Lots of hands stacked in a circle showing a team mentality


by Sandra Pfau Englund on Aug 30, 2016 06:44 pm

While out walking our dogs, Tott and Stella, I was thinking about how much speech matters. Tott and Stella instinctively know the difference between the frustrated bark of Sam, who spends too much time fenced in his back yard, and the happy bark of Scrappy, a large and friendly puppy.

My thoughts turned to speech and speeches because of how wearying all the political speeches become during the seemingly-never-ending- every-four-year-presidential-election campaign cycle. But then I hear a gem…a speech that champions the parents of this country, particularly parent volunteers, and I have to smile. In a campaign season in which there has been little focus on education by any of the candidates, my heart leapt a little when parents and parent volunteers got a little attention at this summer’s political conventions.

Michelle Obama recognized parents in her speech at the Democratic National Convention when she pointed out that we move our country forward “by all of us coming together on behalf of our children – folks who volunteer to coach that team, to teach that Sunday school class because they know it takes a village.” Wow! She noticed that #parentvolunteersmatter! And regardless of where the words came from, Melania Trump, wife of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, in her speech at the Republican National Convention, stated “we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.” I’m thrilled that parent volunteers got some well-deserved recognition!

You see, speech and speeches matter because they are so often repeated. Who doesn’t know Lincoln’s famous “fourscore and seven years ago,” Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” and John F. Kennedy’s “ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”?

I hope the words of Obama and Trump are repeated often to acknowledge parent volunteers and all they do for our children, our schools and our nation. Because #parentboostersmatter.

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.


Running an Effective Meeting

Sandra Pfau Englund

Aug 30, 2019

Booster club bylaws often reference Robert’s Rules of Order as the “rules” for managing a meeting. Have you ever read Robert’s Rules? It’s a good way to get a good night’s sleep!

O.k., so, having no rules leads to muddled, oftentimes chaotic meetings. On the other hand, using strict Robert’s Rules of Order can result in confusion or imbalance, dominated by those very few who understand Robert’s Rules. According to Sandra Englund, founder of Parent Booster USA, it’s far better to use a simplified form of parliamentary procedure. Using Sandy’s Simple Parlipro for Nonprofit Organizations, you provide a solid framework for your meeting that encourages everyone to participate and stops any one person from controlling it.

Meetings should not be all about the rules. According to David Gillig, Senior Vice President of Children's Hospital and Health Center in San Diego, a meeting should be 80% inspiration, learning and fun, and 20% business. Busy parents are more likely to attend if they feel as if they will gain something for themselves, and their kids, out of the meeting. We recommend that you start the meeting with something fun or educational — our parent engagement blog talks more about this.

Place reports at the end of the meeting; consider providing digital or written copies of reports that parents can read outside of the meeting. No one wants to sit through standard reports. One exception is financial reports. Always include the treasurer’s report. The treasurer’s report should include a written budget and a report that shows how money was raised and spent. Making bank statements available is a good way to help ensure accountability. You can read more on financial accountability here.

It’s good practice to put start times for each item on the agenda. This helps ensure that the meeting stays on track and flows effectively. It’s particularly important if you are discussing any controversial issues in which it is more likely that someone will filibuster! Having a rule that each person gets an opportunity to speak once, before anyone is given a second opportunity to speak, helps encourage more participation.

Below is a sample agenda to help you get the most out of your booster club meetings. Start your meeting by reviewing the agenda. This is where you can explain the “rules” you’ve set for the meeting, including for example, that you will work to stay on-time to help ensure that the meeting starts and ends accordingly. You can also mention here, or just before the Q&A time with the principal, that each person will be provided the opportunity to speak once before anyone speaks for a second time. The report time is kept brief to allow the bulk of time to be given to the information provided by the principal. Minutes need approved; although a little unusual, we included approving the minutes at the end to allow more time for the more important matters up front.

ABC Booster Club
1. Call to order & Review of Agenda 6:00p
2. Guest speaker – Principal Melissa Everly discusses school remodel plan 6:05-6:25p
3. Q&A 6:25-6:35p
4. Financial report 6:35-6:45p
5. Other reports 6:45-6:55p
6. Approve minutes from prior meeting 6:55p
7. Next Meeting 6:59p
8. Adjourn 7:00p

Planning and structuring your meeting for success if the key to having an effective meeting.


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