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Guidance Document For Issues Mobilization Grants

PURPOSE OF GRANTS

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® interests.

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.  Activities related to a public policy advocacy campaign that is 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
  • Public Opinion Surveys/Polls
  • Phone Banks/Automated Calls
  • Social Media/Websites
  • Advertising (television, radio, print, online)
  • Grassroots Mobilization
  • Lobbying 
  • Research
  • Bill Drafting
  • Billboards, brochures, banners, etc.

PROGRAM FUNDING

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).

Application Submission 

An Issues Mobilization Grant application must be submitted via the web-based application form located on the REALTOR® Action Center.  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 state association must either: indicate its support with the signature of the association’s “Chief Elected Officer”; or submit a statement explaining its lack of support. 

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 Advisory Group consideration…a Final application must be submitted by Monday at 5pm Eastern Time.  A Final application for funding assistance on a ballot initiative campaign must be submitted no later than forty-five (45) days prior to the date on which the first vote can be cast.  The Committee may, on a case-by-case basis and in its sole discretion, waive this requirement and consider an application that does not meet the 45-day deadline due to exigent circumstances.

NAR Staff Review

Upon receipt of a draft application, NAR staff and consultants will review the draft to determine if it requires supplemental information or is otherwise incomplete for proper review by the Committee.  If so, a revised draft application addressing the identified incompleteness must be submitted for final NAR staff review.

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 $100,000 as their required minimum skin-in-the-game contribution.  The remaining $500,000 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 $400,000 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 $200,000 in coalition partner funding is committed, and the remaining $150,000 will be made available when the final $200,000 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 by the Committee’s Advisory Group (see “Applications for Funding Requests of $50,000 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 in-person before the Committee 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.

NOTE:  Applications that fail to comply with the above standard requirements will not be considered for review by the Committee.

Applications for Funding Requests of $50,000 or Less

Advisory Group 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 $50,000 or less on a weekly basis.  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.  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 $50,000 but Less than or Equal to $500,000

Committee Consideration

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 full, with or without special conditions.

(2)  Approve a portion of the funding request, with or without special conditions.

(3)  Deny the request.

(4)  Postpone any action until the Committee receives and reviews additional information.

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.

Applications for Funding Requests of Greater than $500,000

Committee Consideration

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

Polling

On funding requests of $100,000 or more, NAR’s Campaign Services contract pollster must conduct or review polling in advance of Committee consideration of the request.  The Committee may, on a case-by-case basis and in its sole discretion, consider funding requests that have no advance polling due to exigent circumstances.

Contribution Standards

All funding requests must meet the following contribution standards 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 $25,000 and $1 million, a minimum 25% association contribution;
  • For requests over $1 million, a minimum 50% 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).  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 large multi-phase request, the percentage contribution requirement of the requesting association is based on the overall grant amount requested.  “Large multi-phase request” means a grant request exceeding $1 million that is split into phases for strategic purposes. 

The Committee may, on a case-by-case basis and in its sole discretion, waive the percentage contribution standards on a 2/3 majority Committee vote.  All funding requests that do not meet the above standards but are approved by a 2/3 majority Committee vote are subject to review and approval by the NAR Leadership Team.

Consumer Advocacy Outreach Program

Applicants interested in utilizing the NAR Consumer Advocacy Outreach program to email consumers in their state/local jurisdiction or create a micro-site to educate and engage consumers and capture new consumer data (names and email addresses) must sign and abide by the terms of the Consumer Advocacy Outreach agreement.  http://www.realtoractioncenter.com/for-associations/consumers/consumer-advocacy-database.html

Campaign Services

NAR’s contract campaign services vendor will develop a comparable campaign plan on all grant requests to fund services provided by an outside vendor that can be provided by NAR’s vendor.  If the NAR vendor can provide the same service(s) at a lower cost, the plan will be presented to the applicant association with 3 options:  1) use the NAR vendor and their plan on the campaign; 2) get a revised plan from their outside vendor for a cost that is the same as or less than the NAR vendor’s plan; 3) use their outside vendor and the original plan.  If the association chooses Option #3 and submits a grant application with a plan provided by an outside vendor that is more costly than the comparable plan from the NAR vendor, the less costly campaign plan from the NAR vendor will be presented to the Committee for their consideration along with the campaign plan from the outside vendor.

DECISION MAKING CRITERIA 

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 of Public Policy Issue

  1. The application concerns a state or local public policy issue on which NAR has adopted a position.
  2. The application concerns a state or local public policy issue on which NAR is developing a position.
  3. The state or local REALTOR® association has demonstrated that the state or local public policy issue is of high importance to REALTORS®.
  4. The issue is best addressed through public policy (i.e., government laws, regulations and/or funding) rather than through actions by the private sector.

Scope of Impact of Public Policy Issue

  1. The outcome of the issue will have an economic impact at the state, regional or local level.
  2. The outcome of the issue will have a non-economic impact at the state, regional or local level.

REALTOR® Involvement in Public Policy Issue

  1. The application demonstrates that REALTORS ® are actively involved in the issue
  2. The application demonstrates REALTORS ® commitment to the issue (i.e., evidence of volunteer time; participation in coalition meetings; contribution of funds toward issue campaign).
  3. The applicant association has taken an official position on the issue.

Winnability of Public Policy Issue

  1. The information in the application (recent polling data, news analysis, media editorials, interviews with opinion leaders/elected officials, etc.) demonstrates that the REALTOR® position on the issue is “winnable.”
  2. The application reveals a viable strategy for dealing with opposition groups and/or organizations.
  3. Assistance to REALTORS® through the Issues Mobilization Grant is likely to make a significant difference to the outcome of the public policy issue.
  4. Coalition members have made a significant commitment (financial support, meeting participation, devotion of staff time, etc.).
  5. There has been a reasonable degree of success in previous efforts or activities on the issue.

Extent of Community Support for REALTOR® Position on Public Policy Issue

  1. There is broad-based community support for the REALTOR® position on the public policy issue that extends beyond those in the housing industry.
  2. There is evidence of strong REALTOR® coalition building with diverse interest groups.

STANDARD CONDITIONS  

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.  Any unused funds shall be returned to the Committee staff executive. 

Reports.  The applicant must submit a campaign Progress Report to the Committee staff executive within thirty (30) days following the receipt of funds.  A Final Report containing an accounting of the funds, and accompanied by any unused funds, must be submitted to the Committee staff executive within thirty (30) days after the conclusion of the issue campaign.  For accounting purposes, acceptable documentation includes:  invoices, receipts, and cancelled checks.  The report must include a written narrative of the issue campaign as well as examples of campaign materials for posting on the REALTOR® Action Center website. (See the Post-Campaign Report form).  NOTE:  Completing a Post-Campaign Report for each issue campaign funded with an Issues Mobilization Grant is a requirement for consideration of future grant funding.

Incremental Funding.  If the Committee provides funding in increments, a campaign Progress Report including an accounting of the funds must be received by the Committee staff executive at least twenty (20) days prior to each subsequent increment of funding.  Unused funds must be included in the request for the subsequent increment of funding.  The Committee may, in its discretion, request return of any unused funds.  A Final Report including an accounting of the funds, and accompanied by any unused funds, must be submitted to the Committee staff executive within thirty (30) days after the conclusion of the issue campaign.  For accounting purposes, acceptable documentation includes:  invoices, receipts, and cancelled checks.  The Committee at its discretion may require the applicant to provide additional reports.

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.

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