It is important that committee members and other volunteers know their work is valuable and appreciated. Willing volunteers with untwisted arms are a rare find. Unknowingly making them feel unappreciated will chase them off fast, and word will spread to other potential volunteers. However, with a little effort, your association can easily have happy, respected committee members. While there are plenty of ways for the board to show its appreciation, the most important is to take the recommendations of staff and committee members whenever possible. This, more than any gesture, shows respect and true appreciation for the work, Knowing their work is making a difference will encourage neighbors to volunteer more often and more enthusiastically.
The alternative – Seeing weeks of work brushed aside without explanation- can be disheartening for the most eager volunteers. Imagine your small group of neighbors is assigned to find the best type of fencing for the playground. After a month of obtaining bids, researching warranties, haggling for deals, and conducting internal polls, you make your big presentation to the board. The presentation shows that while fences A, B, and C are viable options, fence D is the best because homeowners favor it, it’s more durable than any other option, and the vendor providing that style has offered unbeatable deals. The next thing you know, fence A is being installed at the playground – or even worse, fence E. The board has offered you little or no explanation. What would you answer when you were next asked to serve on a committee?
As a board member, you can help avoid this situation by keeping in close communication with committees. The best way to do this is to assign a board liaison to be a primary contact point for the committee. This director should ensure the volunteers are informed of the board’s aims, budget, and decisions. We often recommend the 5th director position or the “At-Large” member of the board be appointed as the committee liaison.
Without volunteers and staff, all of the daily work of the association would be left to the board, which would quickly be overwhelmed. Committees are also recruiting grounds for future board members, so it’s important not to discourage these people from making the effort to get involved with the association.
Here are a few ideas on ways your boards can show appreciation to your committee members.
1. Set term limits on committees –
- Folks who volunteer for a committee will be more willing to volunteer if they know it is a short commitment.
- Many communities have terms for the Board members, but don’t have terms for the committees. The volunteers end up staying on for years and getting burnt out.
2. Provide perks –
- Offer a free clubhouse rental
- Give a coupon for free ad space in the newsletter
- Reserve a day at the community pool or playground for volunteers only
3. Public Praise –
- Publish volunteers’ names and photos with a description of their efforts in the neighborhood newsletter.
- Post plaques in the clubhouse, or if you don’t have a clubhouse present a plaque to the individual at your next community meeting.
- Announce the volunteers at the annual meetings
4. Profitable Prizes –
- Give a gift card to a bookstore, restaurant, or coffee shop
- Hold a raffle for all volunteers to win donated prizes or prizes purchased by the association.
- Ensure that financial gifts comply with the By-laws for your community, and that they come with a certificate of appreciation or plaque.
5. Psychological Promotions –
- Send a thank you card signed by all of the board members.
- Take their advice and suggestions whenever possible.
- Simply shake the hands of the volunteers and tell them that you are grateful to have them on your team.
Homeowners associations – especially those that are large-scale or self-managed associations – should not forget paid employees when attempting to show gratitude. The staff will often include a receptionist, handyman, a landscaper, or an administrative assistant.