Building your community and increasing homeowner participation in your association can be one of the most challenging, yet most rewarding, tasks as a board member. When most people think of board service, they likely think of managing finances, complying with governing documents, and fulfilling fiduciary duties, but you’ve probably discovered that it’s paramount to help association members feel welcome in your community. After all, most board members are homeowners themselves, so if other homeowners aren’t happy, you probably aren’t either.
Ultimately, one of the best ways way to build community is through homeowner participation.
So, what are some creative ways you can build and strengthen your community? From better board meeting attendance to super social events, join us below to discover how to increase homeowner participation and decrease apathy among members.
Homeowner involvement creates a more successful community and allows homeowners a better experience overall. A common hindrance to involvement is a lack of information, so it’s vital to prioritize communication with the association. While posting flyers around the neighborhood is still a good method to post information, with the rise of technology, electronic outlets are a surefire way to reach your fellow homeowners. Establishing regular communication via emails, community website updates, and social media platforms is vital to keep association members in the loop. If you have a management company, they can help you in sending consistent updates to the community.
Additionally, community newsletters are a great medium for sharing information with the homeowners. Depending on where you are, we can even help you set up a newsletter, so contact us to find out more!
Providing pertinent information to the community in an accessible and appealing format, newsletters allow for information to be spread consistently, whether it be monthly or quarterly. In addition to giving homeowners community news, these newsletters can offer an opportunity for homeowners to contribute articles or even buy advertising space for their businesses, giving them exposure and the association money.
Another way to involve homeowners is through surveys to gauge how they feel about the state of the association and let them share if they have any concerns or suggestions.
Communication is also important in increasing attendance at association meetings. Ideally, homeowners should attend, or at least participate in, annual meetings. Making sure notices are sent in compliance and in various ways, such as via mail, email, social media, website updates, etc., and that frequent reminders are sent will encourage more homeowners to attend. Additionally, offering incentives like raffles will further urge homeowners to show up for meetings, not only ensuring quorum but increasing homeowner input and voting. Additionally, participation can be encouraged via electronic voting.
While electronic voting doesn’t guarantee physical attendance at the meeting, online voting contributes toward quorum and provides an easier way for homeowners to cast their votes for board elections and potential governing documents amendments or special assessments. For regular board meetings, notice reminders should also be sent in various ways like email as well as social media and community website updates.
Furthermore, meeting dates and times should take into consideration convenience of time and location, whether that be weeknights after most people are off work or on the weekends and hosted in common areas of the association, if possible.
Any type of meeting, whether it be annual, board, or town hall, should involve adequate preparation, making sure necessary information is shared and the goals should be transparent. To achieve this, sharing the projected agenda beforehand will help homeowners understand the topic of the meeting and how much time they’ll be committing to should they choose to attend. If an agenda is provided and followed during the meetings, homeowners will be more likely to come, as they know what to expect and can come prepared with questions and concerns. Additionally, by including a homeowner forum during meetings, homeowners will see that their input is valued and will be more inclined to participate.
Another way to make homeowners feel that the association values their voice is by offering opportunities for them to be involved, such as serving on a committee or even taking a turn as a board member.
By joining committees or the board of directors, homeowners can be directly involved in creating good in their association. When you encourage homeowners to volunteer as a committee or board member, especially with a clear description of what responsibilities they’ll have and what is expected of them, they’re more likely to consider volunteering rather than if they decide to do it all on their own. By establishing that open communication with homeowners, they’ll feel more comfortable participating. Additionally, by offering other volunteer opportunities like community clean-up or holiday contest judging, homeowners will feel they’re important to the community’s wellbeing, and thus a sense of camaraderie and fellowship will be cultivated. As always, it’s important to provide adequate information about any volunteer positions or opportunities for homeowners to share their input or time.
In addition to encouraging homeowners to volunteer to better their community, it’s important to recognize ongoing homeowner efforts, such as landscaping and personal achievements. With programs like Yard of the Month, homeowners are incentivized to be in compliance and maintain property and community value. Whether the prize be a yard sign, monetary compensation, or both, homeowners will be more motivated to spruce up their yards and participate in making the community more beautiful. Also, by highlighting homeowner good deeds through programs where neighbors can nominate each other to be recognized for any kind actions they see someone do or know someone does, such as nominating a homeowner who helped out a neighbor in need or nominating an essential worker. Additionally, the association could recognize the graduating seniors every year to create a sense of pride for parents and students alike. If the funds are available, the association could even offer a scholarship for the seniors and college students in the neighborhood to recognize their efforts and help out the parents.
Another great way to build community and encourage homeowner participation is through social events. Regular events like food truck days, movie nights, and pool parties encourage homeowners to socialize their neighbors and allow board members to build a relationship with homeowners. To increase participation for meetings, you can incorporate meetings into social events, if possible.
During the fairer weather months, you could host a board meeting at the pool, conducting business before opening the pool to homeowner use and involving giveaways or games. You could also host an annual meeting at the clubhouse and schedule food trucks to stop by afterward. Additionally, holidays allow for special events, such as decoration contests, Trunk or Treat, pictures with Santa, parades, scavenger hunts, etc., to cultivate both holiday and community spirit. With contests and seasonal activities, homeowners have events to look forward to throughout the year, increasing community spirit and encouraging homeowners to participate in community building. You can also decorate the entrances and common areas to create an aesthetically fun atmosphere in the community, allowing homeowners to feel the holiday spirit and that their association wants them to enjoy their experience as a member of the association.
So, what else should you consider when trying to build community and encourage homeowner participation? Well, when asking for homeowner opinions, it’s important to know how to navigate positive versus negative engagement.
Make sure to be open to feedback when asking for help and input, allowing homeowner voices to be heard and taking common pain points into consideration. However, sometimes feedback can be negative in a non-constructive way, so maintaining that consistent communication and transparency will help homeowners understand why things are the way they are and some of their questions and concerns may be solved in an email or newsletter before they even have to reach out to you. Here at Boardline Academy, we strive to help you become the best HOA board member you can be and guide you in the direction of running a successful association that builds community and encourages homeowner participation! If you have an idea on building a sense of community in your community, we’d love to hear from you.