Should your Community Association be Reaping the Benefits?
Should your community association allow advertising on its website? The answer depends on a lot of factors.
Your community association website should have one ultimate goal: enhancing communication. This includes communication between the board, residents, owners, and community leaders. Websites can be used to post notices, conduct surveys, publish board meeting information, upload classifieds, and release inspection requests. Neighborhood links, FAQs, forums, events listings – there is no limit to what you can post on your community website.
However, creating and maintaining a website is not free, and depending on the quality and size of your site, the price can get fairly steep. One way to offset the cost of a website is through advertising. There is usually no provision in the governing documents for or against website advertising, so community leaders will need to make this decision on a case-by-case basis.
The benefits are clear and simple: money for your association. In most cases, the incoming money from advertising will pay for a portion of the website, but probably not all of it. If money is left over can be put it back into community enhancement projects, neighborhood events, or any function you see fit.
The drawbacks are a little harder to define. Remember that your community website should serve one goal: communication. Advertising (specifically, too much advertising) can disrupt this goal. If popups, banners, and annoying ads clog your site, your community members will stop using it, defeating the purpose of the site in the first place.
Before you allow advertising on your community association's website, there are some things to consider. As we stated earlier, most governing documents won't address advertising on the website, but it won't hurt to double check. See if there is any wording in the documents that prohibits advertising in any form, including on the community website.
Generally, people interested in advertising on your website will be service providers who conduct business in or around your community. These can include everything from plumbers to remodeling contractors to realtors. Even local grocery stores or retail outlets that serve the local area may be interested in advertising on your site. You should always check businesses through the Better Business Bureau and other departments to see if there are any complaints against them or if they have a history of poor service. You can also ask for referrals before you allow their ads on your site.
Once you have found a few interested businesses, check with your association's legal department to draft up a disclaimer. This should essentially say that you and the association make no endorsement for these businesses and that you do not make any guarantees on service and products provided. If someone receives poor service from a company they found on your site, they may try to hold you liable, so make sure the association is completely protected.
The decision to advertise on your website should be treated like any other issue. Take your time, consider all the facts, and make the best decision for your community.
Call PeytonBolin today and let us help your community association thrive through our dedicated legal support and counseling. You'll work with an experienced legal team that knows how to enhance boards and communities, so call now!