Advocacy Engagement Ideas

Plan now for how you’ll meet the 2016 core standards advocacy requirement.

Nearly all associations successfully met the five elements of the core standards advocacy requirement. If it was a challenge, here is information to make it easier this year.

Adding the REALTOR® Political Action Committee solicitation to your member dues bill and participating in calls for action should become routine processes within your organization going forward. NAR’s advocacy division fielded many calls about the dues billing in particular, ranging from how much to bill to how to conform to state regulations. The answers to these and other questions are gathered in the Core Standards FAQs at nar.realtor/corestandards.

The engagement element of the advocacy requirement, however, takes some new planning every year to keep members interested in volunteering and making these events successful. If your association met the engagement requirement with a voter registration drive last year, try a different program for this year, advises Susie Helm, NAR’s vice president of advocacy operations and communications.

“In the first year of the core standards, we encouraged associations to use programs that didn’t take a lot of staff time or money,” says Helm.

In fact, one of the most popular association advocacy engagement activities was to send local public officials NAR’s On Common Ground quarterly magazine. The publication features housing issues and solutions, and NAR customizes the mailing to appear to be sent from the local association.

In Florida, most local associations did not find the advocacy requirement to be a challenge, says Anne Cockayne, RCE, director of policy services for the Florida Association of REALTORS®. To meet the engagement requirement, Florida’s local REALTOR® associations conducted or participated in voter registration drives, hosted a candidate training academy, held candidate screenings, and voiced opinions as a group on issues affecting the community, says Cockayne.

In Illinois, each local association had a state government affairs director to help them select and complete an advocacy program, says Gary Clayton, CEO of the Illinois Association of REALTORS®. Local associations conducted 32 independent expenditure campaigns, 13 opportunity races, and six local referenda, he says.

Texas has worked collaboratively with its local associations for years to create a successful culture of PAC fundraising, member mobilization, involvement in the political and legislative arena, and community outreach, says Travis Kessler, president and CEO of the Texas Association of REALTORS®. “Consumer and advocacy engagement were not obstacles for our local associations in meeting core standards compliance requirements,” he says.

Although Helm knows of no advocacy engagement activity by local associations that failed to fulfill the core standard requirement, she did field a few calls about whether just applying for an NAR grant qualified as an advocacy activity. The activity funded by the grant counts, once it’s been accomplished.

“Going forward, we’ll be encouraging associations to take on broader initiatives and grow their member and community engagement,” says Helm.

Plan now to attend the advocacy hands-on workshop at the 2016 AE Institute where NAR’s advocacy program managers will facilitate choosing future advocacy projects.

Download the REALTOR® Party Association Resource Guide to discover the NAR programs that your local or state association can use to become legislative, community, and political leaders.

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