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