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Mel Gravely

14 Ways to Get Encourage Parents to Volunteer

It is up to us to get parents to volunteer. That said, there are many reasons parents might not volunteer. They may not have the time, resources, or are simply too tired after a hard day’s work.

Other times, they simply don’t know what to do because it may be their first time volunteering in an official capacity. They don’t know the language, which in turns makes them feel nervous or unwelcome.

We’ve written before about using training as a means to increase parent involvement. This helps them learn the language of the business in a controlled environment, as opposed to on-the-job training.

If upfront training can help make them feel welcome, safe and understood, so can listening and taking them seriously. Volunteering is a gift. If done right, they will be more involved in their child’s school life past their Head Start years.

And even more than that, you have to make the personal commitment to recruit and coach volunteers. You can’t expect parents to find the time or resources if you’re not willing to do the same.

Here are some tips to help increase volunteerism:

  1. Limit meetings or combine trainings and meetings, to show parents you value their time.
  2. Attach a meal to a meeting – a quick breakfast, lunch or dinner may entice parents by saving the meal and clean up time. One program serves a beautiful lunch at policy council meetings. While that is not the only reason parents attend, it definitely makes them feel appreciated.
  3. Even a snack can be a draw. Ask local organizations if they would be willing to sponsor a snack, many are happy to donate. You can attach a theme to make it attractive -Taco Tuesday etc.
  4. Organize and run meetings efficiently and promptly-respect those who come on time.
  5. Call parents directly to volunteer, this will definitely generate better results than a check off flyer. When one person calls another, it is definitely more personal.
  6. Ask parents if they can think of a friend who would like to volunteer. See if they can form their own little group.
  7. Offer volunteer support and opportunities at a variety of times and places during the day.
  8. Make it fun, parents should look forward to the social aspect of volunteering.
  9. Door prizes or raffles can also entice people to attend and volunteer at meetings.
  10. Thank volunteers – have a volunteer luncheon or trip. Use name tags to make everyone feel welcome. Offer a special volunteer parking space up front, for the volunteer of the month.
  11. Offer transportation for parents who don’t drive, so parents can volunteer.
  12. Motivate parents. Tell them why it’s great to volunteer. Some reasons: meet other parents, make business contacts, gaining new skills, make a difference.
  13. Use social media to promote little and big ways volunteers are helping your Head Start program. Show pictures of annual events will make them easier for new volunteers to understand what help you will need.
  14. Invite dads too, there are so many ways they can help. Don’t just think of traditional opportunities. You may want to have dads volunteering on weekends in the garden, or building or fixing in the building.

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