Community Associations Institute (CAI) is a great organization, full of opportunities for education and networking. While the various courses and educational lunches are great, they generally only benefit those who actually attend the session. There is, however, one CAI activity that benefits all of the millions of people who own a home in a community association.  Throughout each legislative year, the Community Associations Institute’s California Legislative Action Committee (CAI-CLAC) continually works to educate and lobby legislators with regard to legislation impacting California’s community associations.

Over the years, CAI-CLAC has been responsible for impacting legislation in significant and important ways to either benefit community associations and their members, or minimize any negative impact of potentially burdensome legislation on community associations.

In order to continue our efforts each year, CAI-CLAC relies on the support of the millions of people who own a home in a community association. Through the Buck-a-Door donation program, community associations are able to contribute one dollar per residence in their community per year. These continued contributions are critical to allowing CLAC to continue to work for California’s communities.

Managers have often expressed that fundraising can be a challenge. To help those managers, we asked others who have been successful in the past in raising the issue, and how they went about the process. Based on the experiences managers have shared with us, boards are receptive to the request when it is presented to them. In fact, as Wendy Bucknum, Vice President of Business Development for Professional Community Management  points out, “sharing updates on pending legislation as well as information on CLAC’s accomplishments, not only helps to point out the benefits of supporting CLAC, but makes you a leader and a professional boards will rely on.”

When asked how to present the opportunity to contribute to CLAC, “it can be as simple as sharing CLAC’s accomplishments with the board, and describing some pending legislation that CLAC is addressing,” according to Corky Burnett of Gold Coast Enterprises. Typically this is introduced during the budgeting process. Explaining that all CLAC is asking for is “one dollar per year per unit can help the board realize that they can afford the donation,” says Jamie Hackwith of Amber Property Management.

“The typical questions that boards may raise revolve around any political motivation CLAC may have, or whether CLAC is a PAC (Political Action Committee),” says Burnett. Letting boards know that CLAC is not politically motivated typically resolves this concern. If asked, managers can explain that CLAC works to educate legislators about Homeowners Association (HOA) living and governance and how pending legislation will impact community associations and those living in them. “Once that is explained, boards are generally receptive to supporting CLAC,” says Burnett.

As to how to address the issue of making a donation on an annual basis and to continue supporting CLAC, Bucknum and Hackwith suggest sharing information from CLAC on a regular basis, and asking the board to approve a policy resolution so that Buck-a-Door contribution to CLAC becomes an item in the annual budget.

CAI-CLAC has a number of informative resources that easily allows members to stay informed and help you educate your board. First and foremost, sign up to receive the CLAC-TRAC email newsletters and share with your board members.

The following resources are also available to help create awareness of CAI-CLAC’s efforts under the “Donate” tab on CLAC’s website:

If you have any issues downloading these documents, simply send an email to and request any or all of the documents be emailed to you.

Mr. DeNichilo is partner in the law firm Nordberg|DeNichilo, LLP, and specializes in representing homeowners associations throughout Southern California. He is an active member of CAI, serving on the Legislative Support Committee of the Greater Inland Empire Chapter and acting as a current co-chair of the Orange County chapter’s Legislative Support Committee, as well as being the chapter’s liaison to CLAC. He is a frequent speaker at industry events and management company educational events. He also publishes a blog on association related topics at For more information, please visit

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