5 Tips to Get Your Volunteers to Follow Through

Running a PTA is not an easy job, and managing your volunteers effectively is one of the hardest parts. As a PTA leader, you can do everything you can to make your volunteering for your PTA a pleasant experienceand thank your volunteerswhen they’re done, and still sometimes struggle with that volunteer who doesn’t get the job done when they said that they would. Here are five tips to help you get your volunteers to follow through.

  1. Create the plan together.We often come up with a plan for an event, break down the tasks, and then ask for folks to sign up for specific jobs. That approach can work for events that your PTA has been doing for a long time where you know what jobs need to be done. When trying something new, however, include many of your potential volunteers in developing the plan. Doing so helps everyone feel they have a stake in the event’s success. Even your long-time events could benefit from this treatment every few years to keep the event from getting stale.
  2. Break down the tasks to provide small wins.When you’re creating your plan, be sure that there are several milestones along the way that your team can celebrate. Those small wins help a group learn to work together, and the little victories along the way help to reenergize everyone and prevent burnout. Be sure to provide micro-volunteering opportunities for those who don’t have a lot of time available but want to help.
  3. Set clear deadlines and track your progress.Now that you’ve created your plan and broken down the tasks, have those handling each task set a specific deadline for themselves (within the time requirements for steps that depend on that task being completed first) so that they own it. Deadlines should be as specific as possible—not “the first week in May” but “May 3” or even “May 3 by 5pm.” If someone misses a deadline, follow up with them immediately to see if they are waiting on information from someone else, need some support or assistance, and have a new deadline for when the task will be done.
  4. Have everyone partner up.People tend to follow through more when they know that someone else is there to help them pick up the slack if life makes it difficult to get a job done and that they’ve got someone else’s back as well. Having folks pair up on tasks makes it less likely the ball will get dropped.
  1. It’s okay to fire a volunteer.We all feel grateful that people are giving their time to our PTA and understand that sometimes life gets busy in ways you didn’t expect. But a volunteer that is unreliable or isn’t following through does no one any good. Yes, they’re good people (maybe even one of your best friends) or they’re just really busy, but these days, we are all really busy. It’s okay to send an e-mail saying, “Hey, I saw you missed the last two deadlines for [task]. As you know from our plan, if we don’t have [task] done by [deadline], [these other people] can’t do their [other tasks]. If it doesn’t look like you’ll be able to get this done by [deadline], please let me know so we can take this off your plate. Thanks!” And if the deadline is missed, follow up with “Since you’ve missed the second deadline for [task], I’m going to assume you are no longer wish to be part of making [event] happen. Please let me know if this is not the case, and I’ll add you back into our group communications. Thank you so much for the time, talent, and ideas you’ve shared up to this point. Our PTA appreciates the work you’ve done.”

Remember that your role as a PTA leader is to help your volunteers be successful. It’s not about your title or you looking good. If you focus on their success, then you will look good.

10 Things to Know When Talking About Sex with Your Child

It’s one of those parental responsibilities that many parents dread. It even has a singular name: The Talk. Mark Merrill, founder of iMom and All-Pro Dad, has ten things parents should keep in mind when talking to their child about sex. These touchpoints may help make the process go a little more smoothly.

  1. Fight the fear
  2. Research
  3. Avoid negativity
  4. Don’t patronize
  5. Be vulnerable
  6. Faith
  7. Emotions
  8. The risks
  9. Peer pressure
  10. Constant communication

Also keep in mind that The Talk shouldn’t be just one talk, but an ongoing discussion with age-appropriate information from the earliest, “Where do babies come from?” through young adulthood. Check out the full article for detailed information on each of these ten points. And remember, if your child doesn’t learn about it from you, they will learn about it from somewhere. Make sure that what they learn is consistent with your values.

Photo © 2010 by Dave Parker under Creative Commons license.

Aligning National PTA and Illinois PTA Legislative Priorities: School Meals

As the number of students qualifying for free and reduced school meal programs increases, and the obesity epidemic spirals ever onward, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHKFA) takes on increased interest for PTAs as the act seeks to improve nutritional standards and access to nutritious meals for students.

The National PTA calls for the reauthorized legislation to:

  • Improve and enhance opportunities for parents to participate in the development of local school wellness policies.
  • Maintain, at a minimum, the current school nutrition standards and Smart Snack guidelines.
  • Deliver technical assistance and resources to schools that are not meeting the nutrition standards.
  • Provide federal grants and loan assistance for schools to improve kitchen infrastructure and equipment.
  • Oppose any attempt to “block grant” the school nutrition program, or reduce the number of students eligible to participate in the free and reduced-price school meals program.

Over the past two decades, the Illinois PTA has recognized and responded to the needs of students by adopting positions relating to:

  • Eating disorders and risk of nutritional deficiency as part of the school health curricula (2000).
  • The dissemination of information on the detrimental effects of childhood obesity (2005).
  • Best practices for addressing and treating childhood obesity through local PTA units, councils, districts and regions in cooperation with other like-minded associations and organizations (2005).

We continue to support the National School Lunch Program and the National School Breakfast Program, and Illinois PTA supported the Breakfast After the Bell bill in 2016. Currently, both the National PTA and the Illinois PTA are watching federal legislation (S1064, HR2401) which are designed to remove the stigmatization of students participating in either of the programs mentioned above.

As schools continue to refine developed health and wellness policies, which include nutritional guidelines, the Illinois PTA will continue to call upon school districts to include parents in the decision-making on revisions to health and policies.

Tell Your Legislators to Override the SB1 Veto Today to Keep Our Schools Open

Today, Governor Rauner vetoed part of Senate Bill 1 (SB1), which would have fixed Illinois’s inequitable school funding formula. Key elements of Illinois PTA’s support of SB1 are that no school district receives less funding and that all school districts are treated in the same manner regarding current (but not legacy) pension costs. The governor’s veto breaks both of those requirements, puts education funding at risk, and means that some schools may not be able to open for the start of school or remain open for long.

The governor’s veto ends the district hold harmless provisions in the 2020-2021 school year, removes the minimum funding requirement, continues to treat Chicago Public Schools’ pensions differently than those of every other district, and eliminates the CPS block grant used to pay for special education, English language learners, and other “categorical” spending. The veto also eliminates the inflation indexing of formula values in the bill, meaning that districts will effective see funding cuts over time as inflation reduces the value of that funding.

The governor has called SB1 a “bailout” for Chicago Public Schools. It is not. 268 school districts, over 30%, will receive more funds per student than CPS. Downstate students make up about 34% of all Illinois students, and about 34% of the SB1 funding goes to downstate districts. CPS accounts for 19% of Illinois students, one-third of our low-income students, and receives about 20% of the SB1 funding.

SB1 now goes back to General Assembly for an override vote to restore SB1 to its original language or a concurrence vote to accept the governor’s changes. Either vote requires the support a supermajority (60%) of legislators in both houses. If neither the override or concurrence vote receives that supermajority, the bill is completely vetoed and schools will not receive funding until a new evidence-based funding model is passed by both houses and signed into law.

We have seen the damage done over the past two years without a state budget to our community colleges, our universities, and our social services. Let’s not cut off funding from our schools by playing students from one zip code against another to score political points. Let’s put SB1 into law.

Illinois PTA is issuing a call to action, requesting its members to contact their legislators to override the governor’s veto. Following this link will take you to a prewritten letter that you can edit or send as is to your state representative and state senator. It takes just a couple of minutes. Speak up for your child and every child in Illinois so we can fix our funding formula and keep our schools open.