Volunteer Success: What’s The Secret?

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What is the key to volunteer success? Many homeowners associations have trouble getting members to volunteer for the community, but there are some mindful steps you can take to encourage volunteerism.

Why It’s Important to Focus on Volunteer Success

Homeowners associations primarily rely on volunteers. Without volunteers, no one would fill the board, and committees will be left empty. Projects would cease, and operations would simply come to a screeching halt.

Despite the importance of volunteers in HOAs, many communities find it difficult to get them. And this is completely understandable. After all, volunteers have to put in the time and work without any compensation. It’s an exhausting job, yet it can also be a very rewarding experience that can improve their lives.

How to Achieve Volunteering Success

Many HOA communities find it hard to entice owners to serve the community. But, there are some things leaders can do to increase the number of volunteers in associations.

Here’s how to find more success in volunteering in HOAs.

1. Make Meaningful Connections

happy people | volunteer success

First, it is important to build meaningful relationships with homeowners. Leaders must take the time to talk to members and learn about their interests. Talk about their goals in both life and in relation to the community.

From here, you can extend a personal invitation to prospective volunteers. Send them a handwritten invite or approach them in person. Let them know that serving the HOA will give them a chance to grow and achieve their personal goals.

2. Be Transparent

Transparency is essential in ensuring volunteer success. Leaders should keep an open line of communication at all times and provide consistent information. Don’t lie about the time and work volunteers have to put in. Honesty is important here, and letting them know in frank terms about the time commitment will set their expectations.

Volunteering isn’t just about attending meetings, though. While that’s definitely part of it, you should clearly define what the job entails. More often than not, volunteers also have to spend time working outside of meetings. They must prepare for presentations, participate in discussions, and make decisions.

3. Approach With Positivity

Leaders should approach every prospective volunteer with a positive and open attitude. Never use scare tactics, as that won’t establish a good foundation for volunteering. Treat everyone with respect and make them realize how important their involvement is.

It doesn’t stop there. Once you get volunteers, your positive attitude should continue. There will be disputes among you – that’s normal. It’s critical that you handle these disputes with courtesy and the right temperament.

Never put them down because you disagree with them or they made a mistake. That will only discourage them from continuing their efforts and drive away other potential volunteers.

4. Set Them Up for Success

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Every volunteer should have a willingness to serve the community. But, this should be supported by proper training. Leaders should provide basic training and onboarding to all volunteers. This will prepare them for what’s ahead and make them feel more equipped to handle their tasks.

Training need not be in-depth or comprehensive. However, it should include the basics. Go through the governing documents and fiduciary duties, at the very least.

5. Allow Them to Grow With Guidance

No one’s perfect, especially on the first try. Volunteers are going to make mistakes every once in a while. It’s important to give them space to grow while still providing guidance. Don’t judge them if they commit an error. Support is always appreciated.

That said, be careful not to overdo it. Show your support but don’t micromanage. Once you give them a task, they should own it. Set them up for success on their own terms.

6. Don’t Leave Them Hanging

After providing training and support, leaders should continue communicating with volunteers. Don’t cut off engagement with them. Instead, make sure to maintain an active line of communication.

This is also where proper record-keeping comes in. Document all processes and methods to allow for standardization and eliminate confusion. Keeping good records and notes will help current and future volunteers.

7. Get With the Times

When you think about volunteerism, you often think of hands-on, in-person efforts. But, the COVID-19 pandemic has proven that you don’t have to be physically present to contribute.

Consider allowing volunteers to do so from a distance. This is an incentive for homeowners who wish to serve the HOA but can’t always physically attend meetings. Of course, make sure your state laws and governing documents permit virtual meetings in the first place. For instance, North Carolina allows associations to hold virtual meetings and electronic voting.

8. Recognize Contributions

volunteer donation | volunteer success

Successful volunteer management also means giving credit where credit is due. You often hear that serving the HOA is a thankless job, but it doesn’t have to be. While volunteers typically receive no compensation, that doesn’t mean you can’t show them your gratitude.

Be vocal in your appreciation for volunteers. Recognize their efforts and highlight their achievements. It’s also important to do this in a public setting so the recognition packs a better punch. Be careful not to overdo it.

9. Share Your Own Stories

Finally, leaders should take the initiative to share their own stories. By being more open about your own experiences, you can inspire others to serve the community as well. While it’s good to focus on sharing the sunny side of the job, you shouldn’t shy away from sharing some of the more challenging parts. This will make it come across as more authentic than contrived. Of course, don’t forget to end on a positive note.

The Bottom Line

Volunteers are the cornerstone of homeowners associations. Without volunteers, HOAs would be reduced to relying on court-assigned or professional managers – and they don’t always have the community’s best interests at heart. To ensure volunteer success, association leaders should utilize a mixture of the above strategies.


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