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Subject: HOA Newsletters
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ReneeH5
(Texas)

Posts:35


01/05/2020 12:12 PM  
Does anyone make paper newsletters for their HOA? We don't have committee members or volunteers. I'd like to see content or suggestions for content that will keep the community engaged. Would also like to T know the cost of such.. Thanks in advance..
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1877


01/05/2020 12:19 PM  
HOA or COA?

How many units

Professionally managed?

Do you have a website?

Without anyone to do this, why would it seem like a good thing to do?

Are there previous instances where there was a newsletter in your community?

Is there a Board? Are you on it?

How would the newsletter be funded?
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2882


01/05/2020 12:34 PM  
These days people are getting away from newsletters. I used to prepare one for our community and it can take a lot of time in writing and copyediting, getting it printing and then delivering it. If you don't want to go house to house you'll have to spend more money on printing and postage.

It may be better to sponsor a website, where it's faster to update the content and people can access it with their smartphones, computer or tablet. They've not that expensive, and you might be able to pay a talented high school or college student to set it up. Or your property management company can put one together for you. If you have one, talk to him o Or her about pricing.

If you insist on a paper newsletter, I would make it quarterly (because few people have time to put one together every month). I had a section that listed the same general information, such as the phone numbers for the city to request heavy trash pickup. Because we had so many people renting their units, we'd have to mail copies to the off site owners as well as pass them out. We tied to sell advertising to defeat postage and printing t costs, but that didn't work very well - hopefully that won't be your story.
ReneeH5
(Texas)

Posts:35


01/05/2020 12:48 PM  
Posted By SheliaH on 01/05/2020 12:34 PM
These days people are getting away from newsletters. I used to prepare one for our community and it can take a lot of time in writing and copyediting, getting it printing and then delivering it. If you don't want to go house to house you'll have to spend more money on printing and postage.

It may be better to sponsor a website, where it's faster to update the content and people can access it with their smartphones, computer or tablet. They've not that expensive, and you might be able to pay a talented high school or college student to set it up. Or your property management company can put one together for you. If you have one, talk to him o Or her about pricing.

If you insist on a paper newsletter, I would make it quarterly (because few people have time to put one together every month). I had a section that listed the same general information, such as the phone numbers for the city to request heavy trash pickup. Because we had so many people renting their units, we'd have to mail copies to the off site owners as well as pass them out. We tied to sell advertising to defeat postage and printing t costs, but that didn't work very well - hopefully that won't be your story.





People have asked for one. We do have a website and another app called Town Square where it would also be posted but a lot of people haven't registered for either. Quarterly I agree would be best. We have one written just need to update before mailing. Was just asking for idea that might enhance what has already been done. Might not last but people have asked. Also have a board member that insists of using Facebook. I say NO WAY but...
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3495


01/05/2020 12:49 PM  
Posted By ReneeH5 on 01/05/2020 12:12 PM
Does anyone make paper newsletters for their HOA? We don't have committee members or volunteers. I'd like to see content or suggestions for content that will keep the community engaged. Would also like to T know the cost of such.. Thanks in advance..

We had one put together by a committee of 3 people for many years. One by one they resigned and now we have no newsletter. They were primarily sent out through email and the HOA would pick up the costs for about 20 printed copies that were left in the mailroom. At 4 black & white pages the cost wasn't that much. We had a social committee budget back then and the newsletter costs came out of it. It was only about $10 or $15 a month if I remember correctly.

As for content, I don't have any suggestions but I'm sure others will. I always found ours to be basically cringeworthy with announcements of birthdays, anniversaries, quick writeups about social events and parties that had taken place, etc. We also had a full-page monthly calendar in the newsletter. That was probably the most useful thing.
ReneeH5
(Texas)

Posts:35


01/05/2020 12:50 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 01/05/2020 12:19 PM
HOA or COA?

How many units

Professionally managed?

Do you have a website?

Without anyone to do this, why would it seem like a good thing to do?

Are there previous instances where there was a newsletter in your community?

Is there a Board? Are you on it?

How would the newsletter be funded?




We will have approx. 736 homes at build out; Yes professionally managed; Yes we have a website but not everyone uses it or is registered; we have a person willing but for how long who knows; Never been a newsletter in our community; There is a board and I am a member; HOA working funds would pay for it...
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1877


01/05/2020 1:02 PM  
Based on the size, complexity, fact that you have a website already, then a newsletter on the website makes sense - doesn’t require sponsorship, just one time payment, perhaps, to the hosting team for custom modifications to your site.

I forgot to ask if you have a common area like pool or sports club ... if so, you could have copies sitting around there.

Direct delivery to homes, IMO, is too expensive.
ReneeH5
(Texas)

Posts:35


01/05/2020 1:24 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 01/05/2020 1:02 PM
Based on the size, complexity, fact that you have a website already, then a newsletter on the website makes sense - doesn’t require sponsorship, just one time payment, perhaps, to the hosting team for custom modifications to your site.

I forgot to ask if you have a common area like pool or sports club ... if so, you could have copies sitting around there.

Direct delivery to homes, IMO, is too expensive.





We do have a pool but no clubhouse for that type of delivery. We aren't fully built out yet and no one is getting the information at closing. Or so they claim...
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1877


01/05/2020 1:41 PM  
Ah ... when you say information, do you mean governing docs?

If so, a newsletter, while an ok reminder, is not the issue.

You might wanna consider a welcoming committee ... or, since every property owner must contact the manager to pay dues, then have manager provide link to the website for the docs - I’m assuming the docs are there. Letter of welcome with the link, Welcome Committee package with links, etc.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:667


01/05/2020 1:53 PM  
When I was on the board, I did a quarterly newsletter, 4 pages, a combination of educational articles and current interest items (plus original cartoons!). We encouraged people to get email delivery but I printed and delivered copies for the 20 or so folks who didn't have email addresses. Copies also were posted on our web site. As Shelia noted, it was time consuming, but also rewarding.

The current board does a monthly 1- or 2-page newsletter and puts copies in flyer boxes around the community. No educational stuff, just current interest items.

If you search on the web you can find examples of newsletters from other communities. They range from pretty amateurish efforts to glossy professional publications.

There are sites where you can purchase content or even entire newsletters, but they can be pricey. Our attorneys allow us to include articles from their web site as long as we credit them accordingly. Our web hosting service also provides email updates to registered users of our site, although their offerings are more geared to site owners who are running businesses.

You also need to be aware of things like privacy concerns. If you're going to print photos of residents at community events, you need to get parental permission before including photos of minors. It wouldn't hurt to give all attendees a heads up since some may not want their photos published.

As with all things HOA, seemingly simple stuff can require a lot of knowledge.
ReneeH5
(Texas)

Posts:35


01/05/2020 2:08 PM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 01/05/2020 1:53 PM
When I was on the board, I did a quarterly newsletter, 4 pages, a combination of educational articles and current interest items (plus original cartoons!). We encouraged people to get email delivery but I printed and delivered copies for the 20 or so folks who didn't have email addresses. Copies also were posted on our web site. As Shelia noted, it was time consuming, but also rewarding.

The current board does a monthly 1- or 2-page newsletter and puts copies in flyer boxes around the community. No educational stuff, just current interest items.

If you search on the web you can find examples of newsletters from other communities. They range from pretty amateurish efforts to glossy professional publications.

There are sites where you can purchase content or even entire newsletters, but they can be pricey. Our attorneys allow us to include articles from their web site as long as we credit them accordingly. Our web hosting service also provides email updates to registered users of our site, although their offerings are more geared to site owners who are running businesses.

You also need to be aware of things like privacy concerns. If you're going to print photos of residents at community events, you need to get parental permission before including photos of minors. It wouldn't hurt to give all attendees a heads up since some may not want their photos published.

As with all things HOA, seemingly simple stuff can require a lot of knowledge.




I have done my homework on that trust me!! And you are correct. What people 'see' is not necessarily what it "IS". Tell me more about these 'flyer boxes'...
ReneeH5
(Texas)

Posts:35


01/05/2020 2:10 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 01/05/2020 1:41 PM
Ah ... when you say information, do you mean governing docs?

If so, a newsletter, while an ok reminder, is not the issue.

You might wanna consider a welcoming committee ... or, since every property owner must contact the manager to pay dues, then have manager provide link to the website for the docs - I’m assuming the docs are there. Letter of welcome with the link, Welcome Committee package with links, etc.





They get a welcome packet but what I mean is simply they aren't concerned with registering email address and/or registering for the website. Some people (investors) may or may not have the correct mailing address listed but instead have the unit address.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:667


01/05/2020 2:54 PM  
Posted By ReneeH5 on 01/05/2020 2:08 PM

Tell me more about these 'flyer boxes'...



Also known as brochure boxes. They are popular with the For Sale by Owner crowd - usually a plastic or vinyl box sitting on a metal H frame. You can find them at the big box home improvement or office supply stores.

We have cluster USPS mailboxes in our community, and the board put one brochure box by each of our three "clusters". They also put up a sign at our community's entrance when there is a new newsletter available.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1877


01/05/2020 2:59 PM  
OK - so you want to increase information flow from the Board to the property owners.

This isn't about newcomers not getting governing documents ... right.

So, to content ... the usual question is: "Who is audience?" "What do they want to hear or know?"

I would, again, use the management provided website for the Newsletter, and since getting email addresses is ALWAYS (not just yours) an issue - on the top of every page - on the bottom of every page - on every billing - on every letter communication - on signs at the entrance - urge everyone to give their email addresses to the management company.

My community (320 single family homes) stopped our newsletters about 10 year ago when the two owners who spent so much time doing them, and collecting funds from local businesses to do them (high school yearbook?) got tired of trying to connect.

We have a property manager. We use their mail system for mandatory mailings (figure about a buck a property), but use their ability to email for everything else. When something rises to the level of important, but not legally mandatory to be letter, I prep an email text and the property manager sends it to those with email addresses. We beg for email addresses all the time, but don't do much better than about 60%. So, the 40% doesn't get the updates on traffic and roads, social events (when we rarely have them), upcoming events, Board meetings (unless they notice the required signage), updates from the county, etc.

It's a new world, and options exist for almost everything. 700 plus properties is a LOT to which to hand deliver.

I'd focus on obtaining emails and then set up a slick component of the website for the information (information pull), and then information push that same via the emails you do have. So, you would get to anyone going to the site and anyone with email addresses.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16627


01/05/2020 4:25 PM  
Renee,

We did a quarterly newsletter.
Unfortunately, the boards that replaced me seem far less transparent and does not do as many newsletters.

When I was the editor of the newsletter, I put together a binder outlining what (as a minimum) needed to be covered and when. I also have several articles already made so the new editors could get started.

Email me and I'll provide what I've made.

[email protected]


ReneeH5
(Texas)

Posts:35


01/05/2020 4:51 PM  
Posted By TimB4 on 01/05/2020 4:25 PM
Renee,

We did a quarterly newsletter.
Unfortunately, the boards that replaced me seem far less transparent and does not do as many newsletters.

When I was the editor of the newsletter, I put together a binder outlining what (as a minimum) needed to be covered and when. I also have several articles already made so the new editors could get started.

Email me and I'll provide what I've made.

[email protected]






Sending now...
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16627


01/06/2020 2:42 AM  
Renee,

I provided replied with a couple of emails (done quickly).
I'll send more tonight (Monday) when I get a break at work.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16627


01/06/2020 2:51 AM  
Renee,

I found the following copyright free articles for newsletters on the web:
Note: I haven't vetted these, so have no idea if they are useful or not.


Copyright Free Newsletter Articles Volume 1 from Community Association Management

Free Newsletter Article Library from Community Association Publishing Services


Copyright-Free Newsletter Articles from CAI must be a paid member to view


SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3516


01/06/2020 5:50 AM  
Also have a board member that insists of using Facebook. I say NO WAY but...


Facebook is a super easy way to stay in touch with HOA members vs a newsletter. You can easily do a facebook page that anyone can read and not need to be a member of facebook. You would only need an account to post comments, or other facebook services.

My only advice is...... dont post dumb articles. People are super busy with everything these days. They dont want to read fluff articles that have nothing to do with "their" hoa. The more fluff you post, the more people will ignore your posts or newsletters.
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:179


01/06/2020 6:37 AM  
Tim, I sent you an email yesterday. If you didn't get it please let me know.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1877


01/06/2020 8:38 AM  
To Steve's comment - FB is a great place for social media interactions.

The "however," is that it is not, IMO, a good place - or even a suitable place - to provide interaction between Board and property owners.

You probably have a website operated by the property manager - this is, IMO, the place for the Board, and Committees that have been developed and approved by the Board, to provide an interaction point.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9053


01/06/2020 9:36 AM  
I say the way to communicate with owners is via a website and one they can read only meaning they cannot post. A site where owners can post/interact can lead to a pi$$ing contest rather fast.

To those with no Internet access, come into the 21th century.
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3516


01/06/2020 10:31 AM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 01/06/2020 8:38 AM
To Steve's comment - FB is a great place for social media interactions. The "however," is that it is not, IMO, a good place - or even a suitable place - to provide interaction between Board and property owners.


I agree not specific info, but events, newsletter info, etc. Want no comments? Simply click turn off comments and no one will be able to comment.

You probably have a website operated by the property manager - this is, IMO, the place for the Board, and Committees that have been developed and approved by the Board, to provide an interaction point.


Maintaining a website for a newsletter is a waste of time, money and resources. If no one goes to it, whats the point of having it. With facebook, a new post will show up in users feeds automatically, on a website they already use daily.

GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3495


01/06/2020 11:43 AM  
Do yourselves and your neighbors a favor: avoid using Facebook for anything.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:254


01/06/2020 12:48 PM  
I do a quarterly newsletter for the community I manage. It is primarily distributed by email, but I print 30 or so copies to keep at the pools (when they are open) and at the sales office (the property is still building).

It can be easy to feel that it's not worth the effort, but lack of communication is one of the most common complaints owners have about their HOA, so it's worth a try.

My newsletter has: quarterly financial report, list of upcoming social events, recap of past events, a maintenance update, usually an article about landscape maintenance that is appropriate to the season, and an article explaining some aspect of the HOA (how to report a violation, what to do if your assessment is delinquent, etc.)

Do it quarterly for a year, then ask at the next annual meeting how many people have read it or know it exists. That will tell you if it's worthwhile.

But manage your expectations. The community I manage has a website with every possible piece of information you could want about the HOA, a Facebook page, an email list that I send regular updates to, and when there are meetings or special events I send out a notice or postcard, and post signs all over the neighborhood. And without fail, at least half a dozen people will say they "had no idea" there was an Easter parade or pool party or whatever. Or they will ask about something that was just mentioned in the latest email or newsletter.

People don't pay attention to any information unless it is relevant to them at that exact moment. And when they do want to know something, they seldom seek out the answer on their own; more likely they go on Facebook and ask someone to tell them.

TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16627


01/06/2020 2:18 PM  
Posted By JohnT38 on 01/06/2020 6:37 AM
Tim, I sent you an email yesterday. If you didn't get it please let me know.




Found it in my spam folder
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3516


01/06/2020 7:13 PM  
Posted By GenoS on 01/06/2020 11:43 AM
Do yourselves and your neighbors a favor: avoid using Facebook for anything.




Hey, I agree facebook is evil, but until everyone stops using it, its the best choice.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1877


01/06/2020 7:32 PM  
As long as there are other non social media options for communicating, i recommend avoiding FB.
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3516


01/06/2020 7:40 PM  
Your assuming everyone is less evil?

Even the US postal service scans every piece of mail since 2001.

Because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. Like Facebook.
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don't know we don't know.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1877


01/06/2020 8:18 PM  
Huh?

Not about evil, just about maintaining a business relationship between boards and those that elected them.
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3516


01/06/2020 8:28 PM  
this post is about a newsletter.....
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2882


01/08/2020 7:02 AM  
I like Barbara's approach. You can try publishing a paper version and see how it goes after a year. Posting it on the community website would also be a great way to encourage people to visit and see all the information that's available - that might increase the number of visitors.

She's also correct about managing expectations. You can flood people with all sorts of information in all sorts of ways, but half the time, people ignore it and then act surprised when they hear about something you announced three months ago. In the end, reading is like sex - if you want to do it, you'll find the time (!) All you can do is make the information available, but it's up to the homeowners to actually use it. Even people without internet or email could go to the local library and access it through one of the computers and print it off if they insist on paper.
ND
(PA)

Posts:386


01/08/2020 8:49 AM  
My suggestion if you want to do a newsletter . . .
- start small (1-2 pages max, low effort to prepare),
- keep it simple (determine if hand delivery of paper is easiest or email),
- keep it cheap (prepared by Board or neighbors and send by email for cheapest, but if paper is essential, then keep simple, short, and B&W printing),
- incorporate mechanism to get feedback from neighbors (create online survey, request feedback/suggestions through email, or even put a phone number if that's preferred),
- create one every 2-3 months or each quarter for 6-12 months, then decide where to go from there (do suggest having a timeline for production so people know when to expect the next one).

Getting back to your actual questions, requests:

- "Does anyone make paper newsletters for their HOA?"
Some do paper only, some do electronic only, some do a hybrid, some do no newsletter whatsoever. Totally up to you with what your community wants to do or spend money on.

- ReneeH5 . . . "We don't have committee members or volunteers."
If you really want a newsletter, you need to figure some things out. Need to either hire professionals to write it for you (cost $). Need to find additional time as Board Members and Officers to write it (adds to your workload). Or need to find volunteers in neighborhood willing to assist or coordinate the whole thing (Board still needs to oversee and review).

- ReneeH5 . . . "I'd like to see content or suggestions for content that will keep the community engaged."
Suggest Googling newsletter examples for ideas or soliciting neighbors for what they think is interesting and valuable info. A few random ideas I thought of: note from the President/Board, updates on completed, on-going, future projects; rule & regulation reminders; local restaurant reviews; events inside HOA (easter egg hunt, annual block party, etc.) or within local area (town festival, fireworks at the park, etc.).

- ReneeH5 . . . "Would also like to T know the cost of such."
If you insist on a paper newsletter, costs will include various things depending on how you plan to prepare it and deliver it to residents: preparation costs if you need to hire people to produce content (or if prepared by Board or neighbors it should be free); printing costs based on # pages, # copies, layout; delivery costs if you plan to mail it (envelope, postage, folding & stuffing envelopes); or no delivery cost (if hand-delivered by volunteers, offered for pickup at locations, or electronically/email delivered). You could possibly solicit local restaurants/businesses for ad space at a cost to offset your preparation/delivery costs.

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