Most Home Owner Associations (HOAs to the uninitiated) of any size need web sites. Clearly most associations need a web site, they are currently stressed by today’s economy to reduce costs and by today’s technology to decrease the delivery time of information.
There’s a dead zone there in between those two pressures, and it’s called paper. Associations have to figure out the way to most effectively deliver the content and information their membership wants and needs electronically INSTEAD of paper, which is a shift from the previous IN ADDITION to paper.
HOAs have a third pressure – a general reliance on volunteers – for getting everything done. Paper, in addition to cost, adds labor – delivery, printing, etc. Web and email is SO much easier, and quicker.
So what’s the hold up?
Delivery, primarily. There’s still a sizeable population out there in the residential world that’s not online enough for an association’s purposes, and the residential world is where the HOA operates. For HOAs, this is primarily an age-related factor, and not one they’ll be able to get by immediately, but as time goes by, it will solve itself. For some HOAs this may also be an economic issue, in which case the issue may be more problematic.
That does not mean that HOAs shouldn’t do anything yet. There are thousands of HOAs online, and if you take a look at them, you’ll see they are proactively trying to establish email connection with their members, and using their web sites as resources. Just a few examples:
to see what kinds of interactive and static resources HOAs can provide online.
The key for HOAs to remember, however, is that building web value takes time. It takes time to collect the email addresses for email delivery of information, it takes time to develop online resources for HOA members to reference – such as bylaws, calendar, and previous board minutes – so the sooner an HOA starts, the sooner it will reach a critical mass that will retain appreciation and feedback from members. I’d strongly recommend providing a neighborhood an email discussion group that allows all members of the HOA – but just members of the HOA – to participate, whether it be sharing recommendations of a plumber or figuring out a good place for a neighborhood picnic.
In short, if you run an HOA – get started, particularly in collecting email addresses of your members. If you start by thinking of the web as the resource center for your Homeowners Association, and email as the notification process to members of resources on the site and other valuable information not on the site, your members will engage your efforts quicker than you might expect.