One of the biggest problems HOA boards have with annual meetings is getting a decent attendance. No matter what you do to try and reach full attendance, it can be really difficult to get people to come.
While members of the association should understand that it is in their own best interest to attend the annual meeting of the members, many do not realize how important these meetings are. Failure to attend annual meetings results in failure to meet quorum, which in turn results in frustration and disappointment for board members – not to mention unnecessary additional costs to recall the meeting a second time!
Lack of attendance may not be because members aren’t interested in hearing from their HOA board or management company, but because they probably don’t think much of the meeting content will apply to or impact them.
However, not all hope is lost. Here are some tips for improving not only attendance but also participation at your next annual membership meeting:
- Advertise the meeting event well ahead of time. Post flyers, mention the annual meeting on the community website, and give homeowners plenty of notice to mark their calendars for the meeting.
- Share the agenda in advance; let homeowners know what will be discussed at the annual meeting. If you’re making decisions about things like setting next year’s assessment, electing new board members, or playground remodeling, the majority of homeowners will be interested and want to have their voices heard.
Get Creative. Let’s face it: there’s a good chunk of the meeting that is just not going to be that exciting. You’ll be required to cover certain areas that aren’t all that enthralling, such as the annual budget, projects that took place, votes by the board, information on dues, and more. Adding a bit of a social flare could increase attendance:
- Hold a drawing for those in attendance. The lucky winners might receive gift certificates to a local restaurant, a potted plant from the HOA’s landscape company, or a donated gift basket.
- Serve refreshments or a light dinner to entice homeowners to attend during the evening hours.
- Introduce new homeowners who have recently moved to the community, or host an ice cream social or some other “fun” event for better turnout.
Remember that everyone has to juggle a busy life, so lack of attendance at an HOA meeting could also be the result of conflict in schedules. Below are a few suggestions on how to help people fit the meeting into their busy schedules:
- A change in venue or a move in the day of the week could be helpful. Maybe you’ve had meetings at the same time for years, but it could be that that time slot just doesn’t work for a lot of homeowners anymore.
- Consider having less frequent meetings – if you’re scheduling too many, you’re not making the best use of your time, or anyone else’s. Holding fewer meetings could actually lead to more productivity (and happier homeowners).
- A lack of childcare options can keep even the best-intentioned homeowner away. Hire babysitters to watch the kids in a nearby room, so that parents can relax and focus on their participation in the meeting. You can advertise for licensed babysitters in your community, or consider asking parents to volunteer and rotate childcare duties.
It’s important to remember that although the numbers of those attending do matter, the other goal is to help members appreciate the reasons they live in the HOA and help them feel like a real part of it. Transparency is key to neighborhood harmony. For boards, this is your chance to shine and show the amazing work you are doing for the community. The annual meeting can be a great opportunity to do that.