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How to Increase School's PTA Memberships

Updated on May 24, 2012

"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success." Henry Ford


What is the Secret to Increasing a School's PTA Membership?

When it comes to increasing your school's PTA or PTO membership, there is one secret that you need to know. Build it and they will come. Sounds a little too easy, doesn't it? Well I can tell you after being a PTO officer for six years for a school of 900 children, building isn't easy and it takes 2 to 3 years. So, just how do you "build" a great group? Well, just think about this line from Dr. Suess' The Lorax, " Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." If you are that person that cares, hopefully these ideas will help you start to increase PTA membership, increase parent involvement, and increase the activities and resources that are provided to the students in your school district. Just like the truffula trees took awhile to grow, so will your membership; just follow these steps and be patient.

What Is Your PTA Doing Right?

view quiz statistics

Why is PTA Membership Low?

By taking this short three question quiz you can quickly realize that those three questions are a starting point for determining the problem with your membership numbers and working towards a solution. If you want to increase PTA membership, you have to make it easy to become a member. Think about when you go to the store and they ask you to sign up for one of their free discount cards. They don't only offer that opportunity the first Thursday of each month at 5 PM. They also clearly tell you what you will be getting with the card. Then if after a few months you haven't been in to shop at their store, they communicate with you via e-mail or coupons in the mail. It is likely that once you get that communication you go to the store and use it. The same applies to PTA membership. If you reach out personally you will get your members coming back year after year.

Barnes and Noble and Game Stop offer the same types of cards that many other places offer, but their cards cost a few dollars. However, people that love books or love video games will gladly pay to receive special offers that come with the membership. Why would parents pay for membership in your PTA or PTO? Hopefully, because they love kids and know the money is going to help those kids. Let's face it, if stores asked us to pay $5 for a card and didn't tell us any of the benefits or rewards or when we could use the card and how we could use the card; we would never sign up for them. Well, the same is true for PTA membership. So many PTAs and PTOs just assume all parents know they should be members and they somehow magically know what those membership dues are used for. However, most PTA and PTO members themselves couldn't tell you exactly what the membership dues are used for. So if your membership is low, chance are it is because you haven't been communicating very well with the parents in your school. Now is your chance to be that person that cares and work towards changing those membership numbers!

First Steps to Increasing PTA Membership

To increase PTA membership you have to start with increasing the number of parents that come to your meetings and come into your school building. Here are a few ways to get parents to come to your school just to see what your school is all about.

  • parent social (ice cream, pizza, or cookout) with FREE childcare
  • family night (movies night, science night, 80s night, etc...)
  • PTA/PTO meetings with give-a-ways that are donated by local businesses
  • list meetings on the school calendar and webpage
  • create a group Facebook page
  • hold a student art show
  • have a book BINGO

How to Keep PTA Membership Growing

A few years ago our PTO made a huge effort to get more parents coming to our monthly meetings. One thing you need to know is that it never gets any easier getting them to keep coming. We have to always come up with new ideas to keep our meetings meaningful, exciting, and fun. We also have realized that many parents just can't make it to the meetings, so we constantly communicate through the school's monthly newsletter, our Facebook page, e-mail, and texting. As a PTO President I chose to give out my cellphone number and it has resulted in a lot of new parents getting involved as well as some other parents that had drifted away. It has also helped me get back to people faster. I am a busy mom and until I get home at night and check my voicemail, it is often too late to call people. With texting I can give quick responses and people appreciate that.

Words of Wisdom For PTA Leaders

Once you get people coming and you keep them coming, it is time to get them to commit for the long haul. Here are some words of wisdom for when you get to that stage.

  • Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it- It is always a good idea to be prepared for an increase in membership because once you get the membership numbers that you want you don't want to lose them. Extra members may mean that you will need more chairpeople, a bigger place to have meetings, and you might end up with more money to manage. Plan ahead for how your group will deal with those positive changes.
  • Everyone can do a something- Get to know your parents. We send out a checklist of events and activities parents may want to help with during the school year. We enter all the information into an Excel spreadsheet so we can easily sort and find parents when we need them. We get dads to grill for staff appreciation, we have working parents sort apparel sale items in the evening, we have stay at home mothers with little kids count box tops at home, and we have parents that come in and copy and sort box tops sheets whenever their schedule permits. We get to know our parents and we find a way to get all of them involved.
  • "Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is a sign of insanity" (Albert Einstein)-If something isn't working you need to try something different. If you "always" do a membership drive the first week of school, try doing it at a different time of the year and see if you get a better response. There are new parents entering your school every year and you need to get their attention as well as keep the attention of the parents that have been around for years. Trying something new every year helps keep things fresh!


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    • InspiredMinute profile image

      Tracey Farmer 

      5 years ago from Texas

      This is a great hub, Chrissie! With budgets being cut, it is important now more than ever that schools have strong PTAs. Please visit InspiredMinute and read "Ways to Increase PTA Membership". Let's continue to get the word out! Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I love these ideas.

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 

      6 years ago from Rome, Italy

      This hub is truly very inspiring. It's so full of first step, then second step then third step ideas and planning tips to really and truly make a success of ongoing PTA/PTO commitment and involvement. The energy is great and so are all your ideas.

      It's a wonderfully helpful Hub. Voting.

    • Janis Goad profile image

      Janis Goad 

      6 years ago

      Great ideas for getting people involved at the level of commitment they can do, to make the most of their competencies.


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