In the past, newsletters were a staple in HOA communities. As technologies evolved, though, they have largely dwindled in number, with associations choosing other forms of communication. But, an HOA newsletter still has plenty of advantages.
The Benefits of an HOA Newsletter
Communication is a key part of a successful planned community. But, many boards find it difficult to disseminate information effectively, particularly on a larger scale. This is where the homeowners association newsletter comes in.
The concept of a newsletter is nothing new. In fact, newsletters have been around for hundreds of years. Homeowners associations have used them for decades, as they are a good way to communicate with residents en masse. And, despite popular belief, newsletters are still very much relevant and popular.
If your HOA board is on the fence about using newsletters, here are the top benefits you can reap from them.
1. Make Announcements Conveniently
Announcements are a ubiquitous part of HOA living. Board members use announcements to inform residents of upcoming events, policy changes, and meetings. Provided they are published ahead of time, newsletters can be a valuable method of making these announcements.
Boards can simply dedicate a section of the newsletter to important announcements, and residents can easily flip to that page to learn about any new developments. Compared to posting announcements on bulletin boards, it is much easier to spread the word using newsletters because they get delivered straight to the reader.
Of course, keep in mind that newsletters are not substitutes for notices. Many things, such as HOA meetings and rule changes, still require proper written notice, depending on state law and the association’s bylaws.
2. Build Trust
Open communication builds trust — it’s as simple as that. When your HOA board communicates new policies effectively, owners are more inclined to put their faith in you. In comparison, a board that does not openly communicate with residents can appear shady or questionable at best. You want homeowners to know what’s going on in the community; nobody wants to feel left out.
3. Give Homeowners a Voice
Newsletters give homeowners an opportunity to make their own announcements, too. You can allocate a section of the newsletter to resident announcements. Here, owners can submit posts about anything the association permits.
For instance, a resident may want to invite people to their birthday party, send out a birthday wish, or tell everyone about an upcoming yard sale. Just make sure to have an approval system in place for this to avoid liability.
4. Earn Extra Revenue from Advertisements
If your HOA is looking to earn added income, consider opening your newsletter to ads. Invite local vendors or organizations to advertise their business or event. This will, of course, require your board to come up with a fee schedule for ads.
It is best to only take advantage of advertisements if your HOA needs the added cash inflow. They might increase revenue, but ads can quickly grow out of your control. Some residents may not agree with the ads and even complain about them. And remember to make sure that the ads you allow align with your association’s values.
Printed vs Electronic HOA Newsletters
There is a general debate over what distribution method is better for newsletters. Some communities have shifted to electronic means, while others have stuck to the traditional printed versions. But, whether or not printed is better than electronic newsletters largely depends on your association.
Printed newsletters are a classic. They are nostalgic and give residents something tangible to hold onto. But, they can also be incredibly wasteful. In fact, in the past 40 years alone, the consumption of paper has increased by 400% worldwide. Even if you use recycled paper, it still costs 12,000 gallons of water per ton to create, which is about half the water requirement for virgin paper.
In contrast, e-newsletters don’t use paper at all. Because they are distributed electronically, you can save money on printing costs. They’re easy to disseminate, only requiring homeowners’ email addresses. Sometimes, you can even just post it on your association’s website or social media page.
That said, you should also consider your association’s population. If your age demographic skews older, then you might be better off using printed newsletters. Senior citizens, in particular, tend to prefer printed newsletters because they are not as tech-savvy.
Understanding the Basics: What to Include in Your HOA Newsletter
When crafting your own newsletter, it is essential to keep it short. Residents don’t want to read tens of pages of community news or information. Get rid of all the unnecessary information and go straight to the point. Keeping it at a maximum of three pages is a good idea.
If you have never created an HOA newsletter before, here are the things you should include:
- The date, issue number, and volume number of the newsletter
- A summary of the newsletter
- A note from the board or HOA president
- An FAQs section that tackles the most common concerns of residents
- Events taking place inside and outside the association
- News about residents
- Contact information of the board, HOA manager, or newsletter committee
Apart from the usual sections, what else should you write about in your newsletter? Here are some great HOA newsletter ideas:
- How-to articles or tips for residents (maintenance tips, safety tips, energy-saving tips, etc.)
- A summary of a recent event
- Relevant local news
- Policy changes or reminders
Tips for Self-Managed Communities
Newsletters take time and effort to create. For self-managed communities, publishing a weekly HOA newsletter may not be realistic, both in terms of time and budget. Still, that should not stop your HOA board from taking advantage of this medium.
Online programs or software are a good place to start. You don’t have to hire an expensive designer to map out a newsletter for your association. There are plenty of websites that offer pre-made formats or a free HOA newsletter template that you can use. All you need to do is fill in the content.
More often than not, board members already have their hands full dealing with the operations of the community. Seeking additional help is never a bad thing. You may want to form a separate newsletter committee, with final approval coming from the board. Alternatively, many HOA management companies offer administrative services, including newsletter preparation and distribution.
Begin Your Newsletter Today
An HOA newsletter can be a highly effective tool for communication in a community. The only thing separating your board from an informative newsletter is the determination to start writing one. Of course, if you need help with your newsletter, an HOA management company like Clark Simson Miller is always a good choice.
Call Clark Simson Miller today at 865.315.7505 or contact us online to get a free estimate!
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