by Jane Bolin, Esq. / Published May 2014
Volunteers are an important part of any association, but often hard to recruit. While they aren’t always easy to find, volunteers are an important part of an association because they run the business of the association. Rather than waiting for the election season, why not start the conversation now to inspire and motivate community members to volunteer. Even the most effective boards should encourage change. Why? New voices bring a different perspective to the table and ensure that directors avoid burn out. Running the business of the association requires particpation and engagement, even if the association has hired a professional community manager. I’ve witnessed many boards go through the motions—management report, board meeting, next management report, next board meeting, e-mails in between—simply reacting to what is happening day to day. Often, this leaves board members frustrated and can lead to complacency.
Board alignment for common goals and an articulated strategy to obtain those goals, keeps members of the board motivated and inspired to take actions. This also sends the message to other unit owners that they can make a difference by running for the board or participating in a community committee. So how do you go about finding association volunteers? We’ve put together a list of seven tips for recruiting volunteers for your association.
Advertise the need for volunteers: You may not have volunteers because your residents don’t know that you need them. Send out an e-mail or notice that the association has a shortage of volunteers and explain the potential consequences of this shortage. Many people would love to be involved, but don’t know that they can be or don’t know how to go about the process.
Make board responsibilities clear: If residents don’t know what the board accomplishes and the processes they take to do it, they aren’t going to want to join. Make it clear that the board is responsible for making decisions that will affect residents.
Remember that your volunteers have lives: Don’t plan board meetings in the middle of the day while volunteers are at work. Make sure meetings are run professionally and with an agenda, so that you aren’t all sitting for hours on end without any progress. Residents may want to be a part of meetings, but if you make it difficult for them, they may not always be able to participate.
Acknowledge their participation: It’s important to take volunteer participation seriously. Listen to what volunteers have to say. Their opinion is just as important as that of other members, and they will bring a new perspective you may not have thought about. Recognize the effort involved in volunteering for an association board and make volunteers feel appreciated.
Socialize the membership: People are more likely to volunteer if they know their neighbors. Hold social events that are promoted by the association so that volunteers have a chance to get to know the people they are representing.
Use their skills: Do not just give volunteers mindless tasks. Use them to their potential. If they are volunteering, then they want to help. Give them real responsibilities, and they will be more likely to take it seriously.
Offer one-time volunteer opportunities: Some people want to get involved but just do not have the time to be a full-time volunteer. Offer opportunities for residents to volunteer for just one project or part-time. Volunteers run the business of the association, so it’s important to recruit them properly and treat them as an invaluable member of the team. Make sure all residents know how important the role of an association volunteer is and make it clear how they can become one. Your board and the community will benefit from more participation so make an effort to recruit them.