and give their top advice to both HOA & COA boards who are looking to establish and maintain engaged committees. There’s no better time than now to get started forming committees!
Get answers on how to establish coa and hoa committees:
First of all, I live in a really great community and we have no shortage of folks ready to help, but I’ll be honest, sometimes I get a little overwhelmed with the workload. Then I find that everywhere I turn, someone’s willing to help and most of my neighbors are extremely aware of and grateful for the work that committee volunteers do. However, it’s important to actively recruit new volunteers so current volunteers don’t get burned out and to give everyone a chance to be active in their community. You can recruit in lots of ways, including through:
Knowing that so many new neighbors have moved into the community over the past few months, the committee chairs released a poll on our community Facebook page defining each of the roles and asking for interest in joining various committees. Through that poll, we were able to recruit 10 new members who wanted to get involved in different ways. That not only helps share the workload but also share the reward.
To keep it simple, the common pitfalls boil down to two best practices: the importance of regular communication and recordkeeping.
When it comes to communication, ensuring that your community is regularly updated through social media on things that are important to them, including events, safety issues and neighborhood improvements (while also coordinating with your management company to report concerns) is one way to keep things running smoothly.
When residents don’t know what’s happening or feel like their voices aren’t being heard, it’s easy to lose the sense of community you’ve worked so hard to gain. On the other hand, over communication can be just as detrimental.
Maintain resident directories to use when delivering welcome baskets and to ensure that only current residents have access to the community Facebook group. By confirming that a new resident has moved in, the previous resident is removed from the directory to maintain accurate records.
Record keeping is also a best practice used to avoid “disastrous” social events. For example, if residents are expecting a community event, it’s a good idea to include the date and time of the event, how many people are attending, vendors used, pricing and suggestions to implement for future events.
Strategic thinking helps avoid the expense of rework. For example, adding new carpet before painting the walls doesn’t fall in line with the proper sequence of events designed to minimize any rework that may be required. Strategic thinking also allows the Facilities Committee and the board to control project implementation schedules and reduce disruptions.
In terms of high-rise communities, strategic thinking plays a role in that the owners share the expense of everything that’s infrastructure-related, including elevator maintenance, rooftops and even generating hot water. Facilities Committees take these realities into consideration strategically in terms of alignment with infrastructure support and to help the board understand that the Facilities Committee’s primary responsibility is to provide insight and support their concerns.
This kind of strategic thinking can be applied to many association issues, in both high-rise and single-family communities.
By being a frontline, tactical manager and being sensitive to how amenity changes can impact residents. Managers also have insight into the projects, vendor information and an understanding of the scope of work. As for property management companies, they offer support by facilitating networking between their properties and their managers. As a committee chair, I lean on our general manager to get the latest resources, including subject matter experts, from FirstService Residential and what advice they can provide.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. We try to be inclusive and have a good cross-section between the owners of the building and one or two board members, so they know we have a vested interest in their opinion and value their input. As a committee, we also collect unanimous and dissenting opinions on certain projects and present those results to the board.
In three main ways:
Have committees identify procedures and guidelines, and document each of them. Be sure that committees are constantly communicating and revisiting their procedures to stay on top of their community’s needs.
Also, ask them to contribute to the budget. This gives them the opportunity to think about their needs for the following year and what it takes to meet those needs. And actively participating in board meetings to share those needs, as well as having a board liaison for every committee, helps keep community leaders and volunteers on the same page.
1. Committee appointment and termination documents. In other words, when it’s time to form or dissolve a committee, there’s a formal document in place that clearly outlines what steps need to take place.
2. Having a committee charter. This document is the primary guide for a specific committee and spells out its purpose, what is expected of them and what areas they should avoid. It also talks about the composition of the committee, including whether or not you’ll need a chair, co-chair or someone to take down meeting minutes, and if there are term limits, confidentiality and limited authority.
3. Have a committee member agreement that states volunteers will follow the charter and work according to their responsibilities.
We’ve typically found that standing committees meet monthly. Temporary committees may choose to meet weekly. However, this cadence isn’t set in stone as these are volunteer positions. Either way, it’s important for these committees to report how often they meet, along with brief meeting minutes, to promote visibility within the community, accountability to the board, ensure consistency and serve as a reminder that committees play an integral part in the governing of an association.
Download our step-by-step association guide, How to Create a Committee Charter, by filling out the form on this page!
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