Community is at the heart of real estate. This month’s National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Power Broker Roundtable discusses their efforts to give.
Christina Pappas, District Sales Manager, The Keyes Company, Miami, Fla.; Liaison for Large Firms & Industry Relations, NAR
Jim D’Amico, Broker/Owner, CENTURY 21 NS Group/North Shore, Boston, Mass.
Drayton Saunders, President, Michael Saunders & Company, Sarasota, Fla.
Shane McCullar, CEO/Owner, Keller Williams Realty Metro Center, Leesburg, Va.
Chris Trapani, CEO/Co-Founder, Sereno Group, Los Gatos, Calif.
Christina Pappas: Many brokers and agents are heavily involved with charitable and fundraising efforts. Not only do they care about their clients, but the well-being of their communities, as well. In my company, charitable giving started with Ken Keyes way back in 1926, and over the years, my grandfather and my father have grown that tradition, currently giving to the Dolphins Cancer Challenge and more than 60 other charities within our footprint. We give because we see ourselves as the heart of the community, and giving back, especially to the causes our agents support, is as important as anything we do. So, I thought it might be eye-opening to hear a little bit how other companies approach giving. Jim, can we start with you?
Jim D’Amico: I agree, Christina, we are fortunate, and we give because we want to make a difference. For us, too, giving starts with our agents, many of whom sit on the boards of local charities—like Understanding Cam, which was started by a local family to fund autism research, or Wounded Warriors, which makes a difference in meeting the needs of local heroes. We don’t do golf tournaments. We don’t need to see our name up on banners. We put our money—and our time—into making our communities a better place to live.
Drayton Saunders: Seven years ago, we started a foundation for those very same reasons—to make a difference—a significant difference—in the lives of those who need it in our own community. We have a council made up of agents and staff to help us manage our program, and we tend to focus on local efforts that tend to fall off the big picture radar—groups like 40 Carrots that are all about shelter, sustenance, and feeding kids when they’re out of school for the summer. Giving isn’t mandatory, but many of our agents donate funds, maybe once a year or a little out of every transaction, and the company matches 10 percent of the total.
Shane McCullar: Our charitable efforts began with Hurricane Katrina. We had agents all over the Southeast Coast at that time who were totally wiped out—needed everything from canned goods to toilet paper. We joined the NAR effort to raise $ 2 million in relief funds, and Keller Williams on its own raised another $ 2.3 million. We pitched in again after the flooding in Houston and Puerto Rico, and we give generously to our KW Cares program, in which 100 percent of all donations go to help KW agents and their families who, for whatever reason, need a helping hand.
Chris Trapani: In our case, my co-founder, Ryan Iwanaga, and I feel so strongly about social responsibility that we’re pledged to give 1 percent of our gross commissions to charitable or community-minded groups. As a company, we are committed to being eco-friendly, so, much of what we choose to support is environmental in nature—recycling, sustainability, ecological awareness—but we also sponsor a number of community events—beach clean-ups, arts and music festivals, relays, even summer movie nights. Our goal is to make the one percent we give total $ 1 million a year.
CP: I’m not surprised to hear these huge numbers, and I think it’s wonderful that every leader, every company, seems to find a way to give back that reflects their ethics and their values. Why are we, as REALTORS®, as a profession, so committed to charitable giving?
SM: For us, it’s personal. It’s near and dear to our hearts. We saw what Katrina left behind. It made us realize that everyone is vulnerable, no matter how secure you think you are.
JD’A: And it’s more than money. It’s rolling up your sleeves, working at the soup kitchen, organizing a drive to cover expenses for a family who’s lost a child. Sometimes, it’s a team-builder, like our Basket Brigade, filling baskets of food for the needy. The common denominator is, we’re able to give and we want to be a resource where it’s needed.
CT: We often find ourselves brainstorming, looking for new giving projects…for more ways to make a difference.
CP: Yes, like matching funds every time one of our agents has a booth at a charity event—which is frequently.
DS: It’s micro-giving, actually—putting money exactly where it’s needed instead of just writing a big check. The hidden benefit is we’re a better company—a stronger company—for giving back the way we do.
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