Getting homeowners to attend HOA meetings can feel like a tug of war. Read on to see what you can do to let go of the rope.
Do you think this article is going to get attendance at your HOA board or annual meetings close to 100%? NOT! Not even close. How many homeowners want to spend an evening at an HOA meeting when they could be doing something more enjoyable?
OK, then why read this article? Well, I know you want to get attendance up, but first, you need to be realistic. Getting homeowners to come to meetings will always be a challenge but read on for hints on how to improve your numbers. You won't get 100%, but you should strive for at least reaching a quorum and getting meaningful input from homeowners on your HOA business.
Here we go:
Try limiting board meetings to around one hour and annual meetings to around two hours. If a homeowner thinks he is going to get stuck in a meeting for several hours they probably won't be back for another dose. Stick to the agenda to keep the meeting running smoothly.Stay Tuned: My next blog article will give some great hints on how to effectively facilitate an HOA board meeting. Subscribe to Our Blog
Send out email blasts. For monthly meetings, one or two blasts should be enough. For annual meetings, I recommend sending several blasts starting about 2 months prior to the meeting. Post a sign/poster about the meeting if your HOA has a public area where this would make sense. Make sure you include an agenda with the notice. Include photos or graphics if possible. The agenda should be intriguing so it encourages interest; avoid stuffing too many boring items. Highlight the agenda items that will interest homeowners the most.
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And not just lousy coffee and donuts. If it is in your HOA's budget, have the meeting catered. Another option is to have a potluck. Keep in mind that potlucks sometimes backfire - people may not want to come if they have to bring something. It would be best to determine potluck interest ahead of time. If you offer refreshments, keep that part of the meeting short or encourage munching during the meeting so it doesn't interfere with business.
This can be a video or powerpoint presentation. For an annual meeting, it can contain highlights of the HOA's accomplishments over the past year. Include background music. Or simply show a visual representation of items on the agenda. Use your imagination.
Who doesn't like prizes? Raffling off some fun items can certainly get people to come. If your HOA doesn't have the budget to supply these, see if you can get a new local business to donate some prizes in return for some advertisement to your homeowners.
Have a guest speaker or presentation that would interest a large number of homeowners. The topic could be something having to do with HOAs or possibly something that is just fun.
If homeowners know the board is listening, they will be much more likely to attend an HOA meeting. Homeowners should feel they have a say in the HOA business dealings and are not wasting their time by attending. The board doesn't need to agree with all the homeowner comments or requests, but their opinions should be discussed and not ignored. This process should start way before the actual meeting. Send out one or more surveys during the year to solicit feedback and suggestions from your homeowners. A very useful survey question is asking what days/times are best to have meetings. Wait until the actual meeting to let them know what happened with their suggestions (except of course what day/time the meeting is). Give them a reason to come.
Set up a few committees. This gets homeowners involved in HOA business even though they aren't officially on the board. Homeowners who may feel intimidated and worried about the time commitment involved to be on the board may be quite willing to help out on a committee where there generally is less pressure and time commitment.
Have each board member bring a homeowner with them. Give them a ride, fill them in on HOA business, and just do it for social reasons. It is a little harder to say no when someone offers to pick them up and bring them to the meeting.
If you post meeting minutes for your homeowners it will help them understand the importance of these meetings and hopefully encourage them to get involved.
Minutes of meetings are usually best posted on your website. You may want to have the minutes and other important documents password protected so only homeowners can access this info. Our HOA Guru software includes a document management system that can handle all of this for you. Watch A Demo
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Hire a teenager or get a volunteer to entertain the kiddos at meetings to eliminate the "I don't have anyone to watch my children" problem.
Ask homeowners ahead of time to help out at a meeting. This can be to handle refreshments, hand out papers, or whatever else needs to be done. Don't ask a board member if possible. Hopefully, the board member was already planning on coming.
Make sure the meeting location is VERY convenient for homeowners and that there is ample parking. Select a pleasant, roomy meeting space that makes everyone feel comfortable. Possibly vary the locations at different fun spots.