Whether your homeowners association operates on the calendar year or fiscal year, now is a good time to set a date for your annual HOA board meeting if you haven’t already done so. Annual meetings are a common best practice to keep members informed and get them involved. You may be thinking that it’s going to be a waste of time because the majority of members don’t come to any meetings. There’s no doubt that this is one of the most challenging parts of planning the meeting, but there are ways to encourage members to attend.
How to Get People There
First, set a date far in advance and inform the Association membership so that they can write it in their calendars, put in in their smartphones, tie a string around their finger, whatever it is that they do to remember something important. Giving them advance notice leaves no room for excuses not to be there.
Consider spending some money to get people there. Food is always an incentive! Keep in mind who the majority of your membership is. For example, if you’re a part of an Association with younger families or members who traditionally work 9 to 5, you could have a luncheon. This would allow them to attend on their lunch hour, instead of taking up an evening often already reserved for family time or sports practices.
Highlighting the annual meeting in the Association newsletter and why members should attend, as well as sending out postcards a month or so before the meeting, are good ways to keep reminding members that it’s approaching and they should be there. HOA board members can be extra diligent by communicating with neighbors to attend and encouraging them to share their thoughts.
Give members small teasers for why they should attend the annual meeting. These might be letting them know a big announcement will be made; having a drawing for prizes, like a weekend getaway for two (must be present to win!); or bringing in a speaker to address a hot button issue the Association is facing.
What to Discuss
The annual HOA board meeting generally discusses how the Association survived or thrived in the previous year and what to expect in the upcoming year. Try to make the meeting as positive as possible. Celebrate milestones, such as a roof replacement project being fully funded and the fact there will be no foreseen special assessments in the upcoming year.
On the flipside, the annual meeting is also a good time to prepare members if there is going to be a special assessment in the coming year. Let them know when it will start, how it can be paid, and why there is one in the first place.
Why the Annual Meeting is Important
Along with communicating about the previous year and what’s ahead in the coming year, the annual meeting is a great time to hold elections for HOA board members, or vote on other issues that require it. Elections are expensive, so maximize on the opportunity while everyone is together. It’s also an important opportunity to foster community relationships and receive input from members. Although, remind them that they can give input anytime during the open forums of regular board meetings.
How to Prepare
Preparations for the annual HOA board meeting can be time consuming. There’s the agenda to prepare, notifications that need to be sent, and ballots and candidate statements that need to be organized if there will be elections. This is where an HOA manager can help. Their job is to be aware of what’s going on around the community, field questions from members prior to and after the meeting, and support the board members throughout the process.