Do either of these scenarios apply to your HOA?
“We do our best, but it’s SO hard to attract and retain great volunteers and committee members.”
“Our community is actively involved, but our volunteers and committees just don’t feel empowered or purposeful.”
An effective Nevada homeowners association will not only recruit great volunteers and committee members, but will empower them to help improve the community. The question is – how do you get there?
Read below for 8 ways to find great volunteers, develop purposeful committees and maximize involvement.
It’s pretty simple. When your HOA needs volunteers for an event or members for a new committee, communicate it. Work with your Nevada community management company to create a communication strategy that aligns with your community’s vision. For example, you may want to post weekly requests on your Facebook account or make an announcement at your next community-wide event. What if public requests are coming up short? Share your volunteer needs via word-of-mouth and leverage existing homeowner relationships (see tip #2).
A friendly relationship goes a long way when it comes to getting great volunteers and committee members. Residents are more likely to get involved if they know you or your board personally. Similarly, if you know that a certain resident has a background in finance, ask them to volunteer for your budget committee.
How do you get to know residents? Host a “get-to-know-you” event, so you can meet and learn more about residents and potential volunteers. Work with your management company to brainstorm, organize and plan these gatherings.
When recruiting volunteers, look for people who have specialized knowledge and will put the community’s best interests ahead of their own personal interests. On the other hand, don’t avoid outspoken or “disruptive” individuals. The most passionate or outspoken residents can be a benefit to your community when they are given purpose and responsibilities. Melissa Ramsey, vice president of FirstService Residential in Reno said, “It’s great to have a diverse mix of people serving as volunteers or on committees, and that includes ‘outspoken residents.’ By educating these individuals and helping them understand the decision-making process, you can help redirect any negative energy they may have.”
Don’t create a committee or volunteer task just to have one. Work with your HOA manager to ensure that your committees and volunteers have a purpose, responsibilities and timelines. Volunteers who lack purpose will be in danger of getting burned out.
Additionally, make sure that volunteer tasks or committee responsibilities are aligned with your association’s vision. For example, if great landscaping is a key component of your association vision, make sure that your landscape or maintenance committee is working on initiatives that help propel that vision forward.
In the case of committees, a charter is necessary for a purposeful, well-functioning group. A committee charter sets expectations and goals for committee members, so that the group is aligned and working on initiatives that will have a positive impact on the community. It includes line items like identifying the number of members, setting a schedule for meetings and outlining roles and responsibilities. If your committees don’t have these guidelines, they may struggle with competing agendas and their meetings may go off the rails.
Your board and association manager should offer ongoing guidance and direction to support committee members and volunteers. These individuals may be brand new to volunteering, and they may need advice on their roles and responsibilities (see Tip #5). On the flipside, committees and volunteers also play a crucial role in providing feedback to the board. Ramsey said, “Having committees and volunteers involved can help take the board member out of the ‘hot seat’ in terms of making recommendations and suggestions.” In the case of committees, they often present their findings to the board in a formal board meeting. Make sure you keep a written record of committee activities and meetings (including the minutes).
Just like your position on the board, volunteers and committee members are giving up their time to improve the community and resident experience. That’s why it’s especially important to recognize their service, either formally or casually.
What are some ways you can recognize volunteers? Say thank you to a volunteer you come across while walking your dog, or formally praise a committee member at a meeting. Every contribution counts, and it’s important to continually encourage volunteers and thank them for their work. This will keep morale high with current volunteers, and it will also reinforce your association’s reputation as one that genuinely cares about its residents.
Review your committee and volunteer needs on an annual basis. As your association evolves and volunteers come and go, make sure that existing committees and volunteers are still vital to your community. For example, you may find that a committee served a short-term benefit by advising on a capital improvement that is now completed. Or, there may be a conflict of interest that has created issues for a group of volunteers. In both cases, make sure to evaluate your needs on a regular basis and adapt accordingly.