7 Tips for Effective PTA Social Media

Social media is one of the most powerful tools a PTA can use to spread its message, but only if it is used effectively. Creating an effective social media presence for your PTA can help you gain members, recruit volunteers, and promote your PTA to potential partners and sponsors. Here are 7 tips to help you get started.

  1. What are your goals? Figure out what your PTA wants to accomplish with social media, whether it is raising awareness, communicating with members of your school community, or getting attendance and volunteers for your events. Being mindful of the results you want will shape how you approach your PTA’s social media presence.
  2. Who is your audience? Your choice of social media and message can vary depending on who you are trying to reach. If you are only targeting your school community and looking to recruit members, share news of events, and have volunteers sign up to help, your free PTA MemberHub account can easily handle all of that and more in one phone app. If you’re looking to spread your message beyond your school walls, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube may be better. Keep in mind that having multiple social media outlets aimed at different audiences works well, but be sure to keep your messaging consistent across them all.
  3. Use the right tool for the right job. Facebook is probably the most common PTA social media choice, but don’t forget the others. Twitter works well for sharing things in real time, as does Instagram for events that have good visual appeal. YouTube and Facebook Live can provide your PTa a way to share PTA meetings, programs, and events with those who can’t attend in person.
  4. Track your success. Most social media platforms provide some tools for monitoring how your posts resonate with your audience. Keep track of followers and subscribers, likes and retweets, and other metrics. Pay attention to which posts generate the most engagement and which ones don’t.
  5. Don’t forget the hashtag. A good hashtag can help you track what others may be saying about your PTA as well. Some popular hashtags that see a lot of use for PTAs include #PTAProud, #DoGoodThings4Kids, #WhyPTA, #PTA4Kids, #PowerOfPTA, and #MembershipMatters. Create a hashtag that identifies your PTA and use it with your posts.
  6. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. There are a lot of different social media platforms, and effectively using them takes time. Assess how much of your PTA resources, including volunteer time, to devote to social media.
  7. Be authentic. In all of your social media posts, be transparent and trustworthy. The news is full of stories of businesses and individuals who handled social media messages poorly or ineffectively, and the backlash can be extremely damaging. Being authentic helps your PTA build a connection with your audience and makes them more likely to trust your PTA, join, and volunteer. Set up procedures to have more than one set of eyes look over posts before they go live to catch typos, review content, and avoid accidentally offending anyone. Consider how someone could misuse or abuse your hashtag or message to convey the opposite of what you intended.

Graphic courtesy of Ibrahim.IDunder Creative Commons license.

PTA Board Responsibilities

For many PTA volunteers, serving on the PTA board is “just another volunteer job.” But in reality, your PTA board is running a non-profit organization, and with that comes responsibilities. Part of those responsibilities will be spelled out in your PTA bylaws and standing rules. Board Sourceprovides many free resources to help your board understand its role and lead your PTA effectively.

As Board Source notes, a lack of understanding what is and is not part of a board’s essential roles can lead to problems such as micromanagement, rogue decision-making, lack of engagement, and more. That certainly aligns with much of Illinois PTA’s experience with local PTAs and Councils having problems, which most often tend to stem from failure to follow the bylaws, ethical issues, or financial mismanagement. Ensuring that your board understands their role can help avoid those problems.

Part of the training that National PTA new requires of state PTA boards covers the fundamental duties of all non-profit boards, and these duties apply to local PTAs as well. Those duties are:

  • Duty of Care:Each board member has a legal responsibility to participate actively in making decisions on behalf of the organization and to exercise his or her best judgment while doing so.
  • Duty of Loyalty:Each board member must put the interests of the organization before their personal and professional interests when acting on behalf of the organization in a decision-making capacity. The organization’s needs come first.
  • Duty of Obedience:Board members bear the legal responsibility of ensuring that the organization complies with the applicable federal, state, and local laws and adheres to its mission.

Beyond those three duties are some basic responsibilities. Board Source identified ten basic responsibilities, and while a few might not apply to a local PTA (who don’t, for example, have a chief executive), most of them can still guide your PTA board. Among them are:

  • Advocate for your mission and purposes.
  • Ensure effective planning.
  • Monitor and strengthen programs and services.
  • Ensure adequate financial resources.
  • Protect assets and provide financial oversight.
  • Build and sustain a competent board.
  • Ensure legal and ethical integrity.
  • Enhance the organization’s public standing.

For PTAs, your mission is clear: to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children. Many of the other points are covered in our free PTA training courses, and Illinois PTA strongly recommends that every PTA have board members sign an ethical conduct agreement (available in both English and Spanish in your Illinois PTA online Leadership Resourcesin the President folder).

By focusing your PTA on its mission and advocating for it, by emphasizing that your PTA is in fact a non-profit organization with legal duties and responsibilities, and by ensuring that your PTA board is trained and understands its roles as leaders, your PTA can be even more successful in doing great things for the kids at your school, in your district, and across Illinois and the nation.

8 Keys to Getting Business Donations

Business donations can help a PTA offer programs and events and takes some of the financial burden off of your members by avoiding the need for fundraisers. But reaching out to businesses doesn’t come naturally to most people, and it can feel a little awkward when you first start. Here are eight tips to get you going.

  1. Remember Who You Represent.When you approach a business for a donation, you are representing your PTA and the work you do for children. PTA is a nationally-recognized brand. So when you approach a business, you have a lot to offer and are asking on behalf of a good cause. Don’t sell your PTA short by making too small a request—businesses will be interested in being associated with your brand.
  2. Coordinate Your Requests.PTAs run several events and programs over the course of the year, so make sure you’re not asking the same businesses for donations for each one. Have your leaders for the various programs work together at the beginning of the year to divide up the businesses you’ll be approaching for each event. Try and match potential donors with relevant programs, like asking an art supply store to help sponsor your Reflections program.
  3. Find Out Who Your PTA Already Knows.Check past years’ records to see which businesses have donated before. Look at your membership and school population—are any of the families at your school business owners. Don’t just look at parents, but also grandparents, aunts, and uncles as well. They all have a stake in the success of the students at your school.
  4. Know What You Want.Decide in advance what you would like from a potential business donor. Is it a simple financial donation, door prizes to hand out, or materials to help you put on your event. Be specific in what you are asking for.
  5. Offer Them Something in Return.Be sure to offer your business donors a publicly visible recognition of their support. That can be a window cling or certificate citing them as a “Proud Supporter of Lincoln PTA,” signage at your event thanking the sponsors, mentions in your newsletter thanking them for their support, or a small banner spot on your PTA website or newsletter for a certain period of time. Note that when doing the latter, PTA is not endorsing the business, the business is supporting the PTA. Think PBS-style sponsor (This PTA event was brought to you in part by ABC Business, provider of fine art supplies.), not traditional advertisement.
  6. Don’t Burn Your Bridges.A business may say no for a variety of reasons—they may have already filled their planned quota of non-profit donations for the quarter or the year, they may feel that the event doesn’t fit their business, or they may not currently have the resources to spare at that time. Thank them for their time, and ask if they’d be willing to sponsor a different PTA event sometime in the future.
  7. Follow Up After Your Event.Be sure to send a thank you note to every donor with a handwritten signature. Include a receipt if the donation was strictly financial, and note the amount of the donation either directly or as the value of the in-kind donation so they have a record for their tax filing. Consider sharing photos of your event or thank you notes from the kids who participated.
  8. Keep Records of Who Donated.By keeping track of the businesses who have donated in the past, your PTA will know who to approach first in the future. You can also then thank a donor for their past support when asking them to donate again.

 

PTA Membership Tips for November

Several months into the school year, your PTA is probably not attracting as many new members as it was during the start of the school year. Now is a great time to assess how your membership recruitment has gone so far and plan to build your PTA membership. Here are some tips to help.

  • You know who your PTA members are so far. Look at your membership and note who in your school community isn’t a PTA member? Is it teachers or staff? Are there any characteristics that the families not joining your PTA share? If so, what can you do to reach out to those families and make them feel welcome? What barriers might your PTA be putting up that discourages them from joining? Use PTA’s Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit to reach out to those families.
  • Use an Illinois PTA ready-to-use membership program to get more people interested in joining your PTA. Build a Super Fan campaign around upcoming sports seasons or a Give the Gift of Membership campaign for the holiday season.
  • Sign up for National PTA’s Local Leader Kit so you can receive the DIY Kit for Membership Growth for free. The DIY kit will walk you through how to target potential PTA members and build a membership pitch to share the value of PTA with them.
  • Take advantage of the power of MemberHub. PTA members aren’t the only people who you can sign up on MemberHub. If you have non-members joining MemberHub and using it as a communication tool with everyone, those non-members will see more of all the great things your PTA is doing. And if you are offering PTA memberships through MemberHub, you have an easy way to get them to join.

Photo courtesy Nick Youngson and Alpha Stock Imagesunder Creative Commons License.