In our previous post, we talked about taking advantage of the Back to School season. We discussed the benefits of:
- Being included in online back-to-school registration “flow”
- Communicating regularly with the entire school community
- Getting your principal and teachers on board
- Taking advantage of the Back to School Night
Today, we’re going to talk about Step 3: “Maintaining momentum throughout the school year”
You’ve done everything you could during Back to School season, and got a bunch of people to join your PTA. Now it’s December. What can you do now – and for the rest of the school year – to maintain momentum and to keep adding more members to your PTA?
Pick a unique, fun theme for each membership drive. For example, a January drive could have the “New Year Resolutions” theme. A February drive could be “We heart our PTA members”. Check out our blog post on Unique Membership Drive Ideas to spur your creativity.
Set “SMART” goals for your membership drive. “SMART” is a business acronym that stands for:
- S: Specific
- M: Measurable
- A: Achievable
- R: Realistic
- T: Time-bound
An example of a SMART goal would be “Increase membership from 60% to 70% by January 31”. Make the goal public – and do it in a fun way that is consistent with the theme that you picked.
Nothing encourages participation like a friendly competition. The competition can be by class, by grade level, or even with a sister school.
As a PTA leader, you organize many different events throughout the school year. They include:
- Student performances and competitions such as concerts, plays, sporting events.
- Fun social events such as family movie nights, ice cream socials and lemonade socials.
- Fundraising events such as Bake Sales or Read-a-thons. (See our blog post on other Unique Fundraising Event Ideas).
- Community service and volunteering events such as Holiday Toy Drives.
First, you should make sure that the school community knows that the PTA is organizing or sponsoring these events. Include the phrase “This event was brought to you by your PTA” on all flyers advertising the event. Hang a big banner with those words on the school building (you can keep reusing the banner from one event to the next). Or have a lawn sign in front of the school office.
Second, set up a PTA table or a booth at each event to encourage people to join the PTA. Put your table in a high-traffic area, such as by the entrance to the school gym where the event is held, so that everybody has to pass by your table on their way in.
Have several PTA leaders present there, and be clearly visible. You may want to wear school spirit wear, or PTA t-shirts.
Collect registration information and payments right there. You can do the registration on a laptop or a tablet computer, or even on good old-fashioned paper clipboards. Same goes for payments – be prepared to accept cash, checks, PayPal or even credit cards (use Square to accept credit cards from your mobile phone).
One cool idea I learned about recently was handing out “I just joined the PTA” stickers. (They are like the “I just voted” stickers you get on Election Day). These stickers make it publicly visible that people are joining your PTA, which encourages even more people to join.
Give people “instant gratification” for joining the PTA. Have the PTA membership cards with you, and write out their name on it and hand them the card as soon as they join.
Hand out some goodies for PTA members – popcorn, lemonade, etc. You can also sell school spirit wear at the same table.
Bottom line is, you want to take advantage of every event that the PTA organizes to drive more members.
In the previous post, we talked about the importance of actively communicating with your entire school community during Back to School season, when people are most hungry for information.
But it’s important to keep the communication flow going throughout the year – and making it as easy as possible for your community to stay informed. Lots of things are happening throughout the year – PTA-sponsored events, early dismissal days, concerts, school spirit days, parent-teacher conferences, school vacations, the list goes on and on.
Replacing your email distribution lists with a system like SimplyCircle makes the communication job much easier, both for you and for your members. All the reminders are done automatically, and nobody has to copy-and-paste events from emails to their personal calendars. And the free mobile apps make it really easy to stay in touch with the PTA on the go. Plus, volunteer signups, RSVPs, membership tracking and even card-printing are built right in.
Whatever method of communication you choose, the important thing is that you communicate!
While most families start at the school at the beginning of the school year, others join your school in the middle of the year. Some are moving from a different neighborhood in the same town, others are coming from across the country or even from another country. Either way, they are new to your school community, don’t know anyone, and have lots of questions.
Make them feel welcome, and make sure that information about the PTA (and invitation to join!) is included in all the materials for transfer students and their families. And remember to tell them all the great reasons to join the PTA.
We hope these ideas help you keep the momentum going so that you see your PTA membership increase all throughout the year.
For other useful, free resources for PTA and PTO leaders, visit our PTA Leader Resources page.