Studies show that over half of Americans don't know their neighbors. As an HOA board member, you’re responsible for keeping homeowners engaged, so it’s no surprise that apathy is a topic that our community managers and leadership team members receive many questions about and one that we discuss on the blog often. Increasing engagement in your community is possible, and after 40 years of working with communities, we have accumulated some tried and true methods of getting the job done. Here are our top 5 ways to increase homeowner participation in your community.
1. Welcome and educate new homeowners.
While most owners take pride in their homes and do anything they can to protect them, many homeowners struggle to see the bigger picture of living in a planned community. You can help change this by educating homeowners from day one on the benefits of living in a community association. Once homeowners fully understand the impact an association can have positively (or negatively) on their property value, they are much more likely to become committed volunteers to protect their investment. The sooner the education process begins, the sooner they become active.
Take the time to welcome all new homeowners into the community by acknowledging their new arrival. These new owners are typically excited about their new homes and it’s the perfect time to educate them about community and to get them involved!
2. Give everyone a chance to participate.
From the newest neighbor to the neighborhood old-timers, everyone should have an opportunity to participate. Committees are an excellent way to share some responsibilities and get more homeowners involved on their terms. It is important to gather input from the entire community and see what types of activities and interests your board should pursue. An annual meeting is a perfect time to gather ideas and to gauge people's interest levels.
Committees we recommend starting include:
- Architectural Control Committee
- Neighborhood Welcome Committee
- Social & Event Committee
- Landscape Committee
- Homeowner Education Committee
- Neighborhood Watch Committee
- Finance & Budget Committee
- Contract Review Committee
3. Recognize your community volunteers often.
After you and your board have worked hard to increase participation, don't let your efforts go to waste. Frequently recognize and publicly acknowledge the efforts of your community volunteers. Take time out at your HOA meetings to highlight the achievements of your committees and other volunteers. Publicly thanking them for their efforts is not just the right thing to do, but it will increase engagement and gratitude across your community.
4. Celebrate and have fun together.
If you want more homeowners to get out and meet their neighbors, focus on creating events that people want to attend. There are endless opportunities to create memorable events that will get people out of their home and increase community participation.
After you form a social committee, have them come up with two or three event ideas. Memorial Day BBQs, holiday decorating parties, or even a neighborhood recipe exchange can be a great place to start, but create something that makes sense for your community. Establishing an annual event can create something fun to look forward to and will allow you to build excitement year after year.
5. Use technology to stay connected.
Technology continues to change how we interact, and our local communities are no different. The truth is most people are doing the bulk of their social interaction on a screen, so instead of fighting against this modern reality, we suggest your community begins to adapt. Your association should look into technology solutions that can help connect neighbors and increase participation.
The only app recommended by Associa.
If your board is searching for new technology solutions to increase community engagement, TownSq may be a good fit. Since helping millions of homeowners connect with this all-in-one app, we have been blown away by the results. From daily management to ongoing maintenance and community programs and events, it delivers the most complete, mobile community experience by helping communities connect and collaborate. We have been so impressed by what this app can do, that we offer it free to all of our new and existing partners. You can try it for yourself today by requesting a free demo at townsq.io.