One of the most difficult aspects of the HOA annual meeting is getting homeowners to attend it. A lot of homeowners just don’t seem concerned about association matters, leading to bad attendance numbers. But, believe it or not, there are ways you can adopt to improve your HOA annual meeting attendance.
What is an HOA annual meeting? One thing that remains consistent across a majority of homeowners associations is the annual meeting. The HOA annual meeting takes place once every fiscal year, usually at the beginning, and sets the tone for the coming year’s activities.
At this meeting, board members discuss critical issues such as the annual budget, dues amounts, major projects, and homeowner concerns. The annual meeting is also when elections take place. Considering some of the most important matters are tackled during the HOA annual meeting, it only makes sense that homeowners attend it.
Additionally, meetings usually require a quorum to proceed. A quorum is the minimum number of members that must be present to conduct association business. Poor attendance means you might not meet the required quorum. If you fail to establish a quorum, you can’t present the budget, vote on issues, or hold the elections. Quorum requirements can vary depending on your state laws and governing documents.
It’s clear that homeowner attendance and participation are critical at annual meetings. But, many associations consistently find trouble getting homeowners to attend these meetings. After all, attendance is often not an obligation homeowners are expected to fulfill. There are some strategies you can use, though, to improve HOA annual meeting attendance.
How many times have you made plans with friends only to receive a delayed invitation for another event taking place on the same day?
Far too often, homeowners fail to show up at annual meetings because of their busy schedules. By providing them with ample notice, though, they can save the date in their calendars.
Notice requirements for the HOA annual meeting will depend on state laws and your governing documents. For instance, in California, associations must provide at least 10 days’ notice but not more than 90 days’ notice.
State laws and governing documents will tell you the methods you can use to send notice of the annual meeting to homeowners. Normally, associations can send notice personally, electronically, or via mail. But, you don’t have to stop there.
You can also use other means of communication to advertise your annual meeting. This includes posting signs on bulletin boards, inserting the date in your HOA website’s calendar, and dedicating a section of your newsletter to it. You can even promote the annual meeting on your association’s social media pages if you have any.
Make sure to include start and end times in your announcements as well. Homeowners are more likely to attend the meeting if they know it will be done in time for dinner or their favorite show.
Some associations’ governing documents tell them exactly when annual meetings should take place. But, if no such provisions exist for your community, find a date that works well for most people. Evenings are usually the best, especially if your membership consists of young professionals and parents. It might also work to schedule it on a weekday.
Apart from the date and time, the venue also plays a significant role in improving HOA annual meeting attendance. You need a place big enough to accommodate all of your members but also close enough so that people don’t need to travel far. If you have a function hall in your community’s clubhouse, that may work. A basketball court also works great.
One way to improve HOA annual meetings — and, by extension, homeowner attendance — is to create and share your meeting agenda. In fact, many states and governing documents actually require you to distribute the agenda to all members prior to the meeting.
Beyond it being a requirement, though, sharing the meeting agenda will allow homeowners to set their expectations. When they know what topics will be discussed, they are more inclined to go, especially if they’re interested in a particular one. Your agenda should break down every item and, if possible, include time limits for the discussion of each one.
Compared to board meetings, HOA annual meetings usually go on for much longer than an hour. This is mainly due to the long list of topics the association must tackle.
Still, try your best to shorten the length of the annual meeting. This is what your agenda is for. You should make sure to stick to your agenda and never let the discussion stray. If you must, consider adding break times so that homeowners get a chance to stretch or take in the information they just heard. The longer a meeting goes on, the more tempted people will feel to just stand up and leave.
Let’s face it — presentations can be boring, especially when homeowners aren’t interested in the topic in the first place. A good way to keep things lively, though, is to make your presentations interactive. Include photos, videos, and sound effects. Adding visual components like graphs and charts to financial presentations also makes it easier for homeowners to digest the information.
In addition to the presentations themselves, the presenters must also try their best to retain the members’ attention. Nothing can put a homeowner to sleep faster than speaking in a dull, monotonous voice at a snail’s pace.
If you can swing it, consider inviting a guest speaker to give a presentation at your annual meeting. Maybe you can ask your local police department to give pointers on how to keep their homes secure. It doesn’t even need to be related to homeowners associations. Having a guest talk about a fun topic for a few minutes can reinvigorate the entire room.
Homeowners usually go to meetings when they have something to look forward to. Sometimes, it’s just an opportunity to socialize. But, other times, they’re really interested in a particular topic of discussion.
Asking homeowners about their biggest issues with the community is a great way to keep homeowner satisfaction up and improve HOA annual meeting attendance at the same time. Before the meeting, conduct a short survey of homeowners and gather their questions and concerns. Then, let them know the board will address these issues at the annual meeting.
You can quickly improve HOA annual meeting attendance by offering food and beverages to attendees. A simple spread consisting of pizza and soda is one way to do it. But, you can also go big by booking a food truck, provided your budget allows.
Don’t keep it as a surprise, though. Remember, you’re trying to get people to attend the meeting, so make sure to advertise this added benefit. Homeowners aren’t going to say no to free food and drinks.
If free food and drinks won’t entice homeowners to attend the meeting, then perhaps some fun games and the opportunity to win prizes will. Make sure to space out the games so that people don’t just stick around for them and leave afterward. Maybe hold a game every 30 to 60 minutes.
You can also go with a raffle with a big prize at the end of the meeting. Just make sure to let homeowners know that they should be present for the entire meeting to qualify for the raffle. This way, you won’t have members coming in late just in time for the raffle alone.
If your membership consists of families with kids, then it’s a good idea to designate a safe area for kids to play in. This way, parents don’t need to scramble to find a babysitter in time for the annual meeting. And, as a result, you will have more members in attendance.
There’s a tendency for homeowners in HOAs to feel disengaged or uninterested in community matters. This ultimately leads to a drop in HOA annual meeting attendance. Considering how important these meetings are, you must do your best to encourage homeowners to be present. Homeowner participation is also one of the elements of a successful HOA community.
If you need help sending out notices, preparing budgets, and conducting annual meetings, then start looking for an HOA management company. Use our online directory today to find the best one near you.