Contributed by Tori E. Perano, CMCA, AMS
Committees are the backbone of many successful community associations. When managed correctly, they provide an important voice and opportunity to contribute to residents, create a conduit to leadership positions, and benefit association operations by tackling short- and long-term tasks.
To establish a committee, board members first must look for any guidelines contained in the governing documents that outline the details of each committee, such as the number of members, their duties and responsibilities, and procedures for removal of committee members.
If the governing documents are silent about committees, then the board would need to create a charter—a document that states a committee’s purpose, member roles and responsibilities, and limits of authority. Each committee should have an organizational structure where there is a chair, vice-chair, and secretary; some may have a treasurer depending on their purpose.
Committees can advise and assist the board in conducting association operations, including architectural review, covenants enforcement, communications, maintenance, safety, recreational and social events, finances, and elections. When they have their own unique responsibilities, committees take the pressure off the board, allowing it to focus on high-priority items and ensure the community functions properly and efficiently.
Committees can bring in volunteers with specific skills. For example, a homeowner with a background in engineering or architecture would be a tremendous addition to the architectural review committee. Hiring outside experts is absolutely necessary, but taking advantage of your internal experts, when appropriate, could save the board time and money.
When initially established, it’s a good idea for the board to sit with all committee members to review how it works, guidelines and procedures to follow, and actions that will require board approval. It’s also important for boards to ensure that a committee’s tasks do not overlap with those of another committee.
Another way to maximize effectiveness is to confirm there are enough members to handle the assigned duties. The last thing a board wants is to have one person on a committee feeling all of the pressure, resulting in him or her resigning due to lack of help. Committees of three to seven members help ensure tasks are spread out.
Lastly, the board should show appreciation for the work that committees do at least once per year through a newsletter article, a small gathering, or another form of recognition. This helps foster engagement and togetherness. Just like board members, committee members are volunteers who want to give back to their community.
Some associations may find it hard to get homeowners to volunteer, but promoting the importance and benefits of committees to association operations can cultivate a strong sense of community—a goal that all associations should aspire to achieve.
Tori E. Perano is a senior community manager with FirstService Residential in Conway, S.C.
>>Find more resources to lead your community association at www.caionline.org/HomeownerLeaders.