Five Simple Ways Your Board Can Influence Public Policy
As a Board member, you are familiar with the many great things your association does for your community’s residents. But unfortunately, not everyone is. And sometimes, the very legislators charged with creating policies and laws that directly affect community associations have very little knowledge of their inner workings.
That’s where a cohesive public policy initiative comes in. The Community Associations Institute (CAI) conducted panel discussions with stakeholders and industry professionals to help define some important public policy initiatives. The results were published in Common Ground, CAI’s magazine.
Below, you’ll find their insight coupled with information from our own industry experts.
1. Build relationships with public officials.The first step is to establish and cultivate good relationships with local public officials. This is a task that shouldn’t just fall on Board members. Residents and community association management professionals can also play a part. Don’t get discouraged if this process takes some time. Just like any other relationship, they take time and ongoing effort to develop and grow. Having data to support your claim that associations bring value is also a plus. You may want to reach out to your local research institutions, such as colleges and universities. These organizations can supply objective data and analysis that may be helpful when meeting with legislators.
2. Communicate the true nature of community associations.Now that you’ve established relationships with your local legislators, you can start educating them on association living. It’s important to remember that a large part of a legislator’s role is governance, so you will often find that they are eager to provide solutions to problems or issues. This can often spell disaster for associations, especially if legislators don’t know what an association does and how they benefit their residents. To avoid these “blanket” solutions that rarely work for all associations, you must educate your legislators on what a Board’s full scope of duties really looks like. Once they understand that associations are not only building a sense of community, but also running a non-profit corporation, they may be able to set policies that fit associations’ needs.
3. Take advantage of new technology.In this technological age, emerging technology is changing the way companies do business, and associations are no exception. There are now new web-based platforms to facilitate and streamline everything from communications to online voting, and so much more. Public policy has lagged behind in this arena, but should get behind this new technological trend. Doing so will allow associations the flexibility to operate more efficiently.
4. Emphasize financial stability.One of your major roles as a member of the Board is to maintain the structural elements and operational systems within your community. Roads, sidewalks and lighting structures are just some of the few things that need continuous upkeep. It is safe to assume that as communities age, these structures and systems will begin to deteriorate. That’s why it’s best to plan in advance to address these issues, usually through thoughtfully developed reserve studies. Laws that mandate reserve studies and require associations to fund their reserve accounts based on these studies keep the best interest of the residents in mind. A good community management company can help you with this critical step to ensure the continued financial stability of your association.
5. Harness the power of branding.Brands aren’t just logos and slogans used by major corporations. They communicate your values and beliefs and offer an emotional and intellectual connection to your audience. This is of particular importance because these principles inform many of the policy decisions being made. To build your brand, consider different strategies – from the physical aspects of your community to your online presence.
Community associations have a big role to play – not just in the quality of life of their residents, but in maintaining and increasing property values too. Together, we need to do our part to make sure those who create public policy understand this role. With a focus on these five key areas, you’ll be well on your way in no time. For more information on how a property management company can assist your association, contact FirstService Residential.