Sara is the youngest board member in her HOA. She is very active and full of energy. She recently joined the board wanting to get more people involved and create a vibrant community. Her first idea was to organize an ice cream social where residents could get ice cream for free and get to know each other. Who doesn’t like ice cream, she thought? Everyone from children to seniors, would enjoy the event. She was convinced this gathering would be the perfect occasion to start building a sense of community.
Unfortunately, just a few people showed up. Most of them were other board members and their families. Sara was very disappointed. At that moment, she realized it would take more than ice cream and fun events to tackle this issue.
Getting rid of apathy in HOA and Condo Associations is easier said than done. Even though it is a common issue, it can be harmful to your community. It can affect important decision-making and improvements.
Like Sara, board members need to take action to prevent it and promote residents’ engagement. So in this blog post, we share 5 best practices you can implement to tackle this challenge. Get ready to be inspired!
What is causing apathy in HOA and Condo Associations?
To solve a problem, you first need to understand what is causing it. Apathy is the result of many issues in associations. It can differ from one community to another, but the roots are often the same.
Here are the principal ones:
Lack of communication
Lack of trust
Lack of sense of belonging to the community
Lack of consistency from the board of directors
Lack of feeling valued by other members
Here is what you can do to tackle these problems.
Communicate the bad and the good
Poor communication is often the number one cause of apathy in HOA and condo associations. If the board is unable to keep homeowners up to date with what’s going on regularly and clearly can raise many issues. Not only does it affect members’ participation, but it also creates misunderstandings and conflicts.
Another common mistake board members make is focusing their communication on rules and issues. While highlighting potential misbehavior is essential, it is also important to relate positive announcements. Think about TV news that only shares terrible events. People would not want to watch it even though it is important to be informed. Or they would watch it and it exhausts them, and they stop. So, when things are going well in your community, let owners know. Tell them about new initiatives and exciting projects. Adding positivity and enthusiasm to your messages can motivate them to be more involved.
Effective communication is at the core of homeowners’ engagement. It helps board members understand residents’ needs to meet their expectations.
Here are a few best practices you can implement:
Create and implement a communication strategy
Promote the use of different communication tools
Have a community website to share important news
How to improve communication in your HOA or Condo:
1\. Create opportunities for sharing feedback
As mentioned above, different reasons can lead to a lack of enthusiasm in your community. So, to improve the situation, you need to understand what exactly is causing it.
The board of directors should regularly check on residents to see how they feel and determine what they can improve. Community meetings are great opportunities to collect feedback. But, if there’s a lack of interest, residents may not participate in these meetings. Some people also don’t feel comfortable sharing their opinion in front of a crowd. Others do but may not be cautious with their words, and this could hurt other people’s feelings.
To ensure everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts, you need to collect feedback in various ways.
A great example is creating surveys, either anonymous or not. You can provide paper versions but also electronic ones, which are easier to distribute and manage. Residents can share their concerns and also their ideas and expectations.
Surveys are an excellent tool for board members to understand a situation and take action.
Open dialogue is essential to get rid of apathy in HOA and Condo Associations. Creating opportunities for feedback sharing makes residents feel like their voices are heard and can enhance their engagement.
2\. Foster a sense of community
Because of the recent pandemic and busy schedules, it is easier than ever to feel disconnected from those who are close to us, our neighbors.
People generally move into HOA and Condos associations because of their desire to connect and be part of a community. This feeling can get lost along the way because of unmet expectations, conflicts, or other reasons. It is the board’s role to keep this feeling alive. Fostering a sense of community can help improve satisfaction and ensure everyone’s involvement.
Here are a few ideas on how you can do so:
Offer a warm welcome to new residents, so they feel part of the community instantly Acknowledge families who are moving out of your community, wish them well and offer them help Host frequent community events for different ages and occasions so everyone can participate Send out a regular newsletter that features residents’ stories, jokes, recipes, and more Create a social media group with clear rules so residents can discuss and share pictures easily and respectfully
Build trusting relationships
An essential component of a thriving community is trust. Residents need to have confidence in their board’s leadership. Trust increases loyalty and engagement. It also helps overcome resistance to change. The board needs to be reliable, transparent, and accountable to prove its trustworthiness.
To be seen as reliable, you need to be consistent. Here are few ideas:
Set specific days and times to send newsletters and other communication Use technology to be more efficient and meet your goals Don’t commit to something unless you can make it happen Do what you promised, and if you can’t communicate why to residents
Transparency and accountability go in pairs. The board becomes more accountable when it is more transparent about its activities. Being open and honest is essential; you need to share your learnings and mistakes regularly. Document every process and meeting, then making those files easily accessible is also vital to good governance. Trust certainly enhances collaboration and gets rid of apathy in HOA and Condo Associations.
Consider hiring an HOA management company
Apathy in HOA and Condo Associations can also affect board members. Giving your best every day isn’t easy when everyone is disengaged. Attracting new board members can also be a challenge. In this case, you could think about hiring the services of an HOA management company.
Sometimes residents don’t want to take part in community activities because they can see biases or favoritism. Some boards may be enforcing rules with some residents more than others. Hostility and tension are common in disengaged communities. This means that the board may find it difficult to do their job correctly.
Having a community association manager that takes care of payments, inspections and violations can help reduce overwhelm. They will manage your HOA or Condo fairly since they don’t know members personally. As they are professionals, they can also give you tips and best practices on how to foster engagement.
Wrapping up on apathy in HOA and Condo Associations
Apathy in HOA and Condo Associations can harm the community’s well-being. Working with the community to improve engagement involves patience and perseverance. Make sure to be transparent and reliable to win the community’s trust. When communicating with residents, be clear and use different tools to help you.
Written by Yasmine Yohannes | Shared from Vinteum