Called to Serve Volunteers for Board Service Often in Short Supply

Speak to any volunteer-run organization, whether it is a town board, the soccer association, a church’s childcare program or the school PTO, and the same complaint resounds: “We don’t have enough people stepping up to serve.” Condominium homeowners associations (HOAs) are no exception. Finding people willing to volunteer for board positions can be difficult. Apathy, however, isn’t necessarily the reason.

According to David J. Levy, PCAM, president of Sterling Services in Holliston, Massachusetts, “If a property is well-run, the communications are frequent, and the results of condo associations or homeowner associations are transparent, then the volume of owners highly-motivated to volunteer is typically low.” Why?

Why Serve?

As David Abel, senior manager at First Realty Management in Boston, explains, “Many times, people will usually participate in association life when they are angry or want to see change occur, so if people aren’t upset, then there may not be an incentive for them to run. If we have happy owners, it means we’re doing our jobs well, but it can also contribute to a lack of volunteers.”

Dan Rivers, PCAM, director of G&G Management in Newton, Massachusetts, adds, though, that sometimes “there are circumstances where a lot of projects are being undertaken at a property which scares off owners that may otherwise want to be on the board. It is a volunteer job, and if an owner sees it as possibly taking up a lot of their time, they tend to shy away from volunteering.”

Abel concurs. “Often, the people who really dedicate themselves to board work, putting in amazing hours for things like complicated capital projects, are usually retired persons.” He adds, however, that sometimes people just like to take the path of least resistance and occasionally people don’t feel qualified for the types of tasks being on the board requires. According to Levy, though, “There are some anomalies to this general rule [of having few volunteers step forward], as some properties have a long-term ‘culture’ of very active volunteerism. Typically these properties have a clubhouse and/or an amazing super-star recruiter very early in the life of the CA/HOA.”

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