One AE’s game changing idea is now free and available to all REALTOR® associations.
During my inaugural National Association of REALTORS® Presidential Advisory Group meeting on RPAC policy last year, the assembled team was asked to come up with ideas to raise hard and soft RPAC dollars. As the newbie on the PAG, I felt particularly anxious about being able to contribute an innovative solution. The first day’s discussions unfortunately yielded nothing.
I turned in around 11:30 that first night, but then at 4:30 a.m. sat bolt upright in bed and went to the desk where I drafted the idea for a new RPAC program called “We’re On Your Side.”
I turned in my homework assignment the next morning to the PAG chair who shared it immediately with the group. In short order, the idea was approved—complete with an NAR Game Changer grant to fund it.
Here’s how any REALTOR® association, large or small, can raise more money for RPAC than they thought possible with very little effort and even less cost.
The basic premise is passive and seamless transaction closing contribution.
Easy for members
It’s best to ask for money when members have it. Doing so at closing is ideal.
First, members sign up to pledge a predetermined dollar amount to the “We’re On Your Side”—as in “closing side” —program every time they close a sale.
We encourage members to do this by comparing a small RPAC investment, say, $25, to an $8,000 or $12,000 commission. That’s not much, right?
Members sign up to the program via a simple form here in Michigan, but election law requirements may be different in each state, so check with your state association.
When a member’s sale or side of the deal is closed and registered by the MLS and when the agent (or broker) is a program participant, the MLS system pings the billing system that a donation in the predetermined amount should be added to the agent’s monthly MLS bill. Associations don’t need to own or run their own MLS to make this happen.
These dollars are then transferred by the local association to the state association and are added to the mix for RPAC 1 and RPAC 2 activities, which in turn help the state meet the NAR needs-based goal and fuel that state’s own statewide and local REALTOR® Party initiatives.
Easy for associations
The goal of the “We’re On Your Side” program is to be easy for associations to administer. There is little purpose in maximizing the member’s investment only to siphon off dollars to pay for administration.
The program efficiently moves dollars, hard and soft, in compliance with election laws governing the handling of contributions in Michigan. There are more details on this in the “how to” kit*.
Once an association elects to adopt the Were On Your Side program, it must design and implement the “bridge” code between the MLS system and the billing system. There may be a small cost involved to build the bridge but in our experience it was a fairly easy process. As more associations join the program, more bridges between systems are built and the process becomes cheaper and easier for everyone involved. The savings to your administrative folks by automating a process like this will come back to you many fold.
Using the NAR Game Changer grant, our association built the system and the educational assets for promoting this simple concept. We launched the program in January 2015 with 38 of our 725 members pledging $3 to $25 per transaction, or “side.” By the end of April, which is our slowest sale season, we had raised more than $2,000, or an average of $25 per closing.
If we were to calculate using only half of our annual sales across all channels and we were to use this same $25 per closing average, then we could legitimately see an additional $121,000 in RPAC investments by members in 2015.
This voluntary program is not intended to displace other RPAC contribution streams but to augment them by offering those who rarely participate in this process a passive approach to invest in the REALTOR Party.
Our RPAC committee has a goal of getting 100 members to sign up for the We’re On Your Side program before the end of the summer.
Not only could the agents on both sides of the deal become investors using the program but the brokers could also participate, adding up to four contributions on every transaction.
Because the National Association of REALTORS® funded the development of the program, the full how-to information and the media assets are available at no cost to REALTOR® organizations*. Watch the “We’re On Your Side” video.
* For a link to the materials, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.