As an HOA board member, you know full well that attendance is one of the most challenging aspects of the annual meeting. Most community members do not seem to be interested in hearing from their HOA — mainly because they don’t think that the annual meeting agenda applies to or impacts them. However, not all hope is lost. Here’s how you can improve your HOA annual meeting attendance.
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HOA Annual Meeting Attendance: The Problem with Low Turnouts
Let’s face it, the annual HOA board meeting doesn’t sound like the most exciting event. Indeed, the HOA board uses these annual meetings to discuss the more technical aspects of community management, such as the annual budget, assessment fees, board elections, and capital improvement projects. As a result, homeowners tend to brush off the annual meeting.
To encourage homeowners to attend the annual meeting, the HOA board must explain why their presence is so important in the first place. Why is their annual HOA meeting attendance such a big deal? Simply put, it is the most important meeting for your association. The annual meeting is where the board decides on the most important community matters — and these decisions can significantly affect the lives of your homeowners.
Attending the annual meeting means that homeowners can voice their thoughts and opinions. For instance, if the HOA is thinking of increasing HOA fees, homeowners may want to negotiate with the board members during the annual meeting. But if homeowners do not attend, they won’t have a choice but to accept the higher monthly assessments.
Low attendance at HOA meetings can impact the quality of your HOA board of directors as well. If the community is not adequately represented during HOA board elections, the people who are in attendance can influence the results. It’s possible that new board members will be the ones who had the most backing and not necessarily the one who was most qualified for the position.
So, if you want the best outcomes for your community, it’s important to improve HOA meeting attendance.
How to Increase HOA Annual Meeting Attendance
HOA boards cannot do anything about the seriousness of the annual meeting agenda. However, they can incorporate fun HOA annual meeting ideas to encourage more community members to attend. Here’s how to increase attendance at meetings
1. Give Adequate Notice
Sometimes, a low HOA annual meeting attendance is because homeowners were not given adequate notice. They may have found out about the annual meeting too late and thus, could not make room in their busy schedules.
Start advertising the annual meeting as early as two months before the schedule. You can mention the annual meeting in your newsletter, post signs, or invitations on the community board, and promote the event on your social media accounts. Then, as the event draws near, ramp up your advertising efforts to keep the annual meeting on homeowners’ minds.
2. Choose the Right Time and Place
If you want to improve homeowner attendance, choose the most convenient time and place for your annual meeting. Some communities have a set schedule for their annual meeting, which is stated in their governing documents. However, if there is none, find a schedule that is most appropriate for your community members.
For instance, if your community is made up of young professionals, scheduling the annual meeting during cocktail hour can encourage them to attend. Meanwhile, for communities with families, it would be convenient to have the annual meeting after work but before dinner time so that parents still have time to attend to their children.
When it comes to location, choose a venue that can accommodate your most — if not all — of your community members. It could be the function hall of your community center or the basketball court. Just keep in mind If the space is cramped, homeowners could leave even before the annual meeting begins. The venue should also be appropriate for the kind of activities that you are planning.
3. Collect Homeowner Questions and Concerns
Prior to the annual meeting, the HOA board or HOA management company can collect questions, requests, and concerns from the homeowners. Tell them that all these will be addressed during the annual HOA meeting. So, if homeowners want to hear the HOA’s response to their input, they will be encouraged to attend the annual meeting.
4. Share the Annual Meeting Agenda
As soon as the HOA board finalizes the annual meeting agenda, they can send it to the homeowners to read. This way, community members will know what to expect during the annual meeting. They may also see topics or activities that pique their interest and encourage them to attend.
The annual meeting agenda should also have clear start and end times. It’s good for homeowners to know how much time is allotted per item so that they can also manage their expectations. If schedules are tight, they can also make an effort to attend the more important events such as board elections.
5. Incorporate Interactive Elements into Your Presentation
During the annual meeting, there’s no way of going around the technical aspects of the HOA budget. However, if you incorporate interactive elements such as pictures, graphs, and videos into your presentation, it will help homeowners understand the information much better. You can even enlist the services of homeowners who may have excellent presentation skills or comedic skills to make the presentation as fun and lighthearted as possible.
6. Introduce a Social Aspect
Having a static, straightforward meeting will not do you any favors when it comes to increasing homeowner attendance. But, by introducing social aspects such as food, games, or raffles, you can increase participation in your annual meeting.
The annual HOA meeting can also serve as a welcoming party for new homeowners. You may even want to incorporate an educational seminar — one that can really benefit your homeowners.
Also, strongly consider having a free daycare service at the annual meeting. Parents may not think twice about attending the annual meeting if they won’t have to hire a babysitter to watch their kids. So, if the kids are being taken care of, more homeowners can attend the annual meeting.
7. Keep Annual Meetings Short
Unlike 1-hour board meetings, annual HOA meetings have more comprehensive agendas and so they may last for much longer. Nevertheless, you can still keep your annual meeting short and sweet.
Stick to your annual meeting agenda and avoid straying from the topics being discussed. If the annual meeting will last for several hours, include breaks in between so that homeowners have time to digest the information and decompress. These breaks are also the best time to introduce your social activities.
8. Collect Feedback After the Annual Meeting
If you collect feedback from homeowners, their comments and suggestions will be useful when you’re planning the next annual meeting. If homeowners see that you are really taking to heart their comments and suggestions, they will be more encouraged to attend the HOA’s future annual meetings.
Build a Stronger Community by Increasing HOA Annual Meeting Attendance
Even though there is an HOA board that oversees the association, homeowners should remain engaged and participate in community matters. One of the best ways to do this is to encourage them to attend the annual meeting. But, if your annual HOA meeting attendance is quite low, there’s no need to worry. Just follow these helpful tips so you can increase turnout. When your annual meetings are more interactive and engaging, homeowners will no longer have to think twice about attending.
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