We’ve all received the party invitation with a note letting us know that gifts are not requested–Your presence is present enough. Some of us take the cue, while others go above and beyond and bring a gift despite the note. I like to think that association board members, through their election or appointment to their boards, receive an invitation to the big party of the boardroom. And I’d like to encourage you to thank your association’s board members for their presence on the board this holiday season. I realize you’re busy attending parties at work, gathering with family and friends, going to your places of worship, and finding time to relax amidst the bustle of the season. Whew–this is a busy time of year! But this one quick and easy task can be accomplished by email, in passing at the mailbox, or through a handwritten note or card. I sincerely encourage you to reach out and say "thank you."

This is my "thank you" note to board members:

Thank you for your service to your community association. I have tremendous respect for you because you have volunteered to serve on your homeowner association board. Each year you give countless time and invaluable talent to your community. Let’s be honest: it is largely a thankless job. The pay is terrible, the hours unpredictable, and the rewards are often limited to that warm feeling that comes from giving back to your community.

Thank you for sticking with it even when other owners disagree with your approach or when friendships are strained due to your decisions in the boardroom. Thank you for keeping the best interests of your community at the forefront of your efforts. Thank you for compromising and acknowledging your emotions and learning from your mistakes. Thank you for leading.

Thank you for all of the tasks and outcomes that you accomplished over the past year. While others were sleeping or working or tending to their families, or (occasionally) criticizing your work, you and other boards did the following:

  • Navigated the insurance claims adjustment process for extensive hail damage to your community
  • Oversaw capital improvements that provide additional recreational facilities for you and your neighbors
  • Learned about your community’s business operations, the extensive laws that apply to homeowner associations, how sitting in the director seat seems to change relationships with neighbors, and that acting in the best interest of the community is not just about responding to the loudest or most persistent voices
  • Served on the first owner-elected board for your new community as it transitioned from developer control
  • Negotiated substantial savings on utility bills
  • Spent five hours presiding over the annual meeting of members, after countless hours preparing the budget, sending notices, and responding to owner inquiries
  • Continued the process of cleaning up and repairing your community after the September 2013 floods
  • Faced removal by a vote of your fellow owners for unspecified reasons
  • Explained the need for a 2015 budget that includes a more than 3% increase in owner assessment amounts
  • Hired a new management company and assisted with the transition
  • Pursued collection of unpaid assessments from your neighbors and sought to enforce covenants
  • Made the somewhat unpopular decision to allocate money toward projects that protect people and property rather than applying "window dressing" to the community
  • Supervised association employees, including hiring, training, supporting, and firing, and interfaced with owners and residents on their interactions with staff
  • Performed countless other tasks that challenged you, took you out of your comfort zone, and made you wonder what you got yourself into as a board member


Any board member can tell you that just showing up is not enough to run an association successfully. Warm bodies in board seats will not get the job done. But I rarely find board members who show up regularly and don’t contribute in some other meaningful way. There’s some truth to Woody Allen’s oft-quoted statement that "eighty percent of success is showing up." For all those board members who show up, your presence is a gift to your communities. This holiday season, please take time to thank your board members for their presence.