As a school administrator, teacher, or parent, you’re well-informed of the challenges of keeping kids and adults alike on task and well-behaved. Back-to-school events are a great opportunity to start building involvement early, so we wanted to offer a few tips to help you get the most out of the beginning of the school year.
There’s something for everyone
There’s a lid for every pot, and there’s a hat for every parent to wear—and you can give up a few of your own by delegating. A good portion of your first back-to-school event is harvesting contact information from your parents, and the next smart thing to do is organize it to get people volunteering. On your sign-up sheets, offer choices for what future parent organizers might be interested in doing: room parenting, event volunteering, behind-the-scenes work, or whatever needs doing at your school. Then, use your Paperless Post address book to create separate, segmented lists for future emails and invitations. You’ll get better response rates and won’t bombard people with more than they can handle.
But do try variation
It’s natural to encourage volunteers to use skills they already have in abundance: turning accountants into treasurers, graphic designers into signmakers, etc. But consider that sometimes people want a break from their day jobs. Give volunteers a chance to rotate as they see fit through job duties.
Keep them wanting more
Door prizes are a classic for a reason. But even better than one big jackpot is the promise of growing rewards: one school official we work with recommended teasing a gift for parents that was redeemable after five meetings. (She used a punchcard, but we’ll leave it to you to figure out how to mark attendance.) You know your parents better than we do, but these are some gifts we’ve seen go over well:
a high end hot/cold thermos (coffee in the winter, iced tea in the summer),
the ever-trendy Instant Pot (because everyone makes a resolution to master meal planning, every year),
a month of Blue Apron (for parents who are a bit more gimlet-eyed about their chances of culinary success),
or if you have a particularly fun-loving group of volunteers, a gift of wines or spirits—and if you can’t bring booze on school property, have it delivered via a service like Mouth.
This is also a great opportunity for any area businesses who’ve been shy to donate cash but have been willing to donate in-kind gifts—your parents will recognize the gift up-front, and you’ll make a potential corporate partner.
A gesture of appreciation always goes remembered—and thank you cards are very easy to send. Just use your segmented contact list to send them promptly.
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Not too much, not too little
You don’t want people so deluged with email that they start deleting yours off the bat but you do want your constituents to know what the school is up to. This may sound obvious, but if you’re struggling for newsletter or update inspiration: focus on achievements. It’s a good peg for a newsletter and it also helps burnish your school organization’s sense of accountability and focus.
Card shown above: “Composition Book” by Paperless Post