This is the first part of two posts that address annual meeting participation. This week we will focus on advance planning and preparation for community association annual meetings and next week’s post will discuss the election of board directors and conducting effective and efficient meetings.
Ask yourself the following question: If you were not on the board, not running for the board, and not involved in a committee, would you want to attend your association’s annual meeting? For many owners, unfortunately that answer is “No way!” Yet, annual meeting attendance is very important to an association’s ability to function properly and govern its affairs.
Failure to achieve a quorum for one or more years at the annual meeting can mean board positions go unfilled. Not only does this place an unfair burden on the remaining board members, but in extreme cases where no board members are elected when terms expire, an association may not be able to conduct business at all.
Considering the importance of achieving a quorum to conduct business at an annual meeting, boards should take steps to ensure their association’s annual meeting is a success. Below are a few tips to help make that happen.
Planning a productive and successful annual meeting requires a head start. Early in the planning stage, it is critical to become familiar with the parameters and requirements of the meeting as specified by your association’s governing documents and applicable law.
The Declaration, or CC&R’s and Bylaws most likely contain provisions regarding the annual meeting. Study these documents for rules and procedures covering topics such as:
• Director term length. Are directors elected for one, two, or more years?
• Staggered terms. Are all directors up for election, or only some of them?
• Nomination and voting procedures. Is a nomination committee required? Must nominations be sought in advance? Are secret ballots required?
• Director qualifications. Must directors be owners?
• Notice. How many days in advance of the meeting must notice be mailed to owners?
• When and Where. Do the documents prescribe a specific time, day, month or even location for the meeting?
• Quorum. Do the documents dictate a higher quorum than state law?
• Required agenda. Do the documents call for a specific agenda?
These requirements should guide the rest of the planning process. From there, boards will want to consider what business items need to be addressed at the meeting beyond what is required by the terms of the documents, and what issues and topics are relevant to owners and are appropriate and important enough to include in the agenda.
Fortunately, the entire meeting does not have to be a complete bore just because a few business topics must be addressed. To boost interest and attendance, boards should be creative and find ways to make their annual meeting an event owners actually look forward to attending.
In other words, think of your annual meeting as an occasion that just happens to include the some required association business. Turn your meeting into a community banquet, barbeque, or association gala, and many more owners are likely to participate. Consider inviting a local service provider or representative, like a policeman or local councilmember, to speak about local issues that may affect the association. Door prizes and drawings can add to the buzz of an event.
And, if a door prize, food and a few party supplies help generate interest in the meeting and ultimately a quorum, those expenses should be justifiable common expenses on a number of bases.
As always, please feel free to contact me with specific questions on this or any topic of interest to you regarding common interest associations.