In an HOA or condo community, meetings are an essential part of community success. These meetings allow members to voice their opinions, contribute to important decisions, and shape the future of their communities. However, to conduct a successful meeting, one crucial requirement must be met: achieving quorum. Unfortunately, anyone who has lived or worked in a community association knows that is arguably the most difficult part of the board’s job.
Nearly all homeowners care about their home, but getting them involved with the community at large is a challenge. Asking them to take time out of their non-work hours to do what ultimately feels like more work is not easy, but it can be done with the right tools.
What is Meeting Quorum and Why is it Important?
The term “homeowner apathy” is widely used throughout the Community Association Management (CAM) industry to talk about the lack of interest a lot of homeowners have when it comes to community association needs. They may live in the HOA or condo building, but anything that happens outside of their owned walls that doesn’t directly impact them often falls into an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ category. So it stands to reason that they don’t attend board meetings, let alone the annual general meeting, making achieving quorum there nearly impossible for many communities, which creates a major problem.
“Quorum” refers to the minimum number of members required to be present at a meeting to conduct official business and make binding decisions. HOAs and Condo communities often have specific requirements outlined in their bylaws regarding the percentage of members needed to reach quorum. Without quorum, decisions made during the meeting may be considered invalid or non-binding, if the meeting is even able to be held at all.
In a board meeting, quorum is typically made up by the members of the board itself, but in the Annual General Meeting and other special general meetings, where community members are required to vote on things like budgets, board elections, and special assessments, quorum requirements are much higher, requiring a percentage of the homeowners to be present, or voting by proxy.
To encourage any apathetic homeowners to come out of their shells and show up to support their community’s success, there are a few things every board should consider doing:
One of the most effective ways to ensure a quorum at HOA meetings is to communicate with community members...and sometimes, go the extra mile to do so. It is important that communities utilize various communication channels such as emails, community bulletin boards, and even traditional mail to alert residents about upcoming meetings. Providing clear information well in advance allows members to plan their schedules accordingly and make attendance at the meetings a priority. And sending regular reminders leading up to the meeting will help keep it at the forefront of residents' minds. Be sure to include information like dates, times, locations, log-in links and agendas.
To entice community members to attend meetings and ensure quorum, it is essential to provide meaningful information during the meetings. Be prepared not just to discuss potential projects or aspirations for the HOA, but to share updates on ongoing capital projects, project successes and completions, and any new project beginnings that will directly impact the community. Additionally, present relevant budget information to keep residents informed about the financial health of the association. By providing valuable and tangible updates rather than just trying to garner votes about spending, you demonstrate that attending the meetings is worthwhile and ensures transparency within the community.
Another way to encourage higher attendance at HOA meetings is by offering educational benefits to attendees. Allocate some time during the meetings to educate members about community vendors and the services they offer. Invite vendors to showcase their offerings and answer any questions from community members. This allows residents to better understand the value these vendors bring to the community, fostering stronger relationships and encouraging participation. Providing educational sessions on topics relevant to community living, such as landscaping or energy-saving initiatives, can also be highly beneficial in keeping operations smooth and efficient throughout the year.
Bonus - Overdo It (Just a Little)
Meetings don't have to be boring! Injecting an element of fun can help increase attendance and make members more willing to participate. Consider hosting community games like raffles or trivia contests during the meeting. Offer snacks and refreshments, or combine the meeting with a potluck or ice cream social to create a casual and welcoming atmosphere. These activities might feel like you’re doing just a little too much, but they make the meetings enjoyable and provide opportunities for neighbors to socialize and strengthen their sense of community. When people associate positive experiences with attending meetings, they are more likely to make an effort to be present.
Don’t Forget to Bring In Help
Achieving quorum at HOA meetings isn’t easy, but it is essential for making informed decisions and ensuring that the voice of the community is heard. Implementing the tips mentioned above can significantly increase meeting participation rates, but finding the time to make that happen can be a challenge on its own for most board members.
If you’re struggling to communicate the importance of meeting participation with your homeowners, let Morris Management help. Overcommunication, providing meaningful information, offering educational benefits, and making meetings enjoyable are all strategies that foster community engagement. Ultimately, the goal is to create an environment where members feel compelled to actively participate in shaping the future of their community, and our team of managers at Morris Management is ready to help make that happen. Contact Us today to learn how.