Community involvement is the foundation of what makes an HOA successful. Increasing community involvement and engagement work hand-in-hand — without engagement, you can’t expect members to be involved. Unfortunately, getting members engaged and involved isn’t always as easy as it sounds. It takes time, effort, and, most importantly, consistency.
Engagement - When members are engaged, they understand and agree with the community's objectives. Although engagement helps increase productivity and morale, it may not always increase involvement. Someone may be engaged but not fully act on it.
Involvement - When members are involved, they exercise the objectives set by the HOA by volunteering or participating in community boards and committees. An HOA member is likely to take more of an active role in the community by participating in driving change. Involvement is what makes engagement so successful — it transfers the initiatives that were given by the board to others that want to be involved.
3 Tools to Increasing Community Involvement
Communication - Communication is an essential part of what helps maintain a positive environment. Property managers and boards must exercise healthy forms of communication as a way to help others feel engaged and welcome to participate.
Outreach - Boards should expand their outreach as a way to increase community involvement. It also allows newer members the opportunity to connect their ideas and efforts to help better serve the community.
Recognition - When people observe something that brings benefit and reward, they’re twice as likely to take action — as in “get involved.” In addition, they see that the HOA recognizes their efforts and appreciates their hard work.
Why is Community Involvement so Important?
Member engagement - When members take more of an active role in the community, they’re more likely to be engaged (have strong beliefs) with the community's objectives and goals. They desire to help drive positive change in the community.
Increased profit - More member involvement drives higher property value.
Higher retention rates - The more retained members an HOA maintains, the higher the community value. Retained members are more likely to have higher levels of engagement, which increases levels of involvement and longevity of living in the community.
4 ways to Increase Community Involvement
Technology plays a prominent role in helping communities increase community involvement. For starters, technology allows members to connect and communicate on a more consistent basis. Online portals also allow different sources of online avenues to engage in community management, along with increased engagement between their board and property managers.
Day-to-day responsibilities - Another way technology can help increase involvement is by managing the many daily responsibilities that are requested of volunteers to help run the HOA. When responsibilities increase, volunteers may experience a burn-out period or exhaustion from balancing multiple tasks. As a result, engagement decreases, reducing the desire to stay involved. Software such as TownSq helps communities manage these responsibilities and reduces time spent manually exercising tasks.HOA Software can help streamline:
Community event planning
Welcome letters to new homeowners
Violations and HOA dues
Digital newsletters and announcements
Helps streamline processes and communication
Open communication - Technology also plays a large role in how we communicate and stay involved with one another. It allows members to keep an open line of communication for all those involved. Thanks to the many advancements in HOA software, communities are now able to utilize digital applications such as community forums and digital voting. These features are created to allow members the opportunity to assemble, get involved, and communicate about specific topics or projects within their community, all digitally. Technology also allows boards and committee members the opportunity to publish their accomplishments and expectations for the community. This is important to those who may desire to get involved — they can recognize that their ability to get involved will lead to a positive outcome.
2. Community participation
Community participation is an integral part of what helps increase community involvement. If a community has a high number of engaged participants, then boards must be prepared to offer more opportunities for everyone to participate. More often than not, HOAs will often have to put a cap on the number of board and committee members — mainly for the concern of too many people being involved. Or, in other words, “too many cooks in the kitchen.” Although this does hold some truth, there are alternative ways boards and managers can keep everyone involved.
Secondary committee members - When a committee experiences a large number of participants that desire to volunteer for the same role, they are often faced with the decision to turn people away. As a way to prevent this, committees should consider splitting their time between seasons or projects. For example, a committee could ask additional volunteers to assist in special committee events or projects during certain times of the year — such as a “secondary committee group.” As a result, everyone is given a chance to stay involved and participate. In addition, secondary committee volunteers not only gain knowledge about the community but they gain valuable experience for when the next set of committee members are elected.
Create new committees - When an HOA is limited to the number of committees they offer, boards should consider turning their focus to the community members. For example, hosting a general community meeting is an excellent way for board members to gain insight into ideas for other types of committees that members may desire to lead or take part in.
Social & Event Committee
Neighborhood Welcome Committee
Neighborhood Watch Committee
Crafts and Art Committee
Community Service Committee
3. Praise and encouragement
Praise and encouragement are other important assets to increasing community involvement. People want to be recognized for their hard work. Boards and committee members should value recognizing those who offer their time and efforts to make the community a better place. Recognition allows people to feel part of a team and important. In addition, boards should recognize those who may not be involved but provide strong support to the community. For example, an elderly neighbor that greets their fellow neighbors every day, the local school cross guard, or the community garbage truck driver that goes out of their way to ensure trash cans do not block the road. Other examples of recognition may include awards such as:
Community support award - The award is given to someone within the community that is not part of a committee or board but provides strong community support, such as a school cross guard, the local garbage truck driver, or a mailman.
Volunteer award - This person is recognized for their high level of involvement in the community.
Best spirit award - This award could be given to someone that exerts a high level of positivity and encouragement within the community.
4. Host an event to bring the community together
Try bringing the community together through a fun event where they can get to know the board better and meet with neighbors. This is a great opportunity to connect with people over fun activities such as a picnic, volunteer project, or just something to enhance the community, like planting flowers that aren’t as formal. When people see leaders making an effort to get involved, it goes a long way in encouraging others to do the same.