If your goal is to pro-actively engage parents and increase volunteerism in your school, having your coordinators winging it will not get you there. One of the best places to start is ensuring your parent coordinators have basic knowledge of volunteer management best practices. In short, give them the knowledge to succeed.
As administrator of a school volunteer program, you’re likely going to have an understanding and knowledge of volunteer program best practices. Depending on the number of functions and events at your school, you may have anywhere from 10 to 25 parents who act as task coordinators. It’s highly unlikely they will have anywhere close to the same level of knowledge you possess. Sharing some of your knowledge with these folks will lead to profound benefits, from reduced confusion among volunteers, significant time savings from efficient communications, smooth operations on the day of functions and events, and, most importantly, happy parent volunteers who, in turn, will continue to give you their valuable time.
Starting with the Basics
You could spend hours and hours, meetings upon meetings, to train your parent volunteer leaders on best practices. But it’s unlikely those parents will be interested in spending a lot of time doing so, after all they’re already giving their time to help coordinate the other volunteers. It’s best to pick just 2 or 3 of the most essential best practices to share with your volunteer leaders.
Depending on your volunteer leaders and the type of tasks they lead, select with 2-3 best practices to train them on. Here’s a list you may want to consider pulling from:
- Create a brief action plan and share with volunteers. Develop and distribute an action plan template for your parent volunteer leaders to follow.
- Document all tasks, including descriptions, what’s involved, expectations on level of quality for the job to be done. Again, create a couple of examples of Task descriptions for your leaders to use as models.
- Communications: frequency (do it often!), clear instructions
Group ‘huddle’ at the start of jobs or tasks, quickly review the tasks to be done, timelines, etc.
- Expressions of thanks. Whilst it’s best to send personal ‘thank yous’ to individuals, it may not be feasible with large #s of volunteers. One effective alternative is to send specific Thank you emails to groups, for example, send an email to a group of people who helped with the same task.
The list above are only some examples, you no doubt have many others you can think of.
After you’ve decided on 2-3 best practices to train people on, schedule a meeting at the start of the school year to cover the information. Then, part-way through the year, schedule another meeting. This 2nd meeting can first serve as an opportunity to get feedback from volunteer leaders on the effectiveness of their practices. You can then also use this 2nd meeting to provide training to any new volunteer leaders.
Once you’ve shared volunteer management best practices with your parent volunteer leaders, and they’ve started to follow through on those, you’ll see immediate benefits. It doesn’t have to happen all at once, just start with the basics, you’ll be well on your way!