Northampton Middle School, in Lehigh Valley, Pa., is fortunate to have a dedicated group of PTA volunteers and a modern, new facility. With only one middle school serving the entire borough, it’s a tight-knit community. However, with tightening visitor regulations for the security of students and faculty, the PTA experienced an unintended consequence—a significant barrier to getting volunteers into the building.
Joan Begliomini with Northampton’s PTA said it is a huge hurdle. While everyone wants the school community to be protected, their security process complicates fundraising and program efforts.
“All volunteers now face the same level of scrutiny as school employees,” Joan says. “They must go through a state police check, they must have had a documented negative Tuberculosis test and they either must have lived here for longer than 10 years or they must be cleared by the FBI.”
Northampton PTA has a legacy of providing countless programs and services that support student success, help the teachers and enrich their community. Fundraising helps to make these programs possible.
“We pay for agenda books for the entire student body,” says Joan. “We support teacher requests on a rolling basis. We provide the rewards tied to the school-wide anti-bullying program. Then there’s the whole Teacher Appreciation Week! It’s a lot, and it’s important, and we need to generate the money to do it all.”
Given the stringent security measures, it may not be surprising that the PTA turned to an online fundraising platform from Schwan’s Cares that requires very little volunteer support.
Joan says it’s an easy, straight-forward fundraiser.
“We absolutely love it,” says Joan. “Everything is delivered directly to people’s homes. We don’t have to take possession of inventory, sort out the orders, hope that people will pick it all up on time.”
Even with an easy fundraiser like Schwan’s Cares, Joan cautions that PTAs should not to forget the other big hurdle that comes with a middle school population—the kids themselves.
Through trial and error, Northampton PTA landed on two essential tactics that have proven effective for promoting the fundraising campaign directly to parents and caregivers:
- Take advantage of parent-teacher conferences. At Northampton, schoolwide parent teacher conferences occur in October. The PTA makes sure they have welcoming volunteers to greet parents as they arrive and give each visitor information about the Schwan’s Cares fundraising campaign.
- Use social media. Facebook has been critical to the Northampton PTA’s fundraising success. It allows them to update the school community and answer questions in real time. While they have approximately 150 paid members—which includes 100% teacher participation, Joan proudly notes—there are 374 followers on their Facebook page. So they know they can reach more of their school families through social media than they would through their member list.
Northampton PTA still asks the school to remind students about their fundraiser in the morning announcements during the active campaign, as well as the annuity period [with Schwan’s].
“We know it probably goes in one ear and out the other with the kids,” says Joan. “But the teachers do listen closely, and we have had wonderful teacher participation in the fundraiser as a result! The announcement is a little trigger to remind the teachers, so we still do it.”
Joan offers one final piece of advice for all the fellow middle school PTAs out there. “Find a teacher representative who truly embraces your PTA. At our school, it’s Mrs. Transue, the 8th grade science teacher. She advocates for all the other teachers to join the PTA, always attends our PTA meetings and dutifully participates in our fundraisers like the Schwan’s Cares campaign.”
For more info about the fundraising opportunities and discounts available to schools and PTA members through Schwan’s Home Service, 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 Cares 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.
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