Parent-teacher groups are an essential part of the school experience. Your groups enable parents to better connect with teachers and administration, so your children get the most out of their education. Whether your group is an all-encompassing parent-teacher group like a PTA or PTO or a focused group like a booster club, it’s important to make your group welcoming for new parents. Your group can’t continue operating without an annual influx of new members to replace parents whose children have moved on.
As PTA, PTO, and Booster Clubs get ready for a new year of recruiting, you need to consider exactly how you will welcome new parents.
Just like any group, newcomers can find fitting in to be difficult. Yet you must help new members feel comfortable quickly because potential new members won’t stick around long if they can’t put roots down in your group. And if your parent-teacher group has big goals for ensuring your student succeeds in their educational pursuits, you’ll need the help of every member to make it happen. So, the sooner your newly recruited parents feel like they’re part of the group, the faster your group can get started doing great things this school year.
To help you make your parent-teacher group a great environment to welcome new parents, we’ve put together four simple ways your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club can become warmer and more welcoming for new parent members. Think back to how you felt when you first visited your current parent-teacher group. Keep those feelings in mind as you work to help new members be better engaged and feel more welcome.
Polish Your Elevator Pitch
As you seek to increase your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club membership, you should be refining your parent-teacher group’s elevator pitch. The term comes from a pitch that’s short and snappy enough that you should be able to finish it in an elevator ride as most parents aren’t going to listen to a 10-minute pitch on why they should join your parent-teacher group.
The good news is the audience you’re targeting is quite similar to you. They are parents with children in the same school. Their dreams and worries for their child are similar to yours. Your main goal should be to let them know your group’s mission is to improve the school’s education for every child. Secondly, let them know all parents are encouraged to join your group, that your group is full of parents just like them, and that they will be welcomed with open arms.
You can welcome new parents by starting with the benefits of membership. These benefits go just beyond having a say in your child’s education, such as supporting fellow members going through similar challenges with their children. There’s also the kinship that comes from working alongside other parents to improve student education.
Of course, all school organizations work to raise funds. Be specific about your fundraising efforts and explain how the raised funds will be put into action to improve their child’s education. If your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club runs a notable, annual event to raise capital, let parents know about it.
While it won’t be possible to touch on everything your organization does in just a few moments, you should work towards refining your elevator pitch to highlight what your group stands for and how it works toward making a difference in student education.
Don’t be afraid to be passionate about your group’s efforts. After all, this should be something that you believe in, and you want parents who feel just as passionately to join your group.
Welcoming New Parents at Your Meeting
A great way to break the ice with new parents is by having a special meeting dedicated to introducing and welcoming new parents to your group. One popular way to boost the attendance of prospective members is to make your welcome new parent meeting coincide with your school’s parents’ night or another major school event. Work with your school administration to provide an announcement during the event to inform all attendees to stop by the meeting.
You also want to make it easy for prospective parents to say yes to attending your meeting. Offering a childcare solution and some form of food or drink can remove two of the most common barriers to attending a parent-teacher group meeting. Additionally, it shows prospective parents how thoughtful and caring your group is towards its members. Taking childcare and food obligations off a prospective parent’s plate can help them stay through your meeting and spend time getting to know your members.
Another idea for your welcome new parents meeting is to put together a goodie bag for prospective new members with items they can use during the meeting and as part of your group. Consider including things like a notepad and pen in your school’s colors, stickers, plus other school/group-branded items. These items can help your parents take notes at their first meeting and give them a way to walk away with contact information for other parents in your group.
Use this welcome new parents meeting as an opportunity for senior members to speak with prospective parents and explain what your organization means to them and their children and help explain all the good things your group has done over the past years.
You can also highlight new members. If they’re comfortable addressing the group, allow them to share why they’ve joined, what some of their skills are, and how they look forward to contributing to the parent-teacher group.
Follow Up with a Welcome New Parents Package
Once you have new parents interested in your group, you need to give them the resources to succeed as part of your group. A comprehensive welcome new parents package is a great way to do precisely that.
Start your welcome new parents package with a welcome letter signed by your officers that personally thanks them for becoming part of your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club. Your welcome letter should reiterate your group’s goals and tease upcoming volunteer opportunities for your new parent to roll up their sleeves and start making a difference in your group.
Parents are always busy, and they’re often juggling a lot of commitments. One of the best ways to get support from new parents is to inform them early of when you will need their help and then constantly remind all your parents of your group’s volunteering needs. Creating and including a parent-teacher group calendar in your welcome new parents package is an excellent way to give parents the ability to schedule out time to support your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club. Fill your parent-teacher group calendar with all your key dates, such as regular meetings, special events, fundraising dates, and anything else important to your group.
Your welcome new parents package should also include your group’s mission statement, as well as how new members can find the group’s bylaws. Consider including your parent-teacher group’s website, social media accounts, and Facebook Group so they can have full access to your group’s information and communication. You may also want to include a roster of your group’s leading members and their contact information so a new member can always reach out if they have any needs or questions. Plus, include a way for your new parents to submit their information to the group roster.
The final piece of a good welcome new parents package includes any forms that need to be signed or dues information, volunteer opportunities, and how to sign up.
Keep Your New Members Informed
After all of the effort, you put into welcoming new parents and recruiting new members, remember not to let them fall off the radar once they sign on.
A simple way to start is by using your group’s website and social media channels to provide up-to-date information about your group. Even if you’ve discussed a subject in a meeting, not everyone makes every meeting, and even those who did attend may forget what you discussed. A well-designed online information hub contains your group’s important dates, contact information, recent goals, and even minutes from your last meeting.
If a member misses multiple meetings in a row, consider reaching out to them to see how you can help them stay involved. To ensure this is done, put someone in charge of member communications and attendance. That way, you can keep parents that want to be involved from slipping through the cracks.
If a parent tells you they’re too busy to attend every meeting, be understanding. Our lives are, after all, hectic. Perhaps you can ask them if there’s another way they can contribute to your group’s goals, whether that’s by volunteering at a later date or even by making a cash contribution. That way, they can still feel like they’re a valuable contributor to the success of your group and the students you work so hard to support.
As we begin a new school year, the goals of your group may stay the same. Hopefully, one new thing will be an influx of first-time parents excited about contributing to the success of your PTA, PTO, or Booster Club. By following the steps above – and always being open to the emotions and needs of newcomers – your organization will continue to thrive.
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