Volunteers and committees play a crucial role in homeowners associations (HOAs) and condominium associations' success. The board of directors of condos and HOAs relies on their active participation to ensure the community functions smoothly. Their commitment and support are instrumental in helping communities thrive.

Volunteering (for both the board and any committees) requires time, skills, and effort – all without compensation – so you may wonder what motivates residents to serve their community. The answer is simple. Many residents enjoy helping their communities. They embrace the opportunity to contribute their talents to make a meaningful and lasting impact.

Keep reading to find out how association volunteers help communities and learn 3 tips for recruiting them.

How Volunteers Support Boards

Volunteers can perform various tasks in an HOA, from administrative duties to event planning, maintenance, and cleanup. Volunteers assist with a myriad of functions that keep the association's daily operations running smoothly. The wide range of available opportunities allows volunteers to engage in tasks aligned with their interests and skill sets. Their assistance reduces board members' workloads, allowing them to focus on more critical projects.

"We owe a debt of gratitude to all the association volunteers who devote their time and energy to making their communities a better place," said Danny Ellis, president at FirstService Residential. "Without their contributions, a heavier burden falls squarely on the board, which can lead to burnout, increasing the risk of a disengaged community."

Attracting and Retaining Volunteers

As a board member, you recognize the value volunteers bring to your association but may have difficulty recruiting residents to lend their support. Although there is no magic solution to instantly filling your volunteer needs, there are ways to motivate residents to participate. Follow these 3 tips for boosting volunteer recruitment.

Tip. #1 Communicate your needs.

Communicating your needs to your residents is a great starting point for recruiting association volunteers. Educate your residents about available volunteer opportunities. Ensure that clear and compelling messages are communicated through various communication channels, such as emails, websites, newsletters, flyers around the community, and social media. Communicating the need for help cultivates engagement.

Tip #2. Ask.

Engage with residents on a personal level. If you identify someone you believe would make a great volunteer, invite them to attend events, meetings, or brainstorming sessions. Doing this demonstrates that you value their input and care about their participation.
Tip #3. Set clear expectations.

Setting clear expectations from the beginning is key. Share the purpose and goals you want to achieve, and the specific tasks volunteers will be expected to perform. It is also important to inform volunteers of the time commitment requirements and the training they need. People are more likely to help if they are aware of their responsibilities and expectations.

Your property management company can devise a winning strategy to engage volunteers while helping them see the benefits of becoming more involved in their community.

Once the recruitment process is complete and your association volunteers are on board, you should keep them motivated. Sustaining their motivation is an integral part of the recruitment process. After investing so much time and effort in recruiting them, you don't want them to disengage.

You should also acknowledge and show your appreciation for their efforts on a regular basis. Recognize their contributions through newsletters, community meetings, or social media. Regardless of why they signed on to volunteer – whether because of an issue that affected them personally or because they were asked – acknowledgment and recognition will go a long way. You can thank association volunteers privately or publicly, but a public show of appreciation may have a more significant impact. Other residents may be inspired to get involved when they see the association publicly acknowledge its volunteers. 

Another way to help ensure association volunteers stay engaged and motivated is to allow flexibility in their roles to accommodate varying schedules and preferences. This ensures that they can contribute in a way that works best for them.

Lastly, make sure volunteers have the necessary resources to carry out their roles effectively. A lack of resources can lead to frustration, while adequate support promotes a positive experience.

“Equipping association volunteers with appropriate resources is essential for their success,” said Jeff Musselman, vice president at FirstService Residential. “By providing comprehensive training and essential tools, volunteers will feel more connected and at ease in their roles.”

Watch our Ask the Experts Video: Resident Engagement video for valuable insights into motivating residents to engage and contribute to the community.

How Committees Support Boards

Committees are essential for helping boards identify issues, develop solutions, and implement plans. They promote community involvement and responsibility while encouraging open dialogue, collaboration, and ideas. Committees offer fresh perspectives and ideas to boards, usually resulting in creative solutions and improved outcomes for the community.
Whether the issue is parking, landscaping, or safety concerns, committee members address various community needs and interests, supporting boards by providing their time and expertise.

You may be wondering how committee members differ from volunteers. Committee members are also volunteers, but committees are more structured, requiring members to commit for an extended period. In contrast, a volunteer might sign up to help on a case-by-case basis, such as for a single event. It’s also worth noting that transitioning from committee service to the board is a natural progression for those seeking to elevate their level of community involvement.

Here are some examples of HOA committee types and how they can help boards.

  • The landscape and beautification committee supports landscaping projects to enhance community aesthetics. 

  • A maintenance committee helps communities to stay clean and attractive, providing regular inspections of common areas, scheduling routine maintenance, and protecting community assets and property values.

  • A reserve study committee might recommend the firm that conducts long-term capital planning and maintenance assessments. This assistance helps the board make informed decisions regarding reserve funds and significant projects.

  • A safety and security committee addresses safety concerns, assisting in implementing security measures for a safer living environment.

  • A legal and governance committee keeps the board informed of legislative changes and ensures that the HOA's governing documents are up to date and legally binding.

Role of the Board in Committee Selection and Oversight

Boards play a crucial role in forming and overseeing committees within a community. This begins with board members assessing the community's needs and determining if and where committees can be beneficial. They outline the purpose of the committees, define committee members' responsibilities, and appoint committee chairs. This process helps align committee objectives and the board's vision. The board should facilitate open lines of communication to coordinate the committee’s goals, priorities, and expectations. Regular check-ins are also essential to assess progress, address concerns, and realign objectives when necessary.

An association's smooth operation relies on volunteers and committees. Their active participation enhances engagement and encourages personal investment and ownership, improving the community.

As a board member, you don't have to navigate challenges alone. Volunteers and committees serve as crucial support systems for success.

For expert assistance in coordinating your community’s volunteer engagement, contact FirstService Residential.

Monday November 27, 2023