Word-of-Mouth, Member-to-Member Outreach Educates on the Benefits of RPAC
Word-of-mouth: it's often the most effective way to get a message across. So, when 2016 NAR President Tom Salomone declared his priority to educate all non-investing members about the importance of the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC), he called on the grassroots power of the membership to ‘phone a friend.’
The Phone-a-Friend for RPAC: The National Volunteer Phone Bank Initiative is off to a running start. Leveraging the combined strength of volunteer members and association staff, it is a powerful tool for reaching non-investors and informing them how RPAC and the REALTOR® Party form an effective advocacy program to protect homeownership and the real estate industry. More than 210 phone bank events have been scheduled to date, and more than 5,200 calls have already been made. With each call, REALTORS® are reaching out to their fellow members, using specific local examples, explaining how RPAC works, why it’s so important to the industry and why their support is needed.
Ronda Tompers, NAR’s National Phone Bank Leader, has been busy providing training to the state and local associations hosting the one-day phone bank events around the country. She’s quick to point out that “This is not your father’s phone bank! The software technology that NAR has developed for the Phone-a-Friend initiative is amazing. It’s the most convenient and user-friendly system I’ve ever seen.” The program equips callers with a customized call-queue developed by association staff, and allows them to receive credit card investments or email the investment link to members who would rather invest later. At the conclusion of every conversation, the software even sends off a thank-you note.
Tompers works with state and local associations to tailor a script to each locale, highlighting RPAC’s recent advocacy efforts and the impact that RPAC has had on the local real estate industry. “A caller might stick to the script for the first call or two,” she notes, but once he or she gets more comfortable, the conversations become more personal. “When a REALTOR® can share a story with a fellow REALTOR® from his or her own experience, that’s when it really hits home.”
The California Association of REALTORS® conducted a pilot Phone-a-Friend effort at the South Bay Association in late February, and David Kissinger, the Government Affairs Director of the 4,000-member association, says that he’s looking forward to hosting more. His association, he says, is always interested in new ways to use technology to serve its REALTORS® better. “Our members are spread out over ten cities, so despite our best efforts to reach every one about the importance of RPAC, it’s not always easy to connect consistently. The phone bank technology allowed us to slice and dice our membership list and determine who really needed some individual attention. Over the course of about two hours on a Monday afternoon, we reached 334 of our members with the personal touch of a live phone call from a fellow REALTOR®. Each of those calls strengthened a relationship, enlarged a network and shared common industry concerns; many of them brought in new investments in RPAC,” says Kissinger.
Kevin Besserer, Regional Government Affairs Director of Florida REALTORS®, is helping to run the phone bank operations in his state. A Phone-a-Friend event at the 11,000-member Fort Lauderdale Association at the end of February connected eighteen REALTORS® with more than 350 of their colleagues who had never invested in RPAC. “It’s really not as much about raising money, as it is about educating members about RPAC and what it does for them. Once they understand that value, of course, the money tends to follow,” says Besserer. The Phone-a-Friend phone banks are simple and easy, he adds, with NAR providing the training and software, plus $100 to cover approved expenses. “We had balloons and plenty of snacks and drinks. Every time a call resulted in an RPAC investment, we rang a big bell, so it was a cheerful atmosphere, and that energy came across in the phone calls. Our members placing the calls had a great time.”
It’s not only the big associations that are making a success of the Phone-a-Friend for RPAC initiative. “Six people making calls for an hour-and-a-half can be extremely effective,” says Tompers. “The more and more members who are reached, the more will understand and invest, so we can continue on protecting homeownership and business for REALTORS®.”
To learn more about the Phone-a-Friend for RPAC: The National Volunteer Phone Bank Initiative, contact Ronda Tompers, NAR’s National Phone Bank Leader, at 406-799-5312.
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