Legislative advocacy is the cornerstone of organized real estate; it is why the local, state and national associations exist. Advocacy is created and delivered through several platforms: campaign contributions, lobbying, issues-framing, issues mobilization through grass roots movements, and community outreach. Some association employ or contract with a government affairs director (GAD). However, a GAD can only do so much, the real power of the member voice is member engagement. When you respond to a call to action or attend a city council meeting it has a much greater impact than that of a paid representative.
Campaign Contributions- RPAC
One way to ensure our legislators listen to us is to become a needed part of their campaign strategy. As organized real estate we contribute to the national REALTORS Political Action Committee (RPAC). The dollars collected are essentially split equally between the local, state and national associations, to support REALTOR friendly candidates. The NAR recommends a $35 contribution as your fair share of support for this program. You can contribute to RPAC here.
Campaign Contributions- Independent Expenditures
The national association makes funding available to locals for independent expenditures. Independent expenditures are monies spent to promote a particular candidate without that candidate's knowledge. These promotions typically include mailers, radio or television advertising.
This activity often gets a bad wrap, however, lobbying provides a valuable function in ensuring our representatives understand and have knowledge of the full scope of an issue. Lobbying is an attempt to influence government action through either written or oral communication with legislators. Local lobbying includes influencing signage laws, impact fees, occupational fees and taxes, zoning, local sales tax, land use, waste-water management, occupation permits, and environmental issues, as well as many other that impact real estate.
Framing an issue is a little different than lobbying. This activity uses tools such as tone, voice, data, and metaphor to align a mindset about an issue with the moral values of the organization delivering the message. It attempts to bring the issue into context with greater societal issues. An example is using the metaphor "the American Dream" for the activity of home ownership.
Issues Mobilization- Grass Roots Movement
Creating grass roots movements are a very important function of REALTOR associations. A grass roots movement is powerful because as its name implies, those people moving an issue are the constituents (they live in and work in the area represented by the legislator) of the lawmaker. A wonderful tool used by the associations to increase grass roots movements are "Calls-to-Action". Participating in CTA's is easy, the associations craft the message for you and direct it to your representative. To participate in this super easy tool simply text REALTOR to #30644. NAR also has funding available for issues mobilization if the issue involved includes a referendum or a proposed change in law.
Issues Mobilization-Community Outreach
A significant function of the associations is community outreach to improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods we serve. Your local association may participate in blood drives, food drives, backpack programs, park clean-ups, etc. NAR has set aside funding for community outreach. To learn more about what associations can fund read more here.