How to Increase HOA Homeowner Participation
An effective way to increase homeowner participation in homeowner associations (HOAs) is to encourage homeowners to get involved in events and to volunteer for the HOA Board of Directors or recognized committees. As obvious as this may sound, HOA boards and Committee members must find creative ways to increase community participation. In this article, we will provide tips on how you can take steps toward getting homeowners involved.
Attracting Community Volunteers
Volunteers are integral to the success and vitality of a homeowners association. However, it is becoming increasingly evident that many communities are struggling to retain committed helpers due to the demands of modern society. If your community is struggling to attract and retain volunteers, here are some tips to consider:
Effectively publicize volunteer opportunities
Consider using the community's HOA website, newsletters, and announcements to promote the need for volunteers within the community. By presenting a positive image of unity within the HOA, you may be able to inspire individuals to get involved and contribute to the cause. Remember, people are often more likely to volunteer for causes that align with their beliefs and values. By highlighting the benefits of volunteering and the impact it can have on the community, you may be able to encourage more people to get involved. Note that annual meetings are a perfect opportunity to make call-to-action announcements.
Proactively approach prospective volunteers
While it can be intimidating to approach your neighbors about volunteering for the HOA, it is important to remember that many people may hesitate to take the first step. However, this does not mean they are not interested in getting involved. In fact, some of your neighbors may have previously approached the board members with concerns, which makes them particularly well-suited to serve as volunteers for the HOA. So don't be afraid to reach out and ask your neighbors if they would be interested in getting involved; maybe attend an annual meeting together. You may be pleasantly surprised by the response.
Keep overall time commitment to a minimum
Most community and annual meetings are held in the evening after a long workday. To avoid discouraging potential volunteers, keep meetings concise and well-prepared. This could also have a secondary benefit by increasing homeowner participation at association meetings and the annual meetings. Remember that most people see time as their most valuable resource, so make it easier to join meetings by maintaining good time management.
Emphasize the importance of volunteering
Community engagement plays a crucial role in overall community success. Increase awareness by conveying the significance of community volunteers, which will help residents feel more comfortable getting involved. Gather testimonials from current association members who can share their experience volunteering with their entire community. Highlight the benefits of participation and the cheerful impact volunteers can have on the community. HOAs can encourage more homeowners to get involved and contribute to the best interest of their community association.
Build long-term relationships with short-term projects
If a resident is hesitant to commit to long-term volunteering, you could suggest they get involved in short-term activities or events. For example, they could help out with a one-time committee activity or serve as an extra set of hands at a community event. Encouraging homeowners to take small steps towards getting involved can help them gradually become more engaged in their community
Warmly welcome new volunteers
Homeowner associations must provide a warm and friendly atmosphere to make the new member of a board or committee feel welcome and connected. By fully assimilating new helpers among experienced ones, HOAs can help new members feel comfortable and connected. One tip could be soliciting the help of your HOA management company to provide orientation or training sessions. Assign experienced volunteers to mentor new ones and encourage social interaction among all volunteers. By creating a welcoming environment and supporting new committed volunteers as they learn the ropes, HOAs can quickly build a stronger sense of community and increase participation among all community members.
Support a sense of belonging
One way to support a sense of belonging among the board and committees is to create a positive and inclusive environment. This can be done by avoiding conflicts and interactions perceived as stressful, as these can create tension and undermine a sense of unity within the group. Instead, HOA leaders should focus on building positive relationships and open communication among all members. This can help to build togetherness and encourage everyone to work together towards a common goal; build a strong and cohesive association that is better able to serve the needs of its members.
Publicly recognize and thank your Board & Committee Member
These positions can often be thankless, so you must let your board members know how much you appreciate them. Some ideas include an appreciation dinner or gestures that offer your contributors much-deserved gratitude. Remember: a little thanks goes a long way! Your community managers are a perfect resource to solicit ideas on how to show special recognition. For example, your community manager or HOA management company can order plaques or trophies to present at an annual meeting. Recognizing an hoa board member or committee member for their service to the community association can again easily influence many homeowners and increase homeowner participation.
Increasing Homeowner Participation
Strong community engagement is a crucial component of community success, starting with the people who live there. There are numerous ways, big and small, that residents can get involved to increase engagement within their community and make it the best living experience possible. The tips below help spark interest in residents considering becoming active in your HOA.
Communicate to the association effectively
Regular and effective communication with homeowners is key to engaging them in the HOA and its activities. This can involve using a variety of communication channels, such as email, newsletters, and social media, to keep homeowners informed about upcoming events, meetings, and other important information. Communication can make an HOA successful and lead to improvements that benefit the entire membership. If you notice a lack of communication within your HOA, create a communications committee whose primary responsibilities would be prioritizing communication strategies.
Involve homeowners in decision-making
Involving homeowners in the decision-making process can help increase their participation in the HOA. This can include soliciting their input at the next meeting on important issues within the association, such as budgeting, property maintenance, and community events, and incorporating their feedback into the decision-making process.
Make it easy to participate
Making it easy for homeowners to participate in the HOA can help increase their engagement. This can involve providing clear, straightforward instructions for signing up for committees or events and offering flexible participation options. One tool that has been effective for many associations is sign-up sheets. These can be easily printed out and displayed at your next meeting if you need help with a specific event.
Encourage Volunteering for a committee
Many HOAs have committees focusing on specific areas, such as communications, events, or community improvements. Homeowners can volunteer to serve on a committee and contribute their time and expertise to help the HOA. It's recommended to review the governing documents for committee member guidelines.
Allow Members to Attend meetings remotely
Many HOAs hold meetings that homeowners can attend in person, but they can also offer options for attending meetings remotely, such as by phone or video conference. This allows homeowners who cannot attend in person to participate still and provide input.
Online forums or discussions
Many HOAs have online forums or discussion groups where homeowners can share ideas, ask questions, and provide feedback. This can be a convenient and flexible way for homeowners to participate in the HOA board meetings.
Create short-term projects
Some HOAs may have short-term projects or activities that homeowners can volunteer for, such as helping to organize a community event or clean-up day. This can be a flexible way for homeowners to contribute to the HOA without committing to a long-term volunteer role.
Ask for feedback or suggestions
Even if homeowners cannot attend meetings or volunteer for committees, they can still provide feedback or suggestions to the HOA. Many HOAs have online suggestion boxes or feedback forms where homeowners can submit suggestions, which can help the HOA gather input to improve and better serve the community.
Create a sense of community
Building a sense of community within the HOA can help engage homeowners and increase their participation. This can involve organizing social events like potlucks, picnics, and sports teams, bringing homeowners together and building a sense of belonging and connection.
Start a community garden
Creating a community garden can provide a space for homeowners to collaborate and work on a joint project. It can also provide a source of fresh produce and improve the community's aesthetic.
Host educational workshops or seminars
Offering workshops or seminars on topics relevant to homeowners, such as home maintenance or financial management, can provide opportunities for homeowners to learn and grow together.
Start a community book club
It can allow homeowners to join together and discuss books they have read. This can foster community and allow homeowners to engage in thoughtful discussions.
Create a community directory
Creating a community directory can help homeowners get to know their neighbors and connect with each other. The directory can include contact information, interests, and additional relevant information about each homeowner. This is an item that your HOA can ask for professional help to build, maintain and provide a current member directory. AAMs mobile app AAM All Access has this feature built-in and provides an opt-in and opt-out option.
Begin weekly gathers
Driveway gatherings like "Wine Down Wednesday," where members bring their favorite bottle of wine to enjoy with neighbors, are excellent community-building ideas. "Front Yard Fridays" are another popular idea that typically requires homeowners to sign-up as a host for the event.
Other ideas and suggestions can be
- Pick a different local restaurant weekly to meet up at
- Start a hiking or biking group that meets weekly
- Pocket Park parties or barbeques in the common areas
- Party for One for the singles or not-so-singles that need an outlet they can shop together or catch a movie together
Offer incentives or rewards
Offering incentives or rewards for homeowners participating in the HOA can increase their engagement. This can involve offering gift cards or other rewards for homeowners who attend board meetings, volunteer for committees, or participate in community occasions.
Community service hours
Many schools and organizations require individuals to complete a certain number of community service hours to graduate or fulfill a requirement. HOA Board members can offer opportunities for homeowners to earn community service hours by participating in HOA activities, such as volunteering for a committee or organizing a community event.
Raffles or contests
HOA Board members can organize raffles or contests to encourage homeowners to participate in the HOA. For example, homeowners who attend a certain number of meetings or volunteer for a certain number of hours can be entered into a raffle to win a prize, such as a gift card. This has been an effective tool for increasing homeowner participation in many HOAs.
Recognition or awards
HOA Board members can recognize and award homeowners or fellow board member who have made significant contributions to the HOA. This can involve publicly acknowledging their contributions at meetings or events or presenting them with an award or certificate of appreciation.
Education or training opportunities
Many HOAs offer educational or training opportunities that cover landscaping, board roles and responsibilities, maintenance, how to build community, or financial management. HOA management companies can offer these opportunities as incentives for new board members and new homeowners to participate in the HOA.
Imagine a community where everyone works together to maintain and improve property and amenities, residents feel connected and engaged, and the community is vibrant and thriving. This is the power of homeowner participation in their HOA. By following the tips outlined in this article, HOA boards and Committee members can encourage more homeowners to get involved and contribute to the best interest of their community. From organizing community events and offering incentives to promoting a sense of belonging and addressing the community's needs and concerns, homeowner participation can make a real difference and help to make your HOA community a better place for all residents.