Serving as a board member can be a fulfilling experience, but the role is not always easy. From enforcing deed restrictions, handling financials, and maintaining common areas (and more!), managing the association is an important responsibility, all on top of making sure your fellow homeowners feel welcome in the community.
Additionally, board members are in charge of association meetings, which includes not only trying to encourage homeowners to show up, but also getting them to engage. While this task can feel challenging sometimes, never fear! There are some easy practices you can adopt to increase homeowner attendance and participation. Follow our tips below to vamp up your meetings and supercharge homeowner turnout.
Tip #1 Create a Timed Agenda
For any type of meeting, it’s helpful to let owners know exactly what will be discussed and how long they should expect to be there. Follow all laws and governing documents requirements that pertain to agendas, but even if no agenda is required to be sent to the membership prior to the meeting, it’s a good practice to use anyway.
This practice will help homeowners understand the goals and purpose of meeting, and they can prepare to bring any questions or concerns they may have about a topic. Creating a timed agenda in advance of the meeting will help your board be prepared for and stay consistent during the meeting, too. That way, everyone will be on the same page! The meeting will flow smoothly and efficiently, and homeowners won’t feel like they wasted their time.
Additionally, providing a homeowner meeting packet with the timed agenda, along with financial and committee reports, previous meeting minutes, and other relevant documents that will be discussed during the meeting, prior to the meeting will help owners follow along.
Tip #2 Advertise the Meeting
Along with any legal notice requirements, it’s important to send frequent reminders about upcoming meetings. Advertisements can be sent via eblast, posted in the community, uploaded to social media outlets and the association’s website, and more!
Many homeowners have busy lives and schedules, so they may forget to carve out time to go to meetings if they’re only notified once. Sending out multiple and consistent reminders will help owners keep the meeting on their radar and will be more likely to attend.
By sending eblasts to the community, hanging flyers in the common areas, including information on the marquee (if you have one), updating social media channels, and posting on the community website, homeowners will have several ways to access the meeting information and won’t forget to mark their calendars.
Tip #3 Include a Homeowner Forum
Sometimes owners may feel discouraged from attending meetings because they don’t think their voices will be heard. By hosting and promoting a homeowner forum, owners will see that their contributions are welcomed and encouraged. These forums allow homeowners to voice their ideas and concerns, and they’ll feel like their opinions matter and the board is receptive to them.
Additionally, owner input can be requested through surveys sent to the community. Whether it be about meeting schedules, event ideas, or a new amenity, fielding opinions from homeowners is a great way to get them more involved in the community and more willing to show up to the meetings.
Tip #4 Opt for Convenience (and Fun!)
Another way to increase homeowner turnout is to hold meetings at convenient times and locations. For example, owners are more likely to be available during weeknights or weekend days, since many homeowners probably work during weekdays or have social obligations on weekend nights. In addition, owners are more likely to attend meetings that are located within or near the community because it’s easy for them to get there. In order to choose the most convenient time and location for owners, survey the community to get a good idea of what works best for everyone.
As a result of changing times, virtual meetings have become more common not only for safety concerns, but because they’re convenient, too! Whether it be Zoom, Teams, or another reputable conference call platform, electronic meetings allow owners to attend and participate from the comfort of their own home and devices. Additionally, if the law and governing documents permit, allowing owners to vote electronically makes participating in elections simple and convenient.
Also, offering fun incentives will encourage owners to attend and participate in meetings. For in-person meetings, you could provide refreshments or schedule food trucks to come before or after the meeting. Additionally, you could align meeting dates with community events like movie nights or pool parties, so homeowners have a social event to look forward to after the meeting. For both in-person and virtual meetings, you could raffle off prizes, if the budget allows. Not only will owners want to win, but they’ll also feel special!
Tip #5 Offer Volunteer Opportunities
Directly providing homeowners ways to get more involved in the community through committees, contest judging, clean-up efforts, and other opportunities to give back to their community will help homeowners to feel more comfortable to show up to and participate in meetings.
While some committees are established and required by the governing documents, such as the Architectural Control Committee, others are optional. Either way, these committees provide opportunities for homeowners to get more involved and feel engaged in the community. Inviting committee members to speak and solicit new members at the meeting will give owners the chance to learn more about the committees firsthand.
Besides joining committees, owners could be invited to judge decorating contests or lead neighborhood clean-up events. Through these opportunities, owners can contribute to the association and feel integral to the community’s wellbeing, ultimately cultivating a richer sense of community. It’s important to provide a clear description of the responsibilities and expectations for these opportunities, whether they’re volunteering for a community, as a judge, or to organize a clean-up day.
Tip #6 Invite Guest Speakers
Owners may be more likely to attend and participate in meetings when guest speakers are invited. Having experts come discuss topics the homeowners care about will let owners know the association is listening and working hard to address concerns and rectify any issues.
Guest speakers can give presentations about issues significant to the community and help tackle relevant homeowner questions and concerns. Overall, guest speakers can offer useful information and show the board’s dedication to creating value, being transparent, and providing resources for the community.
For more information about inviting guest speakers to your meetings, check out our Conducting Association Meetings course.
Tip #7 Celebrate the Community
Hosting community contests is another great way to get owners excited about participating in the association. By acknowledging and rewarding outstanding efforts, such as holiday displays or landscaping, homeowners will feel valued and more willing to show up to association events and meetings.
With ongoing programs like Yard of the Month, homeowners will be incentivized to be in compliance with the governing documents, maintaining both their property and the entire community’s value. With this recognition, owners are more motivated to keep up their hard work, and they’ll know the association appreciates their contributions.
Additionally, homeowners could nominate each other to be recognized for any kind actions and exciting accomplishments. This increased sense of camaraderie and community will encourage homeowners to be more involved in association activities, such as meetings.
Tip #8 Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
One of the most effective ways to increase homeowner attendance and participation at meetings is to have an open line of communication between the board and owners. Whether it be sending eblasts, updating socials, creating newsletters, hiring a management company, soliciting surveys, providing homeowners with consistent and current information will help them feel in the loop and ready to participate!
Additionally, including homeowners in maintaining this communication, such as encouraging homeowners to contribute to the newsletters or complete surveys, will help owners feel more comfortable to attend and voice their opinions during meetings.
A key practice is to be perceptive to homeowner feedback, considering any recurring pain points. Additionally, maintaining consistent communication and transparency will allow the board to anticipate, and perhaps even prevent, any questions or concerns going forward. If homeowners feel like their voices are being heard, they’ll be more likely to engage in mutually respectful communication, building a solid relationship between the board and members. Fostering this relationship will encourage owners to attend and participate during meetings.
Related Article: How to Build Community
Want some more ideas on how to encourage homeowner participation? Visit this article from Spectrum Association Management! They have more tips on how to encourage homeowner participation.
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