Details, Details, Details – One of the easiest ways to reduce time-consuming, back-and-forth communication with parent volunteers.
Volunteer administrators and coordinators are constantly looking for ways to help with the organizing and managing of school parent volunteers. Volunteer team leaders most often look to simply getting more parents to help with all the jobs and tasks. Yes, having more parents does help, but recruiting more volunteers actually serves to exacerbate the already time-intensive task of communication.
It’s easy enough to send out an email blast asking parents to help with volunteer tasks. This, of course, takes very little time. Instead, what takes up time – typically dozens and dozens of hours, is the back-and-forth communication with parents, the countless emails, texts and phone calls. But this is just a result of having to deal with more volunteers, and there’s really no way to reduce it, right? Actually, there is. And one options is really easy. Try this: provide as many details as possible in your communication to potential as well as initially signed up volunteers.
First, in the recruiting communications that the school sends out to parents, provide details about the importance of volunteers in making the school activities and events successful as well who benefits, i.e. who you’re doing it for, why you’re doing it, etc.
Next, in your first communications to parents who have signed up for tasks, provide as many details as possible about what they have signed up for. For example:
- Where to show up
- Who to report to when they arrive
- What to wear (e.g. wear the appropriate clothing based on the task)
- What to bring
- What exactly they’ll be doing, for how long
- Whether beverages and/or food will be provided (for tasks that take longer than a few hours)
- What ‘task complete’ looks like
These are only starting points, make an exhaustive list of details to provide parents for the activity or event. Just think of what you’d like to know if you are the one volunteering.
When you provide parents with details about their volunteer tasks ahead of time, you’re actually just providing answers to their questions, but before they ask. If you take the time to write out and send comprehensive details – just one time, to a group of 10 parents about one volunteer task, you’ll save time from having to deal with multiple, back-and-forth emails, texts and phone calls from those same 10 people. Now multiply those time savings with the dozens of tasks, with hundreds of parents typically involved in a school volunteer program. You’re now looking at saving dozens and dozens of hours.
So, for your next recruiting and initial volunteer communications, consider adding more details. It’s easy and takes so little time, but the time you save later will be huge.