July 31, 2011

Peer to Peer Fundraising: Part 3 "Why Should YOU Care?"

"The Great Housing Industry Depression" has taught us quite a lot but the most important lesson will help us deliver a better explanation on why members should care about political investing. That lesson is what happens when some initiative tries to slow down or stop housing.                                                

This post, which will be short but extremely to the point, should help the general member clearly understand the reasons why they should care as we hope to stop the apathy attached to investing in our PAC.

Part 3 "Why Should You Care?"

In our last post we brought political synergy to the forefront and explained the working parts of a cohesive effort. Now we will show you exactly why you, the builder member should care.

Let's list for the builder the "problem" areas:

1. Government legislation
2. EPA regulations
3. Environmental organizations
4. The N.I.M.B.Y. (not in my back yard) mentality
5. Or any other anti-housing group

Pick anyone, combine a few or just add them all together. They have one thing in common; the desire, obsession in some cases,  to slow down or completely shut down home building. 

What we are experiencing right now is not necessarily the affects of any of the 5 listed items, but number 1 can most certainly HELP our efforts to get back to work sooner rather than later. 

Quite a few builders have been in this business most of their adult lives. Some are second or third generation builders. That is a testament to their love of home building.

The affects of legislation or regulation certainly can hurt us at any time if we are not a sturdy Three-Legged Stool (see Political Synergy post). Builders pay for many types of insurance but the majority seem to have an "I could care less" attitude about investing in the PAC which is like a political insurance. 

Why should associate members care? 

Take a really hard look at the picture above with the "sorry, we're closed" sign. Exactly what our industry has been experiencing.

Now take a look at this picture below:

Dramatic? Yes. Is it realistic? Unfortunately for quite a few, yes.

We have stressed in multiple posts before this; "if 'it' affects a builder 'it' will affect associates." We stressed this for a reason and we are all living it right now with lack of sales. "Why SHOULDN'T you care" is the question I have for you. This is harsh, I know. I fully expect some members to be taken aback by the "out of work associate" picture. However, if I turned one associate around by this by lifting the political apathy, well then I have brought one more passionate member into our grass roots efforts. I'm quite positive that I have more than one associate thinking about all of this.

Finally the ULTIMATE reason why you, the member, should care:

There are 4 types of members in our Federation:

1. Those who make things happen
2. Those who watch things happen
3. Those who wonder what happened
4. And the worst of all; those who sit back and watch things happen and then complain the loudest when those things do happen.

Which type of member do you want to be? Do you care?

Next week’s blog post will be about common objections to investing and how to turn those objections into non issues.

Submitted by: Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chair

NOTE: This article is based on a section from The NAHB Associates presentation "Peer to Peer Fundraising." This type of fundraising will work on all of your HBA events or fundraising initiatives you may have; you just have the supply the core reason for the fundraiser and demonstrate a value to the potential investor. 

July 21, 2011

Peer to Peer Fundraising: Part 2 "Political Synergy"

Merriam Websters Online Dictionary defines synergy as "a combined action or operation." A second definition is "a mutually advantageous conjunction or compatibility of distinct business participants or elements (as resources or efforts)."

I have read and heard how the builders association is a special interest group. If building homes where people live and create memories, or earning a living to provide for your family, is a special interest well I would agree. I believe a career in the home building and remodeling industry is very special and we need more members to participate in order for our industry to thrive again. 
Part 2 of our series on political fundraising will focus on "The Process" which is how our HBA staff, along with engaged members, work within the legislative arena to protect and promote home building and home remodeling. This is an important message to understand as you make your ask for investments in the PAC. Keep in mind, that the legislative process may be different from state to state but not by much. I will focus on Washington, DC and you can design your message for your state. I will be abbreviating certain areas but the message should come across.

Part 2 "Political Synergy"

Let's start this post with what is a PAC and we will work our way into the grassroots parts in a moment so you can see the make up of political synergy.

PAC stands for a Political Action Committee and most, if not all, industries have one or multiple. Each state HBA and multiple local HBAS have their own political action committee with different acronyms but the purpose is the same; to have members of the HBA invest in the building industry's protection and growth. With an industry as highly regulated as ours you better believe, like you believe you need air to breath, that politics affects everything the builder does.  As an example, I will focus on NAHB's BUILD-PAC, which stands for: 
Builders (note: If it affects builders it will affect associates)

BUILD-PAC looks to its NAHB membership for yearly investors and, with the help of their BUILD-PAC trustees and dedicated members, brings in the dollars needed to maintain and grow a noteworthy PAC.
The next part of the political synergy always begins with an idea, which becomes proposed legislation. It can be any idea which could cause an affect on the building industry. Good or bad, doesn't make a difference. What does make a difference is the path the idea takes on it's way to becoming law.

Below is a flow chart diagram of how an idea, once it becomes sponsored and becomes a bill, navigates its way through the political process. Take notice of the arrows on both the House side and the Senate side.

Keep going back to the diagram, and the arrows, as we continue. 

Here is where we begin the discussion on the grassroots addition to political synergy. 

NAHB Government Affairs staff track multiple bills, many many bills. They assess the impact, if any or how much, each will have on the housing industry. When a bill comes up that would have an affect, let's take THE HOME CONSTRUCTION LENDING REGULATORY IMPROVEMENT ACT, H.R. 1755, as an example, staff will begin the process of determining the pro/con impact.

( Click here for details on this bill > http://www.nahb.org/fileUpload_details.aspx?ContentID=156407 )

NAHB staff will start to make contact with federal legislators that can help move the bill in a positive direction. Staff will ask politically engaged members, from the legislators districts back home, to support of the bill, possibly be a sponsor. This is staff and members working together in "a combined action or operation." Synergy. 

Go back to the arrows. Each one shows an area that staff and members, working as a cohesive unit, can make a direct impact on the bill's progress. As it goes through the house staff will also be working to get the bill moved through the Senate, which in turn shows more arrows or areas of staff/member influence. 
Any area where you see an arrow is an area that momentum can be gained or lost depending on the determination of the political synergy. This is also the case for a bill that can have a negative impact. The same exact areas of influence are present and this is where staff and members work to end the process. This is not unique to the building industry, every industry goes through the same exact process.

Once the bill passes through the House and the Senate it goes to the president. When the president signs the bill it becomes law. 

Once it's law, it's law.

You may be asking why this is so important to explain during Peer to Peer fundraising. It's very simple; complete political synergy is the size of the PAC, professional staff and members who are educated and passionate. 

In essence, the political synergy becomes what we, as members, always talk about:
The Three Legged Stool
Without staff it can't support.
Without engaged and passionate members it collapses.
Without a sizable PAC it will fail.

Losing anyone of the above legs would cause our advocacy efforts to be unstable and ultimately derail while strengthening all three provides tremendous support. Legislators always look at the amount of votes they can generate in their districts and they will also look at the amount of campaign dollars that can be contributed. It's been this way since time immemorial. In other words, we didn't create this process but we better be able to work this process.

During the arrow time slots in the above diagram each legislator we speak to will have done his/her homework on what the HBA brings to the table before decisions or directions are made. That's politics. The above stool really is a great way to show the prospective PAC investor what they can't see but they can feel.

There is so much more that goes on within this process but I have given you the broad, brush strokes. I would recommend you speak to your HBA president, PAC chair and/or executive officer for more detail than I have shared with you here. Understanding the political synergy and how it affects builders and remodelers, and in turn associates,  is key when discussing political investments. 

Next week we will discuss why YOU, the HBA member, should care about understanding the above and the need to invest in your future.

Submitted by: Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chair

NOTE: This article is based on a section from The NAHB Associates presentation "Peer to Peer Fundraising." This type of fundraising will work on all of your HBA events or fundraising initiatives you may have; you just have the supply the core reason for the fundraiser and demonstrate a value to the potential investor. 

July 17, 2011

Peer to Peer Fundraising: Part 1 "What Doesn't Work?"

"What Doesn't Work" is the title of this post and, I know, this is supposed to HELP you with your fundraising efforts, not criticize. If this series of articles is going to help you understand how to effectively fund-raise we have to start off with things that really do not work to the degree we would all hope. Please take my comments regarding what each and every HBA does for member contact as it pertains to fundraising as "tongue in cheek" but with some truths in the observations.

Part 1 "What Doesn't Work?" 

The need for political fundraising occurs and the usual group of members gather and come up with an idea for a fundraiser. Now most ideas are worthwhile while some are just not going to produce interest from the members. I'm not going to tell you what are good ideas and what are bad ideas. Each area of the country decides that based on demographics and regional make up. However what I will tell you is that all the HBAs go about it the same way:

1. Need for dollars.
2. A meeting to discuss fundraising event.
3. Decision on the event is made.
4. The usual process for "the chasing of dollars" begins:

Mass mailing to general membership
Yes, the old tried and beaten method is up and running again. The idea for a PAC event is sent out to the entire membership with the hopes that the envelope was attractive enough to gain the recipient's attention long enough so that your PAC mailing is opened. 
What we don't know is how much mail the general member receives on a daily basis. Your mailing could very well end up here:

You just might have some success in getting the member to really give your mailing enough attention that they will sign up for the event. But then again, when they see the dollar amount that you're asking for the mailing maybe left on that cluttered desk or it may be filed below in the circular filing cabinet:


Advertised and announced in your HBA publication
It look good, doesn't it? Your event in color and for all to see. It explains the particulars and, of course, there is probably a registration piece and the dollar amount. Most newsletters that are sent to members offices usually end up go to their "library:"

Think about it and be very honest; am I right or am I right?? I don't mean to be graphic but when you are in "read mode" the chances of you calling your HBA to sign up for the event, and are also ready to write a check or give your credit card number over your cell phone at that precise moment, is slim to none. The chances you may bring the publication with you from the "library" may be slightly better. Mostly likely your publication will be placed with a three year old Readers Digest and The Bathroom Game Book.

Blast emails to your membership distribution list

The email is drafted and approved. The distribution list is selected, BCC of course, and you click send. That was extremely easy. Your email is now going to quite a few members and we know that the internet is fast and reliable. How could your members not sign up now?
Along the way your email hit a few snags..... 

I think you're getting the message. Mass mailings, publications and distribution list email blasts just are not that effective. But all hope is not lost, you have a general membership meeting between now and the PAC event. 
Here's probably what you'll do:

1. HBA president will speak to the audience or
2. the PAC chairman will speak to the audience or
3. the executive officer will speak to the audience or
4. SOMEBODY from the event planning committee will speak to the audience.

The audience, if they are like the average general membership meeting audiences, will be engaged in conversations at their tables and not really focused on the speaker explaining the event, talking about "how much fun you will have and please fill out the forms that are in front of you on the table." The forms generally stay on the table after the event.

Let's face it, if any of the above methods worked there would really not be a need to use the remaining methods. Now, what do all four of these commonly used methods have in common? There is no member to member contact, no peer to peer. It's all done in blocks of many members with each method given the singular member of the multiple members an opportunity to ignore the PAC event because the bottom line is the perceived view on how this affects their own bottom line. You've given each member a chance not to participate. 
Would an associate, as an example, stand up in front of a large group of builders, or use any of the other methods, and hope for a sale? Not if they truly want to be successful persuading the builder to buy their product or service.

In order for PAC fundraising to be successful you have to speak to members one on one or, at the most, in a manageable group, where intimate discussions can take place. In order for you to persuade members to invest in the PAC and\or a general event, you have to explain how the political process as well as how the synergy of the HBA staff and members work within that political process. 

Next week I will write about the legislative process and how HBA staff and active members blend their efforts to work within that process. This will help you with the structure of what the general member doesn't see but certainly feels. If you understand it will help you become more persuasive in your ask for an investment.

Submitted by: Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chair

NOTE: This article is based on a section from The NAHB Associates presentation "Peer to Peer Fundraising." This type of fundraising will work on all of your HBA events or fundraising initiatives you may have; you just have the supply the core reason for the fundraiser and demonstrate a value to the potential investor. 

July 10, 2011

"The Art of Political Fundraising”

You can't see it, but it's there.

You can’t touch it, but it’s very real. 

You experience it everyday, yet you can’t quite understand it’s affects on you.

It’s the political process I’m speaking about and the reason why we have a home builders association (HBA) political action committee (PAC). The average member doesn’t fully grasp the reason they are asked for a PAC contribution or the importance of attending an event that is designed to raise dollars for the PAC. And yet we, as volunteers, keep looking for ideas for events that hopefully will bring members out because of the event, not because of the purpose.

The HBA’s process of PAC fundraising is very deep and detailed and if the average member understood it, they would happily invest in the PAC. Most HBAs take the easier road of having events in the hopes of raising the needed political dollars but can’t understand why it has to be so difficult to have members just give their fair share.

We are not educating our general members. We are not explaining the process, which has many facets, and how it develops our industry’s protection. We assume every member should know why we ask for PAC dollars. Assuming is the easy thing to do. It takes relatively no thought and apathy is the general explanation when a fundraiser is not successful because of low attendance.

These series of posts will focus on the only true way to ask for investments in our PACs; Peer to Peer. You will read the word “investment” over and over again. The only way some one will part with hard earned money is to show a return. Political fundraising is an art because you are “selling” something that can’t be seen, can’t be felt but only can be experienced without understanding what it is. People who learn how to ask for political investments, and be very successful at doing so, will understand that the have develop a very productive skill; the skill of persuasion. If you can persuade you can do most anything you put your mind to doing. By becoming a successful PAC fundraiser you will sharpen your sales skills. Helping the industry overall and becoming better at your job; that is a great combination.

Peer to Peer; it works for everything else we do. Associates don’t normally work with their customers without contact. Builders and remodelers can’t have contracts signed without customer contact. Your chances of “closing the deal” are GREATLY enhanced with personal contact. So why should PAC fundraising be any different?

It shouldn’t be different and that’s my point. If we are so successful the “other” way why do we have nationally only 2.5% of our members investing BUILD-PAC? Are you successful at your local or state? And by successful I mean is over 50% of your membership investing in your PAC?

Next week we will start with the old standards of fundraising and why you are wasting valuable time on only a handful of members.

NOTE: What you will be reading is based on The NAHB Associates presentation "Peer to Peer Fundraising." This type of fundraising will work on all of your HBA events or fundraising initiatives you may have; you just have the supply the core reason for the fundraiser and demonstrate a value to the potential investor. 

Submitted by: Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chair

July 2, 2011

Happy 4th of July America and Happy Birthday U.S.A.

Happy Birthday U.S.A. 

235 years ago today our Founding Fathers delivered the greatest nation the world has ever seen. Patriots fought for our freedom so that all Americans could have the right to pursue individual freedom of choice and the right to opportunities.Nothing is ever guaranteed but in America nothing can stand in your way except you. 

I'm grateful to our American troops, through all the wars America has experienced and fought, for protecting, with their lives, our country's unique & true democracy. We have freedoms that most of us take for granted and our military is one of the main reasons we have those freedoms. God bless you!

I'm also grateful to our Nation's home builders, and our associate members, who continue to provide one of the last "Made in America" products, homes. Thank you for taking the risks you all take to help provide the "American Dream" so others can create their special memories.

Happy 4th of July to NAHB members, their families and for that matter, to all Americans. Be safe and enjoy your weekend.

Our regular blog will continue next week as we look at political fundraising through the "peer to peer" process.

Submitted by: Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chair