Sometimes a great cup of chili is just a great cup of chili; but for the Atlanta Board of REALTORS® (ABR) these past four years, it’s been the means of attracting increasing levels of investment in the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC)—and an increasingly good time!
Since 2012, the 5,700-member board’s event calendar has featured a Chili Cook Off for RPAC investment. What began as a modest event with modest expectations has exploded into a rollicking sell-out party with eager sponsors (like the local Gordon Biersch Brewery) and a waiting list to enter the friendly competition. As Lorieal Green, ABR’s 2015 Governmental Affairs Committee Chair, explains, “Because I served on NAR’s Housing Opportunity Committee, I already knew the impact receiving a grant could have. The 2015 RPAC Fundraising Grant helped move this event above and beyond what we had achieved in the past. It was a perfect storm of great people working together on innovative ideas with extra funding to ensure those ideas would come to life. And fortunately, the weather cooperated!” Indeed, the early November rain stopped just in time for tents, booths, and tables to be set up in the parking lot of the ABR campus, ready to welcome 30 chili teams and more than 360 hungry and discriminating chili “judges.”
By the end of the evening, ABR had raised more than $20,000 for RPAC: $5,000 beyond its goal, and more than twice what it had in previous years, with nearly twice the attendance. Team entrance fees were scaled according to booth location, and all the most desirable spots sold out first. Each admission ticket came with three tokens to vote for the Best Chili, and additional tokens were available for purchase. The Best Booth was determined by anonymous judges who roamed the event, secretly assessing each team’s creative efforts.
Michael Fischer, who chaired last year’s Fundraising Sub-Committee of the Governmental Affairs Committee and serves as ABR’s current GAC chair, describes the Chili Cook Off as a celebratory event in the RPAC calendar, one that is lots of fun and not so high-pressure. “Our goal for the 2015 Chili Cook Off was to continue growing the event, capping off our successful year with a final fundraising push. For 2016, our focus will be on ramping up public relations, so we can better disseminate our purpose and goals to the membership,” he says, noting that, “Though it’s an internal event, we’ve got teams and sponsors from all over the industry, from lending institutions to law firms to foundation water-proofers: the Best Booth last year went to a pest control company.” The challenge he faces in increasing attendance is not interest—word spreads fast!—but venue capacity and parking. He’s considering having a shuttle run from a local elementary school to handle the overflow at the upcoming October 27 event.
In 2015, the $5,000 RPAC Fundraising Grant from the REALTOR® Party provided major donor recognition in the form of personalized beer steins that were presented along with the Cook Off Awards, a DJ who kept up a lively beat and a videographer who captured all the good times and good taste of the evening. “The video has been a really important take-away, and a great PR piece,” says Fischer. “We’ve been able to leverage the footage in so many ways.” Jen Booth, ABR’s Public Relations/Board Services Coordinator couldn’t agree more. “I love having this video,” she says. “We screen it as part of a continual loop on the TVs in our lobby, and at New Member Orientations. Anytime people are in the seats in our classrooms, we’ve got it playing on the A/V system. It shows members and industry colleagues having fun, networking and investing in RPAC all at the same time.” The video is featured on a dedicated “Chili Cook Off” page on the ABR website, a platform for event publicity and information.
Governmental Affairs Director Robert Broome points out that in terms of having developed a fundraising event that is truly fun for all, the ABR Chili Cook Off is wildly successful. “The excitement and attention translates into more members understanding the importance of RPAC to the real estate industry, so the long term benefit is huge.”
Watch the video at: https://vimeo.com/148755063?utm_source=email&utm_medium=vimeo-cliptranscode-201504&utm_campaign=28749, and to learn more about how the Atlanta Board of REALTORS® is cooking up red-hot results for RPAC, contact Governmental Affairs Director Robert Broome at 404-732-0631.