A condominium or community association’s annual membership meeting requires thorough preparation to be successful.
One of the first things a manager or board should do is review the association’s governing documents for any annual and special membership meeting requirements. Typically, this information will be in the bylaws of your condominium or community association; however, you should also review the declaration and articles of incorporation to see what they contain. (Please read our article for more information on common association terms defined.)
Typically, the bylaws will mandate the quorum requirements for your association. A quorum is the percentage of members required to be in attendance for the association to transact business at the meeting. But in addition to the bylaws, the declaration may have a higher quorum requirement for certain votes by the membership. If your documents are silent on a quorum requirement, N.C. general statutes state that a minimum quorum is 10 percent for planned communities and 20 percent for condominium associations.
The governing documents may state additional information, such as where the meeting must take place, when the meeting notice must be sent to the members, and perhaps even a specific month, day and time the meeting must be held. Most governing documents require that the notice of the annual membership meeting be mailed to each association member. Governing documents that are more recently created may permit electronic delivery of the meeting notice.
The annual meeting package needs to contain the following: the notice; time and place of the meeting; location of the meeting; an agenda; a proxy; a ballot, if any; minutes of the prior membership meeting; and any supplemental information that will be discussed and voted on at the meeting. This supplemental information may include budgets, amendments, financial statements, election information, and any written officer or committee reports.
It’s important to note that if the annual budget for the following year is going to be presented for ratification during the meeting, a quorum is required unless the meeting notice specifically states that a quorum is not required to ratify the budget.
One of the most important actions that will take place at an annual membership meeting is the election of one or more members to the board of directors. We encourage condominium and community associations to conduct elections by written ballot to provide anonymity. A written ballot also protects a board nominee from embarrassment if he or she gets few or no votes compared to other nominees.
Another important aspect for a successful annual meeting is organization. Officer, committee and management reports that will be presented at the meeting should be well-planned and concise. Bring in accountants, attorneys and other professionals to back the association on key issues.
Come prepared to discuss hot topics (I highly recommend that they be presented as part of the board or manager’s report). Put them on the agenda first and address them head-on. The board, association manager and any other professionals should sit together at the front of the room, at a head table, to convey unity of leadership.
An efficient way to verify attendance and if the quorum requirement is met is to register members at the door when they arrive rather than conducting a roll call.
Transact the business of the association per the agenda then adjourn the meeting promptly. A question-and-answer forum can take place following adjournment to allow members an opportunity to make comments and ask questions, bearing in mind that the membership cannot vote on an item that was not properly stated in the notice of the meeting.
If you'd like to learn more about properly running association meetings, check out Robert's Rules of Order which can be found in your Board Toolbox under Board Member Resources.