REALTORS®, who volunteer nearly three times more often than the average American, serve as pillars of their communities and can play an important role in raising awareness about their neighbors’ needs. If you have a cause that’s close to your heart, you can take advantage of opportunities through the National Association of REALTORS® to supercharge exposure of the issue and attract greater donations and volunteer help.
Right now, NAR’s Good Neighbor Awards and Volunteering Works programs are accepting applications to recognize REALTORS® who are doing extraordinary charity work in their communities and have the potential to grow. You can apply for Volunteering Works through March 30 and the Good Neighbor Awards through April 19. Here’s how the opportunities differ: Volunteering Works offers REALTORS® with newer nonprofits one-on-one mentorship with an expert, while the Good Neighbor Awards offer critical funding and national exposure to 10 REALTORS® for making an extraordinary impact through their volunteer work.
But these aren’t just vanity programs. Though it’s sometimes difficult for community leaders to bask in the spotlight when their focus is on other people, the NAR programs do more than give kudos to members for their selfless work. The programs offer real opportunities to learn growth strategies for your nonprofit, gain a national audience of potential donors and volunteers and earn funding to expand or launch new endeavors. Take it from some past Good Neighbors who told REALTOR® Magazine how the award changed their lives and volunteer work.
“The funds my charity received came at a critical time. We opened a new, inclusive cafe catering to people with special needs, and of course, we went over budget in the construction. We hired 47 employees, the majority of whom have a diagnosed disability. It is no easy task to keep a place of employment going when some workers can only work two-hour shifts one day a week. However, it’s also rewarding to witness the difference the cafe has made in the lives of our employees and families who have told me they finally have a place where they can dine, socialize, volunteer and feel accepted. It was a nice surprise to welcome past Good Neighbor winners Heather Griesser Lapierre and Lei Barry to the cafe a few weeks ago!” –2022 Good Neighbor Honorable Mention Kathy Opperman, Pillars of Light and Love
“The Good Neighbor Awards solidified the validity of Agape Pamoja, an organization helping African refugees adjust to life in the U.S. We have been a nonprofit for five years, and we have been able to use the publicity to further what God has started. Agape Pamoja has used the professional video NAR produced [about the organization] to teach volunteers, donors and other foundations about our cause.” –2021 Good Neighbor Brent Gieseke, Agape Pamoja
“The Good Neighbor Awards literally put us on the map. The exposure to different regions and recognition was like no other. When I began this venture, I had no idea it would morph into a charity that serves communities in three states. We are serving veterans with disabilities in Colorado, single mothers in Washington State and families leaving crisis situations in California. Because of the exposure GNA provided, REALTORS® across the country reach out to ask how they can start a chapter in their state. We have a huge goal of seeing this charity go global. It will be led by REALTORS® who spread the joy of giving. Because of GNA, that dream is becoming a reality.” –2020 Good Neighbor Vickie Lobo, Knock Knock Angels
“One of the key elements of preventing teen suicide is raising awareness that there is hope, there is help and you’re not alone. Teen Lifeline benefited from the increased exposure the Good Neighbor Awards helped spread across the nation. The award money we received helped cover the cost of training teens how to answer the hotline calls to have the extremely important peer-to-peer lifesaving conversations that happen daily. The hotline [602-248-8336] runs every single day from 3 to 9 p.m. MT by our trained teens. We are forever grateful for the opportunity NAR provided to help promote this amazing nonprofit organization.” –2020 Good Neighbor Jeff Fields, Teen Lifeline
“The Good Neighbor Awards provided desperately needed funds and a national platform for my organization, which helps people recover from traumatic brain injuries. The recognition helped launch more dialogue about TBI, concussion, stroke and aneurism. But for me, the most dramatic thing was realizing there were other like-minded people in real estate. Once I met the other nominees and past honorees, I realized there were plenty of REALTORS® who felt it was important to volunteer and give freely of their time and expertise. Their stories heartened and humbled me. Then, I began to hear from others in my region who had also quietly been working to help the community. I felt more connected to NAR and my state and local associations than ever before.” –2019 Good Neighbor Kim Strub, Schurig Center for Brain Injury Recovery
“At the time we received the award, we had five employees and a couple thousand square feet of office space. Today, we have over 50 employees and 25,000 square feet. The financial assistance from the Good Neighbor Awards, and the support we received from NAR experts and partners on how to help grow our nonprofit, was unbelievable. We used the prestige to apply for additional grants, and we were successful. When people heard our story, they called and offered support in so many ways. There’s no doubt GNA helped springboard us with confidence to continue our work to help individuals and families suffering from addiction and mental health concerns.” –2019 Good Neighbor Paul Wyman, Turning Point
“This special award has meant so much to my organization. We received letters and donations from all over the U.S. We went from being a community organization to helping people across the nation save children and young adults.” –2016 Good Neighbor Susan Gruen Helsinger, Jason F. Gruen Research Foundation
“Make-A-Wish is an international organization, but we were working really hard at a grassroots level to gain the awareness and support we needed locally. Winning the Good Neighbor Award gave us credibility in our community because we are able to say the National Association of REALTORS® supports and recognizes us. We utilized the grant funds to further our mission with public outreach campaigns and professionally created marketing and event materials. The Good Neighbor program pushed me way out of my comfort zone with all of the media attention and ceremonies, but the impact it made for Make-A-Wish and the families we serve was remarkable. In addition, the Good Neighbor Awards elevates our profession in the eyes of consumers and further demonstrates ‘That’s Who We R.’” –2013 Good Neighbor Kristina Rhodes, Make-A-Wish Foundation
“The Good Neighbor recognition was like shining a massive spotlight on our foundation. I think it also created respect within the REALTOR® community. When we would ask for donations or volunteers, the Good Neighbor name would always carry weight.” –2009 Good Neighbor Greg Adamson, Heart 2 Home Foundation