When the Illinois REALTORS® identified the President’s Cup as a goal for 2017, manager of Grassroots and Political Programs Neil Malone knew it would be a steep challenge. The trophy, presented annually to state associations that accomplish four significant advocacy goals and meet five additional RPAC goals, is an especially ambitious reach for larger states, he notes. “It’s a pretty hefty list, and some of those percentage goals are really big numbers. Even though we’re not actually competing against our fellow state associations, we’re always competing with ourselves. So we’ve made a concerted effort to do our best—with some help from the REALTOR® Party.”
One of the President’s Cup goals is using the REALTOR® Party’s Broker Involvement Program for a state Call for Action. Illinois, the state with the largest number of brokers and the forth-largest number of agents enrolled in the Broker Involvement Program, understood its power; they had had great success in the past when they used it for voter registration efforts. “We’ve learned that when members get an email from their broker, they’re going to open it, and what’s more, they’ll typically respond,” says Malone. So he and his team decided to kill two birds with one stone: they would use the Broker Involvement Program to stimulate an increase in the number of REALTOR® Party Mobile Alert subscribers, another goal of the President’s Cup.
“The national association made it super-easy for us,” reports Malone, explaining that, in addition to sending out the Call for Action, NAR’s Online Advocacy team bounced ideas about messaging back and forth with the Illinois REALTORS®. They tested two: one was an informational, big picture message, and the other was tighter, more concise, and asked directly for help; the latter was overwhelmingly more effective. “That test spoke to how well-informed our members are,” says Malone, adding, “they don’t need much baseline information, and they’re ready to respond when asked!”
When Illinois’ latest State Broker Call for Action was launched, respond they did. Nearly 500 new subscribers signed up for the REALTOR® Party Mobile Alerts texting program, pushing the state goal over the top at 105%.
Malone is quick to credit others with the success: “Our REALTORS® and our leadership have seen the value of this program, and are committed to it.” The culture of the state association is completely supportive of the REALTOR® advocacy goals, as well, he says: “Gary Clayton, our CEO, and Greg St. Aubin, our Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs, have always made it clear that advocacy is a real priority. They’ve put together a great team and given us the tools we need to be successful.” One such tool is the Illinois REALTORS®‘ State Legislative Contact program, modeled on NAR’s Federal Political Coordinator system, which matches a REALTOR® with each of Illinois’ 118 representatives and 59 state senators. Another organizational advantage is that all of the local government affairs staff in Illinois field offices are employees of the state association. “I’m in touch with them on a daily basis,” says Malone. “With an organization this size, sometimes progress feels like turning an oil tanker, so it’s good that we’re a tight ship.”
Another recent Call for Action to which Illinois REALTOR® members responded at a rate of over 22%, making their voices heard regarding the National Flood Insurance Program, checked yet another box for the President’s Cup. “One of our local associations got a response rate of more than 40%,” says Malone, with pride. “We’re doing well, but that’s where I’d like to get them all!”
To learn more about how Illinois REALTORS® are using REALTOR® Party tools to meet and exceed their advocacy goals, contact Neil Malone, Manager of Grassroots and Political Programs, at 217-529-2600.