Stories are powerful.
For much of human history, we’ve understood this, entrusting stories with important information and moral codes. Stories actually make our human brains light up and synchronise with those of the storyteller. We put ourselves in their shoes and feel trust, empathy and connection. So why not harness that power for your P&C?
By sharing the stories of your volunteers, you can show potential volunteers what it's really like to be a part of your community, and the sort of people who volunteer (parents just like them!) Whether it's a snapshot of someone having a blast at the P&C disco or a behind-the-scenes look at counting the takings, stories can give a glimpse into the P&C world and the people who make it all possible.
And stepping into their shoes for a moment through a story makes people much more likely to volunteer and join in.
At the same time, those stories help celebrate and thank your current volunteers, making them feel valued, appreciated, and proud of their contributions. Everyone can see the value and impact of the P&C and its volunteers.
So, how can you tell volunteer stories?
There are so many ways, but the simplest is a picture, a quote and a smile, shared in your newsletter or on social media. We’re talking short stories!
Post pictures of volunteers having fun helping at your events, or behind the scenes at activities. Make it real and light-hearted. Focus on why people volunteer and why they keep coming back, or even how they benefited themselves (like getting useful experience for a job).
Introduce your volunteers (like we do in our “Why I Volunteer” series), and your committee.
Here are a couple of made-up examples.
This is Ali, enjoying his first P&C Disco. “The kids and I had a ball. I put up my hand to help as a supervisor, but there was plenty of chance to dance too!”
Secret shot from behind the scenes at the P&C disco tonight as treasurer Alison and secretary Paul count the takings! ("This is my Favourite bit" , says Alison!). Thanks to everyone who came – we made $600 to buy sports equipment for lunch time fun!
Can you imagine the accompanying pictures?
Yes. You need a picture.
Not only is a picture worth a thousand words, it attracts attention and makes it real. Studies show that faces in particular stand out in our social media scrolling. So include a real human face wherever possible. You might need to allocate a Volunteer Manager at events, who can take on the task of supporting volunteers, taking photos and asking for stories, and permission to share them.
Tailor stories to your needs
The great thing about stories is that you can tailor them depending on the type of volunteer your P&C needs the most.
Looking to get more Dads engaged? Let the star of your story be a Dad!
Want to reach out to families from diverse backgrounds? Make sure your stories show that diversity.
Need more people with specific skills? Tell stories about skilled volunteers.
Other types of stories your P&C could tell
- Thanks. Show how you thank your volunteers. Pictures from a morning tea, or a thankyou raffle draw – whatever you do to thank your volunteers, share that story.
- Achievements. Show something volunteers allowed you to do - like plant a new garden or buy more readers - or something an individual volunteer achieved.
- Value: Online calculators can convert your volunteer hours into dollar value – which can make a striking story!
- A day in the life of a volunteer; the President!
- School staff saying how grateful they are for something the P&C did.
Finally, explicitly invite others to join your story!
Make it clear what sort of volunteers you need, where and when. This is most powerful when it is part of a string of storytelling about volunteers, and not the only story you tell. A good guide is to post four times as many stories as calls for help.
So let's start showcasing the amazing experiences and memories that come with volunteering for your P&C. And finding more people to be part of the story.
Check out stories about Council Volunteers in our "Why I Volunteer" series.
Published May 2023.