Do your PTO meetings suffer from a lack of attendance? Do you need more volunteers for everything your group tries to accomplish? Do the same few people show up for everything and do virtually all the work?

Well, if this is the case at your school (and I know that it is, because it’s the same all over), then I suggest you look at how you are inviting people to the meetings.

Now, I know that this isn’t the magic bullet solution to the overall problem of volunteer recruitment, but the way you ask people to join your cause is important.

And, I have to say that, as an example, my own children’s elementary school isn’t doing a very active job of recruiting us parents to get involved.

At our school, the PTO meets once per month. I know this because they advertise their meetings in the school newsletter, which I receive and actually read.

In fact, here is the blurb they included in the most recent newsletter home:

Our PTO meets next on Thursday, November 17, at 5:30. All are welcome to join us in our school library.

This wording is pretty typical for the announcement. As they said in that old television show, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

When I see this in the newsletter, there’s nothing that grabs my attention about the meeting or really encourages me to change my schedule to attend this meeting. I just keep skimming the newsletter looking for anything that really pertains to my own kids.

I have said over and over in this blog, that working for the school’s PTO is basically a sales job. It’s marketing. It’s convincing people to give up their time and money for a reason. If you want them to do it, you have to “SELL” it.

So, the newsletter blurb is a fine place to advertise the meeting, but you need to say much more than just the time and the place. Include what you’ll be talking about. Add some drama, and there’s always drama you can include. (Like, “We’ll be discussing the budget for field trips this coming year. If we don’t raise enough money, there will be no field trips all year!) Also, make sure you advertise that there will be food (preferably pie). Food is always a big draw, especially pie.

But then the PTO members have to personally invite people to attend. Each PTO member should make it a goal to invite four friends to each meeting. Get on the phone with them or stop them in the school hallway, and twist their arms.  Use your friendship to guilt them into coming.  Then those four should put the squeeze on a few more. And so on. Personal invitations are the best way to get people involved.

If a two-line, uninspired blurb in your school newsletter is all you do to invite parents to join your meetings, you don’t have any right to complain that not that many people show up week after week. You need pizzazz, excitement, drama, a call to action, and pie.

Photo by: Tracy Hunter