If you’re a community manager or board member you’ve probably heard the tired old joke about annual HOA meeting attendance. You know that one, about doubling the HOA dues or announcing a major policy change to get the attention of homeowners in hopes that they will come to the annual meeting. Like any good joke, it’s funny because it’s true. Ok, in this case, it’s not funny… but, as many of you know, it is true.
Unfortunately, a well-attended HOA meeting often means that homeowners have a bone to pick. The question is, can we get happy and content homeowners to attend meetings and get involved with their HOA in a positive way?
Let’s be realistic – many communities are lucky to get all the board members and one or two homeowners to their annual meeting. Getting a turnout of 25% would be a monumental success. To get a ⅔ supermajority or even a simple quorum can seem nearly impossible. With that in mind, here are a few things that might help to increase turnout for your next meeting.
Be Open to Member Feedback
Homeowners have ideas and opinions about their community, and what they think is best for it. Sure, sometimes their ideas are just plain nuts. But if you listen you will also find that homeowner input can provide insight into concerns and ideas regarding issues that may be worth exploring. In addition, homeowners are happier with their community when they feel like the board members share their same interest and are willing to listen.
Ask for Help
Many homeowners think that they aren’t needed or even wanted at the HOA meeting. This makes it difficult to communicate community needs and encourage involvement. In some cases just asking for help can go a long way to getting neighbors involved.
Another great way to seek and implement homeowner help is through well-organized committees. Committees help to spread the workload, at the same time getting homeowners invested in their community.
Make it a Social Event
Most HOA meetings are just business as usual – and to be honest, they kind of need to be. After all, most HOAs only have one meeting a month to get their work done. But homeowners find these meetings boring.
By combining the annual meeting with a neighborhood social, homeowners have another, “fun” reason to go to the meeting. You can always sneak in the financial summary and board member election before dessert. By making the annual meeting a positive experience that meets the social needs of the members along with the business needs of the HOA, you can improve homeowner moral and encourage more participation.
Increasing HOA meeting attendance is not an easy task, in fact, it’s something that will never be completely solved. But, as community leaders do more to build trust, and encourage participation, and homeowners realize that they are wanted and needed, they will see a greater value in attending meetings and getting involved.
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