We recently had a question from a member of our Facebook community asking about setting up a P&C booth at school open days. This is a great way to connect with new members of the school community and there was a lot of discussion about ways to make new families feel welcome.
The ideas which were discussed are relevant to school open days and orientation days as well as the ‘First Day’.
There are many and varied reasons that parents will choose your school. As a parent association you need to bear in mind that one of these reasons could potentially be their first impressions of your community. Your association, and the way you present yourself, is of course the visible representative and can influence perceptions greatly.
No matter what form your First Day takes, your committee should most definitely have a presence there. It would appear that there are a lot of parent associations that are taking advantage of this opportunity.
From written information packs to ‘meet and greet’ sessions, take every chance you get to spruik the advantages of getting involved in the P&C. This will improve your chances of expanding your volunteer army. New families are often keen to get involved but don’t want to feel pressured into volunteering, so above all else, be welcoming and understanding.
Give your visitors the low down on recent projects that you’ve raised money for and any future projects that will benefit their kids. Offer simple ways for them to be involved without feeling like they’re making a lifetime commitment.
If your parent association runs the uniform shop, tuckshop or even the swimming club, have information about them all the available: uniform shop opening hours, tuckshop days (and a menu!), swimming club season dates, costs for joining and list any volunteering opportunities. If you’re super organised and already have your fundraising plan for the coming year, have this available too, and outline small ways that people can help.
Other ideas were as follows.
- Give some background about your school and association. A one-pager with the essential information is a great idea (see editor’s note below). There is often a lot of ‘presumed knowledge’, and it’s good to get back to basics. A good start to this is asking first year families what they wish they had known when they started.
- Give a summary of why the school has a parent group and your aims/goals.
- Information about how parents can stay up-to-date with activities – newsletters, facebook page, emails.
- Supply contact details for key committee members.
- Include details of upcoming events.
- Include an invitation to your official school welcome morning tea/BBQ.
- Have the school principal introduce parent association members and the president making a short speech about what they do, ways to support them and regular events or activities.
- Have a photo board from past events and if possible, purchases that the P&C has contributed to.
- Include a tea bag and a kit kat in your welcome pack to encourage parents to stop and have a break while they read through the information you’ve given them.
Make Pinterest your best friend!
Pinterest is loaded with cute and (best of all) easy to make ideas for ‘welcome’ gifts. Below are some of our favourites.
- If you’re putting a ‘show bag’ together foryour open day, how about including a small bottle of bubble mixture with a tag attached saying ‘We’re BUBBLING with excitement for you to join our school’, or a pencil with a ‘You’re just “write” for our school’ tag attached or even a pack of microwave popcorn with a note saying ‘Thanks for POPPING in! See you on the first day of school’.
- At your P&C stall on open day, have a big bowl of mints with a sign saying ‘Thank you for your commit-‘mint’, involve-‘mint’ or encourage-‘mint’ in your child’s education. Here’s a little something for your enjoy-‘mint’.
- You could also have a jar of ‘parent wishes’. Give parents a piece of paper for them to write down what their wish is for their child for the coming year and put it in the jar. This information could be invaluable not only for the P&C, but the for teachers and staff as well.
Remember to be fun, be memorable, and happy fundraising! ●
A recovering lawyer and mum of five, Mandy Weidmann is Australia’s ‘Fundraising Whisperer’ – publisher of the Fundraising Directory and author of the Practical Fundraising Handbook for School and Club Volunteers. Mandy believes that volunteers shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel and is passionate about providing resources to make fundraising easier and more fun! Her website, email tips and Facebook community are a great place to find fundraising ideas and resources. See www.fundraisingdirectory.com.au.
Editor’s note: Council has a template for creating a simple brochure outlining what your P&C does, how parents can help and what the benefits are – perfect for promoting your P&C to new families.
This article appeared in ParentACTion, Term 4, 2016. See other past editions of our quarterly magazine.