Homeowners associations run on the efforts of volunteers, but it is not always easy to get residents involved. If you want to attract HOA volunteers, there are some tips you can apply.
Why It’s Important to Attract HOA Volunteers
In many ways, homeowners associations work like governments. One stark difference is that the people who serve on the HOA board and the committees don’t receive compensation. They are volunteers who take time out of their busy schedules and put in the work to make the community a better place. As such, it is often difficult to entice homeowners to serve the association.
But, attracting volunteers for your HOA remains a top priority. Without volunteers, the HOA board would become vacant. It may also force current board members to keep extending their terms. Committees would also become short-staffed, leaving no help for the board members.
It will not take long before the association turns into a shell of its former self. With no volunteers running the show, the entire operation will collapse. No one will collect dues, maintain the common areas, keep up with insurance, communicate with residents, or hire vendors.
In some places, such as California, the HOA may be forced to enter receivership. When this happens, a court-appointed receiver will take on the task of handling all association matters. This is normally not ideal because receivers don’t tend to have the community’s best interests at heart. It also comes with a hefty price tag.
All in all, the domino effect of insufficient volunteers can be drastic. Curb appeal will drop, and property values will be affected. In the end, it is the community and its residents who will suffer the cost.
How to Attract More Volunteers in Your HOA
Given how important volunteers are for the association, boards should actively try to entice other residents to get involved. But you might ask, “How do we attract more volunteers?” If you’re having trouble getting residents to join the board or committees, here are some tips you can employ.
1. Organize Informative Events
Homeowners are less likely to join if they don’t know what goes on behind the curtains. Every HOA should have an annual seminar discussing what the job entails. It’s also a good idea to briefly describe what volunteers do during the orientation for new residents. This way, homeowners can better understand how serving on the board or a committee can help the association.
2. Hold Better Board Meetings
One of the more underrated ways to attract volunteers is to hold better board meetings. That means keeping board meetings organized, concise, and short. No one wants to sit through a three-hour-long board meeting, board members included. If homeowners know that board meetings won’t take up too much of their time, they’re more likely to be open to joining.
3. Ask for Input
If you want to know how to get people to volunteer, you must ask. Opening a dialogue will let you know how homeowners feel and what’s happening in the community. Perhaps they are dissatisfied with how things are being run. Maybe they will be more open to serving the HOA if certain things change. Asking for feedback isn’t a sign of weakness; it signals to owners that the board is not stubborn or set in its ways.
4. Communicate Volunteer Opportunities
To attract volunteers for your HOA, homeowners must first know there are volunteer opportunities. If you don’t advertise, you don’t get the word out. Don’t be surprised when no one runs for a position on the board come election season.
Include invitations to serve in every newsletter or community-wide announcement if you can. You might also want to develop a tagline immediately responding to volunteer efforts. In addition, you can highlight positive changes that past and current volunteers have contributed. This will inspire others to do the same.
5. Provide Training
More often than not, homeowners feel reluctant to join the board or a committee because they feel like they don’t qualify for the job. And, as much as an HOA would like to have a lawyer or accountant on the board, it’s not always possible. This is where proper training comes in. If you provide training for volunteers, they will feel better equipped to take on the many responsibilities of the position.
6. Adopt a Personal Approach
Even if you blast announcements through your newsletters, emails, or community website, nothing quite beats a personal touch. If you want to recruit HOA volunteers, consider approaching homeowners directly. Let them know how they can contribute to the association and that they possess the right skills for the job. This will allow owners to feel seen, making them more likely to participate.
7. Start Small
Homeowners don’t have to jump straight to board membership. Sometimes, it helps to begin small. Ask residents to volunteer for committees or assign them projects they can lead. This is a good way to help them get started on the right foot without scaring them with too many responsibilities from the get-go.
8. Allow for Flexibility
Getting people to volunteer can be difficult, especially if they have busy schedules. Many homeowners are wary of volunteering because they see it as a second job of sorts. Eliminate this notion by explaining to them what they can expect regarding time investment. Of course, make sure you give accurate information and set realistic boundaries.
9. Foster a Comfortable Working Environment
It creates a negative perception if your HOA board is constantly at war with committees, homeowners, or even just internally. And homeowners don’t want to volunteer if all they can expect from it is conflict and discord. To attract HOA volunteers, make sure to create a comfortable environment for everyone involved. Respect fellow board members and homeowners even when you don’t agree with them.
10. Show Your Appreciation
Volunteer work is often a thankless job, but it doesn’t have to be. One of the ways to get people to volunteer is through simple acts of gratitude. Show volunteers that the community appreciates their contributions. Recognize them by name in weekly newsletters or announcements. This will not only attract volunteers but also help you retain them.
11. Keep Terms Short
Volunteerism involves commitment, but nobody wants to commit their time long-term. As such, bylaws permitting, consider keeping term lengths short. If your bylaws currently require longer terms, you may want to make amendments. With shorter terms, you won’t scare away potential volunteers.
Get More Volunteers
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to attract HOA volunteers. All it takes is some time and effort from board members.
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