If you volunteer your services to your homeowners association, you know there are many rewards – but also, quite a few challenges. There are residents with individual demands and concerns and Board members who may have difficulty agreeing. There is also the critical need to carefully develop – and adhere to – a strict budget. And that’s just the beginning.
No doubt, volunteering can sometimes feel like a full-time job. And with so much going on, it can be hard to see the proverbial forest for the trees and recognize if your HOA is truly successful or not.
Because volunteers and communities come in so many different varieties, there are as many definitions of success as there are HOAs themselves. But if you’re following a few (or even better, all) of the guidelines below, chances are your HOA is a success.
Consider your own HOA, and remember that the most successful ones…
1. Put the community first.
Rising above personal interests and putting the needs of others first is at the core of volunteerism. It’s no different for HOAs. Those who tirelessly work towards achieving the greater good tend to be the most successful, no matter what challenges they face.
2. Get homeowners involved.
This can happen through the power of committees. The more committees you create, the more opportunities residents have to pitch in. If you don’t already have committees that focus on architecture, security, social events and landscape, set them up now.
3. Respect final decisions.
Resentment breeds discontent. It’s critical that your Committee and Board members are able to get behind final decisions – even if they had cast a dissenting vote. A unified Committee or Board is a healthy one.
4. Have a vision and mission.
Vision and mission statements aren’t just for Fortune 500 companies. They can help your HOA maintain clear principles in the face of any challenge. Oftentimes, these documents serve as a guiding light when storm clouds gather.
5. Have Board and Committee members who work together as teams.
Differing opinions are what make organizations powerful. But even when Board or Committee members disagree, they should remember they’re all on the same team, working together to do what’s right for the community. When everyone focuses on achieving their common goal, disagreements can usually be resolved.
6. Run it like a business.
Your association is a corporation, and it should be treated as one. If you’re on the Board or a Committee, prepare for a meeting the same way you would for a business engagement. A good property manager will provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision on a topic, so make sure you review it before decision time.
7. Collaborate with a property manager.
Your property manager is your partner in good community management, including both planning for the future and addressing today’s challenges and concerns. From goal setting to reserve projections to choosing the new landscaping vendor for the upcoming year, treat your property manager like the partner he or she is.
8. Communicate well.
Transparency is the best tool in any Board or Committee’s toolbox. Don’t leave your homeowners guessing; you’ll find that the more they know, the more they’ll want to be involved – and that’s good for everybody. Keep the lines of communication open for upcoming projects, scheduled events, Board or Committee meetings and annual meetings. Of course, you’ll need to keep them apprised of essential happenings like water shut-offs, bulk trash days and street cleaning and repair. But you can do more – look to the larger aspects of community life (like the beginning of the school year) and remind them how these seasonal changes can and will affect life in your community. Knowing you care enough to communicate will go a long way toward encouraging greater resident engagement and goodwill.
9. Say thanks.
Showing gratitude works wonders – even in a community. Thank your residents for following guidelines and making an effort to keep your neighborhood a great place to live. Show your gratitude often, and you’ll be repaid in the form of a friendly, healthy community.
Does your HOA fulfill all of these definitions of success? If not, use them as guidelines to work toward making your community the best it can be.