Our neighborhood’s homeowners’ association (HOA) was early to the web and early to posting board minutes online, starting in 2002. Our association has always had an “open door” policy to the documents created for the association, and minutes and the monthly balance sheet have been public the entire time.
The board meets 11 times per year, roughly. Sometimes meetings are missed due to a lack of a quorum in the summer because of vacation schedules. But at this point, there are over 100 meetings chronicled with minutes online for our HOA.
Prior to this, minutes were a mixed bag in the HOA. There was not much of an incentive to create them, and years went by where minutes were either not provided or not retained. Prior to the website, all documents by our HOA were kept in two big storage bins – not only unavailable to all members of the association, but also unavailable to most members of the Board.
Now our HOA is strictly a volunteer organization, and things happen. But because it’s a volunteer organization and because turnover, both in the board and the entire membership, is regular and continuing, it is important to have these documents available for all. Of the 10 attendees to the first 2002 board minutes our HOA has online, only 2 remain on the board and only 5 remain in the neighborhood. That kind of turnover makes providing a permament record even more important.
The minutes serve as a historical resource of what the HOA did and when they did it – and we sometimes use that historical resource to make decisions. It serves as a record of when dues changed in cost; it serves as a record of when vendors were changed; it serves as a record of when property improvements were made. It is easily available to anyone – including vendors who may want to compete for our business.
There is a point in time where the volume becomes so great that a search engine with content custom ONLY to the minutes should be provided. We’re probably reaching that point, so we’ll likely restructure our content directories and use Google to provide a custom search for just that directory path.
Our HOA’s minutes are a synopsis, not an actual transcript of our board meetings. Because of that, there’s editorial control of what is provided, and it reduces the opportunity for something to be taken out of context… recommended if your volunteer organization can go the synopsis route.
I know a lot of organizations like to put their minutes behind a login process to keep the information specific to the members who need to see it, and we could do that, although it would limit our search engine capabilities AND prevent vendors and other interested parties from seeing what our HOA does. For us, it is more valuable to make the minutes available to the public. Every association has to prioritize this based on their own needs and values, however.