Have you seen a decrease in your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club’s membership this Spring? If you have noticed a drop in membership, you’re not alone. This March, National PTA shared their enrollment was down 42% from March 2020. Many PTOs and Booster Clubs are feeling the Spring membership squeeze as well. The disparity of enrollment figures is more than likely a lingering effect of COVID-19 and health precautions. And, as the outlook continues to brighten we expect enrollment numbers to rebound. However, the PTA enrollment deadline and inability to meet your group’s quorum, can still be big issues for a short-term membership deficit. To support your group and help you stay strong, AIM has 3 tips you can use to revitalize your parent-teacher group’s membership.
Reach Out to Old PTA, PTO, and Booster Club Members to Revitalize Your Membership
Often it’s easier to reclaim an old member than it is to recruit a brand new member to your parent-teacher group. The best place to start is by reaching out directly, by phone, or in-person if possible. Find out why they dropped out of the group. Maybe they become too busy or felt COVID-19 made the group ineffective in the 2020-2021 school year. Talk to your former member about the upcoming year and what you will be able to do for the school and the kids so long as your group has the members.
Ask your former member what would help them come back to the group. You may learn one or more members did not feel connected to the group’s purpose. You may need to review your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club’s goals and see if you can boost your membership by streamlining your goals and activities. Refining your group’s purpose or finding a new drive can also help you bring in new members who had not considered joining your parent-teacher group before.
Hold a New Membership Drive
Make gaining new members for your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club your prime initiative. Start by putting someone in charge of your membership drive. This person could head a new member task force or a chaired committee depending on your group’s need and ability. Once assembled, develop your parent-teacher group’s value pitch. Why should someone join your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club? How do you provide value to the school, their child, and what do you have planned for the coming semester and school year? Does your PTO want to sponsor more field trips? Your Booster Club may be targeting the purchase of a new pommel horse. Or, does your PTA want to provide the school computer lab with updated machines? Make sure your goal and your passion for it are clear.
Go to where your best member prospects will be. Try meeting parents at morning pickup and afternoon drop-off. Chat up parents who drop off their kids for date night daycare. Open houses, parent nights, and school sports events are also great places to spend time getting to know parents and introducing them to your parent-teacher group. You can also use other parent-teacher groups as a resource. A PTA or PTO could target parents in the school’s various booster clubs as good prospective PTA members.
When meeting with parents, the secret to your value pitch is to make it as simple and powerful as possible. You may only have a few moments to speak with a parent before they’re pulled away, so provide them with your pitch and a way to follow up. Consider using a clipboard to take down parent names and contact information on the spot.
Restructure Your Group
What you may find out from old members and new prospects is your group’s purpose and value pitch may not resonate. If that happens, it may be time to review your group’s goals and objectives. How could your group adjust them to draw in more interest? One of your key goals for the last school year may have been updating the school’s playground equipment. But, you may discover many parents are more concerned with the school’s outdated AV equipment. It’s essential to listen to parents outside your parent-teacher group for ideas on how your group can best serve the school and students.
Part of restructuring your group to stay effective means making the necessary adjustments to bylaws and quorum numbers. Bylaw changes like allowing for virtual meetings and voting can help involve parents who cannot work with the group in person. Reducing the number of members needed to reach a quorum also ensures your group can make decisions and put plans into action with a reduced member presence.
PTA, PTO, and Booster Club Membership Going Forward
At AIM, we’re excited to see parent-teacher groups start moving towards normal activities. The 2020-2021 school year has been a difficult one full of all sorts of unexpected challenges. Though the change may seem slow now, we’re thrilled for parent-teacher action to start ramping up in August and September. We also want to make sure your group is ready to take the initiative in the Fall semester. As you begin planning for the coming school year, remember to renew your event, embezzlement, property, and D&O insurance with AIM.