How To Boost Engagement in HOAs or Community Associations
A common frustration in community associations is a lack of interest and participation from residents.
Aside from not having people to run your organization, it can reflect an association that’s not doing well. There are many reasons why homeowners and community residents don’t get involved including a lack of time and awareness.
If there is an issue with how your community association is run that’s discouraging resident participation, then it might be time to review ways you can adjust or to change perceptions.
Yes, digital community association tools will appeal to younger members for sure, and provide belonging and self-esteem benefits. Using ManageCasa can help develop compatibility with residents’ modern lifestyles. Resolve all these issues and more with the right community engagement strategy (and software) with its many dimensions and you’ll benefit on many levels.
Participation and Support
If we review why residents do or don’t get involved, one element we may get wrong is the benefit picture we present to them.
All associations must have a value proposition for resident participation — what makes them feel needed and wanted, grows their self-esteem, and other incentives to get them involved in it. A good value proposition will help persuade them to participate regularly, volunteer and support your HOA or community association’s initiatives and operations.
And this is an important point — what is it that will engage them? How will you need to develop your community and create roles that are rewarding, meaningful, and fun?
Dealing with Apathy and Other Priorities
Communicating louder and more frequently may not work. Residents are busy, time and money pressured, commuting longer distances, and there is a fear of Covid/Flu that can reduce willingness to be involved. And there’s the key problem of apathy and distrust to be dealt with as well.
And on that note, you might consider that resentment to government is driving declining participation in communities. A poll taken by Wall Street Journal and NORC revealed Americans are burdened by excessive government regulations.
In the past *three decades, federal agencies have codified 114,821 final rules, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s “10,000 Commandments” report for 2022 — from Reach Magazine’s March 2023 article.
A crowding out and disempowering of local civil society means you may have to reframe what your association is about and why residents would want to participate in it. Because the trend is to less involvement. Association marketing and empowering messages will be a big part of the solution.
What’s Your Value Proposition to Residents?
Engagement means many things to different HOA boards and community managers, but engagement requires a belief there is value in participation. Residents won’t act until they feel there is value. The more you create, the more compelled they will be.
A unique value proposition helps us impact and persuade residents to participate, collaborate, respond, and volunteer. The more real value you present, the more natural your appeal to them can be.
Without getting too deep into UVPs, let’s cut straight to the matter for residents. We need to increase trust and relevance, persuade effectively, and remove barriers to participation.
- review the role of members of your association and how they’re needed to get goals accomplished.
- provide a role description with the necessary skills.
- list what your community needs — food, nature experience, parties or events, cleanups, education, and tools.
- list community events/activities and who will be needed or drawn to them.
- list the key emotional benefits that will attract them to be engaged and how you can make participation more fun and personally relevant.
- review the profile of members in your HOA or community association and determine what will get them involved.
- review your meeting processes and whether they can be done online.
- poll them to learn more about what is needed as a precursor to participation.
- review how you inform, conduct meetings, vote and how transparent you are to residents.
- review how you communicate what you do (the style and wording) online on your website and via social media channels.
- review resident poll results and drill down to find the real reasons they’re not engaging.
- review the content you publish to improve relevance, engagement, and value.
What is your Engagement Strategy?
A strategy is a series of tactics guided by an overall plan. It’s important to write it down so you can get clarity. Residents won’t be clear on engagement unless you’re clear about it.
After you build a value proposition statement to address the real reasons they won’t participate and engage, you can build a flow chart, which integrates everything you need to do:
Your overall key goals and the issues to overcome > your important objectives and communication points to make to them > the tasks needed to reach and communicate to them > the responses you’ll make and support you’ll give > and how you’ll report this progress to your association to show you’re making it a better community to be involved in.
Create a spreadsheet with all your key objectives and notes on reach, responses, poll results, and your thoughts on progress made. Keep this as a living document to continue learning.
Putting the Plan to Action
Include these activities to move your strategy forward:
- Produce Regular Communications: Keep residents informed about association matters through newsletters, emails, and social media updates. Transparency builds trust and interest.
- Improve the Association Website: developing content, including helpful posts on home care, park enjoyment, and stories of other associations that were improved by community engagement. Use plenty of photos for visual engagement.
- Organize Community Events: Organize regular events such as picnics, holiday celebrations, or sports days to encourage interaction and build community spirit.
- Feedback and Surveys: Regularly solicit feedback from residents on various issues. Use surveys to understand their needs and concerns, and make sure to act on the feedback received.
- Draw Feedback from new Volunteers: ask about their experience to gauge what might be reducing their interest and ask them for comments on their experience which you might post on the website
- Grow Volunteer Opportunities: Begin with your value proposition to encourage residents to take an active role in the community in committees, events, or neighborhood projects with heavy obligations (make it easy to dip their toes in the water).
- Make Board Members Accessible: Ensure that board members are approachable and available to residents. Informal meet-and-greets and community events can facilitate this.
- Enhance Amenities: Regularly update and maintain community amenities including digital ones. Conduct a poll to get initial suggestions for new amenities or improvements to existing ones.
- Offer Educational Workshops: Offer workshops on topics of interest to residents, such as gardening, home maintenance, digital tools, or local history. Invite local businesses to conduct seminars such as the use of popular digital tools. Make your association digitally friendly and empowered.
- Build an Online Community Forum: Create an online platform where residents can discuss issues, share information, and connect.
- Welcome New Residents: Develop a welcome program for new residents to help them integrate into the community. This could include a welcome packet with essential information and invitations to upcoming events.
- Create Recognition Programs: Recognize, appreciate and celebrate the contributions of residents to the community, whether it’s through volunteer work, beautifying their property, or helping neighbors.
The quest to improve engagement is enabled through a great plan and strategy, with actionable tactics and tips to power it all up.
It’s not a simple task today to grow engagement. Dig in to understand residents better and what you’ll need to do to ease their discomfort or apathy. It’s the big picture where real results are achieved.
Call us now at +1.800.998.6627 with your questions about our new eVoting & Polling software feature.
More CAM/HOA Articles: Polling Software | Association Software Features | HOA Management Software | HOA Commuity Websites | Community Association Software | Payment Software for Associations | HOA Welcome Packets | HOA Accounting Sofware | HOA Conferences | HOA/CAM Trends | What are HOAs? | Are HOA Fees Fair? | HOA Management Challenges