Every community should host a National Night Out event. It’s the best way to promote community-police partnerships and community safety. Moreover, these events are a great way to encourage involvement and raise awareness.
What Is a Community National Night Out?
National Night Out (NNO) is an annual community event designed to increase awareness about local police programs. The National Association of Town Watch, or NATW, hosts the events. Thousands of neighborhoods join NNO events all across the U.S. Even residents in U.S. territories and military bases join in.
When Did National Night Out Begin?
NATW was first established in 1981. It was made to provide resources and information to community watch groups. Soon after its founding, NATW began to involve community members and watch groups in their neighborhood safety efforts. This kicked off the NNO campaign in August 1984. The first annual event had over 400 communities and 2.5 million participants across 23 states.
Nowadays, over 17,000 communities and 38 million locals are participating in every state. What started as a simple act of citizens opening their porch lights and sitting outside has since evolved into planned events such as block parties, backyard barbecues, and even grand festivals.
When Is National Night Out Hosted?
The event is held annually on the first Tuesday of August. But, it is held on the first Tuesday of October in Texas and a few other states.
Why Is National Night Out Important?
National Night Out events are not just an excuse to have a community block party. The objective is to foster a sense of community, facilitate relationships, and create a safe environment. Here are some of the benefits they offer to homeowners associations:
- Increased Camaraderie. Community events are a wonderful way to foster a sense of community and camaraderie that can improve overall well-being. An NNO event is no different and can encourage residents and participants to engage with each other more.
- Improved Relationships with Local Agencies. Community life isn’t just about living in a well-maintained neighborhood with high property values. It’s also about feeling safe and having a sense of belonging in the greater community. An NNO can help by facilitating open conversations and building relationships with local agency members.
- Educational Opportunities. NNO events are an excellent way to educate community members about safety precautions. Depending on the local agencies invited, an HOA can help the residents learn more about crime and drug prevention.
- Vendor Relationships. Communities invite lots of different vendors for NNO events. This can help the HOA foster good relationships with various vendors. It can also connect the community with new contractors they can contact for future events.
Who Is Involved in a National Night Out?
Many communities invite local agencies to host demonstrations and educate community members about local programs. Hence, neighborhoods will often invite the following local agencies and institutions:
- Law enforcement agencies
- Fire department
- Public safety agencies
- Elected officials such as mayors, commissioners, and city council members
What Are Some Good National Night Out Ideas?
National Night Outs are not just for raising awareness about local safety programs. They are also a way to get the community involved. Hence, communities can host many activities and events. Here are some ideas a community can try, from simple activities to more elaborate ones:
- Movie nights
- Front porch parties
- Ice cream socials
- Book exchanges
- Bike and wagon parades
- Concession stands
- Carnival games
- Charity activities
- Scavenger hunts
- Neighborhood awards
- Sports tournaments
How Can Communities Register With NATW?
To register with NATW, communities can access their registration page. After registration, the association will receive a confirmation email. Registration is free, and HOAs can use NATW’s resources to plan the event.
How Do You Set Up a National Night Out?
A National Night Out event is a great way HOAs can involve community members while maintaining the neighborhood’s safety. Here’s how to set one up in your homeowners association.
1. Start With the Basics
First, start by determining the basic details of the National Night Out event. What is the desired scale and budget? Where will it be held and at what time? Moreover, what National Night Out ideas are best to encourage community involvement?
Homeowners associations can get creative regarding the type of event they want to host. They are also free to ask fellow HOA board and association members to see which ideas best fit the community. Apart from these, the community should also consider asking local agencies to host demonstrations. The local police or fire departments can educate the community on crime prevention and youth safety. Emergency personnel can also offer tips on staying safe and protecting themselves during a crisis.
2. Register With NATW
Every NNO event must be registered with NATW. This allows NATW to monitor and grow its numbers across every neighborhood. Remember to register the NNO online and wait for the confirmation email before beginning the planning process. Homeowners associations can also ask their HOA managers for support and guidance.
3. Assemble a Committee
A dedicated committee is fundamental to the success of an NNO event. Start by attracting volunteers from the community or creating a committee. Ensure to include one board member on the team to keep the event on track. The HOA can also ask the community manager to assist the team.
4. Plan the Event
Every event requires planning. The committee should organize a meeting to discuss all the specifics and assign responsibilities to each volunteer. Here are some things the HOA committee should consider:
- Activities and Entertainment. The event should have a variety of activities for every age group. They can also book local entertainers or plan more elaborate activities if possible.
- Food and Beverages. What kind of food and beverages will be served? Will they be on-the-go items, or will the participants sit down and have a proper meal?
- Program Flow. When will each activity take place, and when will the participants eat? Consider the location, time, and theme.
- Funding. The event will require sufficient funding, so asking for donations early is a good idea. Send a letter to local businesses and organizations to see what they want to donate. Don’t forget to include all the information they need about your National Night Out event.
5. Invite Local Agencies
The committee should invite local agencies and officials to attend the event and get to know the community. They can also request the agency to host a demonstration. Remember to invite these local agencies early. Many are busy with daily operations and may even have multiple events lined up. Reaching out to them early will help them divide resources and assign personnel.
6. Contact Local Vendors
The committee should contact local vendors who would like to get involved. Make sure to stay organized by listing down all of the vendors and their contact information. Some vendors may offer sponsorships, while others must be hired. Besides food and entertainment, HOAs should also consider contacting vendors for security, maintenance, landscaping, and pest control.
7. Promote the Event
Of course, HOAs must make sure the event attracts attendees. The committee can promote the event by handing out fliers, advertising on social media, sending out a press release to the local media, and emailing invitations to residents.
8. Express Your Thanks
Finally, be sure to thank everyone involved. This includes those who helped out, participated, donated, and attended the event. A simple thank you letter is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face. Plus, saying thanks to everyone can make a big difference and set up the HOA for continued success for next year’s event.
A Great Initiative for Every Community
National Night Out events encourage collaboration and awareness in local communities. Hosting one will certainly take a lot of time and effort, but it’s worth the trouble. They are a great way to foster camaraderie and improve relationships with vendors and local agencies.
It can be difficult to host an NNO without proper guidance. Hiring a good HOA management company can help if your community is struggling. Cedar Management Group helps HOAs with various tasks, including events management. Give us a call at (877) 252-3327, or get in touch with us online to learn more!