Success Stories

Wisconsin REALTORS® Association Leverages Consumer Advocacy Outreach Grant to Communicate Statewide Need for Workforce Housing

March 2021

Collaborative Consumer Advocacy Outreach Grants

Sometimes, you have to fly solo.  But when multiple local REALTOR® associations within a state are trying to engage the public on the same issue, it makes sense to band together, pool resources, and benefit from the strength in numbers.  A new collaborative option offered by the REALTOR® Party’s Consumer Advocacy Outreach grant program now brings such efficiencies of scale to associations working to project a unified message to consumers.  It was the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA) that set the stage for the innovative approach, amid an ongoing effort to raise awareness about the state-wide workforce housing shortage.

Government Affairs Director Joe Murray explains that WRA had commissioned a report from the Real Estate and Urban Land Economics Department at the University of Wisconsin Madison School of Business that shone a spotlight on the need for more diverse and more affordable housing throughout the state.  “It’s compelling information, but we needed to get it on the radar of local governments, where most of the zoning, regulating and budgeting that affect new housing development happens,” he says.  Tapping five local REALTOR® associations across the state for input, he prepared a conventional Consumer Advocacy Outreach grant proposal on their behalf.  The funding supported the development of a dynamic new website featuring the entire report, and a strong campaign of digital ads and direct mail, all driving viewers to the study, and branding the local REALTOR® associations as working to promote home ownership.  “This is about educating and influencing communities and local governments,” says Murray, adding, “It’s a tactic for the long game, and we hope that, over time, we’ll see local elected decision makers responding to the need for more housing choices throughout Wisconsin.”

The website content, produced for and shared by the five associations, was so well-received and has such enduring value that the Wisconsin Association prompted another “generation” of local boards to seek a second round of Consumer Advocacy Outreach grants the following year, to help promote the material in their respective communities.  This inspired the REALTOR® Party to simplify the process for multiple local boards seeking funding for parallel consumer engagement efforts.

Erin Murphy, who coordinates the Consumer Advocacy Outreach grants for the REALTOR® Party, notes that the new collaborative option encourages local associations to work together on a given issue, and create a coordinated campaign plan with the REALTOR® Party resources.  “This way, individual associations that are seeking to reach the public about the same issues can make swifter progress without having to re-invent the wheel.  They can create shared resources, build templates, and develop promotional strategies to mobilize across communities state-wide.  We’re hoping this approach will not only be more efficient, but also engage more of our local associations in these outreach efforts.”  The program allows each local association to request up to $10,000, for a total of up to $75,000.

To learn more about how REALTORS® across Wisconsin are making a statewide case for more workforce housing, visit wisconsinworkforcehousing.com or contact Joe Murray, WRA Director of Political and Government Affairs, at jmurray@wra.org or 608.241.2047.  For more information on the REALTOR® Party’s Consumer Advocacy Outreach Program, visit https://realtorparty.realtor/grants/grant-manager, or contact Erin Murphy at emurphy@nar.realtor or 202.383.1079.

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