We’re barely past the holidays, and winter is just kicking into high gear for most of us – but it’s already time to begin discussing the next academic year and – more specifically – Board Election Season. That’s right, folks – those of you who have been working your tails off for the past few months will be off the hook soon… or you’ll be stepping up to the plate in greater roles as you work your way up the parent organization ladder. In either case, now is a great time to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your organization, where there’s room for changes to processes and procedures, and what things were so successful in 2015 that you shouldn’t even think about altering them.
Evaluating Your Objectives
The objectives of the parent groups that use Pay4SchoolStuff.com vary – some of you are members of traditional PTA and PTOs, while others are members of Boosters Clubs, school staffs or other extracurricular-based groups. That said though, the goal of evaluating your objectives remains the same.
To take a look at your objectives moving forward, the first step is to review what you’ve done in the past. If your group is a Boosters Club, what was your primary goal for 2015? Was it to get new goals for the soccer field, or a new scoreboard for the baseball diamond? New uniforms or increase ticket sales for the Chorus, Band or Orchestra? Did you achieve your goal? If not, what were your setbacks – did you have a hard time getting people to donate, was the cost more expensive than you anticipated, was there pushback from other organizations within your school or town?
Similarly, use this time to evaluate participation rates and membership. If you struggle every year to get parents to join your organization take a look at why that might be – do they not know that your group even exists? Do they think that dues are unreasonably high, or that the time commitment is too great? Consider the feedback you receive and find reasonable ways to tweak it, rather than sticking with an “it is what it is” mentality.
Of course, you’ll also want to take stock of what objectives you set for 2015 that were met. If you set out to purchase new equipment for the art department and hit your goal within a couple weeks take a look at why that that might be. Was it a cause that many parents felt was important enough to get behind? Did you host some out of the box fundraising events? Were students your best advocates?
Once you’ve evaluated your 2015 objectives, come up with your main goal of 2016 and then break it into smaller parts that will help get you there. For example, if you are planning to purchase new playground equipment and need to raise $10,000 to do so, break the amount into 10 different events to hold over the course of the year where you will be able to raise $1,000.
Evaluating Your Methods
Once you’ve taken a look back at 2015 and determined your goals for 2016, take a look at what you did, specifically, in 2015 that worked or didn’t work. Did you put most of your fundraising aspirations into one or two events when you may have been more successful hosting five or six events instead? Did you rely too heavily on soliciting the same groups of parents over and over again (ex: if you were raising funds for new soccer goals, did you continuously ask the parents of the players to donate money, rather than looking at the larger school community as a whole)? Were the same handful of volunteers consistently doing most of the heavy lifting and, as a result, becoming burned out or a bit bitter?
Conversely, if you found a system that well and truly works for your organization, take a look at other functions of your group and see where the same logic can be applied. For example, if you never have a problem getting volunteers because you only hold three major events per year and parents don’t feel overburdened, perhaps that mentality can be brought forward into 2016 when you’re evaluating your board positions. Would things be more successful administratively if members felt less overburdened? Would it make sense to create more board positions, or sub-committees, to achieve that goal?
Evaluating Your Board
In order to adequately prepare for next year, one of the major tasks your current board should undertake is evaluating themselves, and getting feedback from your general membership. For this, we recommend using two different criteria: how effective/necessary are the existing roles, and seeing where you can consolidate or expand.
For example, do you really need a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Communications Chair, Volunteer Chair, Teacher Liaison, Parent Liaison, etc. when your entire organization is only 20 individuals? Conversely – if your organization only has a President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer and there are 60 members within a school community of 3,000 parents, perhaps it’s time to consider expanding your board to encompass more roles and opportunities for individuals to get involved while also relieving some of the burden from the four members on the board.
Next, you should evaluate what worked and didn’t work for your board, specifically. Ask each member of the entire organization to complete a mini self-evaluation to reflect on how they did personally, and how the board did overall. Are there areas where improvements can be made? Should certain requirements be put into place for individuals to hold certain positions (ie: an accounting background for treasurer)? Are attendance policies not strict enough, or so strict that they prevent parents from wanting to get involved?
Be honest and open with yourselves and your peers, as the only way to continue to grow and improve is to receive honest feedback and to learn from it.
(Kudos to you if your evaluations come back and everyone is thoroughly impressed with how things are running! In that case, keep doing great work!)