Effective communication may be the single most important tool available to the board of directors to promote a positive and cooperative spirit within the association. During this time of uncertainty, communication is more critical than ever, as people are looking to their leaders for guidance and support. Board members need to connect with individual residents and show that the HOA is run by people that care about them—not just an impersonal bureaucracy.
Communication is most successful when it takes a variety of forms—personal and public, written and verbal. The more forms of communication delivered, the better. You want to make sure that owners have plenty of opportunities to receive or access information.
Consider these nine tools to promote transparency and effective communication.
Board meetings and informational meetings.
Make meetings accessible to members and increase attendance and participation by setting the schedule a year in advance. Adopt an agenda policy that makes it easy for the board, chairs, and owners to understand the order of business. Address meeting notices, open forums, and how new business gets presented. In times when face-to-face meetings aren’t an option, be sure to have a virtual solution in place, like GoToMeeting or GoToWebinar.
A website is a great tool for real-time information and allows for weekly alerts and reminders, facilitating positive interactions with the association. Links on the site can include important phone numbers, board members, association photos, and events.
Establish an ongoing, scheduled newsletter, and make sure it’s accessible in both print and electronic form. Include articles about board briefings and annual meetings, but make feature articles consumer-focused with topics like legal issues, trends, and general information that matches the demographics of your members. The tone of the newsletter should be fun and easy to read. Make it enjoyable and include engaging images or photography to support articles.
Welcome letters and welcome committee.
Show new homeowners you’re an involved community and make a good first impression by sending a welcome packet. The welcome packet should have all the helpful information an owner needs, as well as details about additional resources. A greeting from a welcome committee also offers a nice personal touch.
Reach out to homeowners via email or phone call to get their feedback on matters related to community living—social activities, committees, rules and regulations, and more. Their opinions matter, and they’ll appreciate your transparency and candor.
In today’s landscape, many people use their phones for everything from social networking and photo editing to personal banking and grocery shopping. Setting up an app for your association will appeal to the millennial demographic and tech-savvy owners. They appreciate a mobile tool that lets them reserve common areas and amenities, access essential documents, pay their assessments, and engage with their board and neighbors.
Stimulate social interactions among members and establish board contacts. Organize, plan, and show up—members want to see the faces of the board. Holiday and block parties are a great start, but also consider what will appeal to your membership. Communities with several families might enjoy a scavenger hunt, whereas an association with younger members might be more engaged by a dog-friendly happy hour. Hosting and participating in these activities may be limited right now; however, there are still ways to stay engaged while social distancing. Consider encouraging sidewalk decoration, virtual gatherings, and door decorating contests.
Place a bulletin board in a clubhouse facility, gatehouse entry, or another centrally-located area. Doing this allows members to post and access information, such as association meeting notices. Additionally, you can invite service providers to post fliers and advertisements and enable members to post items for sale.
Having an emergency preparedness plan in place tells your homeowners that you’re proactive and care about their safety and well-being. Identify potential emergencies that could affect your community, and create a plan for those potential threats—whether it be wildfires, hurricanes, or tornadoes. Hold disaster drills and encourage your community to get involved.
More ways to foster community
While communication is key, promoting engagement from your homeowners can foster a well-rounded, thriving community. Check out our ebook, “A Guide to Getting Homeowners Involved in Your Community,” for more ideas.