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NAR Issues Mobilization Program 2015/2016 Program Changes

A summary of changes to the NAR Issues Mobilization Program instituted in 2015 and 2016

Contribution from Associations (i.e., “skin in the game”)

To ensure that associations have an appropriate level of investment in issue campaigns for which they are seeking NAR assistance, Program Policy provides as follows:

Grant requests must meet the following contribution standards that equate to a percentage of the amount requested from NAR: 

  • For grant requests of $25,000 or under, a minimum 10% association contribution (for example:  if an association requests $20,000 from NAR to support an issue campaign, the association must contribute at least $2,000);
  • For grant requests between $25,000 and $1 million, a minimum 25% association contribution;
  • For grant requests over $1 million, a minimum 50% association contribution. 

An association’s “contribution” includes: financial contributions, including committed funding from other state and local REALTOR® associations; and in-kind, non-financial contributions (e.g., staff time and volunteer activities).  Coalition partner contributions do not count toward the required minimum contribution.  “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. 

NOTE:  The Issues Mobilization Committee has discretion, on a case-by-case basis, to waive the above standards on a 2/3 majority Committee vote.  Any grant, regardless of amount, that does not meet the above standards but is approved by a 2/3 majority Committee vote must be reviewed and approved by the NAR Leadership Team. 

Corporate Ally Program

The Corporate Investor Council was created in 2012 for the purpose of raising a new source of voluntary soft dollars as part of a Corporate Ally Program.  Funds invested through this Program by corporate allies - Multiple Listing Services, NAR business affiliates, NAR REALTOR® Party vendors, etc. – were initially devoted solely to candidate campaigns.  In 2015, the Program was broadened to include issue campaigns.  To establish procedures for responsibly managing the use of Corporate Ally Program investments by the Issues Mobilization Program, Program Policy provides as follows:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Corporate Ally Program investments allocated to a state will be used first, before any other funds provided by the NAR Issues Mobilization Program are used.
  • Corporate Ally Program investments allocated to a state can be used by the state and local associations as part of their required minimum “skin in the game” contribution.  However, Corporate Ally Program allocated funds can only be used for up to a maximum of twenty-five percent (25%) of the required minimum “skin in the game” contribution on an Issues Mobilization grant application.

Use of Consumer Data

To establish a process for applicant associations to use NAR’s Consumer Advocacy Database, which currently contains 7.5 million names and email addresses, Program policy provides that applicants interested in creating an electronic outreach (e.g., website) to both communicate with consumers through email and capture consumer data (names and email addresses) must sign and abide by the terms of an Association Agreement for Use of Consumer Advocacy Data by State and Local REALTOR® Associations.  http://www.realtoractioncenter.com/for-associations/consumers/

Comparable Campaign Plan

To responsibly manage the Program by applying quality control and cost efficiencies, Program Policy provides that 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. 

Polling on Large Grant Requests

To address the increased size and frequency of large grant requests, the amount of NAR funds dedicated to these requests, and the high visibility of big-dollar issue campaigns, Program Policy requires that the NAR Campaign Services contract pollster conduct or review polling on any Issues Mobilization grant request of $100,000 or more in advance of Committee consideration of the grant request.  However, the Committee may on a case-by-case basis consider applications that have no advance polling due to exigent circumstances.

Staff/Consultants Recommendation

To ensure transparency of the process by which NAR staff and consultants assist and advise both grant applicants and the Committee, the Grant Application includes a section for staff and consultants to recommend that the Committee approve, conditionally approve, or deny a grant request.

Scope of Program

School and Transportation Funding:  To address concerns about the frequency of grant request on school funding and transportation funding issues, the Grant Application includes additional questions on school funding and transportation infrastructure funding to assist the Committee in evaluating the funding measure’s impact on economic viability, private property rights and the real estate industry. 

Federal Action:  To responsibly manage the Program by affirming its original purpose of assisting state and local associations on issue advocacy campaigns involving state or local – not federal - policymaking activity, Program Policy provides that 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 are outside the scope of the Program. 

Deadline on Availability of Funds

Beginning in 2015, approved grant funds are distributed through payment of vendor invoices rather than through a lump-sum payment as in previous years.  To both improve Program accounting and allow for the re-commitment of unused funds to other grant applicants within the same budget year, Program Policy provides that 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 ballot initiative campaigns, 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.

Ballot Initiative Deadline

To maximize the type and degree of assistance that can be provided, Program Policy establishes a deadline of 90 days prior to the date on which the first vote can be cast on a ballot initiative, by which time an applicant must submit a final grant request application in order for it to be considered by the Committee.  However, the Committee may on a case-by-case basis consider applications that miss the 90-day deadline due to exigent circumstances.

Small Grant Requests

Program Policy provides a streamlined process for consideration of “small grant requests.”  To address the current and anticipated future volume of small grant requests, the costs of running effective issue campaigns, and the time-sensitivity of many issue campaigns, the ceiling for grants qualifying for streamlined consideration was raised from $10,000 to $25,000. 

Point of Contact

To ensure that senior association staff are substantively involved in the grant request application process, Program Policy requires that – for both state and local associations - an appropriate association staff person (EO, GAD, or other designated staff person) complete and submit the grant request 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).  Furthermore, Program Policy requires the signature of the association’s chief staff officer on the application (the signature of the association’s chief elected officer was already required).

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