There is so much research supporting a move from negative reinforcement to positive. Schools don't want to spend time tracking compliance hours, sending bills to busy, dual-income families, and dealing with the backlash of those communications.
While schools are spending this time tracking non-participants and haggling over bills, very little time is spent appreciating and recognizing the tremendous efforts of those that go above-and-beyond year-after-year.
We need to think more proactively about the highest and best use of the precious assets of our school community and use more modern positive reinforcement techniques towards inspiring engagement.
There’s been a great deal of research that supports gaming theory as a legitimate incentive model for influencing behavior. There’s even been one that focused on how gaming could be used by non-profit organizations to promote volunteerism (Fu, Ya Chiang, "The Game of Life: Designing a Gamification System to Increase Current Volunteer Participation and Retention in Volunteer-based Nonprofit Organizations" (2011)).
The results show that using certain aspects of gaming, like points and role identities and status levels, combined with encouragement and focus on the types of parent engagement that provides the most value to the school can increase involvement.
In summary, stop using hours as the measurement of volunteering.
Perhaps use points or credits that reflect not only hours, but other strategic tasks as we identified above. No more quotas.
Focus on encouraging, recognizing, and appreciating volunteers. Identify opportunities to tap into the interest levels of your volunteers. Do more to strike their interest without forcing quotas.
Updated on: 03/03/2023