Every year, the GAD Institute—NAR’s annual conference for association government affairs directors—moves to a new location. And every year since the launch of the GADs Give Back program in 2018, an advisory committee has picked a charity local to the host city to fund.
In its first year, GADs Give Back helped a Palm Beach, Fla., children’s hospital; in 2019, it partnered with Project Connect in Cincinnati to help homeless youth and teens, collecting $10,500 in cash and hundreds of hygiene kits. “So this year, we said, ‘I think we can do $12,000,’” says Kelli Walker Starrett, RCE, senior vice president of the New Orleans Metro Association of REALTORS®. “It turns out we could do $23,500.”
Originally scheduled as an in-person event in Philadelphia but reconceived to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the virtual conference attracted more attendees—making for a larger donor pool. “There were far more attendees than usual because AEs were able to log in from anywhere,” Starrett says.
What’s more, some attending associations dedicated money they would have spent on travel to the GADs Give Back fundraiser. “That idea spread like wildfire,” Starrett says. A few show sponsors even pitched in some of their unspent money.
The advisory group decided to give the money raised to the United Way's COVID-19 Relief Fund in order to direct the contributions to the locations that needed aid most desperately. The fund helped people affected by the pandemic get access to food, shelter, clothing, medication, and other essentials.
The next GAD Institute is slated for Denver, July 20–22, 2021. If all goes well, another local cause can benefit.