Des Moines Area Association of REALTORS® rings in the holidays.
’Tis the season of giving—and the season of giving back. December finds many companies looking for opportunities to support local charities and individuals in need. From sponsoring food drives to donating gifts, nearly every employer encourages staff members to share with those who do not have enough.
Thanks to an event started in North Dakota, REALTORS® across the country come together in support of the same organization with Ring Day for The Salvation Army, during which the hands ringing the bells belong to members of local REALTORS® associations.
“Back in 2010, our membership committee was looking for a way to show how involved our members are already,” explains Jill Beck of the North Dakota Association of REALTORS®. “The Salvation Army was a perfect fit. It’s a visible, familiar organization, and its mission to provide housing was right in line with what we do, helping people find homes.”
The Red Kettle fundraising efforts specifically support housing needs across the country, an issue important to REALTOR® association members.
According to both Beck and Mark Gavin, people typically see REALTORS® only in connection to their business activities, not as individual members of their communities. Ring Day gives REALTORS® an opportunity to serve their neighbors and to put a human face on the industry.
During its first year, REALTORS® from across North Dakota, and some in neighboring South Dakota and Minnesota, participated in Ring Day. Agents and brokers manned the Salvation Army red kettles on the first Friday of December 2010. Between the REALTORS® Association and the Salvation Army, word of the event spread, and more state REALTOR® associations have joined every year.
“Here in Iowa, we have 17 local REALTOR® boards, and all of them have participated in Ring Day at one level or another,” explains Mark Gavin, Director of Communications and Events for the Iowa Association of REALTORS®.
Some local boards are heavily involved in organizing their volunteers. Others have members spread out over a larger area and often have agents themselves manage the event locally.
“We easily have over 300 volunteers participate across Iowa every year,” Gavin says. “It feels good to have so many members willing to give back to their communities.”
One of those volunteers is Ken Clark of VIA Group REALTORS®, who has been involved with the Salvation Army for years. “I’ve been representing the Salvation Army since I lived in Pleasantville years ago,” he says. “When families had fires, a traveler was stranded, or if someone needed temporary support, the Salvation Army ministers made sure people received help.”
In addition to Iowa, Minnesota, and the Dakotas, Ring Day has spread to more than half the states in the country. And in the past seven years, the event has raised nearly half a million dollars. In Iowa, the one-day event typically raises about $30,000.
Gavin explains, “It’s not easy to track the number of participants or the funds raised since each local board manages its own volunteers. But REALTOR® participation grows every year.” He says that’s evidence that the event has made a connection with people.
“Our goal has always been just to give back to those in our communities who are in need,” says Beck. “That’s still our goal—to raise more each year than we did the year before.”
In addition to the Ring Day event, donors can give through the Salvation Army’s online kettles also. Most participating REALTOR® associations provide links to the online giving option in their promotional materials and on their websites.
“The Salvation Army’s administrative costs are low, and the volunteers are great people,” Clark says. “They are the unsung heroes at disasters.”
Ring Day for 2018 will be held on Friday, December 7, in most communities. Agents and brokers from the Pacific Northwest to the East Coast will be bundled up, no matter the weather, to ring bells and raise money for the neighbors they serve behind the scenes every day of the year.
For details on Ring Day in Iowa, check out the Iowa Association of REALTORS® website
Learn about the numerous ways the Salvation Army brings relief, from assisting during natural disasters to combating addiction and trafficking, visit the Salvation Army website