The How-To on Chairing an Event at your Child’s School

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What is the first thing you need to Chair a school event? Your hands, of course. Just raise them and say, “I can do it”.  Stepping up to the plate isn’t always easy when it comes to volunteering your time for anything. Most moms are busier than ever now a day and are professional jugglers. The fear of dropping the ball or taking a misstep at any time can be worrisome to most moms. Have no fear, you can do it.

After you have taken your first big step of saying that you will chair and head an event, get organized. Reach out to the school and find out if this will be a new event or has this event occurred in the past. If the event is an annual event, there will be past chairs that you can approach for help and guidance. Many chairs like to be organized and have a book that they can use as a guide and add new things to. This book or even notes can be very helpful.

The next thing is communicating with your school staff and or PO/PTO/PTA. Find out exactly what their expectations are for the event you will be chairing. Do you have a budget or a sales goal? What would they like to see as an end result of your event? Some events are purely events to make money. Other events may be geared toward getting student or community participation. And other events may just be a fun event for your students, such as a dance.

Picking a date and time can be a little tricky. You need to find out first and foremost what works for the school. Get your guidelines for dates and times from the school administration. If permits must be obtained, make inquiries with the city. Perhaps other schools have permits for something at the same time. If so, you may want to choose another date for increased traffic flow. If there is another big event going on in your area you may have a hard time getting volunteers.

When you have a date set or a general idea the next step is to figure out how many volunteers you will need and how to obtain them. If this event has taken place before, ask the last chair if they had an adequate number of helpers. Many schools send out volunteer interest and request sheets at the beginning of the school year. Ask the administration to see what has been turned back in. If you have the email addresses of parents invite them to sign up for your event. There are different web sites that you can use that are free to set up volunteer sign ups. Sometimes you may have to call and solicit for help, no big deal.

Why would someone want to volunteer for your event? Let them know what your event entails, what the event promotes, or brings in monetarily. If parents, families, and communities know in advance what the benefits of your event are they are more likely to volunteer and even attend. If possible, provide benefits for the volunteers.  For example, if the event offers a meal, provide the meal free of charge for the volunteers.  Perhaps something could be awarded to their child’s classroom if they volunteer. A reminder that the most basic of reason to volunteer is that you are giving something back. Volunteering is showing your support of your child’s school and staff.

After you have your date, time, goals of the event, and volunteers lined up you are off and running. If your event is a large one ask someone to head up a certain area. An example of this would be a dance…ask someone to head up the decorating, snacks, or even the entertainment.  Having a go-to person for certain areas will take a lot off of your plate.

If you are having a raffle of some sort, what are you raffling? Will there be one item or many items? All details to be considered.  If you are in need of raffle items, your school most likely has a list of local businesses that have donated in the past.  That’s a great place to start.  When trying to close the deal, offering free advertising is effective. Most schools have a yearbook every year; create a few pages that highlight businesses that have donated to your school. Turn in a list of the businesses that have donated to your administration. Many schools have a monthly school newsletter that they send home with students. This is a great place to showcase your event and recognize volunteers and businesses who participated. Having a head volunteer over raffling can be very helpful. Try to pick a person who is outgoing and not shy about approaching local businesses.  And, don’t forget to ask your administration if you need a raffle license or permit in your state.  

Finally, it is the day of your event, ready-set-go! I find the more organized you are the less stressful you will feel. Rarely does an event ever go as planned, this is life. You will inevitably have a volunteer or two that will not show up, don’t sweat it. Make sure to have a little over coverage to allow for this. Having a volunteer over the money aspect is very beneficial as well. You need to find out what details the administration needs and when to turn the funds in and to whom (treasurer, accountant).

The event is done, now what? After the event is over make sure to thank your volunteers. A personal email or note thanking someone for their help is a must. A nice letter thanking any businesses that have donated should be sent out. Sharing your results of the event (pictures, money raised) is also a must in my book.

Remember to just smile and have fun. Good luck on planning your event!

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