Our Girl Scout volunteers make everything that we do possible, from leading troops and helping out with cookie season, to organizing backpacking trips and driving to events! Without the support of parents, it is profoundly more difficult to ensure that your troop’s year will run smoothly. So what’s the best way to ask parents to take time out of their already busy schedules to lend a helping hand?
On The Trailhead, Girl Scouts of Northern California had a few great ideas on how to make that ask a little easier. Get families excited to jump on board by following these tips for recruiting troop volunteers!
1. We’re in this together!
From the get-go, set the expectation that everyone volunteers (a great first step when welcoming new members and their families). By letting parents know up front that they will be asked to volunteer at least once, it won’t come as a surprise later in the year. Remind them that all of the activities that the girls love wouldn’t be possible without them! If no one steps up for a troop field trip or overnight campout, they might miss out on those fun opportunities.
Girls thrive when they have a dedicated support network of volunteers who are there to guide and cheer them on. It’s also a great way for girls to learn the importance of everyone pitching in! Create a list with brief descriptions of what you know you’ll need help with so that parents can best align their abilities and interests.
A few roles you might need to be filled in your troop could be:
- Troop Cookie Chair – set up booths, manage inventory and money
- Fall Product Program Chair – coordinate product orders, manage inventory and money
- Troop Treasurer – budget and manage troop finances
- Troop Helper – driving, activity planning, snacks, money management
2. Create a family talent survey
You might come to be surprised to find out that multiple families in your troop are equipped with camping gear, are experienced doctors, are CPR or First Aid certified, have large cars for carpooling, are bankers, or have social media experience! By better understanding the parent’s backgrounds, you’ll get to better know your team and how they can support.
3. Plan a family event
Hosting family fun events are a great way to learn more about the personalities and strengths of parents in your troop. Some parents may love to lead activities and are naturals in big groups, while others may be more comfortable prepping supplies or helping organize. Try out a team-building activity that gets everyone involved and interacting with the girls.
Some fun examples include:
4. Ask for help personally
Instead of doing a wide-cast “Broadcast email” that is likely to be looked over, approach parents in small groups or in a one-on-one conversation to ask for help. Events such as troop campouts or BBQs are a perfect time for a casual ask since parents are relaxed and in a good mood! Approach parents in a non-confrontational way and speak in a positive tone. As a follow-up, by setting up a regular system for communication such as text messages or emails, parents will stay in the loop about upcoming activities and what you need from them to make it happen.
If someone expresses interest in a certain role or position, get back to them as soon as possible! Give them all the necessary information to be successful, as well as point them in the right direction of any specific training or background checks they may need to complete.
For example, all Girl Scout volunteers working with other girls will need to register and complete a background check. Parents interested in leading a weekend trip may need to complete an Outdoor Training, or potential Cookie Chairs may have a Service Unit meeting to attend.
You want those volunteers to keep coming back, so make sure their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed! Write a thank-you note, make an announcement at your next troop meeting, or choose another way to express your gratitude. Nothing makes a volunteer more likely to help out again than when they feel great about doing it!
- If lack of childcare for younger siblings is preventing parents from helping out, consider creating a childcare co-op where some parents care for the younger siblings and other parents help with the troop during meetings and events.
- Remember, any adult (registered and background checked) can volunteer with your troop. If you’re having trouble convincing parents to volunteer, try widening your search to grandparents, other relatives, friends, and neighbors.