All HOAs want their members to be engaged and part of the community. The homeowners themselves want to be heard, and like most people, they want to help! Let’s face it, board business meetings of any kind are usually pretty boring. So…. sweeten the pot a little by making it more social and encourage engagement by providing snack, drinks, and fellowship. Hosting raffles and drawings are also a fantastic added incentive to meetings, and business owners who live in the area will often jump at the chance to get their product or service in front of fellow homeowners.
Try to provide an interesting-looking agenda (in terms of design and content) to the homeowners well ahead of the meeting itself. Make sure there’s enough time so the members can get the meeting on their calendars before the days start filling up with other events. If you wait too long, that date may already be taken. Keep your meetings short and effective. A homeowner who comes to a meeting that runs too long won’t want to come to another one. As a board member, it’s your responsibility to manage the people who are constantly straying off-topic. Stick to the agenda and respect everyone’s time.
Often, homeowners will suggest ideas that won’t be feasible for the HOA to accomplish. However, it is still valuable to let the members give you their opinions. Experts have found that homeowners feel more comfortable with their association when they feel like their voices are being heard regardless of whether or not their concerns will actually be acted upon.
Other times, community members will offer up good ideas that the board might not have thought of previously. They may have suggestions on service providers (such as landscapers) in their networks outside the HOA that your board hasn’t tapped yet. These types of contacts could come in handy when finding ways to improve your neighborhood on budget and in a timely manner.
While some homeowners won’t be jumping at the opportunity to help, others love to give a hand in bettering their community. Give your members a reason to make it to your meetings by asking them for their help in some way. Many homeowners think their assistance isn’t wanted, and many times it’s because the board isn’t asking. If members don’t think you’re interested in their help, they’ll naturally be less engaged with their community.
We understand that no homeowners association is going to have full participation from their community, but by instilling an appreciation in a few community members, boards can create a continuous loop of dedication and pride in the community. No one wants to go to meetings where they don’t feel heard, and those who have a chance to speak take more pride in their association. The more pride the homeowners feel about their community, the better the community will function. Reinforce the virtue loop by getting them involved.
Make Your Meetings Social & Snack-tastic
The purpose of an HOA meeting is to go through the many upkeep items and actions planned by the committee. If most meetings don’t directly affect someone they may not truly be interested in the information. Aim to spice up your meetings by creating a sense of engagement with community members. It can be as easy as providing drinks and snacks. Refreshments have the added benefit of making the meeting feel less like formal and more like a community gathering.
As mentioned, hosting raffles or drawings at your meetings is a great way to attract members. The association might not even need to spend money for the prizes. Homeowners who own their own businesses might consider donating something. This provides them with advertising for their product or service, as well as a free gift for you to raffle off. By having members supply the prizes, you benefit both the association and the individual business owner.
Sure, it may be a bribe, but if it works, why not?
Be Efficient With Time
Keep your meetings as short and efficient as possible. If you are able to consistently conduct quick and thorough meetings it will be a little easier to get members to come back to the next meeting. Aim to stick to the agenda and consider designating a member to be the timekeeper at each meeting to ensure nobody strays too far off of topic. Allow yourself a certain amount of time for each topic, inform the other members to the time constraints and work together to stick to the plan.
If there are a lot of items on the agenda and you’re likely to go over two hours, be smart with your time and your members’ time. Set the topics that are a top priority and save the rest for another meeting. Give the members a few days in between the meetings to absorb what they’ve heard. They can come back to the second meeting feeling refreshed and ready to hear the rest of the agenda.
While we’re on the topic of agendas, take some time to write down the agenda and make it aesthetically pleasing so that you can circulate it to members ahead of and during the meeting. Emphasize the more significant parts of the agenda. Homeowners are likely to attend for important matters like rule changes, or other things that will directly affect the community.
Minimize the less-juicy aspects of the agenda. It’s important that you make sure you’re sending it out ahead of the meeting to notify busy homeowners to put it on their calendars. Your members’ days fill up pretty quickly, so you need to get in there first.
Plan, Plan, and Prepare
To increase meeting attendance, it’s best to make monthly meetings less formal and more communal.
Time management is also important to help ensure homeowners will attend the meetings. Homeowners should get the agendas ahead of time to put the meeting on their calendars. These agendas should be followed closely so that the meetings remain on task and don’t run long. If there’s a lot of important business to review, you might have two meetings instead of one. Leave at least a few days in between them so members can absorb the information better.
Most importantly, ask your homeowners to get involved. It helps them feel like important members of the community and will better the neighborhood as a whole! If you have any other questions look at hour How2HOA Board Meetings Page.