While homeowner associations are governed by a Board of Directors, homeowner engagement drives its culture and input should ensure that the Board’s decisions parallel their beliefs.  But, as any Board member who’s faced an empty room knows, inspiring homeowners to attend can be a challenge.

By taking strategic steps before and after each meeting, you’ll see more homeowners attend more often.

  1. Create a clear agenda of topics. If agenda items aren’t specific, then homeowners won’t pay attention to them.  Be specific: instead of writing “old business” and “new business,” write “water irrigation discussion” or “mid-year budget update.”  This way homeowners will see agenda topics that interest them and increase the chance that they’ll come to the meeting.
  1. Give advance notice. Post the agenda well-ahead of time, so that homeowners can make time to attend, as well as to give them a reference for the meetings discussion.
  1. Announce the meeting through multiple communication channels. Old school ways of posting a flyer on the club house bulletin board is over; HOAs are finding that using the Internet has a direct impact on reaching more homeowners.  Post reminders on your community’s website, utilize social media channels, go door-to-door and drop off an announcement, send out emails or even text message reminders.  Don’t be afraid to follow-up with a reminder as the date approaches since the meeting isn’t top of mind for many homeowners.
  1. Serve snacks. Food always brings people together, and the same principle can be applied to Board meetings. This is an especially important tactic to use if the agenda includes a heavy topic, and you want homeowners to be present for the discussion or even a vote.  People will remember that there are usually snacks at Board meetings.  Additionally, encourage a community potluck, as this gives a strong social aspect that will keep people coming back.
  1. Prepare for questions ahead of time. Don’t put anything on the agenda if you can’t answer a homeowner’s question.  If a major discussion topic is out of your area of expertise, ask an experienced association manager to address your audience.  If you can give homeowners the information they want, they’ll be more likely to see meetings as useful for gathering information.  The more informed a community is; the more likely progress will occur,
  1. Keep the meeting short. If the Board can’t move on from a certain topic, homeowners will get up and leave.  Avoid or set aside discussions that are off topic or are fueled with personal emotion. 
  1. Be considerate of homeowners. Strike a balance between actively listening to homeowner comments, answering questions and getting through the agenda items at a reasonable pace. Open the meeting by asking people if they have any questions or comments about certain topics, so that they can be addressed without the Board’s discussion being interrupted later on. To feel like they are truly a part of the community, homeowners need to feel included, recognized and valued if they speak up.
  2. Thank the homeowners for attending. Publish a short recap of the meeting in your communication channels and include a message thanking homeowners for attending.  If homeowners know that other members of the community are attending, it might encourage them to come next time.

Homeowners associations are the voice and sounding board for their collective community.  And, it is your Board of Directors who volunteers their time to provide leadership, management and to govern the activities to influence a positive community culture.

For more information on how to increase attendance at your Board meetings, contact MGM Association Management at (208) 846-9189 or visit, www.gomgm.com.