Smiling volunteers at construction frame

© Hero Images - Getty Images

How to Launch a Good Neighbor Program

It’s easier and more rewarding than you might think.

Many state and local REALTOR® associations have their own version of the Good Neighbor Award to recognize members who give back to the community through volunteer work.  

The benefits to the association are many: increased member engagement, compelling stories to share with the media, new content for social media that members respond to, and a way to inspire members to get more involved in the association and the community. When you run a local Good Neighbor Awards, your local winners can easily be passed along to the national awards, where five annual winners receive $10,000 grants for their causes and national publicity.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Launching a Good Neighbor Awards has never been easier because we have done the legwork for you and it takes very little staff time or association funds. Here are some tips:

  • Use the entry form, judging criteria and other materials provided below. Customize as needed.
  • Name your program using the name of your REALTOR® association. For example, “Missouri Association of REALTORS® Good Neighbor Awards”.
  • Find a sponsor to fund the grant awards (which can be as little as $500) to minimize the impact on your association’s budget OR apply for grant funds through NAR here.
  • Use social media to promote your program and solicit applications (see our Media Kit for pre-made posts and videos).
  • Ask previous recipients of community service awards to serve as your judges (or ask NAR to help you find potential judges).
  • Set your entry deadline so that you have time to submit your winners to the NAR Good Neighbor Awards contest, which has a May deadline each year. National winners get tremendous publicity, which also reflects on your association.
  • Actively seek out potential candidates. Many of the people who do this type of volunteer work don’t aspire to be in the spotlight and need to be encouraged to apply. Because they aren’t motivated by the public recognition, it is important to offer a grant award to their nonprofit organization.
  • Require that any grant awards be issued to a 501(c)3 nonprofit to ensure the money is going where it is intended.
  • Run a background check on your winners before you announce in order to avoid any surprises.
  • Plan to write a story about your winners. Your members and the media will love to know what the winners are doing in the community.
  • Don’t be discouraged if you don’t receive many applications the first year. Most associations find that these programs need time to build (your members who are volunteering need time to discover that the association is interested in hearing about it).
  •  If you have questions, contact Sara Geimer at sgeimer@realtors.org. We are happy to help you! 

Other resources:

Even if you don’t have a local Good Neighbor Awards program, please keep a lookout for members who should be recognized and make sure we get their application at the national level. Learn about how to nominate someone for NAR’s Good Neighbor Award. The deadline is in May annually.

Who are the Good Neighbors in my state?

All but a handful of states have had national Good Neighbor Award winners. See an interactive map of where the Good Neighbor Award winners and honorable mentions are located, and the many places around the world where they have had an impact.