What every HOA and Condo Board Member Ought to Know According to Nonprofit Board Members
This week, we’ll be sharing some advice from three members of seven nonprofit boards on the best way to excel as a board member.
That an idea is different, doesn’t necessarily make it wrong
“My advice is to review and be familiar with your instruments, your fiduciary obligations, and the business judgment rule. And don’t be shy about contacting counsel to find out what you don’t know. Also be consistent, be fair, and recognize that others may have tastes other than yours—and that doesn’t make them wrong.”
James P. Arrigo, one of Rathje & Woodward’s attorneys Wheaton, Ill. He has represented and counseled condominium associations and HOAs from about 6 to 1,600 units for at least 14 years
Look to Tech to Make your Job Easier
“As a board member and communications director of the United Nations Association of Tampa Bay, my advice is to be patient and take advantage of technology tools to assist with communication. Since everyone’s schedule is so different, it’s important to take advantage of technology. You’d be surprised how many nonprofits don’t do that.
Here are what I recommend as essentials: email, text messaging, and Trello or a similar project management tool.”
—Jon Tavarez, founder Vantage Internet Group, Tampa, Fla.
Be Business Oriented
“I was on my HOA for five years and was the vice president for two of them. I stepped down before becoming president. Although it’s your community, it’s run like a business. Being on the HOA is more than just organizing the local community parties. Be prepared for the in-depth legal and financial discussions that will occupy a majority of the meetings.
Also, the number of neighbors who file complaints on each other but don’t want their information revealed may surprise you. Your set of conflict resolutions skills will be sharpened in your role on the HOA.
Maintain the confidentiality of your role. You’ll be privy to information and discussions not known by all who live in the community. For example, you’ll know who hasn’t paid their dues. Sharing specifics about what’s said in the closed meetings isn’t appropriate and could have consequences.
Finally, be sure you’re able to separate business from friendships. If you learn in your HOA role that your long-time favorite neighbor hasn’t paid dues in three years, will you let that impact your relationship and daily interactions? You need to prepare yourself emotionally for the tension your new HOA role may bring about in your community relationships.”
—Felicia Johnson, Sevenfold Coaching. She also served on the HOA board of a 923-home at Little Rock, Arkansas