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The New Year for Community Associations

Jan 27, 2011 | Archive, Blog, Text Only Article | 0 comments

The fall and winter seasons are filled with many momentous and personal occasions for association members, board members, and association managers. Good tidings and holiday spirit lighten our steps as we embark on the paths of budget ratification and annual meetings. As the snow falls, and we sit down to appreciate friends and family, we reflect on the year’s successes and failures. Our future goals are documented in a series of New Year’s resolutions. What would happen if community associations took the time to reflect on their own New Year’s resolutions to enhance community relations, meeting participation, and volunteer efforts?

Community living is founded upon the successful relations of all involved parties. Owners are united by a common bond, the home investment. The boundaries of each owner’s unit can either be a fortified barrack or supported by established neighborly connections. Associations can assist in bridging the gap between owners and neighbors by looking for creative opportunities to enhance the community relations. Methods of enhancing community relations include:

  • Establishing a community newsletter with a regular distribution schedule.
  • Completing creative weekly or monthly elevator bulletins.
  • Establishing a community website.
  • Creating a homeowner directory.

Increasing the lines of communication with homeowners and residents creates a reoccurring reminder of the community in which they live, and can be used to introduce new owners to the building, establish additional committees, highlight activities in the community /neighborhood, and showcase association successes and achievements.

Communication is also one of the key tools in notifying residents of new opportunities in which they can participate in association affairs and events. Some homeowners are looking for an outlet to express their ideas, educate themselves, and respond to changes within the association. In order to encourage additional regular meeting participation, associations can devote a portion of the meeting agenda to an open owner’s forum, in which any resident can bring matters to the attention of the board of directors and other community members. In addition, in accordance with the governing documents of the association, certain meetings may require a quorum of the membership to be in attendance in person or by proxy. Many associations struggle to obtain a quorum for conducting business at annual meetings. Ideas for increasing meeting attendance include:

  • Coordinating a social event such as a Barbeque, Happy Hour, Movie Night, Progressive Dinner, etc. immediately following the association meeting.
  • Surveying residents to confirm the meeting start time which would permit increased attendance.
  • Establishing a reoccurring meeting schedule, and providing advance notice of special meetings or annual meetings with mid-month meeting notice reminders.
  • Incorporating educational opportunities during meetings including: homeowners’ insurance recommendations presentations, emergency preparedness seminars, etc.

Some members fail to realize that they have an ongoing role in the association’s annual changes and development. By fostering and creating environments that spur increased participation, associations can become more effective in collecting votes, ideas, concerns, and interest in serving on the board of directors or a committee.

Serving on the board is a daunting opportunity for many owners. Imagine how associations would adapt if there was an overwhelming expression of volunteer interest on an annual basis. How many coard deferred goals, projects, and social events could be implemented with these additional volunteer resources? The success of creating a community volunteer opportunity or event is dependent upon thorough coordination, management of the time investment, and demonstration of the need / benefit. Examples of creative volunteer opportunities for associations include:

  • An annual spruce up the community event with followed by a community barbeque.
  • A community drive to collect unused bikes, unwanted items for donation, can goods, etc. benefiting a local movement or non-profit organization.
  • Initiating “Green Movements” such as battery or bulb recycling onsite, establishing a food waste program, coordinating a common area lighting retrofit, or replacing shower heads.

Creative methods of increasing participation can both unite residents in a common goal, and assist in developing a strong volunteer base for future Association initiatives and projects.

As we countdown the days remaining in 2010, we both look ahead to the holidays and to wishes for a prosperous new year. Devoting time on an annual basis to creating strategic goals or resolutions for enhancing community relations and development will greatly assist Associations in obtaining the participation, feedback, solutions, and volunteer resources necessary for long term stability and success.

By Sarah Anderson, CMCA, AMS

Community Association Manager, The CWD Group, AAMC

Sarah Anderson, CMCA®, AMS®, is a Community Association Manager at The CWD Group, AAMC™, specializing in the management of high rise and mixed use condominium communities in the Seattle area.
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