We all know that frequent and effective communication is the key to healthy communities. Directors need to know what issues are of paramount importance to their members and members need to know what decisions their elected board is making and why. Many of the same management techniques that work in building successful businesses also work in building successful communities.
Before your board decides to spend money revamping that set of governing documents that looks like it was printed on parchment paper, has the reason for that project been effectively communicated to the members in order to ensure a greater likelihood that the ultimate product will be approved? What about that expensive landscaping project or re-doing the lobby? People are more likely to support a project (especially a costly one) if they are informed from the beginning and their input solicited. Naturally, not everyone is going to agree with every worthy or necessary project undertaken by your board, but involving your membership early is the key to a successful outcome. Of course, if you had a project (other than necessary maintenance and repair) in mind and are met with overwhelming disapproval from your members, it is wise to re-examine the worthiness of that idea.
How then do you communicate your ideas and actions to your members? Board, committee and membership meetings are one way but we only have to look around at the very few faces at these meetings to realize that most people don’t feel a compelling need to attend. If you were selling a product, you would devise a way to communicate with your target audience that is the most convenient for them, not the least.
Some communities use printed newsletters delivered to the owners; others have electronic versions. My community has tried both and I routinely read them but there was usually such a span of time between issues that I didn’t feel very up to date on what the board was doing. Other communities use association websites with email blast functions to keep their members current on community issues. My community also started doing this some time ago and it has proven to be a great success. When a rather large alligator was spotted some months back, a blast went out advising owners to be sure they did not leave their pets out back. Similar blasts inform us about upcoming meetings, neighborhood social events, bulk garbage pick-up and the ACC walk-through among other things. Many high-rise communities use in-house cable channels which can even broadcast meetings for those who want to see what is going on from the comfort of their home.
The bottom line is that you can never have too many open channels of communication with your association’s membership. It does take an investment of time from someone to create the newsletter or the website content but the rewards in terms of an informed and involved membership can be immeasurable.