Volunteers and committees play a crucial role in homeowners associations (HOAs) and condominium associations' success. The board of directors of condos and HOAs relies on their active participation to ensure the community functions smoothly. Their commitment and support are instrumental in helping communities thrive.

Volunteering (for both the board and any committees) requires time, skills, and effort – all without compensation – so you may wonder what motivates residents to serve their community. The answer is simple. Many residents find helping their community to be a fulfilling experience. They embrace the opportunity to contribute their talents to make a meaningful and lasting impact.

Read on to learn more about how association volunteers help communities and learn 3 tips for recruiting them.

How Volunteers Support Boards

A volunteer's role ranges from administrative duties to event planning, maintenance, and cleanup. Volunteers assist with a myriad of functions that keep the association's daily operations running smoothly. This range of opportunities allows volunteers to engage in tasks that align with their interests and skill sets while lightening board members' workloads, freeing them up to focus on more critical projects.

"To build a thriving community, it is crucial to focus on recruiting volunteers and committee members, as they play a vital role in community associations," said Mindy Anderson, director of Lifestyle at FirstService Residential. "Serving as the heartbeat of the community, they bring diverse perspectives and valuable skills. Whether holding a seat on the board of directors or helping at a New Year's Eve event, their unwavering dedication enhances our community's overall quality of life. We are profoundly grateful for those who serve their communities."

Attracting and Retaining Volunteers

As a board member, you understand the value volunteers bring to your association but may encounter challenges getting residents to lend their support. It’s no secret that recruitment can be challenging. While there is no magic solution to instantly filling your volunteer needs, there are ways to encourage residents to get involved. Follow these 3 tips to help boost your volunteer recruitment efforts.

Tip. #1 Communicate your needs.

A key strategy for recruiting association volunteers involves effectively communicating your needs within the community. Start raising awareness about essential volunteering opportunities. Utilize various communication channels such as newsletters, emails, websites, flyers around the community, and social media to communicate clear and compelling messages. Communicating the need for help is instrumental in cultivating engagement.

Tip #2. Ask.

Engage with residents on a personal level. Invite them to participate in events, attend meetings, and share their thoughts and ideas. This shows that you value their input and are interested and invested in their participation in the community.

Tip #3. Set clear expectations.

Setting clear expectations from the beginning is key. Share the purpose and goals you want to achieve and the specific tasks volunteers will be expected to perform. Volunteers should also be informed of time commitment requirements and any training they will need. When people understand what is expected of them, they are more likely to help.

Your property management company can devise a winning strategy to engage volunteers while helping them see the benefits of becoming more involved in their community.

Once the recruitment process concludes and you have your association volunteers onboard, it's essential to help them maintain their motivation. Sustaining their motivation is an integral part of the recruitment process. The last thing you want after investing so much time and effort in recruiting them is to see them disengage.

It’s also important to acknowledge and show your appreciation for their efforts regularly. Recognize their contributions through newsletters, community meetings, or social media. Regardless of why they signed on to volunteer – whether because of an issue that affected them personally or because they were asked – acknowledgment and recognition will go a long way. It's appropriate to thank association volunteers privately or publicly, though a public show of appreciation may have a greater impact. When residents observe the association publicly acknowledging its volunteers, others in the community may feel inspired to get involved.  

Another way to help ensure volunteers stay engaged and motivated is to allow flexibility in their roles to accommodate varying schedules and preferences. This ensures that they can contribute in a way that aligns with their availability. 

Lastly, ensure volunteers have the necessary resources to help them fulfill their roles effectively. A lack of resources can lead to frustration, while adequate support promotes a positive experience.

“Providing association volunteers with the right resources is necessary to help them succeed,” said Christopher L. Pappas, senior vice president at FirstService Residential. “This includes tangible tools such as training manuals and ongoing support. Equipping volunteers with the necessary tools and training will significantly enhance their experience, leading to a more fulfilling experience for all involved.”

Watch our Ask the Experts Video: Resident Engagement video for valuable insights into motivating residents to engage and contribute to the community.

How Committees Support Boards

Committees are essential for helping boards identify issues, develop solutions, and implement plans. They create opportunities for open dialogue, collaboration, and ideas among community members while fostering a sense of involvement and shared responsibility. Committees offer fresh perspectives and ideas to boards, usually resulting in creative solutions and improved outcomes for the community. Additionally, their involvement reduces the burden on board members, allowing them to focus on more crucial responsibilities.

Whether the issue is parking, landscaping, or safety concerns, committee members address various community needs and interests, supporting boards by providing their time and expertise. They also provide feedback to board members, ensuring best practices are followed.

You may be wondering how committee members differ from volunteers. Committee members are also volunteers, but committees are more structured, requiring members to commit for an extended period. In contrast, a volunteer might sign up to help on a case-by-case basis, such as for a single event. It’s also worth noting that transitioning from committee service to the board is a natural progression for those seeking to elevate their level of community involvement.

Let's examine some examples of HOA committee types and how they help boards.

  • A maintenance committee helps communities to stay clean and attractive, providing regular inspections of common areas, scheduling routine maintenance, and protecting community assets and property values.

  • A legal and governance committee keeps the board informed of legislative changes and ensures that the HOA's governing documents are up to date and legally binding.

  • A reserve study committee might recommend the firm that conducts long-term capital planning and maintenance assessments. This assistance helps the board make informed decisions regarding reserve funds and significant projects.

  • The landscape and beautification committee supports landscaping projects to enhance community aesthetics. 

  • A safety and security committee addresses safety concerns, assisting in implementing security measures for a safer living environment.

Maximize your committees’ effectiveness by reading 6 Simple Ways to Get the Most Out of Your HOA Committees.

Role of the Board in Committee Selection and Oversight

The board plays a crucial role in forming and overseeing committees within a community. This begins with board members assessing the community's needs and determining if and where committees can be beneficial. They outline the purpose of the committees, define committee members' responsibilities, and appoint committee chairs. This process helps align committee objectives and the board's vision. The board should facilitate open lines of communication to coordinate the committee’s goals, priorities, and expectations. Regular check-ins are also essential to assess progress, address concerns, and realign objectives when necessary.

Volunteers and committees contribute to an association’s seamless operation. Their active participation enhances engagement and encourages personal investment and ownership, improving the community.

As a board member, you don't have to navigate challenges alone. Volunteers and committees serve as crucial support systems for success.

For expert assistance in coordinating your community’s volunteer engagement, contact FirstService Residential.

Monday November 27, 2023