Top tips for recruiting parent volunteers
Helen, our volunteer support for parent engagement, shares some top tips on getting parents involved
Getting parents to help out, even just occasionally, can reduce your workload.
It can also lead to more units being opened in your area, giving more girls the opportunity to be a part of guiding.
We know that getting parents to give their time isn’t always easy, but did you know that 45% of parents of young members said they’d be likely to volunteer if they were asked or given more information on how to get involved?
So we’ve asked Helen Beecher Bryant, volunteer support for parent engagement and leader of six units, to share some top tips on getting parents volunteering.
How and when should I ask parents to get involved?
As early as possible! As soon as girls join, make parents aware of the opportunities available to them. Many don’t realise that we are entirely volunteer-led and that us volunteers are people just like them, with jobs, families and loads of other responsibilities. I include this in the welcome email I send out – it’s a ‘Welcome to Girlguiding’ which embraces parents and carers as well as the new member.
I make clear in the welcome email that there are many ways people can support the unit. We have parents in lots of roles from administrator to treasurer, to purchasers, activity researcher and even social media manager!
We also have a parent who co-ordinates a helper rota. Parents contact her to be included on the rota and this is included in the emails sent out when term starts. We encourage those interested in a regular commitment to come along to a couple of meetings, then to sign up on GO to become a unit helper. In my units we provide a member t-shirt for people who help at least once a month, once the recruitment checks and DBS are complete. This gives them a sense of identity at meetings and makes them to feel part of the team.
What if parents say...
I'm not home from work in time
Volunteering with Girlguiding isn’t just about attending evening meetings – there are many other ways you could support us. Could you research activities in your lunch hour? Not all units meet in the evenings – some meet at the weekends. Most units organise additional activities and adventures at the weekend – perhaps you could help with them occasionally!
I don't have childcare for my other children
Could you club together with other parents to look after each others’ children on a rota so that you can help occasionally? Maybe there’s another space at the meeting venue which could become a creche during the session? There are several factors to consider, but it’s definitely something to think about as there will be lots of other parents in the same position.
I don't have time
At Girlguiding, we embrace all offers of help. You don't need to have hours and hours of time available to contribute and although we’d love it if you did want to volunteer often, you don't need to commit on a regular basis.
There are all sorts of ways you could get involved. You might be able to help with transport once a year, do some printing at work, run a session to teach a specialist skill, help out on a trip, offer to take photos at an event, or help run a recruitment stall one Saturday. There are countless ways to get involved!
My daughter wouldn’t want me to help in her unit
That’s fine – there are plenty of other units you could help with! You might want to try a different age group to your daughter – we have Rainbows (aged 5-7, or 4-7 in Northern Ireland), Brownies (aged 7-10), Guides (aged 10-14) and Rangers (aged 14-18). You definitely don’t have to help at the unit your daughter attends, if it’s not what’s best for you both! Let us know if you’d like to visit a few different meetings to get an idea of the different age-groups.
I’m a man so didn’t know I could volunteer and wouldn’t feel welcome in a girl-only environment
Men are welcome to give their time to us – we’ve got lots of volunteers who are dads and grandads of girls in units, or partners of other volunteers! There are plenty of opportunities for men to get involved in guiding. Just let us know when you’d like to help and the age group you’d like to help with and we can let you know your options.
I don’t have any experience of volunteering, or the right skills to volunteer
No experience is needed – just come along and see what we’re all about! You’ll soon get a feeling for the group. You could even try some different groups and see where you’d prefer to be. Don’t think you don’t have the right skills – any skills are useful, and you’ll quickly gain new ones!
Any amount of time or any skill can be used somehow in guiding - we can find an opportunity to match what you can offer. We are a caring, friendly lot, so what are you waiting for?!
About Helen Helen is lead volunteer for parent engagement and leader of six units
"One of my favourite things about guiding is to see girls grow as they embrace the opportunities we offer - seeing timid Brownies evolve into confident and capable young leaders."