4 Tips to Successfully Partner With a Nonprofit

Before selecting a charity, brokers should ensure the partnership is a good fit and that agents will get involved.

August 14, 2015

As real estate professionals, the first thing we sell to a client is the community. Since the community comes above all else, it’s important that brokers and agents take an active role.

Sure, your agents are probably participating in local networking activities, but going further as a company by supporting a charitable organization can be a more meaningful way to understand the inner workings of your market while also making a greater impact.

This may seem daunting at first, but with some careful planning you can show your support, make your community more livable, and raise your profile at the same time. Here are few tips to consider before moving forward:

1. Stay Local: It’s no secret that community comes first in real estate. So it makes sense to choose a charitable partner that’s working to make your community a better place to live. Staying local will provide an opportunity to make new connections and befriend neighbors. You’ll also be saying loud and clear that your brokerage is invested and dedicated to what’s happening locally. That’s priceless.

2. Define the Charity Type: There are so many great charities filling so many important roles that choosing one to support can be overwhelming. Start by defining your own company’s areas of interest and then look for a local charity with a mission that aligns.

3. Involve Your Agents: Your agents are out pounding the pavement every day, so make sure they are on board. Tap them for their local expertise. Ask them what issues they care about, and encourage them to get involved individually in local charitable efforts.

4. Plan Wisely: It’s important to remember that you operate a real estate company first, not a nonprofit. Since your time is already limited, look for ways to incorporate your charitable efforts into the business you’re already conducting. Here are a few examples from our own experience:

  • Some agents will donate $5 for every agent who visits their open house. This would also work for a public open house. Placing an ad in your local paper detailing this call to action at an open house is a great way to publicize your charitable involvement and your listing at the same time.
  • An agent will provide lunch for the entire office, charge all takers $5, and then donate the money straight to charity. Lunch can be as simple as a big bowl of chili.
  • Involve your sellers! One of our agents had a client who was unable to move a wine collection across the country, so our agents pitched in by auctioning it off for charity.

Now that you have your partnership planned, how do you market your charitable involvement without coming off as sleazy or self-congratulatory? Sometimes it’s as simple as making charity a part of your sales process.

At Windermere Stellar, agents can incorporate a sheet that lists our charitable causes into their listing packets. Agents use it as an “oh, by the way” talking point that’s never at the center of the conversation but that adds a nice closing note. At the completion of the sale, some agents will make a donation to charity in the client’s name as a closing gift. We’ll then send a card to the client acknowledging the gift.

Our public relations efforts also put a strong emphasis on relaying our community actions. Oftentimes nonprofits will include donor information in their own marketing efforts, offering a third-party stamp of approval.

As with everything in real estate management, successfully partnering with a nonprofit comes down to careful planning and execution. But if you take the time to do it right, you’ll see rewards in your business and your local community.


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Joan Allen is a co-owner of Windermere Stellar and cochair of the Windermere Foundation. As co-owner of Windermere Stellar, Joan provides overall strategies for management, marketing, and company direction. Joan works with multiple nonprofits in the region as cochair of the local Windermere Foundation, which supports charitable organizations that assist low-income children and families. She also serves on the board of directors for New Avenues for Youth, Bridge Meadows, and Providence Portland Medical Center, and is an advisory board member for Girls Inc.