REALTORS® seeking to make a political difference are finding themselves facing one of the most expensive election cycles ever.

That means REALTOR® organizations must create a culture of giving to RPAC to support political agendas, said Joel Searby with Gainesville, Fla.-based Strategic Guidance Systems. Searby works with the Illinois Association of REALTORS® and REALTOR® organizations in eight other states.

Searby said in the third quarter of 2011 alone $145.8 million was donated to Illinois political committees. IAR raised $666 thousand last year, and has $1.3 million on hand.

“You have people spending money on politics who have never had to spend money before,” Searby said.

There are several reasons for the upsurge.

Redistricting has thrown some political offices into play that previously hadn’t been in danger. Additionally, there’s been turnover in the General Assembly as a number of longtime members have decided to retire.

“IAR is competing in a sea of money,” Searby said at an RPAC fundraising seminar held at the Embassy Suites and Convention Center in East Peoria, Ill.

Strategies for success

So how do you create a culture of giving within an organization? Searby suggested several key things:

  • Understand why you are giving. You have to have a collective reason to have RPAC in the first place.
  • Have a long-term vision.
  • Get commitment from leadership. You can’t ask if you don’t give.
  • Keep on message. Make sure the focus is on critical issues.
  • Spend the money wisely. Doing so generates credibility for the organization.
  • Celebrate and secure key victories.