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Marketing Your PTO to Families


If you’ve struggled to get family involvement in your PTO during the first part of the school year, you’re not alone. And luckily, you’ve got a new year full of opportunities to tackle the task of getting new families to join. We know that might not sound like the most exciting thing in the world, but as you know, the more parents you have involved in your group, the better off your organization will be.

Maybe you’ve tried the usual marketing events, sending out emails, being present at school events, but it’s just not enough to get the wheels turning. That’s why we’ve put together some tips to help you market your PTO to new families.

Hold a “Welcome Back” Parents Meeting

It’s common to hold an introductory meeting before school starts in the fall, but why not hold a review session at the start of January? It will provide a good opportunity to play catch up and answer any parents’ questions or concerns they might have about different fundraising initiatives or upcoming school activities.

During this meeting, don’t pressure them to join the PTO or anything, but do have materials they can take that cover the basics of joining. Make sure you give them your contact information so families can easily get in touch with you, and have a sign-in list where they can jot down their email. If you’re running any fundraisers or have random sign-ups they can join, have those there as well.

Bonus tip: have someone live stream the meeting on your Facebook page for any parents who miss. Then you’ll also have the entire meeting recorded via video so other families can watch it or refer to it whenever.  

Communicate the Benefits

If you’re having a hard time deciding what to tell parents who are hesitant to join, a good place to start is communicating the benefits of the PTO. Parents won’t get involved with the PTO if they don’t know how it benefits the school, the students, and them.

Does your PTO have a mission statement? That’s a good place to start when you’re talking about the objectives of the PTO. Make it clear what the group does for parents, and what they do for kids. It’s a good idea to create a flyer that has this information on it, along with posting it on your school website and Facebook page, so parents have something tangible to refer to.

Explicitly Talk About the Initiatives

After communicating the benefits of the PTO, you’ll also want to cover all of your PTO’s initiatives for the rest of the school year, so parents will know exactly what you’re working on and what needs to be accomplished. Parents don’t want to be surprised with tasks, so lay out everything you need now from event volunteers to classroom aides. They’ll be more likely to sign up for opportunities if they know what the end goal is.

Additionally, be clear about the spectrum of opportunities for parents. Not everyone has to devote hours every week helping out the PTO, so let them know that they can just get their feet wet at the beginning. Then they’ll see how easy it is to help out and will want to tackle more.

Fundraising is undoubtedly a topic you’ll want to talk about with new families, and unfortunately PTO’s get a bad rap for continually adding fundraising activities to a parent’s plate. Instead of adding even more, stick with one or two fundraisers that you all can devote your time and energy to. Worried about the competition with other school activities? Check out this blog post about making your PTO fundraiser stand out.

Most importantly, be conscious of how you are talking about needing volunteer help. If you come across as desperate, parents might be less inclined to help out. After all, they want to join a well-oiled machine, not an opportunity that is going to stress them out.

Keep in Touch with Families

Don’t let parents fall off the radar after their first meeting. One easy way to stay in touch is to create an email list so you can quickly send out a message to families. So you’ll want to make sure you get their email addresses when they are at school events or your meeting.

If your school or PTO doesn’t have a Facebook page, volunteer to make one! Parents might be more likely to check Facebook than their email, so use the platform to relay messages to school parents. Have a lot of events and meetings? Make sure you have a calendar on the website where parents can check out all of the events.

Above all else, be approachable and appreciative. Parents will find it easier to join your program if you’re easy to contact and talk to and if you express how much you appreciate the parent’s time and interest. That’s how you create a positive culture where they’ll want to come back again.

We know that all of these tips will take a little more work from you, but the result will hopefully be more parents participating and your PTO finishing the school year strong!  

Next Steps:

  • For more PTO Ideas, check out our Pinterest Board.
  • Want to start a fundraiser parents can get behind? Download our getting started guide to help get the rest of your PTO Board on board.