Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Why Parents Tire of School Fundraisers, Events and Activities
You've probably noticed that some parents get tired of various school events and obligations. Not every school and not every time but it does happen. Over time, this can cause a lower participation overall in all sorts of school events including important school fundraisers.
Hey, let's face it though, getting tired of something doesn't happen by accident. It's certainly not because of the topic. School is important and everyone gets that. So then, if it's not about the school and the importance of education, what causes parents to pull back from better supporting the various activities?
In a nutshell, probably nothing that simplicity couldn't fix. If you're overwhelming parents, step back & regroup.
The reason I believe parents resist things is when things become just too much. These are the times where communication and a good relationship is necessary to pull through. Without it, expect resistance.
I, for one, believe that supporting children in school is an unbelievable gift and I believe parents are obligated to involve themselves in the education of their children. But I have seen first hand what happens when library books, homework, spirit night notice, student photos, scholastic flyer and a permission slip come home all on the same day. I've seen numerous events close together, I've submitted payment for 3 fundraisers on the same day. You love the school and yet, wow.
This type of scenario plays out regularly and so I have a few simple suggestions:
1) Keep things simple - Resist hosting too many activities and events.
With respect to notices going home, ask yourself if every item going home is necessary and timely. If a number of lesser updates could be posted in one notice or email that saves paper and covers more ground in one notice. Also, consider putting all of the lesser important updates in the school newsletter instead of on individual flyers. Think streamlining communication and remember less is more.
2) Be consistent - If you have a recurring event, be consistent and host it once a month on the same day for instance. Things that have a timely component to them do seem to perform better.
With documents, come up with a good system for sending home documents that helps parents know what to expect and where to find it. A bunch of loose papers is not going to help communicate in a consistent manner so consider the delivery of updates and streamline when possible. Consider technology in replacement of printing.
3) Spread things out - There's not much sense in putting multiple events and activities on the same day or even the same week. Spread things out so you have minimal demands at any one time.
With stuff being sent home, try to keep the number of things vying for attention to a minimum on any given night. Parents are more willing to accept one item every day of the week versus 5 items in one day.
4) Put things in perspective - It is better to do an amazing job at a few things versus an average job at many. Keep this in mind when you put things into perspective. It may just mean that you concentrate efforts on just a few things and knock them out of the park.
Remember that everything sent home has importance. The thing is, some things are more important than others. Make sure to reserve a way for important things to be considered as such. What this means is that schools should consider what makes a note sent home stand out among others. If everything has equal value in the eye of parents, then nothing can be more important. It's up to you to figure out a way to better emphasize the important stuff.
So, in the end, we've got a few suggestions that appear obvious and yet, are the exact things that cause such big problems with encouraging parents to participate in different school fundraisers, events and school activities.
Let me know if you can think of any others or anything I forgot. I hope that there is something that you can use in here to simplify and make communication with parents more streamlined and effective. As always, feel free to keep the conversation going on twitter - twitter.com/BelieveKids
Keep the conversation going on twitter - twitter.com/believekids
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