Planning for your association’s annual meeting is a big undertaking. With all the effort and expense involved, achieving quorum the first time is a must!
On top of carefully planning your annual meeting, below are six tips and tricks you can follow to improve homeowner attendance:
- Talk about the meeting! At community events, board meetings, and in newsletters, advertise your annual meeting—announce guest speakers, items you’ll discuss, candidates running for election, and current plans for the community. Follow an action plan to notify and remind homeowners of the annual meeting; low attendance could very well stem from late, or sparse, meeting announcements. Putting up signs in the community with the annual meeting’s date, time, and place is also a good way to spread the word.
- Include a start and end time on all notices. A short, on-task meeting is going to be better attended than a long, unstructured one. Make a specific agenda and follow it closely! Allot a certain number of minutes to each item on that agenda, and work hard to stick to the schedule. If homeowners know the meeting will only last from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., they’re more likely to come. As a rule of thumb, try not to have meetings longer than two hours.
- Hold your meeting at an optimal time and date. Keep homeowners’ busy work schedules in mind, and try not to schedule annual meetings during weekdays when your members are busy. Evening times are usually more open, and weekday nights might be easier to attend than weekend dates.
Also consider the time of year the annual meeting will be held. Even if your association’s governing documents restrict the times of the year your annual meeting can be held, you can still plan around current events. For instance, if you must hold your annual meeting in February, don’t hold it on Valentine’s Day (or even the week of Valentine’s Day), and keep the early nightfall in mind. You should also avoid the dates of popular sporting events and/or city festivals.
- Offer food and fun – and advertise it! If you are bringing a food truck into the neighborhood for your annual meeting, send the menu out to the community, so members will be excited to buy some treats. If you’re offering free lemonade to attendees, put that in your meeting reminders. If you really want to go all out, hold your meeting just before a fun community event, such as a carnival or picnic. Members will stick around for the sack race and balloon animals! Lastly, you can enter every homeowner who submits a proxy (or attends the meeting) into a raffle for fabulous prizes, such as gift cards.
- Aim to make the meeting as educational and homeowner-applicable as possible. You may even consider polling homeowners about their concerns and bringing in guest speakers to talk about those topics and answer questions. Or, you could put together a presentation that explains current and future board projects that homeowners are interested in or concerned about. Listen to your homeowners and find out what they need/want to know!
- Think of the children who might attend. Many associations are full of families, and many parents may not be able to get babysitters for the HOA annual meeting. If you offer an area for children to safely play or entertain themselves during the meeting, your chances of high attendance increase! For example, hold your annual meeting at the community pavilion, where children can play at the gated park while their parents are listening to speakers and voting for board members.
Hosting an annual meeting doesn’t have to be all business! Anything the board thinks would be helpful, informative, or interesting to include in an annual meeting will probably pique homeowners’ interest, as well. We hope our suggestions help you hold an annual meeting that homeowners are glad they attended!
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