Lack of communication from a board to owners can wreak havoc on a community association. It can create mistrust among the owners, may perpetuate conflict (an “us versus them” mentality between owners and the board), and can lead to spreading rumors and false information. Here are some helpful tips that community association board’s can use to improve or increase communication to owners:
- Utilize a newsletter. This is the best way to provide ongoing updates to owners throughout the year. Newsletters can include dates of board meetings and updates on projects. Seasonally, a newsletter can be used to remind owners of pool rules and hours, dates for spring and fall landscaping cleanups, and the information regarding snow removal. Newsletters do not contain confidential information, and therefore can be sent to both owners and tenants. Many associations find a volunteer who is not on the Board to put together the newsletter.
- Email blasts. Email blasts are a great way to provide owners with quick updates that may impact the community, such as dates of gutter cleaning, water main shutoffs for projects, or start dates for concrete, roofing, and siding repairs. Some associations also utilize email blasts for safety. To prevent massive “reply all” email chains, and to prevent owners from obtaining your association’s distribution list, always be sure to put all addresses in the “bcc” line, or utilize an automated service such as Mail Chimp.
- Make your association’s records easily accessible. Meeting minutes, rules and policies adopted by the Board, and monthly balance sheets are among the corporate records that owners generally have the right to inspect. Many boards opt to make these available on password protected websites or Google drive for owners to review. Not only does this increase transparency for your association, but it can cut down on records request submitted by owners.
- Maintain official social media accounts. Boards can utilize this (often free) way of communicating to owners and distributing information and they may get ahead of disgruntled owners who may choose to start their own social media accounts.
- Bulletin Boards. Consider posting notices, information, announcements and other information in a conspicuous place within the Association.
- Provide detailed officer reports during your annual meeting. Associations are only generally required by law to hold one owner meeting a year – the annual meeting. Annual meetings where boards provide detailed information to owners regarding the accomplishments over the prior year, projects planned for the upcoming year, and a detailed overview of the association’s financials tend to experience less discord at their meeting.
- Consider holding an open town hall style meeting. Periodically throughout the year, boards should consider hosting an open board meeting (even if not required by their Bylaws) or informational town hall session. This is a great way to keep owners updated on the board’s ongoing accomplishments and plans, and to allow a chance to ask questions and voice concerns.
By being proactive and utilizing multiple ways to communicate, an association can maintain a sense of “unity in the community.”