The drawbacks of being on a board are legion. For one thing, it's a lot of work. Hours and hours and hours of work, of poring over spreadsheets, of talking to property managers and vendors and residents and tenants when you could be watching the game. And what compensation do you get for all your blood, sweat and tears? Not a penny. Up front, that's a lousy trade—labor and emotional investment for free.
Then there's the social aspects. You're on the board, so you have power—or, at least, you're perceived to have power. People treat you differently. Some of them recoil, like you're Darth Vader. Others polish your apple, in hopes of future as-yet-unnamed favors or special treatment. And some, upon seeing you in the lobby, innocently retrieving your mail (not even good mail; catalogs and bills), seize the opportunity to grouse, complain and bellyache over any and everything that might be wrong about the property—or what they perceive is so.
And then there are the risks. While insurance does insulate a board member from most sticky situations, short of fraud or gross negligence, serving as a board member does expose you to litigation more than, say, not serving as a board member would. The less subpoenas in your life, the better.
Serving on the board is a job for masochists and martyrs. And yet people all over New Jersey, in every co-op and condo association in the state, populate the boards of their HOAs. Why do they do it? Has Luca Brasi put them up to it, made them an unrefuseable offer? Are they doing penance, atoning for some fiduciary sin? What possible benefits can there be to taking such a thankless job?
When board members are asked about the benefits of being on the board, their first response will invariably be a joke. "There are none!" you'll hear, or words to that effect. Or the person will just laugh. Certainly it's not a subject that lends itself well to an article of 1,500 words. But after the initial humorous reaction has worn off, people come clean. There arebenefits to being on the board, as it turns out. Here are some of them, in no particular order: