Neighborhood Associations – Bettering the Community
Neighborhood Associations take many forms. Homeowner Associations (HOA) maintain neighborhoods and community amenities on behalf of their residents and property owners. Community Associations (CA) try to build a coalition of neighbors or like minded people to develop beautification programs, social activities, or community art displays or to address challenges like public safety or urban blight.
Neighborhood Associations, Homeowner Associations, and Community Associations are some of most important nonprofit groups in local communities, but are almost universally under appreciated, under funded, and under trained.
HOAs and CAs have limited resources – few (if any) employees, are run mostly by volunteers, and have very little money. These groups are often challenged with rules and regulations forced on them by municipalities and legislatures. Rules that are burdensome and costly to comply with.
Adding to the burden of limited resources and excessive regulation is a hostile media environment. Associations that are working well – keeping the neighborhood clean, promoting social interactions, fostering strong community – are never reported by the media. No newspaper will ever publish a story about an HOA keeping the pool clean and safe, keeping expenses low, and coming in under budget.
Yet, as soon as an association has to mediate a controversy between neighbors or has to press for compliance with covenants the media pounces and paints an image of nosy, incompetent neighbors and greedy, bigoted bureaucrats.
Despite the challenges, a Neighborhood Association can be successful by taking a well thought out approach to managing itself.
A Successful HOA – Training, Systems, Communication
The answers to the challenges your association faces lie in three key tools – Training, Systems, and Communication.
Train the Board
The members of your board volunteered because they care about the mission of your association. They are driven to do well, but often find themselves struggling to navigate the complex web of regulations. For most board members, this is their first experience with public debate and they struggle to keep order and get things done during public meetings.
As a board member, it is critical that you read your rules. Associations are governed by their own by-laws, local ordinances, and state property codes. It is important to know what you are supposed to be doing in your role, what your obligations and powers are – and most importantly what the limitations of your authority are. Be sure you meet the minimum requirements for the job while still reaching for audacious goals for your community.
Community CIO offers training for new board members or for whole boards:
- Setting long term and short term goals for your association.
- Planning and running meetings.
- How to use Robert’s Rules and parliamentary procedure effectively without causing gridlock.
- Practicing Active Listening techniques to build consensus in the face of disagreement.
- Influencing people and build consensus when no one in the room has to do what you say.
- Recognizing conflict and acting with compassion even when disagreeing with people.
Systems – Automate Everything
Your association has few resources, they are precious because they are scarce. Get the most value from these precious resources by leveraging repeatable systems and technology effectively. This prevents waste and gets the most value from what you have.
Online storage systems for meeting minutes, strategic plans, correspondence with members are imperative. It is no longer enough to save a file on your personal laptop. Use online collaborative systems to share content with your members and to prevent loss of valuable information when turn-over occurs – which it invariably will. Time is valuable, don’t waste it re-creating marketing materials or correspondence that was lost after turn-over.
Document the job description for each board position, paid position, and volunteer role so each person knows what they need to be doing to make the association successful. Have an orientation and training process in place when someone new comes into a position.
Keep track of your members, volunteers, and service providers and their interactions with the association. You have limited resources, don’t waste them by paying for a service that one of your volunteers has offered to do for free.
Community CIO offers training and solutions for:
- Setting up cloud based file storage systems.
- Migrating paper files to searchable and useful digital archives.
- Implementing member and volunteer relationship management tools.
- Increasing collaboration between board members, volunteers, and members.
At the core of any successful association is a transparent, thoughtful, and gracious communication policy. Simple things like making your records available to your members on a website and thanking your members, donors, and volunteers in a public way go a long way towards building trust and commitment.
An association should strive to maintain a few simple contact points that never change. The association should maintain at minimum a phone number, an email address, and a website address that are branded to the association and don’t change as people come and go. Nothing makes you look unprofessional like a three year old answering the phone at someone’s home when a volunteer is calling to offer to help, or a member needs help finding a service.
Community CIO offers solutions for:
- Setting up websites and email systems for your association that convey professionalism.
- Maintaining an online repository of association documents – both public and password protected.
- Publicizing volunteer opportunities and registering participants.
- Creating and maintaining mailing lists and regular newsletters.
- Creating and maintaining online blog posts, news releases, and event announcements.
Community CIO helps Neighborhood Associations
We offer comprehensive website development and maintenance, newsletter development, mailing list management, and CRM systems for keeping up with members and volunteers. We can also develop custom solutions to your unique challenges.
Tell us about your project and we will schedule a free evaluation.