is a sub-committee of that with 4 core members and a number of other parents how regularly help at events. Our attached nursery seems to have quite active parents so perhaps we just need to wait for them to move up and join the school to get some new blood in.

funnyface31 Mon 01-Jun-15 00:07:33

The only problem with children running stalls is 1) who is watching them (safeguarding issue) and 2) they forget and want to go off and join in the fun.

WorraLiberty Mon 01-Jun-15 00:08:26

I honestly think you'd be better to look outside of the school for volunteers, especially as your school has less than 250 kids...that greatly reduces your chances really.

Lots of people will volunteer to help at food banks/soup kitchens/charity shops etc

But I doubt their local schools would even enter their heads if they don't have kids/grand kids there.

Doesn't mean they'd necessarily be any less willing to help though.

RedandYellow24 Mon 01-Jun-15 00:08:58

Can you approach groups of parents that are friends in the playground? Easier for people to get on board with 2 or 3 friend than on their own.

WorraLiberty Mon 01-Jun-15 00:10:22

Our attached nursery seems to have quite active parents so perhaps we just need to wait for them to move up and join the school to get some new blood in.

Why do you have to wait for them to join the school?

Why not ask them now? They can only say no.

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