You put a lot of effort into planning, organizing, and noticing your HOA’s board and annual meetings. And, while some meetings can still take care of important business without high homeowner participation, for many meetings, homeowner feedback and input are essential to creating a vibrant, well-managed community. Homeowners are one of an HOA’s best resources for pinpointing the strengths and needs of an HOA and the neighborhood it maintains. That’s why we’re going over our tips for increasing homeowner attendance at HOA meetings.
1. Consider homeowner concerns. Whether you’ve just completed a lively homeowner Q&A session, discussed speeding concerns at the community barbecue, or read several complaints in homeowner emails, you can take homeowner concerns and make them part of the meeting agenda.
When applicable, you can research and delegate tasks to committees to address problems your neighbors have noticed. And, if you announce that you’re discussing these items at the upcoming meeting, you’re more likely to have homeowners show up. If your members see that you, their board, listen and consider their concerns, they will see that their input matters and will be more interested in HOA affairs.
2. Encourage homeowner participation in committees. Does your HOA have a budget for social events? Do you need fresh ideas for seasonal color, or have homeowners discussed their interest in a safety or communications committee? Giving homeowners an opportunity to use and share their talents to improve their home should be enough to tempt them to join in for meetings—especially if their committee’s goals are regularly allotted time on the meeting agenda. Consider soliciting for volunteers for a safety, communications, social, landscaping, or budgeting committee.
3. Include a start and end time on the meeting notice. It may seem simple, but announcing when the meeting will end on the notice can really improve your attendance. Homeowners will know just how much time they’re committing when they attend a board meeting. You’re bound to see some new faces, particularly if the meeting is only an hour! Not to mention, if board meetings stay on track and finish on time, it lets you, as a board member, get back to your life outside community service that much sooner.
4. Send the meeting notice in a timely fashion, and use several different methods. Spread the news! To make sure the information reaches as many neighbors as possible, post notices on the community marquee sign, place a sign at the community entrance, send eblasts, and take advantage of the bulletin boards in the clubhouse. Talking up the meeting at social events won’t hurt, either! Additionally, prompt homeowners to check that the email address they have listed on the association directory is up to date.
Each state will have a minimum notice requirement for board meetings, but to ensure a successful meeting, you should aim for a week’s advance notice for board meetings—maybe two weeks, if the subject matter is important (like the annual budget)! Then, send a reminder three days before the meeting.
5. Choose a neighbor-friendly location and time. Keep in mind that many homeowners lead full lives—careers, families, volunteering—and a convenient location and time can make turnout. Consider that most homeowners will work from nine to five, and that many might need to bring their children with them.
These complications can be solved easily if your community has a clubhouse, especially one with a gated park for the children or a game room where young community residents can entertain themselves. Holding meetings on weekends or in the evening can fit into career men and women’s schedules.
6. Combine the HOA meeting with a social event. Especially for important HOA events, such as the annual members meeting, holding the meeting just before a carnival, pool party, holiday hayride, or harvest festival can boost attendance. Board members can even hand out raffle tickets or extra ride/game tickets at the beginning of the meeting for prompt homeowners.
Putting this advice into practice will take some effort, but strengthening the solidarity and collaboration of your community is well worth it! From planning to completion, the purpose of HOA meetings is, after all, to create a community that’s a great place to live, and to constantly work to make it better. This is best done with all hands on deck! Remember, you don’t have to do everything alone. Try these tips to start building your network of support in your association.