Issues Mobilization Guidance Document
Purpose and Goal of Program
Issues Mobilization grants provide financial support to state and local REALTOR® associations to enable them to organize and manage effective campaigns to promote positions on public policies (government laws, regulations, and funding priorities) that affect REALTOR® The goal of the Issues Mobilization Program is to support and enhance the capacity of state and local REALTOR® associations to be the leading authorities and primary points of contact on public policies that impact REALTORS® and the real estate industry.
Issue Areas and Activities Outside Scope of Issues Mobilization Program
The following issues and activities are NOT eligible for an Issues Mobilization grant:
- Candidate Elections. Activities include, but are not limited to: research; polling; phone banks; voter contact; public relations; use of media; other activities undertaken in connection with or otherwise related to the support of, or opposition to, any candidate for elected office. An Issues Mobilization Grant may be given to a 501(c)(4) organization provided the organization is not established for the purpose of supporting candidates or influencing candidate elections.
- Electoral Mechanics. Activities include, but are not limited to: redistricting; voter ID or voter fraud laws; dates for state and local elections; term limits; the design and scheduling of primary and general elections; how members of local legislative bodies are elected (e.g., by district or at-large).
- Public Employees. Activities include, but are not limited to: public employee collective bargaining; negotiations over public employee pensions.
- Legal Action. Litigation involving legal issues of significance generally to state and local associations, real estate practitioners or the real estate business, or real property rights or related issues.
- Federal Action. Activities related to federal legislative or regulatory policies (e.g., flood hazard mapping process, designation and management of national monuments) that involve advocacy to the executive or legislative branches of the federal government.
- General Research. Research or analysis that is not part of a public policy advocacy campaign.
- Completed Activities. Any issue campaign activity that has been completed, regardless of whether the overall campaign has concluded.
Methods of Promoting Realtor® Positions on Public Policy Issues
- Legislation (state)
- Ordinance (local)
- Regulation (state or local)
- Ballot Initiative (state or local)
- Referendum (state or local)
- Constitutional Amendment (state)
Types of Campaign Tools Funded By an Issues Mobilization Grant
- Direct Mail
- Emails (to consumers through NAR’s Consumer Advocacy Outreach Program)
- Public Opinion Surveys/Polls
- Phone Banks/Automated Calls/Patch-Through Calls
- Social Media/Websites
- Over The Top (OTT) Internet Streaming Media Services (e.g., Hulu)
- Advertising (television, radio, print, online)
- Grassroots Mobilization
- Bill Drafting
- Billboards, brochures, banners, etc.
The Issues Mobilization Program is funded through two sources: 1) REALTOR® Party budgeted funds; 2) the Corporate Ally Program. The following procedures apply to the use of Corporate Ally Program funds by the Issues Mobilization Program:
- Funds provided for Corporate Ally Program issue investments will be allocated for use in the state chosen by the investor. Investors can choose for the entirety of their investment to go to one state, or they can designate any portion of their investment to go to multiple states. Each investment for any state will be divided equally between the state REALTOR® association for use on state issues and all of the local REALTOR® associations within the state for use on local issues.EXAMPLE 1: ABC MLS, INC. only has members in the state of Maryland. ABC wants the state-specific portion of their investment to be used in Maryland and gives $10,000 to the Corporate Ally Program. Of that $10,000, $5,000 is provided to the NAR State and Local Issues Mobilization Program. One-hundred percent (100%) of the state-specific portion of ABC’s Corporate Ally Program investment ($5,000) will be allocated for use in Maryland state and local REALTOR® issue campaign activity. The $5,000 investment will be split equally with 50% ($2,500) available to the state association for issues and 50% ($2,500) available for the local associations in Maryland to use for local issues.EXAMPLE 2: ABC MLS, INC. has members in Maryland and Virginia and wants the state specific portion of their investment split equally between the two states. Fifty percent (50%) of ABC’s Corporate Ally Program investment will be allocated for use in Maryland state and local REALTOR® activity and the other 50% will be used for Virginia state and local REALTOR® activity. Each state would then split the remaining investment between the state and local associations within the state for use in issue activities.
- Funds provided by Corporate Ally Program issue investments will be maintained by NAR and allocated to the states as directed by investors. Only funds specifically invested through the NAR Corporate Ally Program will be allocated for state use. No other funding that is part of the NAR Issues Mobilization Program, besides NAR Corporate Ally Program investment funds specifically designated to a state or states, will be allocated as part of the Issues Mobilization Program.
- Funds allocated to a state or local REALTOR® association by a Corporate Ally Program investment can be used by an association to wholly or partly cover their “skin in the game” contribution on an Issues Mobilization grant application. Corporate Ally Program allocated funds can be used by an association to cover a maximum of one-hundred percent (100%) of their “skin in the game” contribution.EXAMPLE: Maryland has a $50,000 state allocation available from a Corporate Ally Program investment in the NAR Issues Mobilization Program. The Maryland Association of REALTORS® (MAR) applies to the NAR Issues Mobilization Program for a $100,000 grant to assist with a $125,000 advocacy campaign. The NAR Issues Mobilization Program requires associations requesting this level of funding to provide a minimum 25% contribution. MAR would need to provide a minimum of $25,000 to qualify for the $100,000 Issues Mobilization grant from NAR.MAR can use Corporate Ally Program allocated funds for up to a maximum of one-hundred percent (100%) of their “skin in the game” contribution on an Issues Mobilization grant application. In this example, MAR needs to provide a minimum of $25,000 to meet their “skin in the game” requirement. MAR could use a maximum of $25,000 (100% of their “skin in the game”) from the Corporate Ally Program allocation as their “skin in the game” for their NAR Issues Mobilization grant application. MAR would have a $25,000 balance in their allocation after this Issues Mobilization request is granted that they can apply to future Issues Mobilization grant applications.
- Funds allocated for use in state and local issue campaigns are available for a two (2) year period. Funds that are unused by September 30 of the second year of the two-year period will roll over into the Issues Mobilization Program grants budget and be used to fund grant requests regardless of allocation. Any funds unused by December 31 of that year will roll over into the REALTOR® Party budget.EXAMPLE: Maryland has a $50,000 state allocation available from a 2016 Corporate Ally Program investment in the NAR Issues Mobilization Program. In 2017, the Maryland Association of REALTORS® (MAR) applies to the NAR Issues Mobilization Program for a $100,000 grant to assist with a $125,000 advocacy campaign. The NAR Issues Mobilization Program requires associations requesting this level of funding to provide a minimum 25% “skin in the game” contribution, so MAR would need to provide a minimum of $25,000 to qualify for the $100,000 Issues Mobilization grant. NAR awards the $100,000 grant and applies Corporate Ally Program funds to cover MAR’s $25,000 contribution. The remaining $25,000 from the $50,000 Maryland state allocation goes unused through the remainder of 2017 and through September 2018. On October 1, 2018, the remaining $25,000 rolls over into the Issues Mobilization Program grants budget and is used to fund grant requests regardless of allocation.
Grant Application Process
Applications are submitted by REALTOR® Associations, reviewed by NAR staff, and then considered by NAR’s State and Local Issues Mobilization Support Committee (Committee).
An Issues Mobilization Grant application must be submitted via the web-based application form located on the realtorparty.realtor website. All questions must be answered, including those relating to strategy, timeline, budget and funding sources.
Point of Contact. An appropriate association staff person (EO, GAD, or other designated staff person) must complete and submit the application, be identified on the application as the contact person, and serve as the primary point of contact on communications between the association and NAR (staff and consultants).
Required Signatures. A complete application must be signed by both the applicant association’s “Chief Elected Officer” (a REALTOR®) and “Chief Staff Officer.”
State Association Acknowledgment of Local Association Application. If a local association is submitting the grant application, the signature of the state association’s Chief Staff Officer or his/her designee is required for completion of the grant application process. The State Association signature indicates that the Association is aware of the application and its submission to NAR.
Deadlines for Grant Application Submission. For Committee consideration at a scheduled monthly meeting: a Draft application must be submitted no later than sixteen (16) days prior to the Committee meeting by 5pm Eastern Time, and a Final signed application must be submitted no later than seven (7) days prior to the Committee meeting by 5pm Eastern Time. For Consent Agenda consideration: a Final application must be submitted by Monday at 5pm Eastern Time.
NAR Staff Review
Upon receipt of a draft application, NAR Campaign Services staff and consultants will review the draft to determine if it requires supplemental information or is otherwise incomplete or inadequate for proper review by the Committee. If so, a revised draft application addressing the identified incompleteness or inadequacy must be submitted for final NAR staff review.
In reviewing a draft grant application, NAR staff and consultants will closely review it – including the campaign plan – to ensure that the applicant association is undertaking a well-designed, well-supported, winning effort. Such review includes, but is not limited to: research (e.g., economic, political); member support; overall strategy; timeline; budget (e.g., cost per vote); coalition partner participation and funding. When appropriate, NAR staff will request the NAR Campaign Services contract vendor to develop a comparable campaign plan. If the NAR vendor can provide the same campaign service(s) at a lower cost, the plan will be presented to the applicant association for their consideration. Polling – particularly on large ballot initiative campaigns – is encouraged but not required, and staff will discuss the need for polling with the applicant association on a case-by-case basis.
NAR staff and consultants, when reviewing a draft application and campaign plan that involve coalition partner funding, shall assist the applicant association in establishing clear fundraising benchmarks as well as a tiered campaign plan that reflects a strategy for winning the campaign with a budget that falls short of the projected fundraising goal. Based on their application/campaign plan review and coordination with the association, staff and consultants may recommend that the Committee approve the full grant request but make the funds available in increments based on the percentage of committed coalition partner funding.
EXAMPLE: A coalition campaign has a $1 million budget. An applicant association requests $400,000 from NAR and contributes $200,000 as their required minimum skin-in-the-game contribution. The remaining $400,000 of the campaign budget is dependent on coalition partner funding. At the time that the grant request is made to NAR, only $100,000 of the coalition partner funding has been committed, with the $300,000 balance being uncommitted. Staff may recommend that the Committee approve the $400,000 grant request but condition their approval as follows: $100,000 will be made available to the applicant association immediately, $150,000 will be made available when an additional $150,000 in coalition partner funding is committed, and the remaining $150,000 will be made available when the final $150,000 of coalition partner funding is committed.
Committee Consideration of Application
Once staff determines an application is complete, it will be considered by the State and Local Issues Mobilization Support Committee during one of their scheduled meetings (link to URL) or through the Committee’s Consent Agenda process (see “Applications for Funding Requests of $100,000 or Less”). Monthly Committee meetings are held in-person during the two annual NAR governance meetings and the REALTOR® Party Training conference, and otherwise via teleconference. Applicants requesting $1 million or more must present their requests to the Committee either in-person or by video conferencing at one of the two annual NAR governance meetings or the REALTOR® Party Training Conference. Applicants must make a presentation and answer questions from the Committee during the meeting. Grant applications of greater than $500,000 approved by the Committee must also be reviewed and approved by: NAR’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors, when the application is considered at a Committee meeting during one of the two annual NAR governance meetings; NAR’s Leadership Team, when the application is considered at a Committee teleconference meeting or at the REALTOR® Party Training Conference meeting.
A Committee member has a duty to express his or her opinion on a grant application or other Committee matter by voting. However, a member may abstain. A Committee member should not vote on a question in which (s)he has a direct personal or pecuniary interest not common to other members of the Committee. A member may vote where that member is a member of the state or local Realtor® association whose grant application is before the Committee. A member who abstains from a vote is not counted in determining a decision requiring either a majority vote or a two-thirds vote.
When participating in a coalition campaign, an applicant association is expected to take an active role in the campaign regardless of the amount of the REALTOR® funding contribution. An applicant association is also expected to mobilize REALTORS® at an appropriate level in support of a coalition campaign through member advocacy and association communication tools. In situations where an applicant association has not demonstrated active involvement in a coalition campaign, the grant award will be limited to no more than 50% of the total campaign budget.
Applications for Funding Requests of $100,000 or Less
Consent Agenda Consideration
The State and Local Issues Mobilization Support Committee (the Committee) appoints seven (7) members of the Committee to serve on the “Advisory Group for Issues Mobilization Grant Request Review” (the Advisory Group). The Advisory Group consists of: Committee Chair; Committee Vice Chair; Committee Immediate Past Chair; three (3) Committee members who agree to serve for a one (1) month period; one (1) Executive Officer/Government Affairs Director member of the Committee who agrees to serve for a one (1) month period. The Committee authorizes the Advisory Group to review submitted grant applications requesting $100,000 or less on a weekly basis. Final, signed applications for Advisory Group review must be submitted by Monday at 5:00pm Eastern Time. Applications will be considered that week by both the Advisory Group and the Committee, and the Committee will make their decisions on the applications by 5:00pm Eastern Time on the Friday of that week. Applications submitted after the deadline will be considered the following week. The Committee authorizes the Advisory Group to recommend approval of submitted applications to the Committee as part of a Consent Agenda. If a member of the Advisory Group objects to the recommended approval of any application in the Consent Agenda, the application will be removed from the Consent Agenda and considered by the Committee at the next scheduled monthly meeting.
The Consent Agenda approved by the Advisory Group will be sent to the Committee for their consideration. Each member of the Committee may:
(1) Approve the entire Consent Agenda.
(2) Approve an application included in the Consent Agenda.
(3) Remove an application from the Consent Agenda.
(4) Reject the entire Consent Agenda.
Applications that are rejected or are removed from a Consent Agenda will be considered by the Committee at the next scheduled monthly meeting. All other Consent Agenda applications will be considered approved by the Committee.
Notification of Decision
Staff will notify the applicant immediately following the Committee’s decision.
Applications for Funding Requests Greater than $100,000 but Less than or Equal to $500,000
The Committee will evaluate the funding request in executive session and take action in the form of a motion, which may propose that the Committee:
(1) Approve the funding request in an amount of $500,000 or less, with or without special conditions.
(2) Recommend to the NAR Leadership Team (applications considered at teleconference meetings or at the REALTOR® Party Training Conference meeting) or Executive Committee and Board of Directors (applications considered at meetings during the two annual NAR governance meetings) approval of the funding request in the full amount, with or without special conditions.
(3) Recommend to the NAR Leadership Team (applications considered at teleconference meetings or at the REALTOR® Party Training Conference meeting) or Executive Committee and the Board of Directors (applications considered at meetings during the two annual NAR governance meetings) approval of an amount greater than $500,000, but less than the full amount, with or without special conditions.
(4) Deny the request.
(5) Postpone any action until the Committee receives and reviews additional information.
A motion that the Committee recommend to the NAR Leadership Team or Executive Committee/Board of Directors approval of greater than $500,000 must be approved by two thirds (2/3) of Committee members present and voting.
NOTE: A review of the Committee’s recommendation by NAR’s Leadership Team may take several weeks to schedule.
Notification of Decision
Staff will notify the applicant of the Committee’s decision immediately following the NAR business meeting or teleconference, as the case may be, and again following the Leadership Team or Board of Directors decision.
Grant Application Requirements
Contribution Standards (“Skin In The Game”)
All funding requests must meet the following contribution requirements that equate to a percentage of the amount requested from NAR:
- For requests of $25,000 or under, a minimum 10% association contribution;
[EXAMPLE: If an association requests $20,000 from NAR, the association must contribute at least $2,000]
- For requests between $25,001 and $250,000, a minimum 25% association contribution;
- For requests between $250,001 and $750,000, a minimum 50% association contribution;
- For requests between $750,001 and $2 million, a minimum 100% association contribution;
- For requests over $2 million, a minimum 200% association contribution.
An association’s “contribution” includes: financial contributions, including committed funding from other state and/or local REALTOR® associations; in-kind, non-financial contributions (e.g., staff time and volunteer activities). A state association may provide some or all of a local association’s required minimum “skin in the game” contribution. Coalition partner contributions do not count toward the required minimum contribution. “Committed funding” means that the funding has been officially approved as evidenced by written documentation which authorizes the funding. “In-kind, non-financial contributions” means activities or resources provided without charge that would otherwise require payment from the campaign budget. Examples include: member volunteers staffing phone banks instead of hiring others to do it; using association office space as a campaign office rather than renting space; GAD serving as campaign manager in lieu of hiring one, on a campaign so large and/or complex that it requires a full-time campaign manager. On a multi-phase request, the contribution requirement of the applicant association is based on the overall grant amount requested – i.e., the sum of all grant requests on the same issue campaign.
The Committee may, on a case-by-case basis, waive the contribution requirement on a 2/3 majority Committee vote. All funding requests that do not meet the above standards and are approved by a 2/3 majority Committee vote must also be reviewed and approved by: NAR’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors, when the application is considered at a Committee meeting during one of the two annual NAR governance meetings; NAR’s Leadership Team, when the application is considered at a Committee teleconference meeting or at the REALTOR® Party Training Conference meeting.
The Committee may only consider a motion to waive the “skin in the game” contribution requirement during a teleconference or in-person meeting and cannot consider a waiver motion during Consent Agenda.
On every awarded Issues Mobilization grant, NAR conducts a legal compliance assessment to ensure that NAR’s contribution to the issue campaign complies with applicable state and local campaign finance and lobbying laws. NAR’s contribution will be distributed based on the best legal advice from our Political Compliance Counsel. A state or local REALTOR® association receiving an Issues Mobilization grant should seek the advice of local legal counsel to ensure their own legal compliance.
The Committee will consider the following criteria in making its decision on applications. In applying these criteria to a particular application, the Committee will engage in a balancing process with the objective of approving applications that satisfy one or more of the criteria under each of the following categories.
Importance/Scope of Impact
- The outcome of the issue will have economic consequences at the state, regional or local level that significantly impact the real estate industry.
- The outcome of the issue will have non-economic consequences at the state, regional or local level that significantly impact the real estate industry.
- The outcome of the issue will potentially or likely have nationwide consequences for the real estate industry.
- The applicant association and its members have an active role in the issue campaign (e.g., evidence of volunteer time; evidence of coalition building; membership in coalition steering committee; participation in coalition meetings; contribution of funds).
- The applicant association has taken an official position on the issue.
- The applicant association has a policy statement on the issue.
- Information (e.g., recent polling data, news analysis, media editorials, interviews with opinion leaders/elected officials) demonstrates that the REALTOR® position on the issue is “winnable.”
- The applicant association has a viable campaign strategy.
- NAR assistance – considering its amount, purpose and timing – is likely to make a significant difference to the outcome of the issue campaign.
- There is community support for the REALTOR® position on the issue beyond the real estate industry.
- Coalition partners have made a significant commitment (e.g., financial support, lobbying support, meeting participation, devotion of staff time).
- There has been a reasonable degree of success in previous efforts or activities on the issue.
Approved funding requests are subject to the following conditions:
Deadline on Availability of Funds. Approved grant funds are available through the earlier of: 1) the campaign end date, or 2) December 15 of the calendar year in which the funds are granted. On a ballot initiative campaign, the campaign end date is 30 days after the Election Day on which the measure appears on the ballot. For all other campaigns, the campaign end date is 30 days after the earlier of: 1) the date on which the issue is officially approved/disapproved by a policymaking body, or 2) the date on which the current legislative session officially adjourns. After the applicable deadline has passed, grant funds are no longer available for invoice payments.
Return of Unused Funds. Following the campaign end date and the conclusion of a campaign, any funds that have been paid out but not spent shall be returned to NAR.
Reports. Within thirty (30) days after the conclusion of a campaign, the grant recipient must submit a Report providing basic information about the operation and outcome of the campaign as requested by NAR.
Resubmittal Of Funding Requests
An applicant for funding whose application is denied because it does not meet the Issues Mobilization Grant criteria may not re-submit the same application as a new funding request. However, the Committee will consider a new funding request based upon the original application if Committee staff, upon review, determines that the application has been appropriately modified to meet the Issues Mobilization Grant criteria.