Campaign Success, Out of the Gate
The Wyoming Association of REALTORS® jumped into political campaigning for the first time this year and came up with four wins and a very close race. Laurie Urbigkit, the association’s GAD, attended NAR’s June Campaign Management Training in Denver and returned home with the skills and inspiration to get started with independent expenditures, she says. IEs are election advocacy efforts conducted independently of—not in coordination with—candidates’ campaigns. Wins in the primary election led Urbigkit to undertake another program backing state Senate candidate Cale Case in the general election, which he won. “Thanksgiving morning as I was busy cooking, I got a phone call from Mr. Case,” says Urbigkit. “He told me he always takes a few minutes on Thanksgiving to call someone he really appreciates.
He said he hoped I would pass on his appreciation to all REALTORS® and insisted that we made the difference in his race.” For more on IE grants and campaign management training, contact NAR’s Julienne Uhlich at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Small Changes Make Big Impact on RPAC Fundraising
With just a few tweaks to its RPAC fundraising program, the 2,161-member Osceola County Association of REALTORS®, Fla., was able to reach 173 percent of its RPAC goal (up 71 percent from 2012) and surpass its major donor goal, says Carol K. Platt, the association’s AE and GAD.
The most successful addition to the program was a value-focused appreciation letter to each member. “One week prior to dues billing, which included the optional RPAC contribution, our members received a letter from our incoming president explaining the ‘value proposition’ of RPAC and thanking members for sustaining the industry, protecting consumers’ property rights, and ensuring a fair marketplace for their fellow practitioners through their contribution to RPAC,” says Platt.
RPAC raffles proved to be popular among members, so the association offered three throughout the year, with prizes including iPads and Bose wireless speakers. Osceola also added two new categories to its RPAC contributor awards night, affiliate contributors and long-term contributors, and brought back its successful Casino Night fundraiser.
To optimize the results from the association’s RPAC auction, Platt combed through past bidding data to determine which types of items attracted the most bids. “We realized we needed to focus on electronics, grandchildren items, vacation and travel items, dinners, fashion-branded items like purses and sunglasses, and alcohol,” says Platt. Auction bids on the grand prize—a five-day Royal Caribbean Valentines cruise for two—sold out at $100 each. An RPAC grant from NAR enabled the association to purchase higher-quality prizes, yet Platt still squeezed every penny out of the grant by purchasing highly discounted items throughout the year, rather than buying all the prizes one or two months before the auction.
“We’ve found that members respond well to a wide range of contribution opportunities and levels,” says Platt. “This year’s new contributors will hopefully turn into long-term donors.”
Florida Road Rally For RPAC
Florida REALTORS® on Harleys, Hondas, and all manner of motorcycles (and some cars) rode to build participation in, and support of, Florida REALTORS® Political Action Committee, Oct. 16-18. Riders set off on a route that took them to stops at local associations and other checkpoints in order to bring attention to real estate-related political and legislative issues. Raffle tickets to win a 2014 Harley Davidson Dyna Super Glide sold at $100 each, raising more than $113,400 for Florida’s PAC.
Changes to NAR Mobilization Grants
NAR’s Board of Directors in November approved changes to the issues mobilization grant fund process. To ensure that associations have an appropriate level of investment in issue campaigns for which they are seeking NAR assistance, they will have to put up some of their own funds under a “skin in the game” policy to receive NAR grant funds. The amount depends on the size of the grant request (from 10 percent to 50 percent) and can include funds from coalition partners and nonfinancial resources, such as staff and volunteer hours. For more, visit the REALTOR® Party.
GAD Rallies Members to Fight Laws Slowing Home Sales
In California, San Mateo County Association of REALTORS®’ battle against point-of-sale laws achieved a new level of success this past year thanks to coordinated member effort and data that reversed or stopped eight proposals that would have significantly slowed housing sales.
Point-of-sale mandates enable local governments to stop the sale of a home until its demands (for inspections, improvements, certifications, and other issues) are satisfied. By creating member legislative response teams in each of the association’s 15 cities, San Mateo’s Government Affairs director, Paul Stewart, was able to focus the involvement of local REALTORS® with local elected officials and staff. Aided by research from the California Association of REALTORS®, the legislative response teams proved to lawmakers that point-of-sale mandates are inefficient and inequitable. “The data was absolutely invaluable,” says Stewart, “because it framed our presentations that point-of-sale mandates added to the cost of housing and became potential deal killers, especially for first-time home buyers.”