The biggest way to have an impact on your community association is to obtain a seat on the board of directors (the "Board"). However, if your association is still under developer control (and the developer appoints the directors) this might not be possible. In addition, a position on the Board is a serious commitment and creates a fiduciary duty of the director to act in the best interest of the association. Serving on a Board often entails a substantial commitment of time and effort for the betterment of your association. As mentioned in our blog post dated October 31, 2012 by my colleague Liz White, the responsibility and time commitment associated with being on an association Board can be daunting to many people, and the time commitment could dissuade many people from running for such a position.
Luckily, there are other ways to get involved. A less time intense method to become involved with your association is to attend the annual membership meeting. The time and place of your association’s annual meeting will likely be stated in your association’s bylaws. Annual membership meetings represent a chance for members of the association to learn more about the activities and business of the association and to hear from the Board, the association’s officers, and the management company (if one is retained). Annual meetings are also usually the time when Board elections and voting occurs. Even if you are not interested in running for a Board position, you should place serious thought on voting for those individuals whom you believe will respect the commitment and responsibility required to serve as a director.
Another way to get involved is to join an advisory committee. Many associations have committees that focus on issues like communications, landscaping, or recreation/social activities. Committee members are usually appointed by the Board. The responsibilities and powers of each committee should be outlined in a committee charter that has been duly adopted by the Board. A committee member does not have the powers of a Board member and should remember to act only within the scope of authority provided in the committee charter. Committees represent an excellent opportunity for association members to assist their association in specific fields that interest the member. For example, if you have a keen interest in journalism, the communications committee might be the place for you to draft the next newsletter masterpiece. Or, if you are a social butterfly, you could join the recreation committee and organize the next great association community mixer. If your association does not have a committee that you believe would benefit your association, you can request that the Board consider the creation of such committee.
Remember, when you bought a home within an association, you did not just buy a piece of land. You joined a community. The more involved members like you are with your association, the better a place to live your community will be.