Written by Kathie Feldpausch, CPA, CAE, RCE, Senior Vice President, MICHIGAN REALTORS®
Perhaps you’ve been following the success of other local associations’ placemaking projects and you’re ready to launch one at your board. There’s just one question – where do you come up with a placemaking idea? How do you convince your board to add “another” new program when members and staff alike are increasingly busy?
To date, if you’ve learned anything reading NAR’s Placemaking resources, you’ve learned that Placemaking and collaboration go hand in hand. In other words, it takes a village to build a place.
There are a number of different ways to get your “village” involved in a Realtor sponsored placemaking project, and one of the most successful – the Lighter Quicker Cheaper (LQC) Challenge - has been fine tuned in Michigan and can serve as a model for your LQC project. Most importantly, you’ll be pleased to know the program is streamlined, maximizing the efforts of staff and volunteers while generating positive feedback for your Realtors.
How was this program developed? Over the course of the past three years, the state association worked with local association partners to launch local challenges designed to bring the community and Realtors together. More importantly, through a generous NAR grant, a complete packet to run a LQC Challenge in your community is available through the Michigan Realtors.
Along the way, NAR has adjusted its grant program eligibility and implementation requirements; and we’ve adjusted the LQC Challenge to accommodate the changes.
How do you get started?
- First, develop your LQC Challenge program details. Determine a grant award amount – you’ll be able to fund a single LQC project up to $2,500, but perhaps you want to start smaller.
- Advertise your LQC Challenge throughout your community – perhaps generating interest at a membership meeting or asking partners to spread the message.
- Select your judging panel - include affiliates, local merchants or arts council members – virtually anyone who expresses an interest in improving a neighborhood or community will be an enthusiastic ally.
- Solicit applications, choose a winner, complete your NAR grant application – and your project will become a reality.
But wait a minute – while you and your members may have heard about placemaking, how will you know if an idea will be successful?
It became clear in Michigan after the first couple of LQC challenges that we needed to develop a scorecard that can be used by local association leaders or a selection committee to identify programs that are consistent with placemaking principles. At the Jackson Area Association of Realtors, for example, the selection committee used the scorecard to review eleven (11) applications and to narrow down the selection to seven (7) eligible project ideas. The scorecard also serves to even the playing field and ensure all ideas will be measured against objective criteria.
In later posts, I will describe in more detail the ideas that were implemented throughout Michigan. In the meantime, you can download the grant application template and scorecard.