If, as Zig Ziglar once said, “Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful,” Virginia-based Realtor Michelle Huber Ratajczak of ALL/Pros Realty should be his real-world model. From one-time “struggling single mom” to thriving real estate agent today, Ratajczak has seen both the challenges and triumphs of life. And, today her measure of success goes far beyond the number of real estate transactions she makes.
“Giving back is one of the most important aspects of my business,” she said. “Many years ago I had three children with no child support and was trying to make a career in this business. I had help from so many individuals and organizations. I knew I would make giving back a priority when I was in a place to do so.”
Ratajczak is one of many real estate agents who have discovered the advantages of partnering with charity app PinRaise, which connects non-profits with the local business community, in their Agent with Heart™ program (AWH). AWH allows Realtors to direct a portion of their commission toward a charity of their clients’ choosing at closing. Clients can select from hundreds of non-profit charities in the PinRaise system (all 501c3 organizations are welcome to participate), with no out of pocket expense. Whether agents are simply looking for a new charitable outlet or are “paying it forward” like Ratajczak, PinRaise and AWH give them an easy and gratifying opportunity to use their position for good.
As a breast cancer survivor, Realtor Terri Repetto of Realty ONE Group in San Diego is committed to giving back, and has been fundraising for many years. Now as an Agent with Heart, she is able to do so with every property sale she makes, creating even more good will among clients. “It’s nice to have my clients choose something they are passionate about,” she said.
Making charitable giving easier than ever for real estate agents
Charitable giving continues to rise across the board; “American individuals, estates, foundations and corporations contributed an estimated $390.05 billion to U.S. charities in 2016, according to Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2016.” That’s up 2.7 percent from $373.3 billion in 2015, which was the highest donation amount in history, until last year.
Charity work and real estate “have long gone hand in hand,” said REALTOR Mag, the official magazine of the National Association of Realtors, who detailed the “creative ways” brokerages are leveraging “their philanthropic role in their communities as a source of name recognition and business growth” while recognizing that, “for each and every one of these brokers, doing good is its own reward.”
However, while charitable giving offers personal satisfaction in addition to the vast benefits it provides to the recipient of that giving, there is sometimes a roadblock to participation: not knowing where to go or how to make the right kind of impact. PinRaise and AWH ease the process so that participating agents can focus on the goal.
“At the beginning of 2017, we (my hubby and I) wanted to find a way to give back and donate to more charities but we weren’t quite sure what path to take and how to be held accountable,” said Irvine, CA-based real estate agent Dana Roberts of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, who has so far donated to her clients’ chartable cause on seven separate occasions. “Then, one day I received a call from PinRaise—funny how God works! It was a perfect fit. The client chooses the charity then I make the donation at the close of the sale. It’s a win-win. It’s only been six months but I see this as a long term partnership.”
Through AWH, Realtors are able to increase their charitable contributions and raise awareness of their philanthropy through an easy process that makes donations seamless and cost-free for the client. Agents choose how much to donate. And, PinRaise also provides a complete marketing kit and promotional support to help real estate agents get the word out, grow their network, and connect with more potential clients.
“I advertise AWH everywhere I can and wear my lapel pin,” said Repetto. PinRaise’s “help with promoting, flyers, emails to clients, etc. is a tremendous benefit to participating in the AWH program as a Realtor.”
How the Agent with Heart program works
Agent with Heart taps into a natural instinct to give back, especially when you realize that, “Everyone has something or someone they care about and want to help,” said Ratajczak. “It may be children, pets, cancer, homelessness—deep down, we all care and want help others.” For agents looking for a way to make a difference in the lives of others—beyond helping families make the dream of homeownership come true—and build their business through referrals, word of mouth, and the promotional opportunities provided by PinRaise, AWH is a no-brainer,” she said.
“Clients love this because it feels like they are making a difference and it isn’t costing them anything,” said Ratajczak. “You can connect with them by letting them know that you care and helping with something that is important to them. They are always excited, in a little bit of disbelief, and very appreciative. I believe we are meant to live and conduct our business by the Golden Rule, and giving back and being affiliated with a company such as this enhances what being a Realtor stands for. Can you imagine if all Realtors were Agents with Heart? We could make such a huge difference in the world and help so many people.”
PinRaise is a charity-based app that is designed to generate income for its nonprofits. There are more than 600 agents and merchants signed up to give back through PinRaise, in just Orange County alone, with a portion of the purchase of goods and services going to the giver’s choice. They include numerous shops and stores, restaurants, day spas, entertainment, and services, each of which makes a donation for every purchase or service rendered.
As an Agent with Heart, real estate agents receive marketing materials they can use in print and online, including listing inserts, press release templates, open house materials, enhanced SEO on PinRaise and RealtyTimes, social media assets, logos, and an Agent with Heart lapel pin. In addition, Realtors are promoted on their nonprofit network, and have a press release published on RealtyTimes and a YouTube Video published on their social network for each donation.