Making the Most of Your Human Resources
by Gerry Ebbers, SCSBC Consultant for Stewardship and Development ◊
The involvement of parents and others in our schools is one of our strengths. When people take ownership of the school, they are more likely to support it, not just with their time, but also with their finances and their advertising of the school to their relatives, friends and neighbors. But the challenge facing schools today is the reluctance of parents to take on substantive volunteer opportunities. Parents shy away from three-year terms on committees and would rather be given a short term assignment with clear limits on the amount of work and the time involved. So our development efforts must be organized to account for these preferences.
Your development program can benefit from the collective knowledge and insights of people who represent different segments of your supportive community, so a development committee is still an asset, but this committee should be viewed not as a working committee, but as a think tank. You need a group of people to design a workable development plan for each year to address the key needs of the school in recruitment, fund-raising and community building. This committee needs to meet before the beginning of a new school year to design its plan. Further meetings will only be necessary to review the plan and make adjustments. Thus this committee need not be a standing committee with monthly meetings, nor do members need to make more than a one-year commitment to serve.
Once you have your development plan for the year, you can recruit individuals to be responsible for one element only of
that plan and only for that school year. Some elements of your development plan will require only one person to implement; others will require a small team of people; and some will require many volunteers. But asking people to do a specific task within a determined time frame is much easier than asking people to take on a whole development program.
In addition to the many “worker bees” that a development program requires, a school also needs volunteers for their specific expertise or their contacts. Again, what works best is to limit what the school requires of someone, and to ensure that the person is clear as to their responsibility and the time frame to execute it.
To establish continuity in events and activities from year to year, maintain a file or binder with all the plans, job descriptions, templates, needs and budgets for that specific event or activity, and pass that information on to the next year’s volunteer.
A final responsibility of the board in development activities is to thank everyone for their time and effort. Do that in a thank-you note from the board at the end of the year, or in some kind of volunteer thank-you event like a dessert social. To avoid having to plan another special event, you can probably combine this event with some other event or activity. In addition to thanking people for what they’ve already done, you can remind them that the school will continue to need their support next year as well.