We recently caught up with Marygrace B., a mom of two from Irvine, CA. She has a 5th grader and a 3rd grader and is very involved in her children’s school and sports team. Read on to find out how to roll out Jooners for your school. MaryGrace has some excellent advice!
Jooners: Why Jooners?
Marygrace: I was researching for how to best coordinate our volunteers at PTA and found several on the internet. I thought I had settled on three to do a trial, and one of my parent testers came back with Jooners as an alternative. She had used it in her previous school.
Jooners: What do you use Jooners for?
Marygrace: I have set up two accounts. The first is for the entire PTA that many committees share and this is our paid account. Ideally we’d like to set up the money collection portion, but as easy as Amazon Marketplace is for an individual, it’s more challenging to set it up with a non-profit organization that doesn’t have a credit card established.
I set up a second account to be used only for single classroom activities. I’m also a room mom for my daughter’s 3rd grade class, which mostly needs a set up for parent teacher conferences and potluck donations. I also didn’t want to co-mingle it with PTA business.
Another lady in our PTA in charge of Family Events setup her own account “just for fun”. She just recently used it to manage the school’s Ice Cream Social where she needed volunteers to pre-scoop ice cream, shopping for toppings, servers, and decorations.
Jooners: How does Jooners help your group?
Marygrace: For the mommy who used it for the Ice Cream social, it made it easier for her to reach out to our PTA board in general to solicit volunteer hours. Not everyone attends the board meeting, and the ones that attend are usually the ones that are already over-committed so our Ice Cream Social committee would always struggle with getting volunteers. With Jooners, she was able to reach out to our entire board, and she had more than enough volunteers to cover all stations and shifts.
For the classroom account, it made it easier for the teacher and me to manage scheduling and eliminate the hassle of manually reminding people of their scheduled conferences. Once I entered the times, the parents were able to review their scheduled time and get an automatic reminder. That said, it would be great if we could have the option to send NO reminders – kinda like Google Calendar gives you that option.
For the PTA account, we’ve used it for other committees to help schedule Hospitality and Teacher Appreciation events. It had the same effect as the Ice Cream Social committee. We were able to reach out to the broader community instead of taxing the same over-committed volunteers, and also have everyone feel they’re included in activity/committee planning.
Jooners: What are the three most important things you have learned in your volunteering efforts?
Marygrace: If you build the list, they will come :) People seem to like to see/visualize the “needs” and can fill the holes at their own leisure in the privacy of their own home. Sometimes, when you pass the sheet around during the meeting, they’ve got a full day of activities running through their head and don’t really have their calendar handy so they can’t really commit on the spot. If you send out your volunteer needs list, people can review that at night or when they get at home and verify it against their calendar to see if they can help out, and if they can, people actually do feel compelled to help. And…It’s important to have a complete and correct list of your volunteer’s contact information. Make sure you have that uploaded into Jooners.
Jooners: What advice do you have for those new to organizing?
Marygrace: I had to first learn the system and then entered everything myself that I had collected via paper. I just let Jooners do the reminders so there was no effort required from the audience.
Then I tested on a small group of people when it was time for them to actually sign up. If your users aren’t that computer savvy, don’t use an email alias! We did this only so that we didn’t have to import/enter in all 130 email addresses but in the end, this would have saved us a lot of time.
Now that both PTA committees and my classroom parents are used to seeing the Jooners interface and receiving notifications, I’m going to be setting up our committee volunteers and parent conference schedules online. I’m confident that people will prefer this method over having to show up in the classroom or board meeting and signing up via paper.