No two communities are alike. But whether you’re in the Bay area, Orange County or the Inland Empire, every homeowner association has one thing in common: the need for volunteers.
So how do you attract them? It’s no secret that this can be challenging. Most homeowners don’t naturally gravitate to board or community service. And it’s not because residents don’t care. It’s probably due to lack of time, a feeling that one person can’t make a difference, or even a little bit of apathy. So how do you inspire service with that kind of mindset?
Turns out there are a few ways to do it. Take a look at these tips for creating a positive environment that encourages volunteerism.
1. Keep the conversation going.
Don’t just leave it to election time to work on recruiting new volunteers. This should be a year-round effort. You can use a wealth of communication types to inspire engagement that then leads to volunteering. A community newsletter or common area posting that inspires resident feedback may spark the urge to volunteer in a resident. Or you can try more nontraditional methods, such as online portals, social media pages or online surveys. Just remember that you need to put forth the effort to manage these pages – but that’s an effort that’s well worth it.
2. Praise keeps them coming back.  
Most volunteers begin doing so out of a passion for a specific issue or love of their community. And that’s enough to keep them going for quite some time. But eventually, a little external motivation is required, and that usually works best when it happens in the form of praise. Don’t be stingy about recognizing board members or volunteers during meetings, in newsletters and wherever you can. This goes for more than the people who work on big initiatives – remember to recognize the people who make small, consistent contributions, too.

3. Personalize it.
Volunteerism begins with a spirit of community. And the way to build that is to find other ways to help residents ease into volunteering. Try a few different tactics to get residents together, like community clean-ups and fun events. Pool parties, potlucks and ice cream socials are all great ways to get people together – and get them talking about what could make the community a better place to live. These are often the seeds that can sprout into dedicated volunteers.
4. Respect their time.
Time is our most limited resource. Your residents feel that keenly, especially when they’re volunteering. To help them feel like their time is well spent, make sure all volunteer jobs are meaningful and rewarding. Busy work is the fastest way to ruin a volunteer. Further, be clear to your volunteers. Help them understand their role, the timeline and the expectations of the project they’re working on. This can sometimes be difficult, so if you need to, enlist the help of a good California community management company.
5. Become a cheerleader.
Encouragement can go a long way in keeping volunteers happy. This is an important role of board leadership that sometimes gets overlooked. Your positive feedback can be the fuel that keeps a volunteer engaged. So cheer them on. Keep them motivated. Make sure spirits stay high. You’ll find that feeding their emotions has a way of growing greater volunteers.   
6. Remember that it’s in everyone’s best interest.
A community with a robust spirit of volunteerism is better maintained, more pleasant to live in, and, ultimately, more valuable. Connected neighbors take better care of their properties, and that enhances real and perceived value. So the time residents volunteer in their community translate to real dollars and cents.
Volunteering isn’t something to do begrudgingly. Positioned correctly by board leadership and a California property management company, it’s an opportunity to create a healthier, happier community – and that benefits everyone. For more ideas on inspiring volunteerism, contact FirstService Residential, California’s leading community management company.
Tuesday May 10, 2016