How to Motivate Parents for PTO Fundraising Campaigns

How to Motivate Parents for PTO Fundraising Campaigns

The most treasured volunteers in a school are the parents volunteering in the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). They give the gift of their time, talent and leadership yet one of the most vital roles they play is to be the driving force behind PTO fundraising campaigns for a school.

Parents are busy ensuring that their children are supported, loved and quite frankly that they get their homework done on time. Carpools, after school activities and homework are enough to make a busy parent’s mind spin. Then we ask them to be involved with the school’s PTO. If you’re fortunate enough to get a parent that not only wants to join, but wants to be an active participant you’ve just hit the parent jackpot.

If you have a parent who volunteers for the PTO and treat them well from the beginning of their experience and all throughout, you then have the most powerful and influential people to act as ambassadors and leaders for your school’s mission and cause.

When a parent volunteers for the PTO that is one step they´ll take in indicating their belief in the school and want to be more involved as a parent and an advocate for their children. Time is our most precious resource – we can´t create it, and once we use it we can’t get it back. Therefore, the staff and team members of a school must ensure they are maximizing the skills and time of each parent who raises their hand and says, “Yes, I’d love to be a part of PTO fundraising campaign.”

With that idea in mind, we’ve outlined some key ideas to not only motivate parents, but inspire them to give from their hearts with both their time and skills, because if they believe in their school they are perfect people to make the case to ask others to support their school as well. Let’s get to it and find out how to best recruit parents for PTO Fundraising.

Welcome Parents With Warmth

For a parent to self-identify as someone who would like to be more involved with their child’s school takes a level of commitment that not all parents will do. We all know that first impressions matter, and that’s also the case with parent volunteers. As individuals sign up to volunteer there’s magic in the follow up.

Some ideas would be to put together a ‘Welcome Packet’ with information about the school and key leadership members of the PTO. Include the mission and activities that are already planned for the year ahead and the big ‘why’ that the PTO is working together to bring awareness and funding to the school. Capture stories of students and how their days have been affected by the work of the PTO. Illustrate not only the importance of the organization, but how the students and the school are influenced by the funds raised and volunteer time given. This information can also be included in a meaningful way on your PTO website.

Another idea is to make it fun to volunteer. Host some planning committee meetings at private homes, so that everyone can bring drinks or food to share. Make it a social event, and you’re sure to get some new parents looking for social gathering opportunities.

Discover Their Strengths

Once a parent has joined the PTO make a point to reach out to them one on one. Maybe it’s by email or phone but the goal is to make a personal contact to the new volunteer. You want to get to know them a bit more and why they have chosen to say ‘yes!’ to volunteering. What level of involvement can they commit to?

Ask questions and listen to their response. Take notes because this is a crucial step in identifying where the parent is best suited to fit into the PTO structure. You want to uncover their strengths, time commitments, passions and willingness for participation. You want to discover their strengths and suggest a placement in the organization which best suits their characteristics and strengths. The more they feel a sense of winning and acceptance for the gifts they possess the more likely they will be to stay involved and create the momentum that you look for from a volunteer.

Make the Case

When it comes to PTO fundraising campaigns, the case for ‘why’ the funds are needed to be raised is a critical moment for parent volunteers and their buy in. People are motivated for different reasons. People need to be inspired to know where they’re going, what they’re going after and why their work, time and effort will make a difference.

Do you have a fundraising goal for the year? Share it. Do you have participation goals? Share them. Do you have several events that entail different levels of strategy and participation? Outline them. Is the money that needs to be raised going towards a specific program? Paint the picture.

The more people understand what needs to be done and why they need to do it, the more likely you will be to have buy in and participation from parent volunteers.

Celebrate the Wins & Give Thanks

After the parents have successfully completed their PTO fundraising campaigns, they need to be celebrated, acknowledged and thanked. An important step in this part of the relationship is ensuring that the team and staff of the school track the volunteers, their participation level and the amount of money raised.

A great way to track all of this data is through fundraising software that not only allows you to track the donor but the student or event participant that has the relationship with the donor. A perfect example of this is DoJiggy’s Crowdfunding software for Fun Runs, Service Campaigns, Spell-a-thons and more. The parent volunteer may be a donor, but they also may be the lead relationship to a key donor. The team will want to track that relationship to ensure that everyone is thanked for their gifts and participation in the campaign. Who doesn’t love an amazing thank you note?

All volunteers should be thanked in the same manner – with heart, compassion and thoughtfulness. Everyone in this world yearns to be seen and heard and who better to be seen and heard for their hearts than parents who take the time to fundraise for their children’s school through the PTO.

A key to success to ensuring that parent volunteers not only stay involved, but also successfully help to fundraise for a PTO is by treating them the way that they would like to treated. It’s as simple and beautiful as that.


About Heather

Heather Filipowicz, CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive), has over 15 years of nonprofit fundraising and management experience. She successfully raised millions of dollars for various nonprofits in the Buffalo, NY community. Now, she resides in Tampa, FL where she is a writer, blogger, yogi and Mom.

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