The more new volunteers know about the history of their community, on-going projects and future challenges, the sooner they will become active and constructive board members. Providing the information “up front” is much better than the newly-elected board members having to constantly ask or learn it when crises arise.
Listed below are some steps you can take to start off your new board members on the right foot.
- Develop a New Board Member Notebook. Board members should have an official 3-ring binder that contains information and material necessary to successfully lead their community. Items to include in the notebook are:
Annual board meeting schedule – Setting up your meeting dates a year in advance allows everyone the opportunity to review the dates and avoid conflicts.
Current contracts – It is important that new board members are aware of what the association expects from the vendors as well as its financial commitments.
Board minutes from the last four meetings – The past minutes allow new board member to read the history of on-going projects and issues facing the association. You will save a lot of time at the first few board meetings if new board members do not have to be brought up to date on projects the association has been working on for the past several months.
Management Reports from the last four meetings (if you have a management company) – Again, this provides the history for the new board member. Be sure to include deed restriction enforcement and architectural review reports or logs.
Governing documents - Besides the declaration and bylaws, be sure to include the association’s rules and regulations, resolutions and maintenance responsibility chart. Many board members have never read their governing documents and may not even know where they filed them.
Current budget – Include not only the adopted version but also any board notes that describe how line item amounts were calculated. New board members needs to understand what items are included in each line item and how the budget is developed.
Financial statements - Include a full set of the last financial statement. It is imperative that new board members understand how to read financial statements so they understand the financial position of the community and can make informed decisions.
Resale Package and Welcome Letter – Provide sample copies of the full resale package and welcome letter that provides additional information a new board member should know.
- Site Inspection – When possible, board members should walk around the community together. to observe both your community’s achievements – landscaping projects, capital reserve projects, clubhouse enhancements, etc. – as well as areas that require attention.
- Preliminary Meeting - Seasoned board members spending some time with new board member(s) before the first board meeting will probably save a lot of time and really help in regard to getting them “up to speed.” If a separate meeting is not possible, suggest meeting an hour or two before their first official board meeting to review the information. Be sure to comply with any state mandate that requires homeowner notice of any separate or pre-meeting.
- CAI Seminars and Publications – Your local chapter of the Community Associations Institute sponsors many programs that are geared toward educating new board members. Encourage your new volunteers to attend at the association’s expense.
Lou Ann Hingley, AMS, PCAM
Mid-Atlantic Management Corporation