The Six Secrets to Building Your Community Association's Volunteer Pool
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Having volunteers as part of your community adds important value to your board and creates a more welcoming single-family community association or high-rise condo association. While a few volunteers may be eager to give up their time to help build their neighborhood community, finding other residents who are willing to do the same can often be tricky.
A survey conducted by the Foundation for Community Association Research helps support this as they report that 45 percent of residents in community associations said they never volunteer or only volunteer once a year.
Of course, other factors can affect one's ability to volunteer. Some may not have the time to do so because of family duties, conflicting work schedules, or they may feel introverted and find it hard to take the leap to be part of the community. So how can you get your residents excited about volunteering within the community? Here are some secrets to help:
1. Communicate the Community Association’s Need for Volunteers
Simply enough, vocalize that your condo or community association needs volunteers. This can be done every few months before your monthly meetings. You can spread your message in various ways – community newsletters, community website, emails, or even a community Facebook page if you have one, to help get the word out. When a new resident joins the community, it would be beneficial to let them know of the volunteer opportunities within the community, as it's a good way for them to meet and interact with their new neighbors.
When letting residents know you require volunteers, it's also essential to give them an idea of the different types of volunteer positions you are looking to fill as well as the expected time commitment. Perhaps there is a budding graphic designer in your community that is unaware they could use their talents to help create posters for an upcoming event. People will be more inclined to participate if they know what kind of work is involved and how much time is required. Some residents may want to participate but don't have the time to commit to a special committee that meets on a regular basis, so be sure to let residents know when there are one-off events or special projects that require volunteers with a minimal time obligation.
2. Express Your Gratitude
A little (or a lot) of gratitude goes a long way. Since community association volunteers are giving their own time, always make them feel appreciated and give a well-deserved pat on the back. Recognize them with a public shout-out at community events or within your community newsletter. Hosting a volunteer appreciation event at the end of each year is also an excellent way to say thank you and reflect on all the positive ways these volunteers helped their community. This motivational tool will only appeal to others to join in on the fun.
3. Get Personal
Get to know your neighbors so that you get a sense of their strengths and interests. This will help when you need to know who to turn to when your board requires a new treasurer or someone who loves to plan a party. Go one step further and ask for ideas and suggestions for events or social clubs. Residents will want to volunteer for an activity or committee that they themselves have helped brainstorm.
4. Use Everyone’s Time Productively
It goes without saying, everyone is busy. So, it is of utmost importance to manage every project effectively so that volunteers do not feel that their time is being wasted, or worse, taken for granted. Help them understand the timeline, their role, and the project goals. If this can be done ahead of a resident signing up for a project, this will also help limit volunteers not pulling their weight because they were unaware of what is required of them.
5. Cheer Them On
An essential part of board leadership is to keep community members, including other volunteers, as motivated and engaged as they can be. Bringing that community spirit into each activity is key to a thriving community association and is often the fuel that keeps residents involved. Be encouraging and positive. If a resident has a negative experience volunteering within the community, they might be less likely to want to volunteer again.
6. Recognize the Value of Volunteers
A community where residents participate and feel welcomed by their fellow peers and neighbors is likely to be run better, be more cohesive, and be more appealing to potential buyers. Connected neighbors also want to take better care of their properties since they have an emotional attachment. Thus, volunteerism can even translate into real dollars and cents.
On many boards, the vice president oversees various association committees as part of their role. Taking time to find interesting and rewarding volunteer opportunities is something they should discuss during regular board meetings.
To learn more about how to run a successful committee read 6 Ways to Maximize Committees.
These Secrets Also Help Foster a Sense of Community
Not only will these six secrets help build your volunteer pool, but they will also help foster a sense of community. As humans, we want to be social and be part of a group and living in a large community, and it can be hard to do that. The ability for residents to volunteer with like-minded neighbors that share the common goal of making your community the best it can be is an excellent way for them to feel like a valuable member of your association.
A close-knit community in which neighbors care about each other and can take pride in how they assist their community thrive can provide a great deal of emotional satisfaction and enhance the quality of life for your residents. Not to mention, it makes the community much more inviting to potential buyers who seek a connected community.
If you’re still having trouble building your volunteer pool and fostering a sense of community, an experienced community management company can help. Their experience of working with several unique HOA boards and communities will assist you with finding solutions to increase your volunteer pool and help residents see the rewards of becoming more active participants in your community which in turn improves the sense of community.