The ground work is important. Do parents know about the P&C? Do they realise that they are already members, and is it clear what the organisation does?
Council's resources can help, with a brochure template and promotional images that you can adapt for your P&C, but it is consistency with the little things that creates an approachable and relevant association. The following tactics will help encourage your community to give it a try.
Choose the communication methods that best suit you and your community and stick to it so parents know where to expect P&C information. Think carefully about what you are trying to say to whom and what you want them to do! Be clear and accurate so that parents come to value your information. (More about communication in this Information Sheet and this article)
Keeping the tone consistent, friendly and welcoming is really important. Sound like a group of humans, not a bureaucracy or set of processes. This includes your meetings. Even when cancelling an event due to lack of volunteers is unavoidable (and you should do that, rather than burn out the volunteers you do have), it’s possible to explain calmly why and cancel with a smile.
Clear, shared, goals
Tell people in plain language what the P&C is trying to achieve and make sure this lines up with what parents want. (See this article for more on finding shared goals)
A ‘face’ for your P&C
People react better to people, rather than organisations, so it is great if some of your committee will stand up at events and be identified with the P&C and chat to parents without shying away from the P&C badge. Telling Volunteer stories is another powerful tool.
Calwell High School garden working bee
Someone to focus on Volunteers
We suggest P&Cs consider adding a ‘Volunteer Coordinator’ as a new position on their committee — someone to think about the needs and skills of volunteers and match these to the tasks available.
At large events, your volunteer coordinator can introduce people, make sure everyone has everything they need, get breaks and relief at the end of their shift. They can also collect volunteer stories to share.
Training in volunteer management is available through Volunteering ACT and paying for one of your volunteers to attend is an excellent way to show your appreciation and give something back.
See also Council resources for growing your P&C; and for thanking your volunteers.
This article appeared in ParentACTion Magazine, Term 2, 2019. Updated May 2023.