One of the greatest challenges for HOA boards is a lack of participation in annual meetings. This is detrimental for the residents, who will miss key information, and for the board, who will have a harder time communicating important information to a community who neglects to come to the meetings. Luckily, there are some surefire ways you can improve attendance at HOA annual meetings.
Hike Up Attendance at Annual HOA Meetings
Annual meetings are a significant part of an HOA’s calendar. They set the tone for the entire year and, often, critical discussions take place during this time. Not everyone sees it that way, though. Some residents arrive late or elect to skip the meeting altogether for a number of reasons. Given that these meetings are crucial, your HOA board must do everything in your power to increase attendance at HOA meetings.
Here are 8 tips on how you can improve HOA meeting attendance:
1. Choose the Right Time and Place
Not all homeowners have the time to travel all the way to an annual HOA meeting. Some work until dark, while others may not have a reliable mode of transportation. To encourage and increase homeowner attendance, opt for a venue close to the community. In fact, it may even be better to do it in the clubhouse for easier access.
Some residents might bring their kids with them, too. If your clubhouse has a playroom for children, scheduling your annual meeting there will encourage parents to attend because they’ll know their kids are safe.
When it comes to the time of the meeting, it’s virtually impossible to select one that will accommodate absolutely everyone. Try to survey community members to come up with a time that the majority feel comfortable with. Weekdays may not be the most ideal because of work, so make sure to keep that in mind.
2. Utilize Media and Other Creative Tools
We live in a dynamic world where technology reigns supreme. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to pay attention to speakers without any accompanying visuals. Some information can be easier and less painful to take in when it is presented in an interesting — and even flashy — form. A video, for instance, captures the audience’s attention better than a boring lecture would. With media and other creative tools at your disposal, you’re given the perfect opportunity to make annual meetings come alive.
3. Take Resident Concerns Seriously
As an HOA board member, it’s part of your job to listen to community concerns, whether they’re brought up at meetings, at an event, or just through email. If appropriate, incorporate these into the agenda. By doing so, you show homeowners you genuinely care about their concerns.
When you take their issues seriously, homeowners feel validated and heard. They’re more likely to attend meetings with agendas they feel strongly about. Additionally, it encourages them to attend more meetings because they know you’ll do more than just acknowledge their complaints with a simple nod.
4. Streamline the Meetings
Streamlining meetings can go a long way when it comes to improving annual HOA meeting attendance. No one has three hours in an evening to devote to sitting in a meeting room when there are other important matters that demand their time.
Research methods that you can use to shorten meetings. Always stick to the agenda to avoid unnecessarily branching off to an irrelevant topic. Another helpful tip is to set aside a short amount of time during the meeting to allow community members to voice out concerns but to move on when the time runs out.
5. Make the Meetings Fun (But Not Too Fun)
One great way to increase attendance at HOA meetings is to make the meeting fun. Schedule the meeting around an event or give it a lively theme. It doesn’t even have to be an expensive ordeal. A simple pizza party or ice cream social can significantly boost attendance without making a huge dent in your budget. You can even incorporate a giveaway or raffle to draw in more people.
Be careful not to overdo it, though. When making it fun, it is important to not let the fun activity stretch the meeting any longer than it needs to be. Set aside a short 10 to 15 minutes at the beginning of the meeting for socialization, allowing any latecomers to arrive before the official meeting begins.
6. Advertise the Meeting Thoroughly
If no one knows about the meetings, it will be very hard for them to write them down on their calendars and attend. No effort is too much when it comes to getting the word out about the meeting. Notify all homeowners of the meeting via email and snail mail at least 30 days in advance. Advertise it in your HOA newsletter and post it on the community board. Send regular reminders as the date approaches.
In addition to spreading the word about the date and time of the meeting, you should also advertise the content of the meeting so that attendees know what to expect and can look forward to agenda items they feel passionately about. In order to advertise the content, your board will need to put together an agenda early. This way, it can be freely distributed to all of the residents.
7. Share the Agenda
We’ve touched upon this before, but sharing the agenda is so vital that it deserves its own spot on this list. Informing homeowners of the meeting agenda is required by law in many states, including North Carolina. According to the NC Planned Community Act § 47F-3-108, all notice of the meetings must include the time, place, and agenda.
Aside from it being mandated by law, sharing the agenda ahead of time with homeowners can encourage them to attend. When they see their concerns on the agenda, there’s a higher chance they’ll show up to see what the resolution will be.
8. Include an End Time on the Notice
Have you ever scheduled a meeting and had to block out the entire day because you’re not sure of the end time? It’s a nightmare. If you want to improve attendance at HOA annual meetings, it’s a good idea to indicate an estimated end time in your notice. By doing this, you can set expectations while simultaneously putting residents’ minds at ease. Sometimes, homeowners just want to know how much time they have to allot.
Pro tip: attendance typically goes up if meetings are advertised to only last an hour. Keep in mind, though, that if you say it’s only going to be an hour-long, you have to do everything in your power to stick to that timetable.
See Attendance at HOA Annual Meetings Spike
When homeowners skip annual meetings, they later complain about issues not being addressed the way they would have liked. Apart from that, a dip in attendance means residents don’t really care much about what’s going on within the community. A functioning association thrives on fellowship and connection — two things that can’t be achieved when members are consistently absent from meetings.
In the end, improving attendance at HOA annual meetings is a huge step in preventing conflict, ensuring compliance of regulations, and generally enhancing your community. Adopt these tips and see a spike in your attendance.
If you’re still having trouble with your annual HOA meeting attendance, it may be time to seek professional help in the form of an HOA management company. In that case, keep us in mind.