Elementary school Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs) can feel like a revolving door. Parents join for a few years, then their kids move on to middle school and so do the parents. That’s why bringing in new members at the beginning of each school year is critical to keeping up the membership. Here are a few ways to get new PTO members each year…
Taking the initial initiative early in the school year, can have a significant impact on your PTO membership throughout the year.
Personally Invite People
Work the extrovert in you and start speaking to people. Not online. Not through messaging apps. Speak to people IN PERSON! Introduce yourself to parents new to the school by starting conversations at drop-off, pick-up, and after school on the playground. Get to know the new parents’ names. Look them in the eye, shake their hand, and say “nice to meet you”. Then, ASK them to attend the first PTO meeting.
Make phone calls to returning parents
Make phone calls to school parents and ASK them to attend a PTO meeting. Often all it takes for someone to attend an event is a personal invite.
Have fewer fundraisers
One of the main reasons parents do not attend PTO meeting is because they are busy. They work, have kids, and their kids have after-school and weekend activities. They’re already very busy.
Instead of having many small fundraisers throughout the year, limit the number of fundraising events you have by having fundraisers that raise more money in a short timeframe.
Here are two fundraisers that are more likely to help your school raise the money you need for your annual budget. Choose one. Each is a plan for 200 students to raise $12,000 in 2 weeks. If you have 400 students, then $24,000. If you have 600 students, then $36,000.
Click the images to learn more about each:
Speak at a Back-To-School Night
Speak to large groups of parents when you can. Let them know the PTO exists, when you meet, the events you have planned, and your group’s fundraising goal. Have sign-up sheets for each event and ask them to volunteer to help with one or two events.
Letters, Emails, Website Announcement, and Social Posts
Send a printed letter home in the student’s backpacks that defines the PTO, when you meet, the events you have planned, and your group’s fundraising goal.
Website & Social Media
Follow-up the letter and email with posts on the school website and social media. Do a Facebook live or Instagram reel for even more attention. Then post the PTO meeting as an “Event” on Facebook well in advance. Events get increased exposure in the algorithms and invitees can see who is planning to attend. If they see someone they know attending the event, then they’re more likely to attend themself.
Ask People About Their Expertise & Talents
When you know someone’s expertise and talents, it’s easier to match that expertise to a specific job/task within the PTO and you can ask them if they will help with that specific task.
Once you done all of the above to get the word out about the PTO, chances are you’ll have a descent attendance at the first PTO meeting. Once you do, it’s even more important to keep them coming back and participating.
To be brief, following are tips on how to retain your membership. I go into a lot more detail on this in the Master Plan for Fundraising Success.
- Have regularly scheduled meeetings.
- Schedule convenient meetings
- Personally welcome people when they do attend a meeting.
- Prepare agendas with action items for each meeting and keep the meeting progressing efficiently.
- Assign actions items to attendees. Add the action to the next meeting’s agenda. And recognize the person completed the task.
- Draft budgets. Allow PTO members to vote on budget items. Stick to the budget.
- Allow attendees an opportunity to speak and express their ideas and opinion.
- Send reminders about upcoming meetings (emails, social posts, direct messages).
Let’s Hear Your Ideas!
We love sharing ideas so every school can benefit. If you have more ideas, please add them to the comments below.