Parents and friends groups have folded and fundraising events inch closer to cancellation as Canberra schools are gripped by a volunteer crisis.
The ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations' two most recent annual surveys revealed the greatest challenge facing Canberra parent groups was too few volunteers.
Peak volunteering and parent bodies have joined for the first time to determine what's holding Canberrans back from getting involved in their local school.
Volunteering and Contact ACT acting general manager Sarah Wilson said the shortage had potentially "huge" ramifications.
"It means sport doesn't run on the weekends," she said.
"It means school fetes don't happen. It means there's no P&Cs fundraising to provide essential materials in the schools. It means teachers have no supports."
At one Belconnen primary school, it means the uniform shop has been outsourced and the canteen has had to employ two paid staff.
"Some people were disappointed - me personally, I think it could potentially be an opportunity," volunteer Meg Holesgrove said.
The ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations surveys found between 20 and 30 per cent of parent groups were unable to fill all committee positions. A further 15 per cent found doing so "very difficult".
Three college P&Cs have folded in the past four years.
Ms Wilson said time, the increasing formalisation of roles and bureaucratic requirements - like needing a food handling certification to run a fundraising barbecue - could serve as barriers to people putting their hands up.
Those who did volunteer could be spread too thin and become burnt out, she said. Ms Wilson suggested people outside the school community could be better welcomed into different activities.
One preschool parent volunteer said she recognised some parents didn't have the time to commit.
"I feel there are a lot of parents that may like to be involved but can't, due to work and other commitments, so the easier we make the role of being on a committee, the more uptake of helpers we would have," she said.
The Association of Parents and Friends of ACT Schools, the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations, Volunteering and Contact ACT and the Canberra Preschool Society have joined to create the survey on how to get parents better involved.
ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations communications officer Janelle Kennard said the groups hoped to hear from parents in schools across all sectors.
"We hope to combine expertise from different organisations to help school parent bodies stay strong and well supported," she said.
"From the results we can build a better understanding of the motives of volunteers, and the pitfalls, difficulties and barriers faced by potential volunteer.
"Together we will use the results to shape new resources tailor-made for the school environment to help schools attract new and valuable volunteers."