Maybe you’ve been to the meetings where the person who failed to show up for the meeting is “volunteered” to serve on a committee. Well there are better and more effective methods of finding volunteers. Besides sitting on association boards, volunteers are the same people sitting on church committees, coaching little league, serving as Cub Scout leaders, and are out fundraising for various causes. These are the people who when they move into your association, are able to help and in most cases want to help, but may not know there is a need.
Why Members Volunteer
HOA members become volunteers many times because they feel good about contributing to a positive cause. Associations that promote a positive view of their community have an easier time attracting volunteers. What is a positive community in the eyes of a potential volunteer? In short RTO: Respect, Time, & Outreach.
Respect – Are board and committee members interacting in a manner that is courteous and respectful of all opinions? Potential volunteers, as with most people, do not knowingly look for conflict and activities that are stressful, especially if they are donating their time. There are just too many activities that potential volunteers can perform that are more rewarding.
Time – Are the association meetings, board or committee, organized and structured to maximize everyone’s time? Are the meeting members prepared in advance to insure the meeting moves efficiently? With association meetings generally held in the evenings, meetings that are excessively long may discourage potential volunteers. In many cases a potential volunteer may not be able to commit the additional time.
Most association meetings generally last an hour to an hour and half. When meetings exceed this, steps should be taken to reduce the time commitment; this can be easily done with a consent agenda.
Outreach – Search out and ask and ask often for volunteers. Waiting for volunteers to find you may be a long wait. Volunteers, as is human nature, often respond to a personal invitation to join a committee or run for the board. Of course, sometimes members who have approached the board about an issue or members who have expressed interest in an activity, such as ARC, can be great potential volunteers.
How to get them to Volunteer
Finding potential volunteers is only half the battle. Talking them into volunteering and having their volunteer efforts work out long term can be another matter. Make the process simple and have a convincing case for the need for them to become a volunteer for the association.
Make simple requests for the potential volunteer’s time or services. Avoid asking for long-term time commitments, perhaps an ad-hoc committee, to deal with a pressing matter affecting the association. Possibly the biggest advantage to a short-term committee or project will be to gauge the volunteer’s commitment and ability to work with others. If the member does not work out on this short volunteer commitment, this can minimize possible damage. If the short-term commitment works out, the member will more than likely be open to more volunteering commitments in the future.
It is always a great idea at your annual meeting to recognize, with applause, and thank your volunteers. This can also be done through the association newsletter and website. “Thank you,” goes a long way with volunteers. Some associations give plaques in recognition of long term or outstanding service to the association.
Members volunteering their time and energy for their association sometimes may encounter frustration and time-management issues and these members are vital to the operation of their association. WDPM