It’s five minutes until the Annual Meeting starts. The governing documents require the presence in person or by proxy of at least 25% of the eligible voters to establish a legal quorum. With only 21% of the members so represented, the meeting has to be canceled and rescheduled.
This is an all too frequent scenario for HOA annual meetings. Many members simply aren=t interested or available to attend. It’s like pulling teeth to get them to respond at all. Yet, annual meetings are required at every HOA so those in charge of organizing them must do their best to compile the necessary quorum.
Here are the basic things that can be done by making a to do list and becoming pro active:
1. If the governing documents require the notice to be mailed out at least 21 days but no more than 30 days prior to the date of the meeting, send out Notice of Meeting 30 days in advance.
2. From this point on, always ask every homeowner that calls the office “Have you turned in your proxy yet?” If they have not, offer to email them a new one so they can send it right back.
3. Fifteen days prior – send an email to all owners with a copy of the notice and proxy form attached, encouraging owners to print the proxy, sign and return ASAP. Make them as comfortable replying as possible. To alleviate any fears that they are giving away their vote, provide an option to check that states that the proxy is to be used for quorum purposes only.
4. During the last two weeks prior to the meeting, don’t pass up a face to face opportunity to collect a proxy. If your property has a facility that owners frequent throughout the day, you should too.
5. Six working days prior – Begin making phone calls to all homeowners that have not yet returned a proxy. This is where the rubber meets the road! If you can catch them at the office, you can suggest sending them a proxy form via email. This is good for two reasons: First, about one in-five that say that they will actually do. Secondly, it gives you license to call back those that have not done so within 24 hours. Continue to make phone calls as needed for the next few days.
6. Enlist the help of several members that are not running for election who can go door to door. Even better, create an elections committee charged with the responsibility of doing everything on this list!
Now for the fun stuff:
• Door prizes in the form of fast food restaurant or coffee shop gift cards work well. A $10 value will do. Some of these sources may even donate some cards to promote their business. Winners need not be present to win. The prizes can be used as an incentive to return their proxy toward making quorum. In this case, you can offer an entry for the drawing to the first so many owners to return a valid proxy. The number of owners would be based on whatever represents quorum. For example if 25% of 400 units was needed the first one hundred to return a valid proxy would be eligible for the drawings. If you use this option, make sure that you present it as a marketing campaign. Include the details about the prizes in the meeting notice, newsletter, emails and signage.
• Logo wear with the community logo for coffee mugs, tee shirts, grocery bags and baseball caps work well. This can provide for the awarding of prizes to 10-15 of those in attendance for only $100-150.
• Provide food and non-alcoholic drinks. It’s easier to achieve a quorum when there will be tasty morsels waiting.
• Invite an interesting or controversial person to speak at the meeting. Possibilities range from local, state or federal government officials and elected representatives to attorneys, general contractors and engineers who can focus on a maintenance or construction issues.
• Make the event a celebration of the HOA’s birthday, with the annual meeting a brief but necessary digression.
Achieving quorum can be fun! Try it!
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