The Annual General Meeting is considered the most important meeting of the entire year for many organizations and this is no different when it comes to Condominium Corporations. Not only is it a legal requirement under the Condominium Act, it is also a forum where Corporations conduct important business. However, despite the importance of the meeting, there are still many disengaged owners, which can make obtaining quorum difficult.
For the Annual General Meeting to proceed, 25% of all owners must be present, either in person or by proxy, unless the Corporation has passed a by-law since May 5, 2001 which required a quorum of 33 1/3 percent.
Being unable to reach quorum causes further disruption for all involved. Board Members are left trying to rustle up more owners, important decisions are delayed, and those who were present at the AGM are inconvenienced, not to mention the time and money that goes into holding such a meeting. So what can your Condominium Corporation do to help reach quorum and increase owner participation?
Here are five great tips to consider when organizing your next Annual General Meeting:
1. Plan Early – This may seem obvious, however, too many Corporations leave the planning stage to the last minute or lack a solid planning process at all.
Lock in a date for your AGM as far in advance as you can. Giving owners as much notice as possible will allow them to plan their time accordingly. Avoid dates around public holidays or big social events.
Organize the venue soon after the date has been set. While many AGMs are held within the Condominium building itself, don’t hesitate to take the meeting to a more exciting location – you may attract more attendees this way. Remember, not all owners live on site.
Discuss and prepare a roadmap for the agenda. There will likely be several relevant topics that will only be added to the agenda closer to the AGM date, however, there are some presentations that may be developed throughout the year.
Allow sufficient time to compile the AGM package so that it can be thoroughly reviewed for accuracy and mailed in compliance with the required timelines outlined under Section 47 of the Act. Planning is crucial to the overall success of the AGM — the better the planning process, the greater the outcome.
2. Advertise and Follow up – Communication is vital in your efforts to hold a successful AGM. Make sure all owner contact details are kept up-to-date throughout the year to ensure you are reaching all of your owners. While you do not want to bombard owners with constant updates and reminders, plan to promote the AGM at regular intervals throughout the year. A good practice is to start with a save-the-date email outlining the basic event details, followed by a Directors’ Call Notice advertising the available positions approximately 6 weeks in advance of the meeting.
3. Use All Communication Channels – In order to reach more Owners, try alternative modes of communication such as email, or community website postings – it’s simple and effective. In addition, there are now some electronic proxy registration systems that are starting to enter the marketplace that you may wish to investigate. Displaying regular announcements relating to your AGM in common areas such as the lobby, elevators or bulletin boards is also helpful. As the meeting draws closer, remember to follow up with all residents and review approximate attendee numbers. This will help you gauge whether you have enough to reach quorum, and give you time to engage more owners if required.
4. Peak Interest – Grab owners’ attention by providing something extra enticing at your AGM. Try approaching interesting community leaders or industry influencers to make a special guest appearance. Think outside the box and try to make the meeting an interactive experience rather than just a lecture presentation. If having a special guest is not feasible, you may wish to try holding a raffle or competition with a special grand prize. Make it simple enough that it means little effort for owners but with a big enough reward to encourage participation.
5. Make it Social – AGMs have a stigma for being bland and uninteresting. This doesn’t have to be the case at your meeting. Turn your AGM into a celebration of the year, reporting on what was and what is to come. If you hold your AGM on site, you may want to book the party room or BBQ area. Provide some food and beverages or encourage owners to contribute a dish. If they are held off-site, look at providing catering that will appeal to a range of tastes.
Encourage guests to mingle with fun ice-breakers or networking activities. Patterning the AGM to resemble a social event will encourage more participation as well as bring your Condominium Community closer together.
6. Provide an Alternative – No matter how well you plan, promote and entice, there will always be some owners that simply cannot attend the AGM in person. For these owners, it is vital to provide them with an alternative. Encourage the owners who are unable to attend to voice their opinion via proxy. Voting by proxy can be offered both offline and online. The offline version requires the owner to fill out a proxy form outlining their voting intentions. This is then given to a trusted other who will attend the meeting on the owner’s behalf and submit the proxy form. While this is a common proxy method, it is not the most convenient and secure. Allowing proxy voting online is much more convenient and a secure way for owners to cast their vote. Simplify the process by engaging an external provider to host your online proxy voting capabilities.
Improving Owner participation and reaching quorum at your Annual General Meeting is not an easy task. Try applying these five tips to your next AGM to enhance your chances of reaching quorum. Remember, your goal is to hold an AGM that is simple, convenient, appealing and that is embraced by Owners.