As a Condo Association Board, you are elected to represent the views and interests of the Owners of your Association, while also upholding your fiduciary duty. Your Association’s hot topics may be much less dramatic than those in current politics, you still will face issues where there is no “right” answer – simply different options with different pros and cons. While you can, as a Board, choose to make these decisions unilaterally, another option is to gather Condo Association Owner opinions. This takes time and effort, it can be a valuable, proactive way to to engage with your community. It also can prevent a hostile mob from forming inadvertently.
When to Gather Condo Association Owner Opinions
Not every decision requires input from Owners, and in fact, asking for Condo Association Owner opinions for every little thing can become extremely disruptive. Instead, I recommend reaching out in the following circumstances:
- If you are going to increase Condo fees beyond the norm to fund a particular project. For example, if you’re considering a major landscaping project that would substantially beautify your building and hopefully raise curb appeal and property values, but it would require a bigger-than-usual hike in fees.
- If you are going to remove, add, or modify a major amenity. For example, if you’re going to add a pool or hot tub.
- If you are looking to increase Owner engagement in an apathetic community. Sometimes you might just collect Owner feedback as a way to engage with Owners and show them you care.
Methods to Engage
The next question is how you are going to engage with your Owners. Much of this depends on your current relationship. If your Association is technically savvy, you might use a SurveyMonkey. If your Owners like email, use simple email. You can also try passing out paper surveys at events like Board meetings or parties, but these may have limited sample sizes or exclude other members of the community. If the issue is extremely important, consider dropping off customized paper surveys in every unit.
How to Write a Good Survey
There are a ton of good articles out there that cover creating high-quality surveys. In no particular order:
- Writing Good Survey Questions – covers the basics very well in a concise short blog post.
- Questionnaire Design Tip Sheet from Harvard – This one is much more detailed – but hey, it’s from Harvard.
- 4 Common Sense Tips for Creating Surveys that Work – also a bit more detailed, similar to the SurveyMonkey blog but with more meat.
The bottom line is keep it simple and make sure you’re clearly laying out pros and cons. If you ask questions like “Do you want a pool, a pony, or a unicorn?” – the answer will probably be “all three!” That is, until you tell your Owners unicorns don’t exist and ponies are expensive. You need to make sure you explain resource restrictions to increase the utility of the responses when asking for Condo Association Owner opinions.
You Have the Final Say
Remember – whatever your Owners say, input is just that – input. You’re the Board and have final say, and you need to weigh all of the factors before making a decision. Many Owners won’t understand the full spectrum of the Association, but that’s OK – that’s your job, not theirs. Yours is to make sure you’re gathering Condo Association Owner opinions and factoring them in, rather than ignoring them.