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If your community is part of a mandatory HOA, then you are likely familiar with the requirement to host an annual meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to keep stakeholders apprised of upcoming changes or capital improvement projects, assess the financial state of the community and review the accomplishments of the previous year. While this may seem like important information any homeowner would want to know, most communities struggle to get the required attendance to meet quorum.

Quorum is the minimum number of homeowners that must be present, according to the governing documents, to proceed with the meeting. If an association does not meet quorum at its annual meeting, it cannot conduct any business; the meeting must be rescheduled, which can cause potentially costly delays.

The number one reason associations fail to meet quorum is the lack of participation by their homeowners. Knowing this, we’ve put together a list of practical ideas to help increase homeowner participation and alleviate the worry about whether or not you will have enough attendance to hold your meeting.

Be consistent and make it convenient
Scheduling this meeting on approximately the same date and at the same time each year gives participants the flexibility to make arrangements far enough ahead of time. We also recommend choosing a location that is convenient to the community. The farther the drive, the less likely people are to attend.

Make it worth their while
Who doesn’t love the opportunity to win something? No matter what the prize, the prospect of winning is often enough to draw people in. Whether or not your budget allows for prizes, consider engaging your vendors or local businesses to make a donation. This will give them the opportunity for more exposure within the community and will make you the hero. It’s a win/win for everyone.

Fill their tummies to fill the seats
The fact is that annual meetings usually occur on a weeknight, around dinner time. We know that this can prove to be a little inconvenient for some people. Consider offering light refreshments to lure your guests. Something as simple as cookies and coffee can add just the right touch.
Include kids’ activities
Many single-family communities are heavily represented by young families. Offering kid-friendly activities to keep the little ones happy and occupied will give parents a chance to attend a meeting they may have otherwise skipped. This can be as easy as a table in the back of the room with crayons and coloring books. Some boards will even splurge for full childcare at the meeting location.

Pair it with pool card distribution or an event
Allowing homeowners early access to their seasonal pool cards can also entice participation. Come for the pool card; stay for the meeting. Alternatively, you can plan to hold an event before or after the meeting.

Broadcast the meeting details
Per Texas state law, annual meeting notices must be mailed 10 to 30 days prior to the meeting. However, this alone may not be enough to generate attendance. We recommend communicating through all channels available, including newsletter announcements, community e-blasts, social media,, marquis signs and bulletin boards.

Be sure you include details about the extras you are offering – food, prizes, kids’ activities, etc. The more you publicize the benefits of attending, the better attendance you will have.

Include homeowners who cannot attend
Most associations allow for a proxy submission. This means a homeowner does not have to be present to participate. A proxy can serve in one of two ways: It can allow homeowners to authorize another homeowner to cast a vote in their place, or it can enable homeowners to submit their vote prior to the meeting. A proxy can even be submitted without a vote to serve solely in the quorum headcount.
Collecting proxy ballots can be a little trickier than it seems, though. In many cases, homeowners may just disregard these ballots, so it’s always a good idea to follow up on them once they have been distributed. Whether you use email reminders or employ a committee to go door-to-door to collect them, follow-up is certainly the key to success!
Another trend that is on the rise is online voting, which presents a more convenient option. You can include a link in any electronic communications or reminders leading up to the meeting. Partner with your management team to select an online voting system that fits your needs.

Most communities struggle with how to increase voter turnout at annual meetings. However, we believe that with a diligent strategy, you can meet quorum with ease. The right association management company will partner with the board to determine the best process for your community.

For more information about how FirstService Residential, the leading association management company in Texas, can help your community reach its full potential at annual meetings and throughout the year, please contact us today.
Tuesday January 03, 2017