Few volunteer jobs are as big and involving as serving as a board member for a co-op or condo. In some cases, it means helping to run a multimillion-dollar corporation in one’s spare time. It means managing the place one lives—along with a couple hundred neighbors. It means poring over contracts, examining budgets, and making decisions about high-priced capital projects.
It is an enormous undertaking for a seasoned veteran, let alone a novice. That’s why a little bit of education can go a very long way in helping volunteer board members find their way in the complicated world of co-op and condo management.
Learning on the Fly
While there is no legal requirement regarding the education of co-op or condo boards, it is certainly not a bad idea for a newly elected member to try and gain a better understanding of the ins and outs of the management process and what it takes to keep the community in good shape, no matter how much experience the person has in the business or volunteer world.
“We encourage all of our board members to self-educate,” says Tom Chilenski, CMCA, president of Cedarcrest Property Management in Fairfield. As managers, Chilenski and his team try to provide as much information to board members as possible while keeping it easily digestible and accessible. “We provide them with web links and articles. The Community Associations Institute (CAI) is a great source for that. And they offer free online courses, to which we’ve directed our board members.”
Whenever offering up information or educational materials, it is important to remember the kinds of time constraints that many board members face these days. “They just don’t have the time or the energy to educate themselves in addition to what they’re doing in their lives,” says Chilenski.