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3 ways to make giving back part of your business

Troy Palmquist is an indie broker in California with more than a decade of experience. His regular column, which covers a range of helpful tips for agents and op-eds on industry happenings, publishes Thursdays on Inman.

From large corporations to individual agents, giving back is becoming more public. Everywhere I look, I am reminded of it.

Compass recently announced its aim to become the world’s “most inspirational company” with the launch of a new charity program. Under the Compass Cares program, CEO Robert Reffkin pledges, “every transaction will result in charitable donation.”

John Gafford

Similarly, John Gafford of Simply Vegas Real Estate — a top producing real estate broker and former contestant on NBC’s hit show The Apprentice — is making very public his mission of “purpose-driven real estate,” in which a portion of the commission from every home sold goes to help others.

And he is encouraging those in his brokerage, and the real estate industry, to do the same. At a recent networking event in Las Vegas, I heard Gafford speak firsthand about the power of connecting through giving back, and I could not be more impressed.

So much so, it made me question how my own brokerage should handle giving back as we move into 2019.

How public should giving back be?

Should we be more public and regular with what we do to give back and express our good works to the local community? Big-box Goliath Costco thinks so.

The company is putting the spotlight on companies who care in the cover story for its December issue of Costco Connection saying, “There are a number of reasons that business owners decide to do good by giving back. They know it helps attract and retain employees. They may have an authentic connection to a charity, one that is related to their brand’s niche or a health or economic condition they’ve overcome personally.”

This statement hits home as I have personally witnessed real estate agents and brokers coming together in both Southern California and across the nation to tackle the devastating effects of the recent fires. I touch upon this in a recent Inman post, “A Realtor’s guide to giving back during a disaster.”

Giving back isn’t anything new, but the approach to generating new business through charitable programs is becoming increasingly popular. Many of us, especially in the real estate industry, are doing more than ever to make an impact on our local communities, yet it can be rather conflicting to shout it from the rooftops.

Does it get us more business? Does a buyer or seller want to work with an agent more because of the agent’s charitable giving? All signs point to yes.

3 ways to make it happen

Once you have decided you want to make giving back a part of your business, you have to think through how to execute your plan. Here are a few ideas we’ve seen work in the industry.

1. Empower the client

Take a poll to find out what causes matter most to your clientele. Whether via a survey or heartfelt conversation, agents should start paying attention to the things that matter most in their communities and take steps toward getting involved.

Not only will you be giving back, you’ll be connecting with people and organizations that care, and it could result in a new connection or lead to future business. Everybody wins.

2. Donate a percentage of commission

Take a page from Compass and Gafford’s book, and start donating a percentage of each home sale or purchase to a good cause.

Have the client decide where the money goes, or put it into an office fund, and vote on how the funds will be distributed locally.

Make sure to follow up with clients in a newsletter that highlights your good works. This keeps them involved and engaged, while demonstrating what your company stands for.

3. Host events that matter

Turn your next client appreciation party or broker open into an opportunity. Bring people together to give back. Allow them to donate or participate in a cause. This is a great ice breaker, and it sets up a foundation for networking and connecting on a deeper level.

Maybe it’s a fundraiser, perhaps it’s a giving event — get creative. You’ll quickly see the benefits. Just ask Garry Eberhardt.

He’s a dedicated agent at my brokerage who also works with The Young and Brave Foundation. He recently did an event at our Channel Islands office for the charity and invited his sphere of influence to eat great food, participate in a silent auction and support a raffle for an amazing print by a local photographer Dave Castro.

Additionally, Dave Castro invited his sphere of influence to the event as an added bonus, connecting our trusted brokers with his esteemed clientele.

I for one, cannot sit on the sidelines any longer. Although my company and individual brokers do a lot for the communities we serve, it’s time to show why we do it, who we are impacting and invite others to join us.

There is a new mission on the horizon, and it starts with being an agent and a company who cares.

Troy Palmquist is the founder and broker of The Address in Southern California. Follow him on Facebook, or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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