One hardworking local PTA meets the wide-ranging needs of 1,800 K-8 students and their families spread across four grade level centers.
Kim Mayton, a mom to seven-year-old twins, has a familiar story about how she ended up in a PTA leadership role. “When my kids were entering pre-K, the teacher told us parents that the class needed a Room Mom. I was interested in getting involved, but also intimidated. You couldn’t volunteer as a Room Mom unless you first joined the PTA. That made me pause. I had certain stereotypes in my head about the PTA and I definitely hesitated. But I wanted to help my kids transition well into school, so I went ahead and joined.” Kim laughs as she recalls, “It kind of snowballed from there.”
Kim now serves as the vice president of fundraising, co-chair of hospitality and chair of the school supply committee at Homewood PTA. Located 25 miles south of Chicago in the village of Homewood, Ill., this one hardworking PTA supports 1,800 K-8 students and their families spread across four grade level centers. “It definitely can be a challenge to have one PTA spanning multiple campuses,” remarks Kim. “We probably don’t run exactly like a traditional elementary school PTA but I’m betting we are more alike than different.”
Homewood PTA currently has their dues set at $10. With a little over 600 paid members and a typical annual operating budget of approximately $40,000, successful fundraisers are critical to ensuring they have adequate resources to deliver the depth and breadth of programs their PTA has become known for. “We simply cannot afford to have unsuccessful or underperforming fundraisers,” says Homewood PTA president Ann-Marie Webster. “We have to get this right to hit our budget. We carefully consider which fundraisers will yield the best results while not being a burden to our volunteers and families.”
So, that prompts the burning question: Which fundraisers does Homewood PTA choose?
A member of the Homewood PTA board was a longtime Schwan’s Home Service customer and advocated for the group to consider the Schwan’s Cares™ program (the charitable fundraising platform within Schwan’s Home Service, Inc.). When Homewood PTA discovered that Schwan’s Home Service delivers right to individual customers’ doors, instead of requiring a scheduled pick-up by families or requiring the PTA to accept and manage inventory for distribution, “We were thrilled!” says Kim.
Homewood PTA launched their first Schwan’s Cares™ campaign this school year. In addition to all the “usual” promotions, such as featuring the campaign on the PTA’s website, Facebook and sending home printed materials to families, they recognized that “tasting how great the food is would probably lead a lot more people to buy it.” So the PTA used a small amount of funds to purchase a selection of Schwan’s® foods and encouraged tastings at two PTA general meetings. Kim notes, “I highly recommend offering samples for any food-based fundraiser based on this experience – even if you have to buy the sample food out of PTA funds. It really helped people decide what to order!”
The PTA took some additional steps to promote the fundraiser, including:
- Passing out Schwan’s® catalogs (tagged with a sticker for the Homewood PTA fundraiser) at local libraries and senior centers, after receiving permission to do so at those locations
- Collaborated with the secretaries at the four campuses to compose and send an e-blast to all families about the campaign
- Making sure that fliers and catalogs are featured at any school events during the campaign
Ann-Marie cautions that the relationship with Schwan’s Home Service is new and they don’t yet have a full grasp on how profitable these campaigns will be, but she is optimistic based on how things are going. “Have you had Schwan’s® ice cream? It’s amazing. If people just order lots of that, we’re going to do fine.”
Advice for Fellow PTA Leaders
Given Homewood PTA’s success over the years, what advice does Kim and Ann-Marie have for other local PTAs?
Ann-Marie has plenty of suggestions. To start: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. One or two people cannot run a PTA! If people indicate a willingness to serve in some way, actually ask them to serve! Delegate!” In addition, she suggests:
- Homewood PTA prioritized having a modern website for their PTA and they keep it current so members will want to check it frequently and rely on it for information.
- Use all forms of communication. Paper is fine, such as the typical PTA newsletter that goes home in the backpacks. But also use social media. Find parents who are really good at those and ask them to take responsibility for updating. Homewood PTA values social media because “it creates two-way dialogue.”
- Show appreciation constantly to your volunteers, administrators and teachers. Homewood PTA has a strong bond with their campus principals and “they are amazing allies. They promote the value of PTA at all opportunities. They encourage all the teachers to join PTA and always are supporting us.”
- Always talk about and “promote” what PTA is doing to support the students. “When individuals know all the things that PTA has been doing to benefit their kids and the community, they will pay dues and maybe even donate more than the dues.”
For more info about the fundraising opportunities and discounts available to schools and PTA members through the Schwan’s Cares™ program, visit PTA.org/Benefits.
Kris Carey Prevatte is the Associate Director of Corporate Alliances for National PTA and a former local PTA president in Maryland.
Schwan’s Home Service, Inc. is a financial sponsor of National PTA. National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product, or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.