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PTA Membership Drive: Tips from PTA Leaders

Updated: Nov 2, 2020

Parent Teacher Associations and Organizations (PTAs and PTOs), are an integral part of any school system. They facilitate parent-teacher communication, advocate for children and teachers, as well as are a big part of creating the school culture - a key element in student performance. The membership of the PTA helps to support all those missions both through its financial support (through membership dues) but also through volunteer participation. As such, it is almost always a key PTO initiative to increase membership. I recently attended a webinar by the California PTA. It was a lively, interactive discussion among PTA and PTO leaders on exactly this topic. The group had some great ideas on how to increase membership so I wanted to share them.

1) Family Trivia/Bingo Night

One of the best ways to recruit new members for your PTA is by organizing a family trivia or bingo night combined with a membership drive all in one. Existing PTA members could host a new member-only game night with raffle prizes, including backpacks full of school supplies and summer activity kits. Once parents learn of the resources, they could potentially win for their children; they are much more likely to want to join their local PTA and avail all the benefits that it holds.

2) Join in on the Virtual Orientation!

PTAs should request their school’s principal for a small slot in this year’s virtual orientation. During these minutes, PTA organizers should outline all that their association has to offer and exactly why parents should consider joining it. Since this announcement will be made during an official school event, the PTA will gain both reliability and a wider audience.

3) Recruit-a-Member Drive

A fun and student involved way to increase your PTA membership is to hold a recruit-a-member drive where students can compete amongst one another to gather new members for their local PTA. Small prizes can be set up for students who recruit the most members or those who recruit members from the farthest away, with international members being a bonus! Remember, membership is not just limited to family members of a student - anyone can join.

4) Target Specific Groups

PTAs can extend membership by targeting specific groups through different activities. For instance, celebrities and social influencers can be contacted to join the PTA and promote its benefits to their followers. Since these celebrities would have a large fanbase, the PTA can massively increase their outreach. These celebrities can, and should, include local celebrities such as mayors or council members.

Similarly, superintendents, school board members, and city council members should also be approached for membership as they too have considerable following and influence.

5) Online Reading Night

Students can engage in an online reading night where they are required to involve members from their extended family. This can include grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, or really any other relative that would be up for this fun activity. By involving members from outside of the direct family, students can help share the mission of the PTA and promote membership.

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6) Membership Monday

Your PTA can set out a day of the week to especially focus on recruiting new members. For example, they can have “Membership Mondays” where emails are sent out explaining the benefits of joining a PTO both to parents and students, along with details on how to join. PTAs can also choose this day to update their blogs and float posts through relevant social media platforms. They can provide templates for parents to use on their own social medias so that the membership ask extends beyond the school community.

7) Talk About Your PTA at Welcome Back Night!

If you’re looking to increase your PTA membership, then it is important for your teachers to be fully informed of all of your PTA’s offerings. PTO organizers can provide teachers with a PowerPoint slide to include at the end of their back-to-school night. This shows parents that teachers support the mission and serves as another reminder to join the PTA.

8) Get Your Teachers Involved

Teachers are a critical part of your PTO. To get them more involved, some schools have found it successful to involve teachers in discussions about how to make the PTA better. If your by-laws allow, you should offer a lower priced membership to teachers (or change your by-laws to allow for that). Finally, don’t forget to them them about the teacher-specific benefits - e.g. classroom supplies, etc.

9) Spirit Package Celebrations

Teachers and parents alike tend to love spirit wear. Not only does it make them feel at home in their school, but it also gives them a sense of belonging. PTAs can encourage new members to join by giving the entire class school t-shirts upon reaching 100% participation. New members can also be given spirit wear t-shirts or coupons as an incentive to join.

10) Prizes for the Winning Class!

The class with the highest membership at the end of each term could be given a special prize. One idea that was a hit among the webinar participants was for the winning class to get a Zoom meeting with a llama. As this is a unique idea, and one that elementary kids will love, it is sure to blow up among other classes and raise motivation levels to recruit new members.

Other suggestions were a socially distant popcorn or ice-cream party to celebrate, and the teachers of these sections could be given a small raise in their teacher allocation money.

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11) Finally, Remember to Ask!

It’s surprising how many people miss out on being a PTA member simply because they were never asked to join. Remember to ask anyone you talk to join. In fact, while on the webinar, PTA leaders asked each other and many of the PTOs got 10+ new members just from that ask on the webinar itself! You’ll be surprised how many new members you’ll get if you just ask.

We wish you much success in your PTA/PTO membership drives this year!

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