How to get volunteers and not burnout in the process


Communicating needs is hard

A common theme I see at work, school and within the family is the need to communicate clearly what is needed when you need something.

It's all too easy to assume what is needed is obvious and, to be frank, to feel a little miffed when help is not forthcoming! So how can we communicate our needs? 

Let's get strategic

I've learnt a lot about communities since I joined Classlist, and I learn more every day whether at the school or with the cub scouts!  
Here's some of the learnings I've gleaned:

  • Asking for specifics makes it easier for people to respond (busy parents in our case).
  • Specify times and amounts required to avoid uncertainty.
  • Use concise, descriptive language, but don't forget to share the goals and benefits - the cause, the fun side, how successful it was last year, what you hope to achieve. If you hope to smash a goal, it's motivational. 
  • Ask for a variety of small, manageable things often that give a taste of what's needed and can lead to deeper and longer-lasting involvement.
  • Create moments of connection and fun for strong communities. Working together makes friendships, and friends make work fun! Sharing the work also avoids it becoming a burden.

Some people will do a little, some people will do a lot, so let's focus on getting a lot of people doing something!

As part of the user experience strategy to drive community engagement, it's been important to listen and understand both the experienced event organisers' energy and drive as well as the new parents' potential sense of overwhelm.

Seeing both sides

Parent Associations have lost out on a lot of recruitment opportunities given the disruption of COVID lockdowns. Something that seemingly flowed before with each new intake of Reception or Year 7 families has hit a rough patch, so now parent associations really need fresh blood.

Common challenges parent associations encounter include:

  • Recruiting volunteers to get an event up and running
  • Requesting a list of items for the class project or a pot-luck meal
  • Booking times for volunteer reading times or appointments at Santa's Grotto
  • Knowing who can and will help with what

On the other hand, parents new to a school community may feel:

  • A little lost and unsure of what is needed and when 
  • Uncertain of the time commitment and what is required by certain requests
  • Flustered with the amount of things to do and remember while juggling other commitments
  • In awe of some of the super parent associations leads! - It's a compliment to you.
  • Dizzy with all the different formats and places to read messages and notices from the school

Let your parent community know exactly what's needed, when, why and how many of each item.
How? With a simple list.

One place for everything

You will find lots of lists in the aptly-named Classlist. I find lists are a great way to manage "to dos", to see who's in a group, who's volunteered and more.

You can also handle all of the recruitment and booking events communication with a sign-up list on Classlist

Parents can just tap "Sign-up" on the app, add to their calendar, leave a comment and receive reminders. This reduces the mental load parents already are dealing with. Using one platform help people know where to look.

First, create a community event (you need to be a rep or have another admin role). Then add a sign-up list, timeslots if needed, add the different tasks and the number of slots or items needed.

Once published, parents can view the event, see what is needed and sign-up for the request they feel most suited to or most comfortable with.

Enjoy having all your comms and event management in one place.

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