12 Feb How to Encourage Homeowner Engagement in your COMMUNITY
How to Encourage Homeowner Engagement in Your Community
An overarching goal for a homeowners association is to establish and promote camaraderie among residents. On the surface, it may seem simple enough. Being neighborly and engaged in the community has benefits not just for the community at large but also for individual homeowners. But frequently, HOA members and property managers need ways to rally their residents to become more involved. Galvanizing support among homeowners can have its share of challenges, so here are some considerations for enlisting help and resident support.
What’s good for one is good for most.
A home is a large investment of time and resources, so there’s a compelling reason to ensure it maintains or preferably increases in value. Like any investment, everyone wants a positive return. Residents should want to have a say in the community’s direction and the ability to add value to their homes. One way of actively creating that value is to have an inclusive community that people want to live and remain long-term. It takes work to build enthusiasm and create a sustainable bond among neighbors. Gently reminding residents that their involvement dictates the vision they have for their community is a great motivator.
Roll out the red carpet for new arrivals.
First impressions matter. Getting new residents excited early and often about the community is paramount for keeping them involved. Take time to make new residents feel welcome and educate them on the benefits the community offers. Provide them with resources like a community calendar, a list of FAQ’s, contact names and numbers, and a list of community activities in which they can participate. Within the first few weeks after a move-in, board and committee members should informally reach out to new residents to put a face to the name and ensure they will openly reach out to them and the management team when the need arises.
Committees play an essential role in planning and carrying out several community objectives. The board and property management team can seek input from all homeowners so that a range of interests, and various age groups, are represented when forming committees.
One great committee to establish is (as described above) a Welcome Committee. The earlier residents become involved, the better, so having a team in place with predefined tasks is the best way to ensure all the bases are covered. Other committees that can help mobilize homeowners include a Social Committee, Neighborhood Watch, and Beautification Committee. The Social Committee is vital in organizing events to bring residents together. Try leaning on past members to arouse interest and get the word out to residents.
Events and Activities
Planning and hosting high turnout events is the best way to bring the community together. Covid-19 put the halt on event planning in 2020, but with vaccinations being administered at a faster pace, it’s looking as if the events for the second half of this year may be in full swing (with proper safety precautions, of course). Now is the perfect time for HOA’s, or the Social Committee, to start brainstorming and planning events to meet some of the pent up demand residents feel. Bringing the community back together as soon as it’s safe to do so will be a great way to hit the ground running and hopefully put the thoughts of Covid-19 in the rearview.
So what is an event that people will be excited about attending? Well, that’s the million-dollar question. Plan to host a steady flow of annual and seasonal events for neighbors to look forward to and that homeowners can interact freely during such as holiday parties or barbecues. Take time during an event to promote additional engagement in the community too.
If the community has amenities like a gym, tennis or basketball courts, pool, or other activities that can be group-oriented, use that to your advantage. A 3-on-3 spring basketball tournament, an annual race, or group fitness classes could be a great addition to the events calendar.
Lastly, finding and supporting local charities and nonprofit causes is an excellent way to bring people together who share a common purpose.
The easiest way for people to keep connected nowadays is electronic. Choosing a community-based app or using a Facebook group page that people quickly log onto and scroll through the information may be the easiest way to reach the most residents. But remember, nothing is a substitute for face-to-face gatherings.
Rallying volunteers is another challenge a homeowners association and property managers tackle. Reaching out to potential volunteers and getting a commitment from them is often a struggle. One way to approach and gather support from volunteers is to feature them prominently in the community. Highlighting the volunteers in newsletters, Facebook pages, board meetings, and the community website will instill a sense of value in work being done and inspire others. Volunteers are responsible for a considerable part of what makes a community feel like home so remember to show gratitude and be generous with praise.
Keep everyone “in the know.”
Be upbeat and consistent when communicating with homeowners. Keep residents aware of community opportunities through email updates, community newsletters, U.S.Mail, and text messages. That doesn’t mean all residents need the full minutes of the last board meeting, but most will want high-level updates of significant plans, notable changes, and upcoming activities. Give residents every opportunity to be informed and to take advantage of what the community offers.
Asking may seem like the obvious answer but is sometimes overlooked. People are surprisingly willing to pitch in when their help is requested. People love feeling needed and helping out but may need a friendly nudge. Using an online survey tool to gain feedback from homeowners or using polling questions to garner interest could be another tool in the HOA’s arsenal. As always, be professional and respect people’s time. Clearly outlining what you’re requesting and the commitment it requires is essential for meeting expectations.
Strengthening the social fiber of a community and keeping residents engaged takes time and effort. Community engagement is not just a nice-to-have but a need-to-have. It’s a way for the homeowners association to delegate some of the community responsibilities to those it most affects. Encouraging residents to take an active part in the community is achievable. Developing plans to bring the community together, staying connected, and emphasizing the good being done can motivate homeowners to take an active and sustainable role in their community.