HOA volunteers are the dynamic force behind every association, but not all communities have enough of them. In fact, plenty of associations have trouble enticing residents to serve as volunteers. However, boards should not give up the fight because an HOA that lacks adequate volunteers will cease to function properly. Fortunately, some strategies can help increase volunteerism in your community.
What Is an HOA Volunteer?
An HOA volunteer is simply an umbrella term for a homeowner or resident who volunteers their time and skills to serve their community. It typically refers to those who are a part of the HOA board or a committee.
While HOA communities operate like corporations in many ways, board and committee members don’t receive compensation. This is perhaps one of the reasons associations face such difficulty in recruiting volunteers. Since volunteers devote a lot of their time to the HOA, they don’t see it as a lucrative opportunity and would rather spend their free time on other things.
Serving as an HOA volunteer, though, can be a very rewarding experience. It also instills a sense of purpose and community in residents. Plus, volunteers are what drive associations forward. Without them, an association’s operations would come to a screeching halt. In some states, such as California, an HOA would even need to enter receivership.
How to Recruit HOA Volunteers
Clearly, volunteers play a key role in associations. As such, your HOA board should try its best to recruit homeowners to serve the community. Here’s how to get HOA volunteers.
1. Include Reminders in Communication Materials
Homeowners can get so wrapped up in their own lives that they forget the community that exists around them. Remind residents that your association is always looking for HOA volunteers by including the reminder in your communication materials when appropriate. These include newsletters, email blasts, and posters. You might also want to develop a tagline that sums up your search.
2. Approach Them Personally
First and foremost, you should speak to prospects personally. Approach them in person and let them know that they would make for a great addition to the community’s roster of volunteers. While posting ads online certainly helps boost awareness, it doesn’t always get your desired response.
Emotions are what drive people to volunteer. Therefore, it’s important to appeal to those emotions by adding a personal touch to your recruitment efforts. Point out the positive traits you’ve noticed in your prospects and explain how they can apply to the job.
3. Share Experiences
One thing that scares potential volunteers is the unknown. If they aren’t familiar with what volunteers do, they’re less inclined to take that first step. To spread knowledge, consider allocating a part of your newsletter or board meeting to volunteer stories. This way, past and present HOA volunteers can share their experiences and highlight their learnings. This will help inspire others to follow suit.
Of course, volunteering is not all rainbows and butterflies. There are certainly challenges that come with the territory. You can also talk about these challenges to give a more transparent account of the experience. Share how these challenges helped shape and educate you not only in your personal life but also in your professional life.
4. Seek Out Unsatisfied Residents
You might think it’s foolish to try and recruit unsatisfied homeowners. After all, they probably don’t want anything to do with the HOA. This is a common misconception, though.
More often than not, unsatisfied residents simply want change — a sentiment that they might share with other, less vocal residents in the community. These residents may have ideas that could help the association. Additionally, they are likely more willing to serve on the board or a committee because they can make a more significant impact.
Remember that not all unhappy residents will make for good board members. When searching for new recruits, pay attention to their complaints. If a resident has legitimate concerns that show they care about the association, it’s a good idea to invite them to volunteer. But someone who consistently has petty complaints or just complains for the sake of complaining likely won’t be a good fit.
Unhappy residents could turn into the best volunteers in your HOA. You just need to know how to separate those with potential from those who just like to stir the pot.
5. Provide Training
Sometimes, residents are willing to serve but are apprehensive due to their lack of training. Inadequate training, though, should not stop you from recruiting these people. Skills can be taught, but a willingness to serve is hard to instill.
Your association should provide board training and education to compensate for this gap. Many HOA management companies already offer this as part of their packaged services. However, you can also partner with your local chapter of the Community Associations Institute (CAI) to gain access to various training programs. With proper training at their disposal, homeowners will feel more encouraged to volunteer for the HOA board.
6. Start Them Small
If jumping straight to a position on the HOA board is too big of a commitment for residents, offer something a little less demanding. Homeowners can serve on HOA volunteer committees first to test the waters. Committee members tend to have a lighter workload because they focus on a specific area of management. In comparison, board members have to juggle multiple tasks.
Your HOA board may also want to look for potential board members in committees. Existing committee members have already gone through the fire, so they know roughly what to expect from the job. If they want to take their service to the next level, serving on the board is a natural transition.
7. Recognize HOA Volunteers
Volunteering in an HOA is often a thankless job, but it doesn’t have to be. Show your appreciation for volunteers by dedicating a portion of your newsletter or board meeting to them. Thank them for their contributions and highlight their achievements. Let them know that their work is valued.
Doing this makes volunteers feel special and helps encourage others to serve the community. When residents see how much the HOA values its volunteers, they will feel more inspired to follow the example. Of course, while it’s important to thank volunteers privately as well, displaying your appreciation in a public manner makes a bigger impact on everyone.
A Consistent Effort
Many associations struggle with recruiting residents to volunteer for the community. Considering how indispensable HOA volunteers are, your board should utilize the above tactics to increase volunteerism in your association. Don’t just stop at one. Consistency is the key to ensuring your HOA has a continuous stream of volunteers.
Cedar Management Group provides communities with HOA management services, including board education. Call us today at (877) 252-3327 or contact us online to request a proposal!
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