Article: Philanthropy and Real Estate: The Double Bottom Line

zBuyer Newsletter_187_IMAGEMASTER

Those in the know in the philanthropic field often like to champion the “double bottom line,” which means engaging in business practices that not only add to a company’s financial success but better the lives and conditions of the community at large.
Increasingly, those in the real estate industry are subscribing to this concept. The beauty of the double bottom line is that it’s a win-win – often an act of generosity pays off for your business in ways you may or may not expect.
So, sure: You’re a member of Rotary or the local Optimists club, buy the occasional ad in a local school’s football program or co-sponsor an arts presentation. What else can you do that will not only give back to the community that makes your success possible, but also grow your business?

Here are a few ideas


Put their money where your mouth is

While no one likes to give up commission, what if you were instead giving it to a local nonprofit on the seller’s and/or buyer’s behalf? This type of indirect giving – which doesn’t necessarily require extra money out-of-pocket but makes a sizeable impact – is particularly attractive to Millennials, who will make up the largest segment of the home-buying public over the next decade and who can make (or break) your online reputation in a few swift clicks. Platforms like Charitable Agents allow you to take part in the program that gives 10 percent of each sale to a client-designated nonprofit. But you could also work on the honor system and do it yourself, like this Austin Realtor who gives 25 percent of her commission on every sale to charity.

Have causes you’re particularly passionate about – or, more likely, a handful of nonprofits you’d prefer not support? Create a rotating “menu” of nonprofits covering a cross-section of community needs for your clients to choose from.

Be a financial mentor

Not all philanthropy is monetary: Your time and expertise could be just as valuable as your commission to a wide variety of people. Of course your local community college or university could benefit from your business acumen (right?) as a guest speaker or adjunct teacher. But we urge you to dig a little deeper and find financial literacy programs or impactful organizations that are seeking to raise families out of poverty. Homeownership is a goal of most of these families, and a supportive Realtor helping them understand the finances and paperwork involved could be their first step toward their dream. Check with your local community foundation or United Way or another charitable umbrella organization for recommendations.

Get your hands dirty

What if, instead of paying $100 for an ad in the community theatre troupe’s annual program, you volunteered to help them paint their sets? What if, instead of sponsoring a jersey for the local Pony League ballclub, you volunteered to coach (and still probably get your logo on the jersey)? What if you volunteered for a local church, or visited with seniors at a local nursing facility? Do you think you might take some personal satisfaction from these experiences, along with meeting people who could become – or refer you to – future clients?
That’s not to say you should constantly be selling yourself – your business shouldn’t be the only topic of conversation. But if you’re authentic, invested and showing that you actively want to make a difference in your community, it can’t help but enhance your reputation. A short, honest article from takes a look at the phenomenon of giving time vs. giving money (and even has a short breakdown of popular civic organizations, if lunch meetings and membership drives are more your speed).

You or your firm may have other ways of giving, and there’s no wrong answer when it comes to giving back… anything that betters your community will circle back and benefit you, your business and your clients. Any formal programs you can put together to bring in more business are icing on the cake.

After all, as one agent put it following the $88 million sale of a Manhattan penthouse, the proceeds from which the seller wanted to go to charity:

Nobody signs an exclusive with us because of charity, Haber said, but “it gets us in the door.