By Toby Welch
It’s official. Real estate salespeople are a giving group of people.
CREA reports that from 2012 to 2015, the real estate community raised and donated $91.2 million for charity. This number is likely lower than the true figure as some agents don’t publicize the contributions they make. The real estate community in Canada is generous.
Ted Cawkwell, an agriculture specialist with Re/Max Saskatoon, gives to a charity of his client’s choice on behalf of every buyer and seller who closes a transaction with him (he gives them four to pick from.) Cawkwell also gives a separate donation to the Children’s Hospital Foundation for every transaction that he closes, attaining the “Miracle Worker” status last year for his contributions. A firm believer in karma and grateful that he makes a living doing something he is passionate about, Cawkwell gives back because it makes him happy to help others and he feels it is the right thing to do as a human being.
“There is no large advantage from a business perspective but that is not why I give back,” says Cawkwell. “My hope is that some people may choose to work with me rather than another agent that is not as involved with charity but in reality, we do not notice a lot of extra business because of this. We like to lead by example and encourage other agents to give back to the charities in their communities. The greatest advantage is knowing that I am making a difference to children and people in need. If we all give a little, it goes a long way.”
Mentioning your charitable involvement in your literature and on your social media channels is a win-win situation. You will attract people that believe social responsibility should be a priority. At the same time, you will be shining a spotlight on charities that you want to support. Another added benefit is that you may inspire someone else to make a difference, too. Everyone comes out on top!
Jill Hann, a real estate agent and certified home stager with the Jill Hann Real Estate Experts team with Royal LePage Atlantic in Halifax, is known for her giving spirit. “The greatest advantage to being an agent that gives back to the community is just that – giving back,” she says. “I’m so proud of the community I represent and come from and I feel so lucky to be part of it. It’s full of beautiful oceanfront and lakeside landscapes and the people are just as beautiful. These are hard-working neighbours who always make time to help others as well as the community as a whole. It’s like a snowball effect every time I do something for my community. It’s appreciated and makes others want to give more, too, and we all get to experience the generosity of our community together, whether that’s supporting local events, local business, or just each other.”
In 2015, Hann decided to use the annual Movember campaign to increase exposure for her listings; it was a slow time in the Halifax real estate market and there was an oversupply of homes for sale. Hann challenged Haligonians to take a selfie in front of her Movember for sale signs and upload the photos to her Facebook page. For each uploaded photo, Hann donated two dollars to Prostate Cancer Canada and each person who participated was entered into a draw for $100 at the end of November.
But the Movember campaign was about more than increasing exposure for Hann’s real estate business. Her grandfather died of prostate cancer in 2011 and she wanted to do something to recognize him. Hann says, “The Movember campaign was truly successful at both gaining exposure for the cause and for the properties I had for sale.”
Marla Marnoch, a sales representative with Streetcity Realty in London, Ont., focuses on social impact real estate. Marnoch started the Earmark initiative, which involves donating 20 per cent of her commissions to “change makers” or charities in the London area. The clients get to chose who the donation goes to and an investment is made to the community. Marnoch says, “I get to see the impact that each donation makes when it’s put it in hands of community champions. Also, it makes my work more fulfilling by utilizing my background in community development.”
Earmarking commissions for community good has had a side benefit of garnering Marnoch more clients. “It attracts clients that share my passion for community building and creates opportunities for authentic relationships to develop. But first and foremost, clients need to buy or sell a home. They must have confidence in me as an agent first – only then does the added bonus of giving back come into play.”
You don’t have to donate a part of your commission to give back; actions can have a deep and lasting impact. Cawkwell, for example, hosts a free children’s fishing event for about 1,000 people each year. Everything is free – transportation, parking, fishing passes, food, tackle, rods and bait. It is one of the largest outdoor children’s events in Saskatoon. He started the event 11 years ago to implement positive outdoor experiences for Saskatoon’s children. Another example is three agents who went on a 100-km charity hike in Iceland in July to support the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation. In an interview before they left, one of the women stated that while raising funds is important, raising awareness about domestic violence and the need for shelters is crucial.
Another sales rep who wanted to remain anonymous shared his tips on being philanthropic in the real estate business: “Instead of giving a little to a lot of charities, pick one or two you feel strongly about and support them. Don’t just send a cheque. Challenge yourself and actually get involved.”