Grassroots engagement: cultivating the next generation of REALTOR® success

“Grassroots engagement” is an effective way for the REALTOR® community to use its collective voice and industry expertise to affect change on Parliament Hill.

Often complementing direct lobbying by association staff, grassroots engagement with elected representatives takes a variety of forms, from letter writing to petitions. It has been shown to be effective in mobilizing thousands, hundreds of thousands and even millions of people. On the international stage, take the wave of protests in the Middle East – collectively known as Arab Spring – that resulted in changes to several regimes in 2010. They were a direct result of citizens banding together, organizing and spreading the word to the grassroots through social media.

Organizations are also engaging with their “grassroots” networks to drive change together.

In 2003 Big Cat Rescue (BCR), a United States-based nonprofit organization had to turn away more than 300 neglected and abused big cats because of a shortage in space and resources. At the same time, a bill in the United States Congress that would have significantly reduced the big cat trade – and problems associated with it – had been stagnant for over six years. To draw legislators’ attention to the bill and plight of big cats, BCR utilized their grassroots engagement platform designed by voterVOICE, a premier provider of online advocacy technologies, to leverage their network of ‘AdvoCats’ who in turn contacted legislators and communicated the importance of the bill to the public. In December 2003, the Captive Wild Animal Safety Act passed making it illegal to sell big cats as pets across state borders.

To draw Congress’ attention to necessary infrastructure projects and legislation to support the future of the travel industry, in 2013, the U.S. Travel Association launched a campaign encouraging its members to send a letter to Congress voicing their concerns. They also set-up a SMS number and hashtag on Twitter for air travel passengers traversing through the nation’s airports on the busiest weekend of the year – Thanksgiving – to talk about the problems they faced. This two-fold approach resulted in over 400 responses to the Call to Action and hundreds of tweets and text messages from frustrated travelers – many of them directed to Congress and linking to U.S. Travel’s website.

The REALTOR® Action Network (RAN) is uniquely tailored to the Canadian political environment, connecting the REALTOR® community directly to Members of Parliament (MP) and enabling them to speak with one voice. Like all vehicles and tools for grassroots engagement, ongoing success depends on your involvement:  joining and encouraging others to stand together.

Learn more or join at using your REALTOR Link® username and password.

Our former Government Relations and Communications Advisor, Nicole Christy started with CREA as a co-op student in the spring of 2012 and, after finishing her graduate degree, became a permanent staff member. Nicole was often on the front lines, liaising with our government and private sector partners, supporting our Federal Affairs Committee, and administrating our online advocacy platform – the REALTOR® Action Network. In her spare time, Nicole likes to spend her time playing volleyball, reading, and exploring Ottawa and the surrounding area with her family and dog, Reese.

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