Homeowner Association Newsletters: A Natural Conduit For Extension Information

Working with Homeowner Associations (HOAs) can be challenging for County agents. HOAs may be professionally or self managed. Changes in leadership are common. HOAs often communicate with members via newsletters, websites, or email listservs. Though this is a familiar information vehicle, specific formatting, timing, and topic requirements demanded by publication editors make communication with HOAs challenging.

In early 2014, a concentrated effort was made to create a database of HOAs and work with them to release Extension information in their newsletters. A customer relationship management system was used to track HOA data and provide the one-to-one service required by the HOAs. Highrise (Basecamp Inc., Chicago, IL), an existing free, on-line system was selected. Highrise saves and organizes HOA information. It interacts with on-line calendars and email, reminding the user of deadlines and formats and records communications and articles previously sent. Highrise greatly reduces the time required to deliver custom articles to each HOA.

Contact information was gathered on local management, the civic association or the management company, and the number of homes in the HOA. Information regarding the presence of community gardens, septic systems, wooded areas, green space, lawn species, and the presence of retention and detention ponds was noted. Details on article formatting including required length and delivery dates were also determined.

To guide the development of the HOA outreach effort an agent advisory committee was formed. Each submitted article contains local county contact information in the format desired by the agent, promoting the local office and allowing HOA members to seek additional information or services. Agents and specialists have provided content on turfgrass issues, septic systems, and watering. There are over 40 HOAs with almost 26,000 homes in nine Georgia counties receiving Extension articles.

For more information contact beckygri@uga.edu.