The community is much more likely to support your P&C if you have a clear aim which resonates with people, and which you clearly communicate - the 'why' behind your events and calls for help. A clear aim also focuses valuable resources (like your volunteers' time!) on what is most important - whether that is building community and having fun, or raising money for a much needed and appreciated school purchase.
See more on considering and clarifying your goals.
Now is the time to identify the P&C’s major activities for the whole year and when they will happen. Include a good mix — fundraising events (the fete, a movie night or trivia evening), community events (an end of year BBQ) and take-home fundraisers (selling plants or mangoes) —spread evenly through the year. Work with the principal to avoid clashes with school events and busy times.
Break it down
Breaking down big activities into smaller, more manageable tasks takes some work and planning now, but it will make it much easier to get other people to help. If someone has never helped with a P&C event before, taking on a fundraiser or event can be daunting and most people will baulk at the size of the task and the time commitment needed. If, however, you approach parents with smaller tasks, you should have more luck in securing new volunteers to take on a piece of the project. So instead of asking for someone to organise the movie night, you’re looking for people to each take on a small task — decorating the hall, advertising, ticketing, catering, licensing for the movie and so on. A coordinator can keep track of it all, but not do the work (that's another smaller job!)
Check out this story from a P&C who broke down their committee tasks to create a series of new bite-sized roles.
The more specific you can be about a volunteer role, the better. Ask your community for the specific skills you need and include an estimate of the time needed. Make it clear you’re not asking for a lifetime commitment!
Some people will have the skills to pick up a task like 'advertising the disco' and run with it, but you’re more likely to find someone to take it on if you specify what is needed — a flyer to send home with students, a picture for Facebook and some posters to hang around the school. It’s even better if you can provide a copy of the ones from last year to use as a template, or similar resources.
Give a loooong lead-time
Even if your trivia night is not until term three, ask people to sign up for one of your small tasks now. “Could you arrange posters and flyers for the trivia night in term three” is a much more likely to be met with a “yes” if you ask now than if you wait until two weeks before the event!
Bring in the volunteers!
The best way to ask people to take on your neatly bundled tasks is face-to-face, so do ask parents you see at the school gate, those who come to school events and people who come to P&C meetings. More than likely, though, you’ll have to supplement this with notices in your school newsletter, emails to parents and carers and calls for help on any social media your P&C runs. You could try a carefully crafted note home, which asks families to commit to ‘just one thing’ this year, with each task listed next to check-boxes.
Look after your volunteers
If you’ve attracted some new volunteers, make sure you look after them so that they come back to help again! Plan to do this by appointing a volunteer coordinator for your P&C, and at big events roster on an extra hand just to greet, help, and thank volunteers.
- Make sure it is clear what to do and how to do it.
- Don’t ask for more than they have committed to. No one likes turning up to cook sausages for a one-hour slot, and then getting trapped there for hours.
- Ensure everyone has something to do so that volunteers feel that their time is valued, even if it means doing less yourself.
- Be patient. Volunteers are not necessarily skilled experts.
- Be friendly and welcoming. Resist the natural tendency to only chat with people you already know.
- Provide the opportunity for making contact with other volunteers by introducing people doing related tasks or rostering people in pairs.
- Listen to your volunteers’ feedback and suggestions for the future.
- Thank everyone profusely, specifically and publicly. (Ideas and resources for thanking everyone here!)
Tell volunteer stories
Personal stories connect to people and show what volunteering is like, so introduce your committee - say why you help. Share pictures of volunteers at your events and activities, along with what it is they enjoy. It's a fun job for your volunteer coordinator or extra rostered person (see above) to do. If you are trying to attract particular people from your community, make sure to feature those people.
Celebrate your success
Once each event is over, thank everyone for their input and let the community know how successful it was. This might be how much money was raised, photographs of happy kids using the equipment you purchased, or just how much fun everyone had (with pictures!) at the event. You may want to hold a volunteers’ prize draw where everyone who helped has a shot at winning a gift (it doesn’t have to be big) or even a party or morning tea for all the helpers.
Help is available
Good luck with the year ahead, but do remember that you are not alone. Council has a range of resources to help P&C office bearers and you can contact our office for help and advice.
See also Council resources for growing your P&C; and for thanking your volunteers.
Updated March 2023