Eight ideas for a community event to engage your residents
How does an HOA create a sense of community?It is important that residents feel as if they form an integral part of their association and feel connected. If there’s one thing that can always get your residents together, it’s having community events. For the most part, everyone enjoys the opportunity to socialize with their neighbors and get to know their management staff more personally. But how do you go about planning them?
Three tips for planning a community event:
- Consider your audience
Before determining any community event, you must evaluate your audience. Is this a 55+ and older community? Or are you a family-friendly condominium? Knowing your demographics will ensure you select an appropriate and relevant activity that your residents will enjoy.
- Determine your budget
Every community is different, and depending on your size, location, and budget restrictions, the number and quality of events can vary. Some communities have specific line items for holiday parties and community events in their annual budget. But if your association does not have funds set aside for this, other options exist, such as requesting sponsorships from current vendors; this can be in the form of a check or even paying for part – if not the entire event.
- Communicate to your residents
There’s no point in hosting a community event if residents don’t know about it. Make sure to include the event date and time in advance via your newsletter, email, or any other communication method you use to contact your residents. If your property has elevators, it’s good to post a nice flyer announcing the event so residents can see it during their daily commute.
“People like to be informed; the tricky part is discerning how residents are most likely to receive and pay attention to what you’re communicating. Send out a mass email to the whole community, put up print flyers on bulletin boards or use them as handouts, update virtual message boards, and utilize the ever-powerful social media platforms at your disposal. Communicating through various channels helps ensure your reaching the largest number of residents, and the more people you reach, the more likely you are to increase engagement,” says Erin Gould, lifestyle director at FirstService Residential.
Eight community event ideas
- Food Trucks
If your property has significant green space or outdoor recreational areas, hosting a few local food trucks is the way to go. They provide an excellent opportunity for the management team to throw a community event without worrying about catering. It also introduces new residents to the culinary culture of their new home and a relaxed environment to mingle with their neighbors. You can even spice it up by creating a simple scorecard for residents to vote on their favorite food trucks.
- Fitness Classes
Especially popular in metropolitan areas and high-rises are fitness classes. Many of your residents look for ways to stay fit and healthy while socializing. Hosting yoga, Zumba, or any other classes of interest allows residents to gather and bond while participating in a health-focused activity.
- Holiday Parties
In many communities, hosting an annual resident holiday party that includes food, drinks, and live entertainment is traditional. Even if it is not holiday-centered, hosting a night-in for residents to dance, eat and mingle is always a great way to engage and have a good time.
- Movie Nights
This is a classic community event that can cater to any age group. If your property has a recreational space or even a rooftop deck, having a movie night is a fun and easy way to bring your association together with just a projector and some popcorn.
- Book Clubs
If you’re managing a 55+ community or have a community that enjoys reading, hosting a monthly book club offers opportunities for residents to connect via their shared interests and is an alternative to outdoor recreational activities. Let residents vote on a book to read and bring them together once a month to discuss. You can host separate clubs for different age groups or book choices.
- Pop-Up Shops
Ever seen those artisanal pop-ups at the mall or local park? You can recreate the same thing in your community in any common area or outdoor space. Just invite a few local artisans and small businesses to come and display their wares and services onsite and provide your residents a unique opportunity to shop locally at home. Depending on the event’s success, this can become a monthly staple in your community!
- Casino Night
This is another great resident event for the competitive bunch. Hire a professional dealer and turn the night into a Las Vegas-themed party. Complete with an Elvis impersonator, cocktails, and popular games like blackjack; it’s sure to be a night to remember. Instead of playing for money, you can offer incredible prizes for all ages. And if feeling generous - proceeds can benefit a charity of the community’s choice.
- Silent Auction
A favorite among seniors, implement a silent auction where residents can bid on art, antiques, vacations, or even sports tickets.
How can you encourage residents to participate?If your community is new to coordinating events, your residents may be hesitant to participate, but you can help garner interest by curating programs that tie directly to their hobbies or something new and exciting they would be eager to try. “It’s great to start with things you know they like to do and then get creative from there…it’s the dynamic programming that’s going to get people talking, and word of mouth is still a very effective tool for promoting community events, activities, and experiences,” Gould states.
Presenting community events freshly and dynamically ensures resident curiosity is piqued, and word of mouth can stimulate turnout. Access our short resident engagement video series here for more community event ideas and tips.