It’s annual meeting time again and managers and Boards alike start to think about what they can do to encourage their membership to attend. There are many reasons why it is important to get owners to attend meetings, yet oft times they do not without some type of encouragement.
Boards many times don’t want to make major decisions without the input of the community, in an environment where said input is formal and recorded. Boards wish to keep the channels of communication open as to what is occurring in their community. Most of all, annual meetings and some other types require a specific percentage of owners be present in person or via proxy. If we all agree that it is important to improve attendance and need to find ways to do so, is it OK to incentivize attendance? If so, how? What should you consider?
The conversation on ways to entice attendance ranges from a raffle drawing where you must be there, either in person or by proxy, to win to full events that include catered meals, door prizes and bounce houses. This can work depending on the demographics and nature of the association.
There are things to consider, however.
I have had Boards that wanted to have a wine and cheese social prior to the commencement of the meeting. For these Boards, I make the recommendation not to do this for many reasons. While it has nothing to do with personal preference there were things that they needed to consider before moving forward. At every annual meeting, there are important decisions that are being made and you don’t want to create any possible appearance of someone making said decisions while in an altered state. It is also due to the fact that it may become difficult to control who consumes the alcohol, whether they are of age, or whether they may take medications that could react negatively to it.
Just like any other food or beverage, there is also the aspect of insurance. Do you have coverage for the association and any individuals involved in serving or consuming any food or beverages? Are you sure that no food allergies exist that could create a liability for the association? Are you covered? The City, County or State in which you are located may have laws pertaining to this as well. Food handlers permits, liquor license, etc. may be required. Make sure if you are offering food or beverages that all such issues are fully investigated and considered.
Ultimately the duty of the board is to preserve, protect and enhance the community. Consider your budget and how any such plans will impact the funds on hand. Where else could the funds be used and would it be more beneficial?
Always look at potential liability and ensure there is proper insurance coverage in place and of sufficient amount to cover anything that could come back on the association, no matter how slim a possibility. Is there an alternative to bribery? Weigh your options carefully as you are planning for your annual meeting to ensure a well-attended meeting.Content on this site is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as, and does not constitute, legal advice. While all content is believed to be correct within the scope of its purposes when written, it may be incomplete and/or the relevant law may have changed. Content on this site is not intended to comprehensively cover any subject, does not cover a number of related matters, and does not cover any person or entity's particular situation. As such, it is not reasonable for anyone to rely upon the information herein with respect to any particular legal matter. Rather, readers are encouraged to retain a licensed attorney to provide individualized and current legal advice.groan