One of the main duties of the current HOA board member is hosting and planning the annual HOA meeting. This meeting is particularly significant due to the board elections and tends to have more community members in attendance. However, event planning isn’t always a skill that every HOA board member will possess.
How to Plan HOA Annual Meetings With These 9 Simple Tips
The trick to a successful annual HOA meeting is preparation. That means you should start planning for it now, especially if it’s only a few weeks away. While starting early is important, here are nine more tips for planning a successful annual HOA meeting.
1. Organize the Agenda
The agenda is the official plan for the meeting and should be focused and accurate. That means time tables are set for each issue so that the meeting takes place in the time allotted.
It’s also your personal to-do list, how-to guide, and event planner. In it, you should list everything that you need to bring to the meeting. Include every issue that you want to discuss and how to transition from issue to issue. A poorly planned meeting often results in a poor meeting. It’s important to be as organized as possible when planning your annual HOA meeting.
2. Set the Date
The best way to ensure a smooth meeting is to plan it well in advance. Of course, that means you need to know when your meeting schedule is.
For many HOAs, the date of the annual meeting is mandated in the bylaws. If not a specific date, it might be specified as “the second Saturday of November” or something similar. If your meeting is not mandated in this way, it should be.
Attendance is important at these meetings. Have a date set in stone to make sure all community members who want to come can do so. Most communities choose to hold their meetings in the Autumn or Spring to avoid summer vacations and holidays. Additionally, it is a good idea to hold the annual meeting near the end of the fiscal year so that the next year’s budget can be settled at the same time.
3. Start Planning Early
Another way to improve annual HOA meetings is to begin preparations early. For some associations, this can happen as early as 6 to 12 months before the date of the meeting itself. While that might be a bit overkill, we still recommend starting early (60–90 days before) so that you do not have to scramble just before it happens.
4. Ensure a Quorum
The most important function of the annual meeting is the election of the board of directors. For big decisions like this, you must have a quorum. Quorum is an often misunderstood concept.
Despite its fancy Latin name, however, it is relatively simple. A quorum is simply the minimum number of votes that need to be collected for the vote to “count.” This is usually described as a percentage of the total eligible voters.
Unless your community’s bylaws say otherwise, a quorum is present when at least 10% of the voting members attend the meeting in person or by proxy (50% in the case of board meetings). Without a quorum, the business can’t be conducted. The meeting will need to be rescheduled.
One way to avoid missing quorum at important meetings is to allow proxies to be used. A proxy is simply a document that gives an association member the authority to vote on behalf of another. Proxies should always include the date and time of the annual meeting, as well as spaces to note the member voting by proxy and the name of the member voting on their behalf. Some communities will include their ballots directly on the proxy form.
That way, the voting member can easily fill out the whole form and cast their votes at the same time. Other communities may choose to distribute proxies and ballots separately. However your community does it, it is always worth talking to an attorney or your community manager to make sure your documents are properly set-up.
5. Give Notice Well Ahead of Time
You will want to give everyone more than enough time to schedule the annual meeting. Giving people notice the week or day before the meeting is a great way to ensure your attendance is almost non-existent. The more notice you can give, the better. You can check the bylaws of your association to find out when you should hold your meeting and go from there.
Usually, you’ll want to give your first notice roughly 60 days in advance and a second notice a month before the event. That means planning your event could start anywhere from 12 months out to six months. Your bylaws will most likely indicate when planning for the annual meeting should begin. Many associations contact Elite Management Services to assist them with training and educating board members, which can, in turn, prepare them for planning and hosting the annual event.
Moreover, if there is an issue on the agenda that you know will stir heated debate, it’s essential to let the community know about it well before the meeting. Give them plenty of time to form an opinion on the matter and formulate any arguments they may have to bring to the meeting. Otherwise, it will be all-out war in the meeting if you spring an important issue on the association.
6. Get the Word Out
When notifying homeowners about your annual meeting, it’s important to leverage all your resources.
We recommend sending out a mailer and an email blast to all community members 60 days and 30 days ahead of the meeting. However, you must still check your governing documents as they may include a required notice period. Additionally, if you have a community newsletter, you should prominently feature the date of the meeting in each issue, especially as the meeting approaches.
If your community has an active online presence, it is also a good idea to promote meetings through your community website and frequent updates on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and NextDoor as well. Finally, consider planning for food or another community event alongside the annual meeting to encourage a higher turnout.
7. Hold a Forum
If you’re holding your annual board elections at the meeting, then a great way to get community members engaged is by holding a forum before the elections. Let community members meet and talk with board member candidates. This is so they have time to form educated opinions as to who they will want running their association for the next year.
You can make this a Q&A session, where community members can ask the candidates important questions regarding the association, or by integrating the forum into the social event. In any manner you do it, allowing community members to engage with candidates is important because it ensures that the people elected are accurate representations of the community.
8. Throw a Party
A great idea to get community members interested in coming to the meeting is by hosting an event before or after. However, you should note that hosting an event after a meeting might discourage people from showing up.
The event could be as simple as ordering a few large pizzas and letting people socialize to something more extravagant such as bringing in other vendors. The event itself can be a great way to get community members excited for the annual meeting and boost attendance. But, it shouldn’t take priority over the meeting itself.
Be sure to create a strict schedule for your event to allow ample time to conduct association business. You might hold your event for an hour or so before calling the meeting to order, but you usually don’t want to wait too long. People will leave before the meeting starts if the event goes on for too long.
9. Don’t Do it Alone
While planning the meeting falls to the members of the HOA board, that doesn’t mean one or two people have to do everything themselves. If the event requires set-up, for example, you could ask other members of the association for help. You might find that there is no shortage of volunteers, especially if some of them are looking to hold a board position in the near future.
Communities working with an association management company have a major resource in their community manager. The community manager takes a lot of administrative burden off of the board. In planning an annual meeting, they review meeting agendas and give advice on what should and should not be included.
Community managers can also handle much of the communications with homeowners through sending emails and physical reminders. For medium-to-large communities, a good community manager goes a long way toward getting annual meetings running smoothly.
You, Too, Can Have Successful HOA Annual Meetings Every Year
Planning the annual HOA meeting isn’t your only responsibility throughout the year and the board will still need to enforce violations, plan and budget for expenditures, maintain common areas, and much more. Get HOA management experts to help ease some of these overwhelming responsibilities, so you can help board members focus more on the planning aspect of running a community. With our help, the stress of planning HOA annual meetings can be a thing of the past! Call us today for your HOA management needs.