Increasing parent engagement at meeting with enthusiastic participants

Increasing Parent Engagement in Your Booster Club

by Sandra Pfau Englund on Aug 27, 2019

Billy has to go to baseball, and Sally to soccer. Your Mom called and is worried about an upcoming doctor’s appointment. You have a looming deadline at work. What’s for dinner?

The last thing many parents want to add to their overly busy schedules is volunteering for the school booster club; accepting the title of President, VP, Treasurer, or Secretary is the last thing on their minds! So how do you recruit enough volunteers to keep a booster club running?

According to the United States Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018, parents were employed in 90.8% of families with children, an increase of 0.6% point from the previous year.

Here’s why parents are tapped out, with little time or energy for the booster club:

  • 97.4% of married-couple families with children (K-12) have at least one employed parent; 63% have both parents employed.
  • 76.4% of single parents with children (ages 6-17) worked outside the home.
  • The average parent works 40.5 hours per week.
  • The stay-at-home parent works double the average, 80-90 hours per week.
    (US Census Bureau & Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018.)

The following are a few tips to help your booster club get more parents involved:

  1. Make the meetings fun:
    • Hold meetings at a new, fun or trendy spot in town. Include the kids with mixers, formal nights, and other outings. Find something for all personality types to create and build community within the group. You might take a poll on places parents might like to go. Doodle poll is great for this (and it’s free). And be sure to provide snacks – a parent on the go can always use some fuel.
  2. Make the meetings useful:
    • Make meetings really worth people’s time. Few parents are interested in hearing officers read reports. Instead, include at least one topic for parent discussion, or a speaker parents want to hear. For example, band booster parents may be interested in meeting the choreographer of this year’s marching band show and learn how the choreography is developed, graphed and executed.
  3. Make the meetings convenient:
    • Hold meetings on days, and at times, when both stay-at-home, and working parents can come. You may want to alternate between daytime, and evening meetings. When my son was in band, the boosters held their meetings on Monday nights even though evening marching band rehearsal was on Tuesday night. I was reluctant to make the 30-minute drive to the school an extra night of the week. More of us may have gone if, instead, the meeting was held while our students were rehearsing.
  4. Establish a welcoming committee:
    • A warm, personal welcome goes a long way. In an Economic News Release in 2015 on the topic of volunteering by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, research shows that people are more likely to get involved if they are personally asked, rather than reading an announcement in a newsletter. When new parents come, be sure that they feel welcome and are drawn into the discussions. No one wants to feel like the “third wheel” in an already established group.
      (Source: US Census Bureau & Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economic News Release, 2015.)
  5. Communicate, communicate, communicate:
    • Set up a web page where parents can get information about the booster club and its activities. Include contact information for officers and board members so it’s easy for parents to reach them. Consider using text messages as a quick way to send out information and reminders. Knowing what’s going on is key for parents to feel involved.
    • Skip the written meeting notes and instead share reports and information electronically. This saves time at meetings to focus on “hot topics,” and ensures that parents who don’t come to the meetings still feel involved.
  6. Avoid parent involvement burnout:
    • It’s a lot to ask of someone to commit to a full year of involvement. Instead, offer a variety of volunteer opportunities, including one-time, short-term and intermittent commitments. Make sure you include how much time each commitment takes. No one wants to jump into the deep dark hole of over commitment.
  7. Say thank you:
    • Offer genuine thanks for those who volunteer. It leaves a lasting impression and leads to continued parent engagement in the club.

The only organization of its kind in the US, Parent Booster USA is about helping school support organizations (parent teacher organizations, high school booster clubs and other school fundraising groups) handle the state and federal government paperwork required of fundraising groups.

Founded in 2004 by an attorney skilled in nonprofit and tax law, Parent Booster USA has more than 4,000 member organizations in 48 states with a 95% annual renewal rate. We provide peace of mind for parent volunteers, school administrators and school district leadership.


Sandra Pfau Englund

Founder of Parent Booster USA

Sandra Pfau Englund was a working mom in 2004 when she volunteered for her son’s elementary school PTO. The nonprofit and tax law attorney quickly became mired in trying to organize the group’s finances, tax-exempt status and fundraising compliance. If it was this complicated and time consuming for someone with her professional knowledge, she wondered how other parents and booster groups managed. From that experience, Parent Booster USA was born.

Sandra is a sought-after subject matter expert and has been quoted by NBC’s TODAY show and in Forbes and The Wall Street Journal, among others. She is published and speaks throughout the country on issues related to nonprofit legal liability, financial controls and audits in a post-Sarbanes-Oxley world, board development and fundraising.

Learn more at sandrapfauenglund.com.

YOU SUPPORT THEM, WE SUPPORT YOU

With PBUSA membership, we file all the IRS and state paperwork. We keep your booster club up and running year after year.