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FA L L 2 0 1 6


R E A LT O R . O R G / R A E

Make a Difference
35 association community outreach programs
that build, beautify, and inspire Page 12

Select the Best
Politicians to Back
Page 22

Pros and Cons of
Establishing a Charity
Page 26

AE Profile, Norman Morris:

Advocacy &
Disaster Relief
Page 28

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Or email to learn more.


2016–2017 RAE
Editorial Advisory Board

Fall 2016

Wyndi Austin, RCE, CAE
Southeast Valley Regional
Association of REALTORS®, Ariz.
Brenda Barnhardt
REALTORS® Association of
Northwestern Wisconsin
Maria Brogan
The Northeast Association
Denise Day
Butler County Association
Tina Dorward
Association, Wis.
Diane Escure
Moses Lake Othello Board
of REALTORS®, Wash.
Christopher Harrigan, RCE
National Association

The Best of REALTOR®
Community Outreach
35 inspiring ideas that may help
you meet the Core Standards
consumer outreach requirement.
Page 12

AE voices

Outreach Is
in Our Heart
Page 2

Leadership of the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS®
(Neil Collins, AE; Trisha Motter, 2016 president; Rick Smith, president-elect)
championed consumer outreach events in 2016 ranging from a charity fundraising golf tournament to a park cleanup; more is planned for 2017 to meet
the Core Standards Consumer Outreach requirement.

Bill Head
Metrotex Association of


need to know



Edward Jekel
Mohawk Valley Association

President Brown’s
2017 Priorities

The Best Politicians
to Back

Page 4

How to get your board and
members on board with
candidate selection.

Hank Lerner
Pennsylvania Association
Andrew Sims
Dayton Area Board of


Norman Morris
CEO of the Louisiana REALTORS®
on advocacy and disaster relief.

Page 22

Page 28


Boost Your Social
Media Reach

Heather Tenney, RCE
Coastal Carolinas Association

How to use the metrics about
your fans, follows, likes,
mentions, and shares to build a
better communications plan.

Vicki Heebner
Ocean City Board of
Dale Zahn, RCE
West Michigan Lakeshore
Association of REALTORS®
The RAE editorial board reviews
each issue and provides critical
feedback, proposes story ideas,
and stays in touch with fellow
AEs nationwide to scout out
new programs and products to
share with the AE community.
To join the editorial board,
write an article, or contribute
information, e-mail Carolyn


Page 24



Read past issues in text
and PDF format and access
online exclusives.

Gear up for the end-ofyear ethics rush.
Page 6

T WIT TER @RealtorAEmag


On the Cover: Members of the
Greater Metropolitan Association of
REALTORS®, Mich., gathered to revitalize a playground
and green space called REALTOR® Park, established in 1967.


Pros and Cons of
a Charitable
Page 26

FALL 2016



AE voices: AE committee chair update

Outreach Is in Our Heart
making their communities better at their
heart for more than a hundred years.
Marc Lebowitz, RCE, CAE ,
former CEO, Tucson Association of REALTORS®, 2016
chair of the AE Committee

It was REALTORS® who lined up with
Lady Bird Johnson in the 1960s to help in
the Keep America Beautiful campaign. It was
our REALTORS® Relief Foundation in 2005
that supported the construction of nearly
Marc Lebowitz (left, seated) with Tuscon
Association YPN members, and Gospel Rescue
Mission’s chef Robin Hardy (center in pink).

“Wherever you turn, you can find

100 new homes for victims of Hurricane

someone who needs you. Even if it is a

Katrina all along the Gulf Coast. It was

little thing, do something for which there

through the efforts of our state associations

is no pay but the privilege of doing it.

that aid was mobilized and delivered to vic-

ing, the REALTOR® organization and the

Remember, you don’t live in the world

tims of tornadoes in Oklahoma and flooding

Tucson YPN group designed and installed

all of your own.” —Albert Schweitzer

in the southeast.

four raised-bed herb gardens so Chef Minnie
and her team could have a sustainable

It was our 2016 NAR President Tom


t was late one spring night in 2014, way

Salomone who said, “Let’s do all of that

source of herbs and spices for their kitchen

past dinner. The National Association of

and then some, and focus our support on

and a learning lab to help mission residents

REALTORS® Organizational Alignment

the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.”

learn how to grow food for themselves.

This issue celebrates the greatness of

PAG, had been meeting all day, and snow

What strikes me most is that this story

was falling hard outside the NAR building

outreach that is our organization: local,

isn’t unique. REALTORS® teaming up to help

in Washington, D.C.

state, and national.

their neighbors happens every day. It’s who

I have my own outreach story. Last year

We were stuck on how to best capture

we are.
Life has a funny way of changing our

the essence of meaningful “consumer

I met an inspiring woman, Chef Minnie, ex-

engagement” and communicate what Core

ecutive chef for the Gospel Rescue Mission

course from time to time. As I write this

Standards would need associations do to

in Tucson. As it turns out, Chef Minnie (aka

final column as the 2016 AEC chair, I am no

satisfy this outreach requirement. I believe

Robin Hardy) was a REALTOR® for many

longer working with the Tucson Association

was Cindy Butts, CEO of the Connecticut

years before following her passion for cook-

of REALTORS®. I want to thank everyone

Association of REALTORS®, who said some-

ing and providing food support for nearly

in Tucson for their support. Together we

thing like, “This is the easy one. This is what

100 of our city’s most vulnerable women and

accomplished some amazing things and had

associations do every day regardless of their

children every day.

some great times.

Through a connection on Facebook, I

size or resources. This is who we are.”
What Cindy was saying is what we all
know: REALTOR® associations have had

learned that her rescue mission had a need.

2016 chair of the Association Executives

Over a few weeks of planning and fundrais-


Chair, Association Executives Committee Marc Lebowitz, RCE, CAE
CEO, National Association of REALTORS® Dale A. Stinton, RCE, CAE
Senior Vice President, Communications

Stephanie Singer

VP, Business-to-Business Communications Stacey Moncrieff
430 N. Michigan Ave.,
Chicago, IL 60611–4087
500 New Jersey Ave., N.W.,
Washington, DC 20001–2020

Editor, REALTOR® AE magazine Carolyn Schwaar
Contributing Editors

Paula Pisani, Bob Soron

Questions and comments e-mail:
Advertising Sales


Natalie Matter DeSoto,

800-501-9571 or 717-580-8184,



FALL 2016

Thank you for the honor of being your

©2016 by the National Association of REALTORS®. All rights reserved.
(ISSN 0034-0804) REALTOR® AE is a professional magazine published
four times yearly by the National Association of REALTORS® as a service
for REALTOR® association executives. Articles in this magazine are written
from the perspective of the REALTOR® association executive. REALTOR®
AE is an informational publication of local, state, and national association
programs, activities, and current trends and ideas in association management and their practical application in REALTOR® associations. Views
and advertising expressed in REALTOR® AE are not necessarily those of or
endorsed by the National Association of REALTORS®. Magazine archives
available online at Reprint permission: Distribution: Local and state
executive officers, association staff, and MLS directors.
Subscriptions: Call 800-874-6500.


news: hot topics

Plan to Attend 2017
AE Institute in Denver
Registration for the 2017 AE Institute opens at
noon CST Wednesday, Dec. 7. AEI, which runs

President Brown’s 2017 Priorities


from March 17 to 20, 2017, offers sessions on
the fundamentals of REALTOR® association
management, REALTOR® Party updates,

peaking at the August Leadership

researchers at the Fisher Center for Real

enhanced and in-depth MLS programming,

Summit, Bill Brown, the 2017 pres-

Estate & Urban Economics at University

and Core Standards implementation, along

ident of the National Association

of California Berkeley’s Haas School of

with three focused tracks: customer service,

of REALTORS®, announced four key goals

Business to discover whether additional

peer-to-peer game changers, and technology

that will be the focus of the next year, and

academic research might aid legislators

and communications. Back by popular

urged local and state associations to get

and policy makers to encourage home

demand, AEI will feature a special one-day

onboard with these goals.


CEO track on March 17 that is limited to 125

“National priorities and initiatives are

Brown’s second and third goals call for

attendees. Tuition costs $545 if registered

successful only when they are supported

a doubling of efforts to preserve home

before Jan. 31 or $575 thereafter. Register at

by state and local associations,” Brown

owners’ mortgage interest and property

told the association executives and 2017

tax deductions, 1031 tax-deferred ex-

local- and state-elected leaders at the

changes, and the government’s support

summit. “We are all serving the same

of the GSEs and FHA-insured loans.


“There’s a good chance elimination of

Join the Conversation at
the AE Facebook Group

both residential and commercial provi-

Now with more than 400 members, the

ing and new resources NAR will offer at

sions will be on the congressional agenda

official Facebook group for REALTOR® asso-

the state and local levels to support these

next year,” Brown said.

Brown also noted the variety of exist-

priorities and initiatives.
The first of Brown’s goals is to raise
the homeownership rate, which has fallen

Last, Brown said he will focus on
REALTORS®’ financial future.
“Too many of our members have

ciation executives, run and
moderated by your fellow
AEs, is a forum to post
questions, share advice,

in recent years to 63 percent. “If we can

a decent career, but when they want

tout successes, and dis-

improve the homeownership rate . . .

to retire they don’t have the means to

cuss issues. The closed

we can open the door to the American

do so,” he said. “I want to see all of our

group, called AEI Year-

dream for more people [and] strengthen

members become financially solvent and

Round, is open to chief

communities, and it will create more op-


portunities for our members,” he said.

To this end, NAR will launch a new

In a time when younger generations

staff executives and staff
specialists. Your posts on this group page are

course, “Real Estate Investing: Build

shared only with your fellow AE group mem-

increasingly question why home owner-

Wealth Representing Investors and Be-

bers. No posts are visible to Facebook users

ship is better than renting, NAR will de-

coming One Yourself.”

who are not AEI Year-Round group mem-

velop new ways to answer that question.
NAR announced plans to team up with



Look for more resources to support
these goals in the coming months.

bers. To join, search for “AEI Year-Round” on
Facebook and click the “join” button.


news: programs & benefits
Gear Up for the End-of-Year Ethics Rush
The National Association of REALTORS®’

quadrennial ethics course as of September,

ethics requirement gives members until

says Cindi Ferguson, e-PRO, the association’s

Dec. 31, 2016, to take an approved ethics

director of professional development.

course. And given the average real estate

Training must be no less than two-and-

practitioner’s penchant for operating on a

a-half hours of instructional time every four

just-in-time basis, associations are scheduling

years, and members can take the course

eleventh-hour ethics courses for members

in a number of ways. NAR’s online ethics

New NAR Benefit:

in December. Yet associations have reported

course remains a popular option. The

high early compliance rates during this

new interactive online REALTOR® Code of

ethics cycle. As of September, 98 percent of

Ethics training course ($29.95) offers an

members at the Central Hill Country Board of

estimated three credit hours of continuing


REALTORS®, Texas, have completed training,

education in many states, and is available

Organize your finances and

according to Lisia Amburn, AE. At the

on the Center for REALTOR® Development

make tax preparation easy with

REALTORS® of South Central Kansas, nearly

at The free online

member savings on Intuit’s

80 percent of members had taken their

course option is available at

signature products: QuickBooks
Self-Employed, a streamlined app
for income and expense manage-

Victory Over Patent Claim for Property Search Feature

ment, and TurboTax, America’s
best-selling online tax software.

The National Association of REALTORS® nego-

whereby NAR will drop its challenge to the

These offerings are well-suited

tiated a settlement on behalf of the real estate

patent if Data Distribution Technologies agrees

to meet the unique needs of real

industry to end patent enforcement actions

to no longer enforce its patent in the real estate

estate professionals.

against real estate businesses that send email

industry. NAR members, associations, MLSs,

alerts when a website is updated with a property

affiliates, and other related entities are now pro-

NAR’s REALTOR Benefits®

that matches a user’s criteria.

tected from potentially costly legal action.

Program include 50 percent off

Data Distribution Technologies claimed to

NAR President Tom Salomone hailed the

Discounts available through

per month on QuickBooks Self-

own the patent on this widely used technologi-

announcement. “When REALTORS® fall victim

Employed for your first 12 months

cal process and threatened to sue several real

to abuses in the patent system, NAR is going to

and ongoing benefits thereafter,

estate businesses unless they paid a licens-

have their back,” he said. “We’re hopeful that the

$10 off TurboTax Deluxe, $15 off

ing fee. NAR filed a lawsuit in June seeking to

settlement will remind patent trolls across the

TurboTax Premier, and $20 off

invalidate the company’s patent.

country that this type of exploitation is unac-

TurboTax Home & Business. Get

ceptable and won’t go unanswered.”

the QuickBooks Self-Employed

NAR’s legal action resulted in a settlement

and TurboTax bundle for 29

Lawsuit Over Photo Copyright in MLS Dismissed

percent off per month for your

When Alexander Stross, a REALTOR® and

that Stross lacked standing to sue to enforce

products’ integrate seamlessly

architectural photographer in Texas, found his

the MLS rules. Although the court did not rule

for easy quarterly and year-end

sold-listing photos on a website operated by real

on Redfin’s defense that it was protected from

tax filing. This offer is available to

estate brokerage Redfin, he sued the brokerage

copyright infringement claims under the Digital

NAR members and association

for copyright infringement. Yet in September,

Millennium Copyright Act, it did acknowledge

staff and their immediate family

Stross to raise his concerns
with his MLS rather than in
federal court. The court held



Photo: Getty Images/iStock

a Texas federal court directed

first 12 months. These two Intuit

that Redfin’s argument

members. See site for terms and

was “persuasive.”

conditions. Learn more at

Read more about this

case at


news: smart growth
Small Association Sponsors Growth Study
The 58-member East Central South Dakota

“Everyone was more than receptive to the

REALTORS® used a $15,000 Smart Growth

idea, and agreed that the timing was perfect.

Action Grant from the REALTOR® Party to

The housing situation really is a top priority

bring in a planning expert to help the city of

here,” she says.

Brookings govern its own growth with a wise
eye to the future.
The city’s mayor had recently established

When Tharp returned in August, she
presented a report that shed light on issues
and challenges that Brookings is facing and

an affordable housing task force and a Com-

offered examples of possible solutions she’d

prehensive Master Plan Advisory Commit-

seen succeed elsewhere. “She pointed out

Southwest Florida
Summit Focuses on
Road Issues

tee, both of which had REALTORS® on board.

the need for what she called ‘missing middle

“Naturally, REALTORS® are deeply invested

homes,’” notes Thompson, referring to

in this because it directly affects their

more compact housing arrangements that

livelihood. But they are also, by definition,

are in short supply in Brookings, such as

people who are involved and invested in their

townhomes, cottages and courtyard homes.

Traffic headaches, crash statistics, and

communities and want to see them thrive

The suggestion of an architectural design

possible solutions to it all were the focus

and prosper,” says RaeAnn Thompson, the

contest was well received, she added, and

of a transportation summit in Cape

association’s executive.

developers are investigating the concept of

Coral, Fla., Sept. 30, sponsored by the
Royal Palm Coast REALTOR® Association and the Streets Alive of SWFL.
The event drew about 200 attendees,
including county and municipal leaders,
engineers, planners, REALTORS®,
and members of the public, to hear
how planning can go a long way toward
alleviating congestion and lowering
the number of traffic accidents. Other
topics included designing streets for

The East Central South Dakota REALTORS®’ smart growth study revealed that more compact housing
developments, rather than more single-family homes (pictured above in this photo of Brookings),
might help alleviate the city’s tight housing supply.

pedestrian and cyclists, narrowing
street lanes to discourage speeding

The association used its Smart Growth
Action Grant, which it matched by 10

the need to capitalize on the city’s distinctive

building traffic circles.

percent, to commission a study from Janet

downtown district and create more mixed-

Tharp, a Dallas-based urban and regional

use development there to attract millennials

planner, who traveled twice to Brookings

who value walkability.

for the project. Her first trip, in June, was an

serve on the city’s advisory committee and

she toured the city by car and met with

the Affordable Housing Task Force, Thomp-

numerous city stakeholders; city and county

son knows that the study is a great asset to

elected and appointed officials; representa-

Brookings at a critical point in its evolution.

tives from the university, the school board,

At the meeting where the report was pre-

the local utility companies, and affordable

sented, the mayor recognized the vision and

housing interest groups; and builders, devel-

support of the REALTORS®.

was able to arrange these encounters easily.


From conversations with members who

information-gathering mission, during which

opers, and business advocates. Thompson


“tiny homes.” The report also emphasized

and make more room for walkers, and

For more on Smart Growth Action
Grants, visit


Photo: Google Earth

experts on transportation talk about

Introducing the
MLS Tax Suite

• Enhanced mapping capabilities
• New product features, like our added
home improvement values

• Specifically designed for compatibility
on mobile devices
• Simple and fast navigation makes
browsing property data easy

Visit with us at booth #1747 during the REALTORS® Conference & Expo.

news: research & kudos
HOME Survey Shows Affordability Concerns
Lofty home-price growth and tight supply

U.S. economy and various questions about

are leading to softening confidence among

their housing expectations, including several

Congratulations, New

renters about whether it’s a good time to

related to down payments and the amount

Three REALTOR® association staff

buy a home, according to the latest install-

of money they believe they need to purchase

professionals recently earned the

ment of the National Association of

a home. Results show that the share of

Certified Association Executive

REALTORS® Housing Opportunities and

home owners and renters who believe now is

designation from the American Society

Market Experience survey. The consumer

a good time to buy remains at a solid major-

of Association Executives: Wyndi

survey found that a miscon-

ity but has crept downward

Austin, RCE, CAE, director of marketing

ception about how much of a

since the beginning of this

communications at the Southeast Valley

down payment is needed to

year. Seventy-eight percent

Regional Association of REALTORS®,

buy could be unnecessarily

of home owners (80 percent

Arizona; Mike Barth, CAE, director of

delaying some qualified young

in June; 82 percent in March)

association services at the Pennsylvania

adults from entering the mar-

and 60 percent of renters

Association of REALTORS®; and Thomas

ket. NAR’s third-quarter HOME

(62 percent in the previous

Larson, CAE, vice president of legal

survey asked consumers

two quarters) said it’s a good

and public affairs at the Wisconsin

about their confidence in the

time to buy.

REALTORS® Association.






Activities like these may
help your association
fulfill the Core Standards
consumer outreach


From planting

community gardens to
hosting home ownership
seminars, REALTORS®
and their associations
contribute countless
hours of community
service every year.
They raise hundreds
of thousands of dollars
for local and national
charities. They also
raise awareness for
issues ranging from
walkable communities
to workforce housing.
They grow, beautify,
and enrich their
communities in many
ways. On the following
pages we feature just
a sampling of the
REALTOR® association–
led community and
consumer outreach
efforts shaping
communities nationwide.



FALL 2016

Members of the REALTOR® Association of Sarasota and Manatee volunteered at the Tiny Hands
Foundation to fill more than 1,600 backpacks with school supplies for community children in need.

Building &
Helping communities become more
livable, sustainable, and desirable.

association, which took the burden of tracking
financial contributions and organizing volunteers of the 1,700-member association.
q Promote walkability. The Coastal Carolinas
Association of REALTORS®, S.C., partnered with
the city of Myrtle Beach on a two-day walkability
study of the community and a workshop with
nationally recognized consultants, REALTORS®,

Build homes. Working closely with the Bend

city planners, engineers, the mayor, and city ad-

Area Habitat for Humanity, the Central Ore-

ministrators. The goal was to improve walkability

gon Association of REALTORS® helped raise

and biking in the city’s main corridors. As a result

$75,000 ($40,000 from members) this sum-

of the event, the city is enacting plans to make

mer for a project called “The House that Real

the community a more desirable place to live.

Estate Built.” REALTORS® also volunteered to
help build the house, on which construction will
begin later this year. To help facilitate raising
money and coordinating volunteers, Habitat for
Humanity created a custom webpage for the


p Rehab picnic areas.
YPNers at the Northeast
p Plant Community Gardens.

Association of REALTORS®,

Helping conserve open space and

p Help needy home

Chattanooga Association of

Ma., teamed up with a local

transform a local rural property into a

owners. Rebuild Day is an

REALTORS®, Tenn., raised

National Historical Park and

natural community gathering space,

annual event at the St. Louis

more than $73,000 in 2016

youth group to refurbish a

the Plymouth and South Shore As-

Association of REALTORS®

for Habitat for Humanity

meeting and picnic area this

sociation of REALTORS®, Pa., funded

in conjunction with Rebuild-

through its well-attended

year. The project was funded

and planted an organic community

ing Together St. Louis, a

charity golf tournament

by the association and a

garden. A $2,500 Placemaking

community revitalization

and wine tasting event.


Micro-Grant from the REALTOR®

organization. This year

Tickets sold for $49 to

Placemaking Grant.

Party supported the con-

more than 100 member

$69 and the golf

struction of multiple

volunteers tackled day-long

tournament entry

rehab and beautification

fee was $150 per


io n
T h o cia t a
a ei v d R ®
which were built over two
rec ALTO
in g
days by volunteers including Partyemak
P nt .
about 20 REALTORS®. The

raised garden beds,

garden features a dedicated

tasks for the community’s

person ($600 per

needy and elderly home

team). Additional

owners. The associa-

tickets were sold

tion also presented the

onsite for whiskey

“demonstration” bed for teaching gar-

organization with a check

tasting and

dening skills. The remaining beds are

for $20,000. “Volunteering

ball-toss events.

available for public gardening, and the

to help Rebuilding Together

The association

community is encouraged to donate

St. Louis mend these homes

alternates every

excess produce to area food pantries.

is a true labor of love for our

year between

The garden is one component of a

organization,” says John

hosting a Habitat for

p Build family homes.

larger site that also features benches,

Gormley, association CEO.

Humanity fundraising

In September, when the

event and a home-building

Habitat for Humanity in

picnic tables, and a tree swing to welcome visitors to the scenic open fields

Support Habitat for

event where members

Eugene, Ore., sent out a call

and nearby complex of walking trails.

Humanity. The Greater

help with construction.

for volunteers, the Eugene
Association of REALTORS®’
Young Professionals Net-

t Turn out to revitalize. Four-

work responded. Nearly

teen homes in an urban Kansas

a dozen members helped

City neighborhood were revital-

with construction and

ized by 300 REALTORS® during

painting at a home that is

Rock the Block, an event spon-

expected to be occupied

sored by the Kansas City Regional

by a needy family in time

Association of REALTORS® and

for the holiday season.

Habitat for Humanity to improve
quality of life and home values.


FALL 2016




Charity &
Caring for the disadvantaged, homeless, and hungry.
A. Collect food donations
The Northeast Association of REALTORS® in Westford,
Mass., holds a food drive every year to benefit a local food


bank. Members work with local grocery stores and the food
bank to coordinate a day to staff donation tables outside the
stores. This year, the association collected 3,306 pounds of
food and $575 in donations to purchase additional food.

B. Support law enforcement
To encourage its community to show support
for local fallen police officers, the Coeur d’Alene
Association of REALTORS® in Idaho participated in its local “Paint the Town Blue” event
by asking members to install blue lightbulbs
in their porch light fixtures. The association
ordered blue lightbulbs for each of its 1,100
p Nationwide
Salvation Army
ring day for real
estate professinals
is Dec. 2, 2016.

members and sold additional bulbs to
members to give to clients and friends for
$2. Each bulb box explained the goal of the event and
provided a spot for the agent’s business card. Members purchased more than 6,000 bulbs. Proceeds went to the Kootenai County Police & Fire Memorial Foundation, which helps
families of fallen or health-stricken police and firefighters.

C. Help the homeless
Fundraising in public places brings attention not only to
the charity but also to the volunteers asking for donations.
At the REALTORS® Association of Lincoln, Neb., dozens of
members pinned large REALTOR® badges to their charity-branded T-shirts and hit the street corners to raise
money for Matt Talbot Kitchen & Outreach, benefiting the
area’s homeless. “We know REALTORS® do more than sell

by the REALTORS® Association of Lincoln, Neb., collected

houses. They care about this community, and we know

more than 8,000 pairs to be dis-

individuals in the community who are homeless or nearly

tributed to the poor, homeless, and
near-homeless population using the
services of the People’s City Mission
and Homeless Prevention Center.
Dropoff sites this year were at members’ offices and throughout the city.



FALL 2016

Online Promotion

p Encourage Giving. The fifth annual sock drive sponsored

Association of
Lioncoln hosts a
standalone website at
to communicate all its
community outreach

homeless are just as important as home owners,” says
Diana Schilf, chair of the association’s community relations
committee. This year’s event in October coincided with the
Nebraska vs. Wisconsin college football game. Volunteers
wore black “Huskers Helping the Homeless” T-shirts and
stood outside of Sam’s Club, Walmart, and other stores.


emails to promote each year’s charity and

is essential to the success of any charity

fundraising events. This year, information

program. Regularly inform members

was posted on the association website and in

and encourage them to participate.

the online and print newsletter about several

Invite the local media and send them

events, including a holiday toy drive, break-

post-event coverage and photos. Post

fast with Santa, a school

photos of members on social media

uniform drive, and a karaoke

and thank them for their service.

fundraiser, benefiting SAM
Ministries, a local interfaith


Rally members to give. Communication

San Antonio’s
most popular
event is its charity
Christmas event for
disadvantaged kids.

t At the San Antonio Board of REALTORS®,

organization offering shelter

Texas, the communications department

and services to the home-

creates fliers, social media graphics, and

less and those at risk of becoming homeless.


Tour for workforce housing. The Madera Association of REALTORS®, Calif., teamed up with the
local school district to hold a bus tour of affordable
homes for new and potential teachers. All attendees received a home booklet with listings, advice

Introducing renters and families to
their homeownership possibilities.

on using a REALTOR®, and advertisements from
affiliate sponsors including lenders and insurance
companies. The post-tour luncheon gave the
association a forum to educate teachers about the
homebuying process and area housing options.
p Host a housing expo.
Fight veteran homelessness. This summer the

Partnering with the city

Austin Board of REALTORS® responded to its

of Joliet, Ill., the chamber

mayor’s call to end homelessness among its U.S.

of commerce, and local

veterans. With a $15,000 Housing Opportunity

employers, the Three

Grant from the REALTOR® Party, the association

Rivers Association of

funded a program to transition homeless veterans

REALTORS® used a

into long-term housing. The association’s many

$4,000 REALTOR® Party

property management members were an invalu-

Housing Opportunity

p Promote affordable housing. The

able resource for securing rental housing stock

Grant to host a housing

REALTOR® Association of Pioneer Valley,

for the veterans. The association’s charitable

expo in April that

Mass., worked with community partners

foundation also provided $5,000 to a fund called

showcased local housing

to host an affordable housing and resource

Housing for Heroes that mitigates risk for potential

stock, the area’s high

block party in the town of Springfield,

landlords. Association CEO Paul Hilgers says the

quality of life, and the

where more than half of the residents are

project has been a great opportunity for

amenities of the city.

renters. Music, food, and children’s’ activities

REALTORS® to demonstrate their leadership in

Expo attendees took

attracted a crowd to the event where

Austin’s business community. “It has been politi-

part in guided tours of

REALTORS®, bankers, and lenders handed

cally meaningful, as well, being involved in an area

area affordable homes

out information and answered questions

not typically thought of as ‘REALTOR® territory.’

on the market. The

about homebuying. The association received

Our involvement has helped to establish important

event was prominently

a $5,000 Housing Opportunity Grant from

relationships with civic leaders working to solve the

featured in local media.

the REALTOR® Party to host the event

problems of homelessness.”

while dozens of members volunteered.


FALL 2016



Youth &

t Fulfill wishes. REALTORS® with the Greater
Piedmont Area Association of REALTORS®,
Va., asked their four local Boys & Girls
Clubs for a wish list of needed supplies.
“REALTORS® collected all the items, including
sports equipment, arts and crafts supplies,

Inspiring and encouraging the
neighbors of tomorrow.

books, board games, school supplies, and
an impressive $6,565 in donations,” says
association CEO Debbie M. Werling.

Raise kids’ spirits. Putting their home

Fund deserving charities. Aiming to

staging and interior design skills to work,

maintain member involvement in its

members of the Lakeland Association

community outreach programs, the

of REALTORS®, N.Y., create bedroom

Capital Area Association of REALTORS®,

makeovers for local children in need.

Ill., selects a different organization every

Over the past four years the association

year to be the primary benefactor of its

has offered this spirit-boosting program

many fundraising events. The associa-

to kids from the local Boys & Girls Clubs

tion’s Community Service Committee

of America, a local school for develop-

this year chose the Refuge Ranch, a

p Feature dreams homes. The Santa

mentally challenged children, and this

horse ranch offering programs for at-risk

Cruz County Association of REALTORS®,

year to two children from police families

children and families in central Illinois.

Calif., partnered with the Soquel Unified

and one child with cancer. Members

The association raised $17,000 from a

School District to produce an 18-month

donate their time and money, and

trivia night fundraiser, live and silent auc-

calendar called “Protecting the Ameri-

sponsors provide furniture and sup-

tion, holiday raffle, and sale of mulligans

can Dream,” which promotes the use of

plies. Local media covered the event.

at its annual golf outing.

REALTORS®. “Elementary and middle
school students drew what their home

sions and could only choose 18, but we

YPN Groups Expand
Outreach Activities

will be doing this again with the Boys &

YPN (Young Practitioners Network)

Girls Club next year.” Calendar sales have

groups at associations nationwide have

been robust as members buy copies to

expanded community outreach efforts,

use as a closing gift or a “thank you.” The

AEs report. These groups gravitate

project budget was $5,000 to produce

toward social events with a purpose.

would look like,” says association CEO
Kathy Hartman. “We had 135 submis-

the calendars, buy prizes for the participants, and host a launch party. Calendar

u At the Bay East Association of

proceeds are split between the associa-

REALTORS®, Calif., its YPN is working

tion and the school district.

to end childhood hunger thousands of
meals at a time. On Aug. 5, Bay East



FALL 2016

YPNers gathered at the Kids Against

t At the Chicago Association of

Hunger Bay Area facility to pack nearly

REALTORS®, its YPN group hosted a

8,000 meals, network, and have fun. “Bay

“Give Back” day at the Union League Boys

East YPN prides itself on not having only

& Girls Club where 60 kids between the

networking events over cocktails, but

ages of 11 and 16 enjoyed pizza, chips,

rather doing something good and giving

drinks, and games, while REALTORS®

back,” says David C. Stark, the associa-

answered questions about pursuing a

tion’s public affairs director.

career in real estate.


Grant Money

Support children in need. Proving that
no association is too small to have a big
impact in its community, the 82-member

REALTOR® Party grants from

Greater Mason City Board of REALTORS®,

the National Association of

Iowa, partners with its local food bank, The

REALTORS® fund hundreds

Salvation Army, the Iowa Department of

of local association outreach

Natural Resources, and Meals-on-Wheels. A

programs every year. Apply

recent addition to its community outreach


program is My Happy Place, a local nonprofit

• Housing Opportunity

that provides room makeovers for children


suffering from illness, disease, or emotional

• Smart Growth Grant

distress. “The REALTORS® raise every dollar
they use in each project, and then donate

p Drive backpack donations. Members of

their time and talent to paint walls to trans-

the Knoxville Area Association of

form a child’s bedroom,” says association EO

REALTORS® presented 241 backpacks,

Amber Scholl.

filled with school supplies, to the nonprofit

Sometimes a charitable organization will

Youth Villages on Aug. 5. This was the sixth

• Diversity Grant
• Placemaking Micro-Grant
• Game Changer Program

contact the board for help; in other cases, a

year in a row that KAAR sent hundreds of

The REALTOR® Party

REALTOR® will suggest a cause that could

local, disadvantaged children to school with

has awarded $500,000 in

benefit from the board’s involvement. “Our

brand-new backpacks and all the school

grants so far this year.

members live here, and have family here,

supplies they need to succeed. The associ-

and have a reason to be invested in the

ation’s community involvement committee

community beyond the benefit that it brings

raised more than $15,000 to fund the effort.

to their business,” says Julie McQuaid, 2016
president of the board. “This is a group that
understands the importance of being a positive influence in the community.”
The association

tion a
r ant s
n g
OR ®
for m
th e R
a n d th
of Iow
Par t y

established a
Outreach Task
Force from a
handful of
p Volunteer at the Boys

REALTORS® and two staff members
who meet monthly with area groups to

& Girls Club. A member

implement plans for broad-ranging and

of the Royal Palm Coast

frequently occurring volunteer opportunities

REALTOR® Association, Fla.,

and fundraising events.

paints at a local BGCA. In all,

REALTORS® and staff who volunteer for

REALTORS® have contrib-

these projects proudly wear their blue

uted their time or funds to

REALTOR® T-shirts or jackets, and the

support 205 local Boys &

community is very much aware of the good

Girls Clubs that serve nearly

that REALTORS® are doing, says McQuaid.

p Give to the Boys & Girls Club. This summer

20,000 kids. REALTOR®

The board promotes its volunteer opportuni-

the St. Louis Association of REALTORS® solicited

associations, individual

ties through its website, its Facebook page,

school supply donations to fill 500 association

members, and brokerage

email blasts, and direct phone calls and in its

-branded backpacks for kids at the Boys & Girls

firms have donated more

monthly membership newsletter.

Clubs of Greater St. Louis.

than $100,000 to local clubs.


FALL 2016



REALTOR® Care Day in Ohio, REALTORS® Care Day in North Carolina
and New Jersey, and REALTOR® Action Day in North Carolina,
are programs that coordinate members’ various volunteering
efforts on a single day, which creates larger events with more
participants, more work accomplished, and more media coverage.

Amplify Your Outreach
With Collaborative Events
By Shane Johnson, CEO, Wilmington Regional Association of REALTORS®, N.C.


to put the full resources of the

A similar multiassociation

association behind an effort that

one-day effort, REALTOR®

would make a big statement.

Care Day, has been underway

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo,

in central Ohio since 2005,

also a REALTOR®, participated

contributing nearly $369,000 in

magine 30 percent of your

ever done,” says Sherri Pickard,

in RAD both years. “This event

improvements and repairs and

membership engaged in

association past president.

has had substantial impact in

hundreds of hours of service.

Beyond the great public-

the region,” he says. “Beyond

dozens of community outreach

“It’s really something to see

activities on the same morning,

ity we received and the good

the goodwill that has been built

how much we can accomplish

generating media attention

works done, RAD recreated that

up for WRAR the past two years,

in one day,” says John Royer,

and thousands of social media

feeling of membership unity that

REALTORS® are increasingly

2016 president of the Columbus

posts. At my association, the

can get lost in the REALTOR®

seen as active contributors to

Board of REALTORS®, Ohio. “But

Wilmington Regional Associ-

community. “RAD also builds

the community, neighborhood

what’s really heartwarming is

ation of REALTORS® in North

the REALTOR® brand in light of

by neighborhood.”

the appreciation from the home-

Carolina, we call that RAD, or

community service, which helps

REALTOR® Action Day, now in

better position the image of the

cent Topsail Island Association

tions. This is such a rewarding

its second year.

association in the community

of REALTORS®, says that al-

event for everyone involved.”

Arlene Miller, AE at the adja-

owners as well as the organiza-

and with key decision-makers,”

though the community exposure

Wilmington association in May

says Adrienne Cox, Wilmington’s

is great, members participate in

REALTORS® Association’s

joined dozens of members of

public affairs director.

Nearly 580 members of the

The Charlotte Regional

RAD because they enjoy it. “It’s

REALTORS® Care Day, like ours,

the neighboring Topsail Island

For years, members have

also been a great way to collabo-

is a one-day event with simul-

Association of REALTORS® to

individually participated in com-

rate with a neighboring associa-

taneous projects. In 2016, the

visit senior centers, plant sea

munity acts and charitable


us Board

tion,” she says.
ORS®’ m

association’s ninth annual event

oats to stabilize the beach, rake

events, and they continue

leaves at parks, install land-

to do so. Yet with the

scaping at community centers,

new focus on REALTOR®

projects throughout the area.

and erect fences at youth cen-

associations’ Core Stan-

There’s also an annual REAL-

ters, among other activities.

dards requirement for

TORS® Care Day sponsored by

community outreach,

the North Central Jersey Associ-

we knew we needed

ation of REALTORS®, that will ex-

“In all my years of membership, this is the best event we’ve



FALL 2016


attracted nearly 700 members to
take part in home improvement


Voice for
Real Estate
Ch a r




® A ss


n out

a ch

Speaking out and providing data about housing,
neighbors, and the value of using a REALTOR®.
Be the source for home sales
statistics. Like many local REALTOR®
associations, the Greater Tulsa

pand to a statewide program in 2017
with the support of the New Jersey Association

Association of REALTORS®, issues

REALTORS®. The Pennsylvania Association of

monthly home sales statistics

REALTORS® held its eighth annual Realtors®

to members and the media. The

Reach Out month in October. Nearly 30 local

association’s statistics are based on

associations sponsored events ranging from

the Northeast Oklahoma Real Estate
p Promote members. “REALTORS®

Services’ multiple listing service data and

Make It Right” is the slogan for the

are often picked up by local media and

adequate financial resources, association

outreach campaign from the Charlotte

used in online articles and blogs,

collaboration, and staff hours to run smoothly.

Regional REALTORS®, N.C., that

which establishes the association as a

We provide project materials, tools, volunteer

includes digital, mobile, and print

credible source of

T-shirts, and the celebration barbecue meal,

advertising, social media outreach, a

data for the media.

and this year we had seven business partner

website (, local

u Put the facts

sponsors to help foot the bill. In addition, each

TV spots, and outdoor digital billboard

on social media.

town in which we planted sea oats donated

advertising all aimed at promoting the

The Orlando

about $2,000 worth of the plants. We also

use of a REALTOR®. “We increased


received an NAR Placemaking Micro-Grant to

the budget from $100,000 last year to


help fund building a community garden as part

$175,000 this year,” say association

regularly creates

of RAD. Plus, we did a special project with our

president Maren Brisson-Kuester.


commercial members in which we landscaped

“That’s an extremely modest spend

market snapshot infographics

the Community Boys & Girls Club, installed a

by advertising standards, but because

for social media, and monthly market

new fence, and then hosted a celebration party

of our creative approach (engaging,

report videos with easy-to-understand

with 108 youth members.

light-hearted animation) and using

data tables and comparisons.

food drives to neighborhood clean ups.
RAD has a great payoff but it requires

In addition to funding, promoting RAD and

association staff and our members for

soliciting volunteers is critical. RAD is scheduled

voice-over narration, we can devote a

the first Tuesday of April—the usual time slot

high percentage of our dollars to actual

for weekly real estate office meetings, so it’s

ad purchases, not production costs. It’s

important for brokers to reschedule for that

a great value that is yielding results.”

week. “We also make calls to members and visit
dozens of offices to register folks,” says Cox.

u Make media appearances. The

“This is especially important in the first year.”

West Michigan Lakeshore Asso-

“In year one we mobilized about 20 percent

ciation of REALTORS® took to the

of membership,” says Pickard. “This year we

airwaves this year to promote benefits of working with REALTORS® in a series of

moved 30 percent into the field, and our goal is

commercials running on five radio stations. “The public seems to like these, and

40 percent in 2017.”

members find them to be a ‘feel good’ about their association,” says CEO Dale

REALTOR® Action Day is a scalable pro-

Zahn. Association President Doug Klaasen (above right) and Zahn (left) made guest

gram that any local REALTOR® association can

appearances on radio stations several times in 2016. In September the association

launch. Contact me at for a

hosted a “Media Day” luncheon for local print, radio, and TV journalists highlighting

free planning kit.

all that the association is involved in plus the monthly housing market updates.






need to know: advocacy

The Best Politicians to Back
How to get your board and members on board with candidate selection.


ntegrity, transparency, and trust aren’t

Whether those communities are residential

to the RASM board. A recommendation may

always associated with politics, but they

or commercial, clients look for good schools,

further include a request for a monetary

are essential when your association

sound infrastructure, reasonable cost of

contribution as well as use of REALTOR®

is engaged in the political process of

living, and other variables that are affected

Party resources. Our board then reviews all

recommending candidates for office. There

by who’s in office. Our involvement in the

pertinent information before a final decision

is no denying that politics is a controversial

political process ensures that our members

is made. Although our board gets the final

topic. When representing more than 6,500

have a quality community to sell because of

say, some associations give full autonomy

members as we do here in Florida at the

quality elected officials.

to the selection committee and don’t allow

REALTOR® Association of Sarasota and

The process of getting a REALTOR®

Manatee, our candidate recommendations

Champion elected varies by association.

won’t please everyone, and neither will

What works here in Sarasota and Manatee

yours. Accepting this and understanding

may not work in other associations. Estab-

the importance of why you’re involved in

lishing a process that works for your associa-

the political process will prove to be one

tion may take a few tries, just as it did for us,

of the greatest member benefits for your

but it will come together.


We start at the beginning of each election

As a Government Affairs director, I see

cycle, when the RASM Political Action

their board to overturn their decision.

Our involvement in the
political process ensures
that our members have
a quality community to
sell because of quality
elected officials.

daily how action—or inaction—by elected

Advisory Committee identifies which local

officials can negatively affect REALTORS®

and state races the organization is inter-

and their clients. REALTORS® deserve the

ested in. We focus solely on offices that can

Our candidate selection process involves

opportunity to focus on their business with-

come into conflict with our policy positions.

33 REALTOR® members between our PAAC

out worry that another unnecessary burden

Through our candidate vetting process, each

and board. It’s common for REALTOR®

will affect their livelihood. These burdens

candidate is asked to complete a profile that

associations to include major investors on

may include ordinances banning For Sale

covers basic information so that the time

the selection team, a great major-investor

signs or, more extreme, a sales tax on ser-

allotted for an interview is focused on our

benefit. However the committee is com-

vice that equals a further tax on commission.

issues, not theirs. Our PAAC members then

posed, each member must understand the

These burdens are easier to avoid when our

rate each candidate based on the quality of

importance of their recommendations and

supporters, aka REALTOR® Champions, are

their interview and how their responses align

that integrity must remain the top priority.

elected to office.

with our public policy positions. After a total

Prior to each round of interviews, members

tally of individual scores and a verbal vote of

are asked to identify any possible conflicts

members, a recommendation may be made

of interest, which may include monetary

I often tout that REALTORS® don’t merely
sell property, they sell entire communities.



FALL 2016


donations, personal endorsements, or even simple praise on social

ation grows, most members tend to find that so does the support of

media. Should the committee decide a sufficient conflict is present,

the recommended candidates and the process.

that member is excluded from voting but still able to participate in

As the largest professional organization in the country, our

the discussion. Their input is valuable because there is a reason they

strength is in numbers. Most successful associations take advantage

have decided to support a given candidate.

of that through grassroots efforts. Your association can determine

As humans, we are inherently biased. Most of the members on

the level of involvement for each race. Simply putting your REAL-

our selection committee are extremely involved in politics or they

TOR® association name behind a candidate does go a long way, but

would have no interest in being on the committee. What I greatly

using REALTOR® Party resources can often lead your REALTOR®

respect is their ability to understand their role and set their personal

champions to victory.

party affiliation and beliefs aside to do what’s best for the organiza-

For any REALTOR® associations looking to get involved or wanting

tion. I’ve had members share that they won’t personally vote for a

to reevaluate their process, government affairs directors and other

recommended candidate but that they understand why the organi-

associations can share what works. By reaching out to associations

zation is behind that particular individual. That’s when you know the

of various sizes and levels of involvement, you will piece together

process is working.

what works for you.

After the candidate has been selected, your organization must
spread the word to get him or her elected. Having a well-established
process will allow you to demonstrate why a candidate was chosen.

Adam R. Davis is government affairs director at the
REALTOR® Association of Sarasota and Manatee, Fla.
Contact him at 941-952-3410 or

Over time, as the culture of political involvement within your associ-

Host Your Own Candidate
Training Academy
Often the best REALTOR® Champions
are REALTORS® themselves. That’s
the idea behind the Candidate Training
Academy. It gives REALTORS® interested in
running for political office an introduction
to and expectation of how to run for
elected office. It is intended to give
candidates a valuable head start in their
political journeys and information on
how to run successful campaigns.
State or local associations can host
this day-long program either with an NARprovided facilitator or their own. NAR has
conveniently established a core curriculum
that consists of seven chapters. Associations
may use the outlined core curriculum, or
pick and choose the curriculum that best
suits their candidates’ needs. Materials
are available from NAR at no cost to
associations and are provided as a direct
result of the REALTOR® Party Initiative.
For more, contact Kyle Lambert London
at or 202-383-1203.




need to know: tech

Boost Your Social Media Reach
How to use the metrics about your fans, follows, likes, mentions,
and shares to build a better a communications plan.


rom click rates and impressions to fans
and followers, social media sites and
email services make it easy to measure

how many members you’re reaching with
your posts. It’s great to have all this data
at your fingertips. But what do you do with
it all? How can metrics help guide your
communications to win your members’
attention and increase their engagement
with your association?
At the Greater Capital Area Association
of REALTORS®, Md., we dug into our data
and discovered meaningful trends that have
inspired new approaches to using our communications vehicles. Here’s what we did
and how it could work for your association:

Take a long-term view
of social media

lar Facebook post was a link to a Washington

no matter how basic, will help you organize

Social media is all about immediacy. The

Post article about a new sales contract,

your goals and ideas, set and keep realistic

sites show your traffic in real time. The open

which reached four times as many people as

timelines, and measure your success.

screen of a metrics page typically shows

our second-most popular post.

At GCAAR, we found that our most popu-

communications plan. Writing out a plan,

For example, we plan to post more photos
of members on Facebook and we’ve set

daily visits, views, and clicks on your most
recent posts, and changes to your number

Dig deeper

up a system to ensure that everyone in the

of followers or fan base. This information is

Now that you are looking at the big picture,

picture is tagged.

terrific if you are trying something new and

search for patterns. Look at your top five

want immediate feedback on how a cam-

posts and your bottom five posts. Patterns

Build support for your plan

paign is being received or need to quickly

may appear by content (education, legis-

Share your data, analysis, and conclusions

measure if your call to action is getting any

lation, contracts, new member benefits,

with your communications committee or


or other topics), links, photos or images,

directors, fellow staff members, and any

hashtags, or countless other ways.

other stakeholders whose buy-in you need to

But while weekly information is interesting, it may not help you figure out what

We found that four of our five most-

make your plan successful. If your analysis

type of Facebook content your members

popular Facebook posts included pictures of

suggests going in a different direction, add-

want more of or what will get them engaged

members during association meetings and

ing a new social media outlet, or dropping a

on Twitter. If you aggregate your data into


communications channel altogether, you’ll

quarterly and annual reports and look at

need the support of your stakeholders to

your top posts over a 12-month period, you’ll

Change what you do

get a more accurate picture of the type of

Analyzing your data is an enormous waste

information your members respond to. What

of time and resources if it doesn’t improve

Get inspired

made it into your annual top five?

your output. Translate your patterns into a

If your members aren’t engaged, try a new



FALL 2016

make those changes work.


NAR’s Official

Social media beyond Facebook
Interested in increasing your social media reach but
not sure which platform to add? Give some thought
to the generation you want to reach. According to

Credit Card

the Pew Research Center, 55 percent of internet
users ages 18–29 are on Instagram, but LinkedIn is
the only social media platform for which usage rates
are higher among 30–49-year-olds than among
18–29-year-olds. There’s also YouTube, Snapchat,
Pinterest, and Twitter to consider.
voice, a different look, or a unique approach. There are
countless resources to inspire great social media posts
online. Look at what others are doing. Google “great subject lines” or “awesome association posts” and you’ll be
amazed at what’s out there for you to adapt. When you find
something that resonates with your members, follow its
direction and use it as a beacon for your future postings.
Don’t forget to look at metrics across your entire
communications vehicle spectrum. Your email marketing
platform should, at a minimum, provide open rates and
click-through rates. For metrics on print publications, you’ll
need good old-fashioned surveys and focus groups. Keep
in mind that comparing this data to your social media metrics will be apples to oranges, so take any comparison with
a grain of salt. Social media can engage your members in
ways that just aren’t possible with email and print but can
suck up staff resources at an astounding rate. Balancing
your staff’s time within the channels that are most effective will prove impossible if you aren’t measuring the reach
and resonance of all your communications.
One of our priorities for the rest of this year is to
reinvigorate our Twitter following. Instead of retweeting
everything we post on Facebook, our first experiment will
be to use Twitter primarily during association events and

State and local Association Business
Credit Cards have these great features:
• No personal guarantee
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• Earn and redeem points for your Association
with millions of options
• Request cards for your staff to pay for your
Association’s expenses

Apply for a REALTOR® Credit Card* for
your Association today!**

Stop by the Credit Union at

NAR Booth #327
Conference & Expo
November 4–7, 2016

getting attendees to do the same. We’ll measure as we go
to see how it works.
In short: Look at your all-time best posts, figure out
what made them great, and do more. Being strategic in
how you approach social media will help focus your communications resources in the channels that work best with
your members.

Amy Ritsko-Warren, RCE , is a project strategist
at the Greater Capitol Area Association of
REALTORS®, Md. Contact her at 301-590-8777


**Your initial Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will range from 8.25%
to 18.00% based on your creditworthiness. After this, your APR is
subject to change monthly based on the Prime Rate published in
the Wall Street Journal on the last business day of the prior month.
Credit card rates apply to cash advances, balance transfers, and
outstanding balances on purchases. There is no annual fee, no
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transactions are subject to a fee of up to 1% of the
transaction amount.
**Membership eligibility and Primary Savings account
required to join and obtain credit.

Federally insured by NCUA


need to know: legal

Pros and Cons of Establishing
a Charitable Organization
Now that every association is required to conduct community
outreach under the Core Standards program, many are establishing
separate charitable organizations to better manage their efforts.


n August, the 1,000-member Fort Collins

city of Flint. The new fund, also a 501(c)(3)

determine its purpose. What will the goals

Board of REALTORS®, Colo., received final

organization, will be ongoing and provide

of the organization be? Which communities

IRS approval for its Future of Housing

housing-related assistance to victims of

or groups will the organization assist? Some

Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organi-

disasters and for other charitable purposes,

associations have charitable organizations

zation, which aims to raise tens of thousands

says association Director of Communica-

with an educational focus, such as the Illinois

of dollars each year to support local housing

tions & Marketing Joe Kras.

Real Estate Educational Foundation, a not-

“Using the foundation approach enables

and affordability efforts.

for-profit established to aid and promote the

us to better define the scope of our outreach

work of real estate education throughout the

cause our budgeted community investments

as opposed to raising money for all different

state. Other associations create housing-

over the years were becoming something we

kinds of causes,” says Kras.

related organizations, for example the Lex-

“We decided to establish a foundation be-

just did because we had always done it,” says

When an association files its 501(c)

ington-Bluegrass Association of REALTORS®’

association CEO Clint Skutchan, RCE. The

(3) paperwork with the IRS, it is required

501(c)(3) REALTOR® Community Housing

foundation will serve to formalize the associ-

to define a relatively narrow scope of the

Foundation in Kentucky. Other charities have

ation’s commitment to community outreach,

organization’s purpose.

a broader scope, such as the Santa Clara

boost its public profile as a contributor to the
community, and enable the association to
leverage additional dollars from the state and
national levels, he says.
Taking a
more focused

“Using the foundation approach enables us to
better define the scope of our outreach as opposed
to raising money for all different kinds of causes.”
—Joe Kras, Director of Communications & Marketing, Michigan Association of REALTORS®

the Michigan

In the wake of the historic
floods that swept through
southern Louisiana this past
summer, the Louisiana
REALTORS® launched an
ongoing donation effort
through its 501(c)(3)
organization to provide
support for flood victims.



There are many reasons to establish a

County REALTORS® Foundation, a 501(c)(3)

Association of

charitable giving vehicle such as a public

in California that focuses on giving to hous-


charity, private foundation, community

ing, education, community projects, social

new Michigan

foundation, or a donor advised fund. Usually

services, and disaster relief.


the most compelling reason to establish a

The purpose of the charitable organiza-

Relief Fund was

501(c)(3) is to offer donors a tax write-off.

tion must be one recognized under federal


Yet, these organizations also are exempt

and state law as a permissible purpose

earlier this year

from paying federal income tax and sales

for operating a nonprofit. A relief fund

to expedite the

tax on certain purchases.

that distributes money only to association

receipt and dona-

If you see a 501(c)(3) in your associa-

tion of charitable

tion’s future, there are legal requirements

aid from Michi-

and other important points to consider.

members, for example, would not meet the
criteria for a charity.
The next step is to organize the charity
under the state’s nonprofit statutes as either

and others to the

Creating a charitable organization

a trust or a corporation. Although state laws

water crisis in the

The first step in creating a charity is to

differ, generally a trust is used when there is


a single donor to the orga-

zation truly represents the

nization, and a corporation


is used if the organization
is going to solicit multiple
contributors. Creating
a nonprofit corporation
requires drafting articles of
incorporation and bylaws,

Connecticut Association of
REALTORS® Foundation is
a 501(c)(3) established in
2009 at the request of the
membership so that the
association could accept tax
deductible contributions and
respond quickly to national
disasters in Connecticut.

Note that charitable your

“If a local
association has
very limited staff,

organization must be, through

I’m not sure I’d

its bylaws, connected to the

advise them to

association to be eligible for

establish a fund,”

coverage through the NAR’s

cautions Kathie

Professional Liability Insur-

Feldpausch, RCE,

ance Program for REALTOR®

CAE, Michigan

structure, board selection

associations. It also needs to


process, general deci-

be able fit under the insur-

senior vice

including governance

The 501(c)(3) Michigan
REALTORS® Relief Fund®
was established to expedite
the receipt and donation
of aid from members and
supporting organizations
in response to the water
crisis in the city of Flint.

sion-making, required meetings, and con-

ance policy’s definition of “foundation,”

president and

flict-of-interest policies, among others. Also

which is a “charitable trust or corporation …

chief financial

your nonprofit needs a name. Consult your

established for charitable, educational, or re-

officer. “It brings with it all of the filings of

association attorney during the creation of

search purposes that qualifies as an exempt

a corporation, so you’d want to make sure

this entity. All of these materials are then

organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the

you understand that it’s a living, breathing

filed with your state’s secretary of state. If

Internal Revenue Code” or that has an exempt

corporation as much as your association is,

the entity is going to become a federal 501(c)

purpose as defined by the IRS.

but just on a smaller scale.”

(3) tax-exempt charity, there is an additional

Charitable organizations typically have

IRS application process that can take several

Keep the charity alive

the following annual responsibilities:

months to complete.

An association considering creating a chari-

zx Annual state corporation filings

table organization should realize that it takes

zx Federal and state tax returns

tion is established in its bylaws will deter-

time and follow-through at the outset, and

zx Annual renewal of charitable solicitation

mine how the REALTOR® association and

that there are ongoing responsibilities for

license. About 40 states require an entity

the organization interact with each other.

maintaining the entity. Associations should

that is soliciting charitable donations to

Although the association should ensure

make sure they have sufficient staffing to

register with the state. After the initial

that the charitable organization operates

continue operating the charitable organi-

registration, the license is renewed each

separately, it may want to establish that it

zation, including enough people to conduct

year if the entity is going to continue to

will select directors for the charitable entity

meetings, solicit donations, promote the

solicit contributions.

or require that all directors be members of

organization, and communicate with outside

the association. Adding such requirements

entities that may wish to donate or apply for

corporation, the charitable entity will

will help ensure that the charitable organi-


need to conduct at least an annual

The structure of the charitable organiza-

zx An annual meeting. As with any

meeting and keep corporate records,

Fundraising on Facebook, Just for Charities

such as meeting minutes.
Establishing a charity is not right for

Facebook is moving forward with enabling charitable donations on its platform

every association, and not having one

with a program only for IRS-registered 501(c)(3) organizations. Nonprofits can

doesn’t limit the scope of your outreach.

raise money directly from their Facebook page by applying for a new donate button

For more information and guidance on

(different from the older “donate now” button) that enables easy two-tap giving

setting up a charity, access NAR’s 22-page

by using a donor’s saved credit card information in their Facebook account—not

guide “Benevolent Funds: A Toolkit to Chari-

sending them to an external donation site. Although it is free for organizations to set

table Giving,” at

up their charity page, Facebook takes 3 percent of all contributions to cover credit
card processing and an additional 2 percent to cover costs associated with vetting
nonprofits, payment support, operational costs, security, and fraud protection,
the company says. Sign up your 501(c)(3) organization at


Finley Maxson is a senior
counsel at the National
Association of REALTORS®.
Contact him at 312-329-8381

FALL 2016



AE voices: profile

Sowing the Seeds
of Outreach
Norman Morris, RCE, CAE, on the intersection of advocacy
acy and disaster relief


mmediately after strong storms in ­August

website that’s a huge resource for members

to do more. We have great working relation-

sent record-high floodwater through

and the public on issues like how to get their

ships with some of the state agencies and

­communities in southern Louisiana,

homes rebuilt, how to handle issues such as

their leaders—as well as with elected officials

the disaster relief program from the state

flood insurance, FEMA, SBA loans, and mold

and their staff—so we’re able to get timely

REALTOR® association went into action. At

remediation. After the most recent flooding,

and accurate information out to members.

first, the Louisiana REALTORS® worked with

we held a webinar with experts to give advice

Elected officials really do appreciate our

four local REALTOR® associations to get gift

on tax issues as they relate to the flooding

efforts and they look to us as a resource

cards out to affected members and home

and advice on insurance claims, and attor-

when it comes to helping out with disaster

owners for immediate necessities such as

neys talked about how to deal with property

relief, especially with information for home

toiletries and food. Next were $500 grants

sale contracts affected by the flooding.

owners. They see REALTORS® out there

to help with repairs to homes and property,

Over the years, we learned that we need

and after that came funding of up to $1,000

to continuously raise dollars for the fund so

time with various outreach efforts and I think

to pay the mortgages or rents of members

that we’re equipped financially. We’ve learned

that only solidifies—along with our grass-

and others whose homes were severely

that we need to have a simple and stream-

roots and legislative activities—that we are

damaged or destroyed. Providing aid to

lined grant application process and flexible

the voice for real estate. Officials count on us

flood-­affected citizens was a quick and

and transparent decision-making. When a

to be a key player in the event of a disaster.

streamlined ­process.

disaster occurs, it has to be very simple for

Louisiana REALTORS® Relief Foundation
is a model for the rest of the country. Here,
association CEO Norman Morris, who has

doing great work in the community all the

REALTORS® and the public to apply for relief

Q. What advice do you have


for associations that do not

Lastly, we realized that success comes

yet have a relief fund?

been with the organization for 20 years,

through a clear and supportive relationship

Disasters occur everywhere, so I would tell

talks about what he has learned to do during

between all levels of the organization. We

them to take a hard look at creating some

a natural disaster, plus how being active in

try to be the center point for coordinating

type of program where they could provide

the community politically and legislatively

resources and funding, but if someone does

resources, either financial or nonfinancial,

benefits relief activities.

something better, whether it’s national or

to help people in a time of need. It’s the

local, then we defer to them. We’re not wor-

right thing to do. It’s important to show

Q. Since your relief foundation was

ried about who gets credit as we go through

that REALTORS® not only support each

established after Hurricane Katrina in

the process of helping people in need.

other but also give back to help their

2005, what have you learned that has


made the process run more smoothly?

Q. How has your association’s active

Unfortunately, we’ve had our share

First, we learned to not underestimate the

role in politics been a benefit when it

of disasters, and they’re not easy to go

severity of disasters. We try to act fast and

comes to disaster relief?

through, but our members are very resil-

get out ahead of the disaster to make things

Politics and outreach go hand in hand. We’ve

ient. The great thing I’ve seen through all

happen quicker. Another key is to promote

built a strong volunteer culture as far as

the disasters is the kind, caring, and giving

the fund, what it’s used for, and the resources

advocating, investing, voting, and commu-

nature of REALTORS®. They are out there

available, both financial and informational.

nity outreach. We’ve used REALTOR® Party

helping people get back on their feet. It’s a

We created a disaster relief page on our

resources from NAR, and that’s enabled us

rewarding thing to be a part of.



FALL 2016



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