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The Giving Back in Real Estate Discussion

If you read this blog, and don’t know I’m passionate about giving back — well, you’re not really reading.

While in San Francisco at Inman Connect, I attended the “Finding a Cause that Aligns With Your Brand” panel that included good friends Caroline (Giveback Homes) and Greg Fischer (Bend Station), along with Matt Beall at Hawaii Life and Gloria Castellanos at the Agency.

Giving Back panel at Inman 2016

Left to right: Gloria Castellanos, Matt Beall, Greg Fischer, Caroline Pinal

In all seriousness, why hasn’t giving taken off? Why does it remain on the edges of industry conversation, rather than front and center?

A few thoughts / topics:

  • Giving as a marketing strategy (aka disingenuous giving). The benefits of doing good are starting to become more well known – think Starbucks and Toms Shoes. As a result, it’s probably no surprise people are trying to “game” the system to use giving to their advantage. How do you know if an individual agent/broker is giving because they care versus giving to check a box off for buyers/sellers?
  • Ego / self promotion. Many use giving as a means to promote themselves. I struggle with sharing / asking others for donations personally, as I feel people should give because they want to help rather than because they were forced to. (I also hate being the center of attention). This leads to much giving occurring without any sharing whatsoever — for good reason. The more I share my giving activity, the more others ask me to give to (& share) their causes — and I don’t distribute donations for a living. I’d rather spend my giving time and dollars on causes I care deeply about rather than what everyone I know sends to me.
  • “Giving back” is not a problem many think needs solving. It’s just something that people do when asked by someone close to them. I’d argue its similar to the way “community” is not a problem, even though it’s something people think about on a daily basis.
  • Desire to give local. Everyone cares about different causes, organizations, and people and wants to see a tangible result from their efforts/money. This results in giving that’s extremely fragmented across thousands of charities/causes. Giving strategies are inherently very custom to what works for you and your business — making deep conversations few and far between (because there aren’t a ton of similarities in the exact way giving is done).
  • Most people don’t/won’t change their behavior just to do good. I’ve learned working on Horizon (see travel by giving context) and researching the “social good” sector, products and services seldom work based on giving as a standalone value proposition. You have to win on everything else first (price, convenience, etc) and then, all else equal, giving back is a great differentiator.
  • Talking about giving takes work in a way talking about celebrity gossip or the local sports team doesn’t.

Someone needs to PROVE the ROI of giving. Giving needs to result in more income than not giving, that’s the only way we’re going to move this conversation front and center. I believe referrals are one big aspect to making a case the math of giving makes sense.

That said, I’ll continue to be a huge proponent for companies such as Giveback Homes who are bound and determined to make giving part of the conversation. It’s clear Blake, Caroline, and team are in it for the right reasons — to change lives — that comes through loud and clear in conversations.

Blake Andrews and I at San Francisco

Blake Andrews and I in San Francisco

Are you giving as part of your business? Why, or why not?

(And, YES, it was the #bestpanelever!)

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog / Geek Estate Labs. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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  • When I started at a big agency we gave 50% of our commission to the agency. Then we started to get more commission as our volume went up, but the agency always took a big cut.

    When we went to an agency that paid 100% commission, and now as my own brokerage, we decided to take what we used to give to our big name Broker and give it back to our client in the form of a rebate or a discount for sellers.

    Buyers and sellers do appreciate giving back to them.

    Russel Rhodes from Keller Williams does an incredible job of giving back to his clients. While he does not discount his commission, he has all sorts of programs and things he does that continually give to his clients, and the reciprocate by recommending him and using him again.

    I understand you are talking about giving to charity, not to our clients, but I have to admit giving directly to our clients seems to make more sense in terms of the return received.

  • mattdollinger

    Read “Saving the World at Work” by Tim Sanders. He has some calculated ROI metrics from companies that are heavily invested in charitable work.

  • A thought –

    Giving in real estate hasn’t taken off, in part because many (most?) agents are looking for the direct, easy ROI.

    Giving takes time to come back … being a giver in a community is a valuable thing – and can be perceived as valuable over time.

    Personally, I give to a charity on my clients’ behalf after every transaction (it’s not something I market). Nest agents have the option to give a piece of every transaction to a charity we have taken on, but we don’t necessarily market that either.

    It’s hard (and disingenuous, IMHO) to say, “work with me, I’ll give to a charity!” without sounding (and being) selly and giving for what I project as the wrong reasons.

    Giving is easy. Asking others to give — that’s hard.

  • KinseySchulz

    Just stumbled upon your blog while on “vacation” (is there such in real estate?).

    When my husband Keith and I got into the business, we wanted to give back. Starting in January 2010, we made a commitment to give 10% of EVERY commission earned to the charities of our clients’ choosing.

    When we opened up our own brokerage in 2013, we decided that Quarterly, we were going to give back a portion of the profits.

    We are proud supporters of many local charities, as well as ones nationwide.

    http://www.KeithAndKinsey.com

    • Wow! That is a long list of charities you have given to. Very impressive!

  • Yes, I am a property manager at haqhomes .com and giving my role to engage with guests who come to spend their holidays in Florida and you know Florida is southeaster most U.S state, also known as“Sunshine State”. Capital of peninsular Florida is Tallahassee. Florida is a state, with Atlantic on one side and Gulf of Mexico on the other side. This state is famous for beaches (especially Miami Beach), its night life, theme parks and Disney world. A large number of tourist visit Florida every year. If you want to spend vacations in Florida best places to take vacation homes in state are as follows:

  • Huggins Homes

    Giving back is very important. I do on average between 30 and 40 hours a month community service with a local search and rescue team.

    As far as the ROI of giving discussion, you don’t give back looking for an ROI. If you do, you’re not giving back for the right reason and you’ll never see anything from it.

  • Wealth Mantra

    Nice information in this blog.

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