Back to School and Back to PTA means Engaging Families and Growing Membership!

by Linda Johnson and Kirthana Krishnathasan

A new school year means new opportunities to grow your PTA. This past year was tough for so many PTAs, families and communities. As you prepare for back to school, you may be wondering how you can grow your PTA membership this year. Would you be surprised to learn that even during the pandemic, there were PTAs across the country that were able to grow their membership last year?!

We talked to some of these PTAs and here’s what they shared about what helped them engage families in their communities and grow their membership.

  • Start as early as you can, but it’s never too late to make the effort!
  • Make joining as easy as possible. Contact your state PTA to find out if there is an online membership platform available. If you use a paper form, make sure they are available everywhere. Make sure all PTA board members and the school(s) have a supply on hand. Provide a link to your join PTA page or form in every communication.
  • Ask everyone who was a member last year to support the PTA/PTSA again this year. Send out email renewal notices to everyone who was a member last year.
  • Use a QR code that links to your online membership join platform and put it everywhere! Have it on signs at all your PTA and school events, put it on your social media, on any flyers that are sent home, on signs around the school or even on business cards for your board. Check out this video on How to Create a QR code in less than a minute.
  • Ask your principal to share the value your PTA brings to your school and encourage families and teachers to support PTA.
  • Use all communication channels—in person, direct emails, newsletters, flyers, banners, school marquis, social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok.
  • Ask for people to join PTA all year at every virtual, in person or drive thru event. Check out these sample Join PTA/PTSA emails.
  • Ask everyone to join your PTA. Membership is open to anyone who supports the PTA mission: families, teachers, staff, students (if allowed), community members, public officials, etc.
  • Add a Join PTA button to all your online event(s) or volunteer sign ups.
  • PTA in a virtual way to attract more families who can’t always attend in person.
  • Focus on issues important to the families in your community. DIY Kit for Membership Growth helps you determine the needs of your community and how to align your PTA priorities.
  • Provide special benefits/perks to your PTA members: family membership, free popcorn at movie night, discount to a local business, etc.
  • Toot your PTA horn! Make sure your whole community (not just members) knows all the ways your PTA is supporting students and families. Brand everything you do so your community knows it is the PTA doing the work or providing the financial support. It takes just a few minutes to Customize PTA logos or you can use graphics from the Membership Campaign to share the value of your PTA.
  • Translate materials in the languages that are spoken by families in your community to be inclusive.

Check out the new 125 Ways to Grow Membership, 10 Myths/Truths and many other membership recruitment tools available to help you grow your PTA.

Have questions or need support, reach out to us at membership@pta.org.

Enhance the PTA Membership Experience: Ask Everyone to Join

By Linda Johnson and Ivelisse Castro, National PTA, Membership and Field Service Team

Nearly 20,000 local PTAs/PTSAs are getting ready to get Back to School, Back to PTA. So much to be done and so little time to prepare for a successful PTA/PTSA year. National PTA wants to make things easy for local PTA leaders and help support a positive PTA membership experience. Since the number one reason why people do not join PTA is that they are never asked, we’ve developed a suite of customizable templates to help local PTAs ask their community to join PTA using the PTA Membership Campaign.

Templates to:

  1. Invite everyone to PTA/PTSA for Your Child as we get Back to School, Back to PTA by joining, supporting, or investing in your PTA/PTSA. This letter/email is to be used at the beginning of the PTA membership year as families get ready to get back to school. If printed as a letter, you can add your PTA membership registration form on the back or create a QR code for people to scan.
  2. Invite existing and past PTA/PTSA members to continue supporting your PTA/PTSA by renewing their membership. This letter/email is to be used as soon as your PTA membership year starts and anytime to target past members who haven’t renewed their PTA membership this year.
  3. Invite PTA/PTSA event attendees to join your PTA/PTSA to support programs and events like the one they attended. Use this letter/email throughout the year after every PTA/PTSA event/program to invite attendees who are not yet members to join your PTA/PTSA.
  4. Welcome members to PTA/PTSA and thank them for joining, let them know the benefits of PTA membership and let them know how much their membership means to your PTA and to you as a PTA leader.

Remember since the number one reason why people don’t join PTA is because they are not asked, make sure to ask this year! Sometimes you must ask more than once.  People love it when PTAs/PTSAs take the time to invite them to join or renew their membership. They love receiving a Welcome to PTA/Thank you for Joining message even more. An invitation to join makes them feel like they can make a difference just by becoming a member. A welcome/thank you message makes them feel included, valued, appreciated; it makes them feel their membership does matter.

Use these resources to Market your PTA to make it easier for your PTA/PTSA to provide a meaningful membership experience so that when it’s time to ask them to renew next year, everyone will say “Yes” again, and again, and again. For more ideas to grow your membership, you can check out 125 Ways to Increase Membership and the 10 PTA Membership Myths & Truths

Increasing membership is vital for our PTA voice to be stronger and more powerful or influential.

Have a successful PTA membership year.

P.S.: We would love to know if these resources were helpful or if you need additional tools. Please let us know by emailing us at Membership@PTA.org.

State, District, Council and Region PTAs…Know Your Data to Grow Membership

By Linda Johnson and Kirthana Krishnathasan

Data is knowledge and knowledge is power. Taking a deep dive into your state, district, council and/or region membership data beyond the overall total membership numbers gives you the power to make informed decisions to maximize your financial and people resources to reach your goals to grow membership.

Reviewing your data can help you:

  • find local PTA success stories, so you can learn and share strategies across your association to help all PTAs be successful.
  • see PTAs that are struggling, even if they do not reach out for help, so that you can provide needed support before they stop reporting membership.
  • identify geographic, district, council, or region areas with declining membership so you can provide targeted solutions and strategies where they are needed most.

Membership is all year long so reviewing membership data should be done several times a year. Membership status, goals and strategies should be reviewed and discussed at every board/committee meeting and at every level: state, district, council, and region.

National PTA has membership reports that can be used to help state, district, council, and region leaders look beyond the current membership numbers for the stories in your data. Current State PTA leaders can access and download these reports in the State Portal. Ask your state if you do not have direct access to the state specific reports for your state.

The Membership Reporting Year-Over-Year (YOY) by Fiscal Year report provides fiscal year-end membership totals for all local PTAs since 2014 as well as the current fiscal year reporting through the date you download the report. This report is updated monthly as the state reports local membership.

The data in this report can be used to identify the following membership trends:

YOY gain: Identify PTAs that have significant single year or multi-year growth. Are there common stories of training, leadership, or support that can be shared?

YOY loss: Identify PTAs that have greater than 20% single year loss or consistent membership loss across several years. Have leaders at these PTAs attended training? Has there been leadership turnover? Do PTA leaders have good relationships with school staff? Do they know how to effectively engage their community?

Zero reporting PTAs: Identify PTAs that did not report membership in the current year but were reporting in the previous membership year. What has caused these PTAs to stop reporting?

Active PTAs with 2 or more years of zero reporting: Identify active PTAs without membership for 2 or more years. Verify if the PTA is still functioning. Determine if there has been leadership turnover or no current leadership is in place. 

Geographic Trends:  After you identify the above trends in your data, sort the information by city.  Are there specific areas with more growth? What training or support is happening in these areas that can be used to replicate growth in other areas?

How can my State/District/Council/Region PTA support local PTAs?

PTAs are membership associations. Membership is not just a transaction; it is all about relationships. Sending email reminders to a PTA to send in compliance requirements is not a relationship. Most people join PTA at a local PTA, so build personal relationships with local leaders, NOT just the president and help them build relationships with the members in their community.

  • Connect with PTAs that are growing membership, congratulate them and find out how they are being successful. Collect the strategies and stories on how they grew membership. Would these PTA leaders consider mentoring another leader in their area or participating in a training to share the ideas and strategies that helped them grow?
  • Make targeted personal outreach to PTAs that have had year over year loss based on their data. Make phone calls, send texts, or message them through social media to find out how they are doing personally and as a PTA leader. What do they need to develop their leadership skills or help them run their PTA?
  • Don’t wait, contact PTAs that miss your first required membership reporting deadline. Make sure they know how to report membership. Find out if they need additional support. Do not wait for a whole year of zero reporting before making contact and offering support.
  • Provide additional training based on the feedback you receive during your outreach calls.

Training, Resources, Reporting, and Policies

Local PTAs are faced with a lot of rules: IRS policies, state nonprofit laws, school district policies, and PTA unit in good standing or standards of affiliation requirements. There can be a lot of volunteer turnover, so how do your make sure new leaders get the training they need to be successful? Review and align your policies and procedures to help local PTAs be successful and grow membership.

  • Training: Is leadership training required? Keep a record of which leaders attend training from each PTA to verify all PTAs have received training. Make sure new leaders are trained on how and when to report membership, how to engage members and share the value of PTA. Provide training based on the skills needed for different roles in PTA. Provide multiple opportunities throughout the year to receive training. (in-person, virtual, e-learning, etc.)
  • Resources: Direct local leaders to membership resources available to them from district, council, region, state and National PTA so they do not have to reinvent the wheel (Local Leader Kit, E-learning, DIY Kit for Membership Growth, etc.).
  • Reporting: Do you require minimum membership reporting for a PTA to be in good standing? Is reporting required every month or at specified dates? Do you have a membership platform PTAs are required to use? Does zero reporting trigger outreach and support?
  • Policies: Review state policies on how long PTAs are allowed to report zero before they are moved to inactive, or their charter is removed.

Anyone (large-petite states, district, council or region, staff, or volunteer) can use data to help identify next steps in your membership growth plan. How your data analysis is utilized to inform decision-making can have transformational changes to your membership.

Start by doing just one thing. What is one thing can you do in the next two months? 

If you want or need help looking at your data or need more ideas for next steps, reach out to membership@pta.org

New Tools to Advance Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

National PTA is committed to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) but what does that look like in action? To answer that question, we partnered with 14 local units to test out new DEI strategies which led to the development of three new tools, the Diversity Profile, the Facilitator’s Guide, and the Action Plan Template. If you’ve already reviewed the Local Leader Guidance for DEI and are wondering what next steps you should take, read on to explore our latest tools! 

Diversity Profile 

Who lives in your community? This may seem like a simple question, but answering it well requires an in depth understanding of the families at your school. Our Diversity Profile Template will walk you through important demographic questions about your community. Questions like: what religions are represented? What is the racial demographic breakdown of your community? What is the median household income?  

After finding out that information, challenge yourself to think critically: Does your PTA board and membership reflect your community? 

Facilitator’s Guide 

If you notice that there are voices missing, it is time to figure out why. How can you create a more inviting PTA that offers leadership opportunities that draw in all members of your community? Our Enhancing DEI Facilitator’s Guide offers step by step instructions for hosting a listening session where you can learn more about how families want to engage with the school and the PTA. The guide includes a meeting agenda complete with questions you can ask families to better understand their experiences and reimagine your PTA in ways that better meet everyone’s needs. Most of all, these conversations are opportunities for intentional relationship building with families who you may not typically interact with! 

One of the grantees shared that their use of the facilitator’s guide really made an impact: “Even though we needed to conduct our listening sessions on Zoom in order to be COVID-safe, our virtual introductions to new-to-PTA parents are already starting to blossom into real-life relationships now that our school has reopened.” 

Action Plan 

Listening is an important first step, but you can’t stop there. After you listen to families, the real work begins. How will you address their concerns, answer their questions, implement their ideas?  

Another grantee shared their own DEI goals, “The first thing we want to do is have a workshop for new PTSA leadership and committee chairs (and anyone else interested) on culturally responsive skills. We want to improve outreach and communication and be sure that our meeting agendas speak to issues that are relevant to all families and that our meetings are conducted in ways that are inclusive.” 

Our Enhancing DEI Action Plan Template provides a structure for you and your board to plan next steps like these. Remember to keep families in the loop as you continue your planning! The action plan is a great way to re-engage the families you listened to. Ask them to weigh in on the draft and make additions or edits. These new strategies and initiatives will be most successful if they are co-created by the PTA board and the rest of your community! 

For more guidance on how your PTA can use these tools, watch our webinar, ”Turning Your Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion into Action” and keep up with our latest resources at www.pta.org/diversity!  

Arlington Science Focus School Virtual Family STEM Night 2021

Think you can’t host a family fun night while remote learning? Think again! Arlington Science Focus School, an elementary school in Arlington, Va., hosted its first-ever Virtual Family STEM Night Wednesday, Feb. 17.

The event went off without a hitch thanks to ASFS Investigation Station Lead, Stephanie Lin, the 2020 NOVA District PTA Educator of the Year, and a team of volunteers made up of ASFS teachers, parents, local high school students, and community partners.

Kindergarten through fifth-grade families were able to connect with one another and enjoy an evening of virtual STEM activities and live presentations, all from home. Students joined Microsoft Teams calls to listen to live presenters, watch demonstrations, and participate in a variety of science and engineering stations.

Thanks to the support of the ASFS PTA, families were able to pick up STEM Night supply kits with bags of simple materials needed for each of the experiments, and many of the activities could be completed with supplies found at home.

Some of the night’s highlights included hands-on activities, such as:

  • Building Index Card Towers
  • Creating Ocean Sculptures from recycled materials
  • Building a LED Copper Tape Flashlight
  • Making a Balloon-Powered Boat with a sponge, straw and balloon
  • Creating Underwater Fireworks with oil and food coloring
  • Experimenting with Paper Cup Constellations using a flashlight
  • Making music in the Chrome Music Lab

The event also featured presentations and demonstrations, including:

  • Astronomy presentations by a speaker from NASA
  • ASFS First Lego League Robotics Team demonstration
  • Reptile and amphibian presentation by a nature center representative
  • Space shuttle simulation with the ASFS student Tech Crew
  • STEM career talks by a Bioinformaticist, Computer Scientist, Environmental Engineer, Forester and Sustainability Analyst

Although the virtual experience was not the same as the annual science fair typically held at school, it was great to see so many families engaging and participating in this school-wide event and enjoying STEM in this virtual world.

Two of the most popular STEM activities from the night were National PTA STEM @ Home activities: STEM @ Home Experiment 2: Ballon Boat and STEM @ Home Experiment 5: Copper Tape Flashlights. For the Balloon Boat, many students filled up their sinks or bathtubs with water and enjoyed watching their boats travel. Siblings loved racing their boats against each other. With the Copper Tape Flashlight, students were amazed that the LED light could light up with simple household materials, and they loved how bright it was!

Interested in hosting your own virtual STEM night? Check out National PTA’s STEM @ Home page for more information.

ASFS Family STEM Night Photos

It’s Not Too Late To PTA!

It’s been a school year like no other. Many schools remain closed, offer hybrid attendance or are open one day and closed the next due to increased cases of COVID-19 in the community. But PTAs don’t need a school building to support their families!

Are you still PTA/PTSA-ing in your school communities? Kids, families, teachers, principals and schools need your PTA more than ever this year. Your PTA can play a key role in helping support your school community in these tough times. It’s not too late to PTA this school year!

If you had a slow start to your PTA year, renew your efforts in 2021. For many, if COVID-19 has meant the needs of your school community have changed, have your PTA refocus on responding to—and supporting—those needs. Everyone has learned so much about how to communicate in a virtual world, so put those new skills to work.

Want a chance to win prizes for your PTA? There are questions embedded throughout this blog. Enter the answers at the end of the blog to be entered in a raffle to win prizes for your PTA.

Supporting Your Community—Virtually

As a PTA leader, determine what is a necessity versus what may need to wait till next school year. Are the event/activities/programs previously hosted by your PTA/PTSA still relevant this year? Can they be revamped to address the new needs of your community or is something new needed that better addresses those needs? It’s never too late to start serving your families and community.

If your PTA has been actively advocating for the children of your community and has been holding virtual or hybrid event(s), programs or community outreach, let your community know your PTA is fighting for all the children and families of your community.

Promote your activities via Facebook, Instagram, newsletters, etc. so people know what your PTA is doing. It’s important to continually ask whether your community knows why your PTA is valuable to them. Check out the new Membership Campaign customizable graphics and messaging that you can use to promote your PTA with an ask to join.

Create a membership campaign that will resonate with your community by highlighting the help you are providing your community and ask people to join, support or invest your PTA so you can continue your work.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed how PTA/PTSAs communicate, grow and accomplish the PTA mission within their school communities. PTA members tell us what they value the most about their membership is networking/connection their PTA provides for all families, the way PTA enhances education and the avenue PTA provides for them to have a voice in what is happening in their school and community. There is still time to virtually provide these types of benefits for your PTA members.

How to Run Your PTA/PTSA in the Virtual World

In response to the new needs of PTA/PTSAs, National PTA has developed several resources in the past year to help your PTA be virtual and thrive in this new PTA world.

Question 1: What are 3 of the 5 PTA Values? (hint)

Networking: Learn from your peers virtually

In these times, staying connected is key. Join the PTA Local Leaders Facebook group to instantly share, chat, collaborate, connect and learn from other leaders like you across the country. You should also sign up for National PTA newsletters.

Check with your state, region, district or council PTA to find out if there other networking opportunities in your local community.

Question 2: Do you need a school building to PTA?

Virtual National PTA Programs

National PTA offers several different programs for PTAs. In fact, with the pandemic in mind, we have revamped our programs and launched PTA Programs at Home, which are completely customizable to the needs of your school community. The programs have options for real-time (your PTA will host a virtual event), at your own pace (families will watch recorded videos and follow along), and tech-free.

  • STEM + Families Science Festivals at Home: By hosting a National PTA STEM + Families Science Festival program, your PTA will provide amazing opportunities for families to participate in shared, hands-on science activities. Help all kids and families experience and explore activities and be inspired to pursue careers in STEM!
  • STEM + Families Propelling Our World at Home: By hosting our NEW National PTA STEM + Families Propelling Our World program, your PTA will provide amazing opportunities for families to participate in shared, hands-on activities that will build science, technology, engineering and math skills.
  • PTA Connected Smart Talk Program at Home: As children spend more time online in this COVID world, are parents in your community looking for resources to keep their children safe on the internet? Consider hosting The Smart Talk Conversation.
  • Healthy Hydration Program at Home: Although our day-to-day lives have changed, drinking water is no less important! Check out this program to help families make healthier choices this year.

Don’t reinvent the wheel, just realign the available resources from National PTA to fit the needs of your school community. Check in with your State PTA as well to see if they have additional resources.

Connect with your school community

Staying connected to your PTA members is very important. Without staying connected, how will you know the needs of your community? The needs today might be different than the needs a few months down the road, especially in these times. You do not need to be the experts because your PTA can partner with other non-profits or other community organizers to bring resources to support your families. Send out a survey using Facebook polls, Google forms, etc. to your community to find out what is most important to your PTA community now.

COVID-19 is hitting certain communities more than others. Reflect on the demographics of your school community. Communicate in the languages your families speak. If you are a community of Spanish speakers, National PTA offers many of our resources in Spanish on the National PTA website. How are you communicating with families with limited access to technology and the internet?

Question 3: Why do you PTA?

Let’s Do This!

Things have been constantly changing but your PTA can, and should, start planning now for the rest of the school year. Remember that saying … it’s better late than never. So don’t wait another minute! Start supporting your PTA families and community today.

Most people don’t join their local PTA for the simplest reason … because they were never asked! Now is the best time to start asking! Include an ask to join your PTA in all your messaging, at every event in person or virtual, social media postings and email communications. Brand everything you do with your PTA logo because if you don’t, how will people know it is your PTA who is bringing these valuable resources or programs? If you don’t have a logo, you can create one here in 30 seconds!

On behalf of National PTA, thank you for all you do to support children and families. We know the times are tough for everyone, but we want you to know that you’re doing an amazing job and we’re so #PTAProud of you! 

Pop Quiz Prize Entry

If you have answered all three questions in this blog, fill out this form.


Kirthana Krishnathasan is theMembership & Field Service Specialist for National PTA.

PTA Elections Are Coming Soon! Are You Ready?

How does your state or local PTA prepare for the elections of new officers? You should first look at the bylaws of your PTA to see what they say. Under normal circumstances, there are usually two ways; one that has been used for years at your local PTA (this may be different than what your bylaws state) and the one that is designated through Robert’s Rules of Order that are the standard to use when your organization has not set up a process.

Timing is crucial! Set your date of the scheduled election meeting, based on your bylaws and work backwards to meet any and all requirements found there. If your bylaws establish a nominating process either through a nominating committee or board leadership, that group should assemble a list of diverse, willing and qualified candidates for office.

This can greatly benefit members when the time comes to select their leaders. If the committee does its job well, the membership can enjoy some basic assurance that the candidates nominated have at least expressed interest in the job, have agreed to serve, and are qualified for the offices for which they’re nominated.

For more information on Nominations and Elections see Robert’s Rules of Order Article 11-B, section 66 A. Nominations and section 66 B. Elections. Please contact your state PTA for additional assistance. 

If you’re a state PTA, please see further guidance in the State Resource Bank.

If you’re a local PTA, please check out our blog series with helpful tips on meeting virtually.

The National PTA Legacy: The Past, The Present, The Future—The Work that Connects Us

In my last blog, I shared with you the story of what is happening today throughout our country. A story that connects the PTA work of today with the legacy of our founders.

We shared how our unique structure and our long history of serving all children and families made us the only organization perfectly situated to help meet the immediate needs of communities during this time, while also acknowledging and addressing the systemic causes.

Today, I want to share with you in a little more detail about what these PTAs are doing, how these PTAs are doing it and what makes PTA special in overcoming challenges and maximizing the impact.

Tackling COVID-19, Together

Amidst COVID turning our country upside down, PTAs immediately began to tackle this grant work. National PTA asked the PTAs to select one of four priority areas in which to begin this work, knowing that there was a high level of intersectionality between them. PTAs were asked to name a starting priority area only as a way to stay centered when things would inevitably get crazy and the need to pivot would become necessary. The four areas are:

  1. Food insecurity
  2. Remote learning
  3. Device and internet access
  4. Mental health

We learned that the priority areas are even more connected than originally thought and the need was overwhelming in all areas. PTAs began sending home devices, accessories for devices, school supplies, resources for mental health services, wellness and hygiene kits, books and food to students and families. We saw family engagement events online, including chalk walks, food drives and socially distanced spirit nights.  Touchless water fountains, book vending machines, outdoor learning spaces and calming rooms were installed. The creativity was endless.

Because the money quickly advanced from our funder, through our national organization and disseminated across the country, PTAs were able to support families immediately. PTAs pulled together teams to collaborate—families, school administrators, faith-based community organizations, other non-profits, local businesses, school staff and community members. Team building is essential to all community engagement work.

PTAs Change Lives

Collective impact depends on the utilization of all available resources in order to fully maximize them—efforts being coordinated and outcomes being impactful. PTAs are in a unique position to bring together these teams, because highly functioning PTAs already consist of all these folks or have access to these folks. PTAs connected with the right partners to ensure grant dollars went further and impact was maximized. 

Our PTAs received a tremendous amount of support, both before applying for the grant and after being awarded the grant. The support is in the PTA network itself. National PTA was happy to be a facilitator, making our organization the best and most impactful child advocacy organization in existence.  Here is how we are structuring the support.

Step 1: Community Assessment

PTAs are encouraged to engage both families and the community as well as to seamlessly work with school administrators and staff—always. This framework ensured that when PTAs were asked to conduct assessments prior to applying for these grants, there was immediate and meaningful action. Leaders know to listen, engage and empower families.

So, when COVID hit, PTAs were already prepared to quickly assess their community and determine where the greatest need existed, who the best partners might be, and how to pull together additional resources. For the leaders that needed additional help, National PTA conducted mini needs assessment workshops and helped them determine which efforts might have the greatest impact. This also helped leaders pivot—when a planned idea became difficult to implement, they had an understanding of the multitude of needs and could quickly implement another. 

Leader to Leader Community of Practice Calls

These calls, hosted by National PTA, give an overview of the space (mental health, internet and device access, remote learning, food insecurity) in which they are working and then open the time for them to talk with one another, recognizing that National PTA is not the expert—they are. They share ideas, celebrate successes and work through challenges. Being with leaders across the country allows them to think about new and innovative ideas and to hear how leaders in different areas are working around barriers.

Just about every PTA is doing something different with this grant funding. There is no one program being implemented. And, PTAs are having to adjust to unusual circumstances with changing conditions—which look different in every school district across the country.

Networking Let’s Chat Calls

One of my favorite resources that National PTA provides is simply to hold space for leaders to share with each other. We answer their questions and provide updates for the first few minutes and then they take over the call and make it their own.

These calls allow leaders who need to talk with one another a place to do so. To share. To brainstorm. To celebrate. I leave every call with a renewed sense of purpose, a love for our great organization, and humbled by the hard work of our volunteers, especially during an incredibly difficult time.

Story Telling

Lastly, we are working with our PTAs to share their story. To collect it and to tell it. The work they are doing is our legacy—our history. People will look back and say, remember the Global Pandemic of 2020? Remember how PTA came together and supported communities in need and then fought to end the systemic reasons behind the need, like—kids needing to be in school to eat and to have access to mental health services. Remember how quickly PTAs jumped into action? We created worksheets and webinars, support and templates for leaders. We are telling our legacy; we are telling our story.

Our PTA leaders are incredible. They always have been. That’s the reason we’ve survived 120+ years. That’s the reason we’ve accomplished so much. That’s the reason we make a difference. 

It is important to remember that the work PTA leaders are doing now is what connects us to our 120+ year legacy. If people don’t know what we do and who we are—they will not join our cause. I often say, our founders got angry about what was not right in the world and they did something about it. People were so passionate about the work and others joined, attracted by that passion and to the cause.

Put your focus on the work. Build your leaders from the passion.

As a PTA leader, focus on the needs of your community. Listen to your families. Do that work. That is how you connect to a legacy that has lasted for over 120 years. If we are doing the right work, people will follow and they will join your cause and when they believe in your cause, they will join your membership.


Kelly Langston is an independent contractor supporting project management for National PTA’s programs and partnerships.

How to Get the Technology Your Local PTA Needs

The first question we often hear at National PTA is … are PTAs allowed to spend PTA dollars on technology? The answer is a resounding YES. Your local PTA is a membership association and a non-profit business. PTAs can budget for, and spend money on, any technology that will be used by the PTA. This year, PTAs across the country must pivot to the new reality of the business world during the COVID-19 pandemic. That means figuring out how to run your PTA either partially, or fully, virtual. This pivot will benefit your PTA well beyond the pandemic as well.

It is important to note that many of the below items have free and paid versions. You will need to look at your specific PTA needs to decide what product may work for you and if the free version is enough or if one of the paid versions is a better fit.  The items are linked so you can learn more about each, and remember, you can Google or YouTube just about anything online to find how-to videos.

Overall PTA Management Needs

  • G-Suite for Nonprofits— Looking for a little bit of everything? Offered by Google for free to non-profits, this is a suite of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools, software and products. You can upgrade for a small monthly fee as well. You can get Gmail accounts for your PTA and board members, online drive to store your PTA documents and photos, centralized calendar, Google Meet and other resources
  • Microsoft Office Online—Offers free online use of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and One Note
  • TechSoup—A non-profit international network that provides free or discounts on technological tools and support to non-profits.
  • Notion—An all-in-one workspace where you can share and work on the same content. Individual accounts are free and can be shared with up to five guests.

Virtual Gatherings

Planning on hosting a virtual meeting or event? There are many products out there to suit your needs, and some have free versions. Since this is the way your PTA will be doing business for quite some time, your PTA should invest in this expense. Each platform provides tips for setup for all the features, including screen sharing and login requirements. If you use a free version, you may be limited on the number of attendees and how long the event can run, so do your homework. Some of the platforms to look at are:

  • Zoom Meeting– The free plan allows up to 40 minutes per meeting with up to 100 participants. If you need more time, they have a $149 per year plan for unlimited meetings with up to 100 participants.
  • Facebook Live in a Private Group— Consider using this option for a board meeting! Make sure everyone on your board is on Facebook and in your private group.
  • Go to Meeting – $12 per month for up to 150 participants.
  • Google Meet– Free one-hour meetings up to 100 participants, more features if you have G-Suite
  • Skype Meet Now – Up to 50 people per meeting. Anyone can host or join with no need to download an app.
  • FreeConferenceCall.com– Up to 1,000 participants and up to six hours of conference call time, screen sharing and video.
  • WebEx – Can host one meeting free a month or look to upgrade to another option.

Survey and Poll Tools

Need to find out what your members and other families in your community need? Ask virtually!  See the links below for some online survey options.

  • Facebook Polls– This option offers instant feedback but is limited to people who follow your page or are in your closed group
  • Google Forms– Cloud-based questionnaire and survey software, can create reports of the survey responses.
  • SoGoSurvey– Free to non-profits
  • SurveyMonkey– The basic plan is free for up to 10 questions and 40 responses

Storytelling Tools

Showcase the value your PTA brings to the community by sharing #HowWePTA on social media, in your newsletters and more! These tools can help you create beautiful visuals to help tell your PTA story.

  • National PTA Membership Campaign—Check out the over 50 free graphics in the new PTA campaign that can help you highlight and share the benefits of being a part of your PTA.
  • Canva for Nonprofits—Use this easy graphic design platform to create social media graphics, posters and other visual content.
  • Need some free photos? Check out sites that offer many free photos: Getty Images, Shutterstock and iStock Photo.
  • Need to store and share files? Maybe Dropbox is just what you need. The basic version is free.

Other Online Tools and Resources

  • Another tool in your toolbox to help run your PTA virtually is BAND– PTA’s newest national sponsor. BAND can be a timely, modern, no-cost solution for PTAs that need to virtually coordinate activities and events and share information. BAND helps make it easier for parents, teachers and PTA members to stay connected and organized while embracing distance learning. PTAs can use the BAND app for scheduling, instant messaging, video calling and virtual meetings, conducting polls, managing signups, live streaming events, and other critical two-way communication features.
  • Need volunteers to sign-up to help? Try out SignUpGenius. Free option for nonprofits.
  • Need to randomly pick a winner virtually? Want to play a game virtually? Looking to create a word search? Check out Flippity, which is free, and offers all sorts of fun things you can create quickly and easily virtually.

Learn from Others

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Join the PTA Local Leaders Facebook group. Connect with over 6,000 other PTA leaders across the 54 State PTA Congresses. Click on the search icon to look for ideas on how to hold virtual meetings, virtual events or online fundraisers. Check out our other blogs on How to Make Joining PTA Easy, Ways to Make your PTA Virtual, Grow Spirit from Afar and National Volunteer Week blog which recognizes several local PTAs making things happen virtually.


Linda Johnson is the Manager of Membership Data and Training for National PTA.

National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product or service.

Show Your PTA Value to Sustain and Grow Your Membership

This school year will be a year like no other in PTA history. All of us must look at how we PTA in a different way. You may have heard the phrase “PTA flexible.” This is the year to show PTA flexible in action across everything we do. Just like schools have had to pivot, so do PTAs. You don’t need a building to PTA.

PTA is needed now more than ever. Many parents are feeling disconnected and disengaged from their school and community. PTAs can make those connections and rebuild the school community. To do this, PTAs must show their value and relevance in an all, or mostly, virtual setting. Together, we all must learn how to take in-person activities and adjust them to a virtual setting.

First, you need to have a platform to connect with people in a virtual space. There are many products out there, some have free versions. Since this is the way your PTA will be doing business for quite some time, your PTA should invest in this expense. PTAs can budget for, and spend money on, any technology that will be used by the PTA. Remember to look if any of them have a discount for being a non-profit. Some of the platforms to look at are Zoom, Go To Meeting, Google Meet and WebEx. Check nonprofit tech resources through Tech Soup.

Another tool in your toolbox to help run your PTA virtually is BAND—PTA’s newest national sponsor. BAND can be a timely, modern, no-cost solution for PTAs that need to virtually coordinate activities and events and share information. BAND helps make it easier for parents, teachers and PTA members to stay connected and organized while embracing distance learning. PTAs can use the BAND app for scheduling, instant messaging, video calling and virtual meetings, conducting polls, managing signups, live streaming events, and other critical two-way communication features.

After you determine your preferred platform, you need to find what will make your PTA valuable and relevant throughout the year to your community. Here are a ton of ideas, information and content to use and share with your members: to show your PTAs relevance and value.

Check out these recent blogs

Explore National PTA Resources and Training

  • The National PTA website is available in Spanish therefore many of the resources on the webpages can be translated into Spanish. Share this feature with your PTAs and in outreach to your Spanish-speaking membership.
  • There are some great PTA leader resources on the National PTA COVID webpage. If you scroll down on the page there are three sections of resources—Families, PTA Leaders and Educators. Local PTAs can share the resources with their members to show their relevance during this difficult time.
  • The Center for Family Engagement recently held a webinar called Family Engagement in a Virtual World. Here is a link the recording which is found on CFE
  • On that same page is a link to subscribe to the Notes from the Backpack which is a great resource your PTA can share with your members, parents and teachers.
  • We must move our membership campaigns into the virtual world. We are extremely lucky to have a new Membership Campaign that has incredible graphics and messaging for all PTAs to use in the new virtual world of PTA. Did you know that PTA is now a Verb? Check out all the 50+ social media graphics available. All are also available in Spanish. Based on feedback, we are also in the process of adding some new items pieces soon.
  • Encourage your local leaders to join the National PTA local leader Facebook group. People share all sorts of great things on the page.

Host Your PTA Programs Virtually!

  • Visit National PTA’s Reflections Start Your Program page for resources and ideas on how to run your PTA’s Reflections program remotely. Check with your State PTA for specific state guidelines, rules and deadlines.
  • Enroll in the National PTA School of Excellence program to align your COVID-19 relief efforts in best practice for family engagement while gaining national recognition. Enroll by October 1 at PTA.org/Excellence.

Stay Connected!

  • Sign up for National PTA e-newsletters. As a PTA leader, you can harvest information from the newsletters and share it with your members. Click here to sign up for one or all five e-newsletters.
  • Invite your members to bookmark National PTA’s Our Children Magazine; this a great online resource full of valuable information to help families to better help their children.
  • Check out your state PTA webpage as many of them also provide resources, programs and incentives for local PTAs. Not sure of your state’s PTA website? Here is an interactive map for you to quickly connect.
  • Several state PTAs hold virtual events where local leaders can call in and share what virtual events they are already doing or thinking about doing so people can learn and hear from each other. Check-in with your state PTA to see if they are offering something similar.

Not sure what your PTA members and community need?

  • Ask them. Click here to see a sample survey to get you inspired.
  • PTAs leaders do not need to reinvent the wheel or to be content experts in all areas. If you know the needs of the families in your community, reach out to other non-profits in your area that are already providing these needed services. These other non-profits may already have the funding to provide services in the community and are just waiting to make connections.
  • Show how PTA advocates. Help families in your community have a voice. Make sure to share surveys and links from your school or school district and encourage families to respond so their voice is heard. See if the school district as a spot at the table for a PTA representative so you can be part of the discussion and discussion making for your community.

Coming Soon

  • National PTA is currently working on a series of recordings and live Zoom events, around PTAs being virtual, which will include topics such as: creating a virtual membership campaign, running a virtual meeting, virtual fundraising, Making the Case for PTA, and more.
  • National PTA is currently working on moving several programs into the virtual space.
  • Look for the next round of National PTA grants to roll out in November 2020.
  • Be on the lookout for National PTA’s weekly series celebrating the work PTAs have been doing to support COVID relief in their community. Stories will be shared on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and in our e-newletters.

Suzan Yungner is the Director of Membership and Field Service for National PTA. 

National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product or service.