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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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