Though the nature of an HOA provides a certain amount of independence, your HOA exists to some degree within the context of the larger city or town outside your gates. After all, homeowners’ children go to local schools, eat at local restaurants, and shop at local stores in the mainstream community.
Providing opportunities for HOA residents to support local causes can help foster relationships among residents. At the very least, a rising tide raises all ships. Improving the community outside the HOA goes a long way in uplifting the value of the HOA itself.
Hold a shopping campaign
One of the simplest ways to support a local organization is to partner with them for a shopping campaign.
Shopping campaigns use a third-party service like ShopRaise to connect organizations, supporters, and retailers through an easy-to-use mobile app. Supporters simply make purchases at big name retailers like Best Buy, WalMart, and Lowe’s through the app, and a percentage of their purchases go directly to the organization—sometimes as much as 10%.
The best part? Prices for goods bought within the app cost the exact same amount as they would in the store. There’s no markup for supporting your cause. On average, 100 supporters raise over $6,000 per year through the app.
These services already have relationships with hundreds of organizations like the YMCA, Feeding America, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation, but it’s easy to partner with more local organizations, as well.
In fact, because HOAs are non-profit organizations, you could use this same campaign to benefit your HOA, adding a new revenue stream to your budget.
Contribute to back-to-school drives
Back-to-school shopping is an anticipated ritual for many families at the start of each school year, but for many families, new clothes and school supplies can put them in a financial crunch.
For the 2021 school year, the average back-to-school household spend for families of k-12 students reached $848, up from $696 in 2019. One reason for the jump is the increasing emphasis on digital learning, which necessitates higher-dollar items for students.
Many schools provide laptops and calculators, but there’s no getting around the expense. Schools are forced to do so much with so little, and they need all the help they can get.
Your HOA can support its local school in several ways.
- Ask your school what it needs and hold a fundraiser whose proceeds help pay for those items.
- Sponsor a teacher and help fund their classroom supplies.
- Hold a school supply drive to collect backpacks, notebooks, markets, and other common supplies for the schools to give to its students.
If your HOA uses HOA accounting software to manage its finances, it should be easy to gauge how much you can spend on your campaign.
Collaborate with churches
Your local faith community probably has a good sense of the needs facing your area, whether it be hunger, homelessness, illiteracy, or some other plight. Odds are, your local churches and other houses of faith have programs already in place to alleviate these struggles.
If you’re thinking about contributing to a local soup kitchen or food bank, you might think of holding a canned food drive. While that’s certainly ok, many food pantries would prefer cash.
Because most of these programs have relationships with larger food banks, which give programs access to food at a cheaper rate. These programs can buy more food with your HOA’s money than your members can.
Issues affecting your region are complex and many-faceted. For an average person, it can be hard to discern what type of help is most helpful.
Donating to an organization who knows the ins and outs of these complicated challenges can be the best way to make an impact.
To find out which churches or causes your HOA provokes the greatest response from your homeowners, send them a survey or questionnaire to get their input.
Become a team player
Sports can be foundational for kids’ growth and development, but sports teams and leagues that aren’t school-hosted can break the bank.
A 2016 study by TD Ameritrade found that the parents of kids playing club sports spent an average of $100 to $500 per month, per child. Of those surveyed 20% were spending $1,000 or more each month.
Sponsoring your local rec or club team can be a prime fundraising activity for your HOA. You can arrange an ongoing relationship, where your HOA contributes a fixed amount each month, or you can offer one-off support by helping purchase jerseys or helping pay for travel costs.
And don’t just donate — show up to your team’s games and cheer them on! Doing so can be a great way for your HOA members to bond, especially if some homeowners have children on the team. Use your HOA’s newsletter or website to keep homeowners in the loop about plans to attend the next game and what your team will need next.
Work with nonprofits
Nonprofits like the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, and the Boys and Girls Club do invaluable work in communities across the country. They give those in need a place to turn when they have nowhere else to go.
It’s impressive how much they do. From holding summer reading camps for kids to helping people down on their luck get back on their feet, these organizations are tireless in the work they do.
Consequently, they burn through food and supplies quickly. They may need anything from crayons and paper to building supplies and furniture. Though it may feel impersonal, writing a check from your self managed HOA may be the best approach.
Some nonprofits allow the option of sponsoring a family in need or someone working to get back on their feet. Sponsorships humanize your donation and give homeowners someone to root for.
Undoubtedly, there are several charitable organizations working in your area. Do a little digging to see which ones could use your HOA’s help the most.
The bottom line
Supporting those in need can be a transformative experience for both children and adults.
The fundraising route you choose should reflect your homeowners’ interests and appetite for involvement. While some homeowners may be eager to give up a weekend to volunteer, others may not. For homeowners who work weekends or have little time to spare, you should provide a way to contribute with as minimal effort as possible.
Don’t settle for a one-and-done! True change happens over time with continued effort. Give your good will an interval to keep the momentum going and keep homeowners interested.
Feel free to provide multiple options. Maybe you coordinate a volunteer weekend once per quarter, solicit donations monthly, and run a shopping campaign continuously. That way, homeowners know there will be another opportunity to contribute, and they can choose to contribute in the way they prefer.
Finally, don’t forget to share the results of your efforts with homeowners. If you raise $5,000 through a shopping campaign, ask your organization how that $5,000 helped them, and report back to your homeowners. If you sponsor a family or participate in a Habitat For Humanity build, give regular updates on how the recipients of your work are doing.
Author: Riley Manning
Riley Manning has a background in journalism and advertising. As Director of Operations for Content Workshop, he helps produce innovative content for businesses on the move.