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Each year, Real Estate Express conducts a survey about what real estate professionals love about their job, and the ability to help others always appears in the top five. Giving back really is what makes it such a great career.

Incorporating a charitable element into your real estate business has never been easier. Here are some resources you can connect with if you want creative and fun ways to support your community through your work—and, along the way, you might just meet some like-minded real estate agents and new clients.

  1. Real Estate for Rehabilitation
    This program, which supports the Salvation Army’s rehabilitation programs across the country, connects people who are getting rid of items during a move with Salvation Army representatives who will pick up their goods to sell in their thrift shops. All sales generated from donated goods go toward funding rehabilitation programs.

“This program was started with the idea that real estate agents, naturally, are working with individuals who are moving and they may not want to take all of their items with them,” says Andrew Dobney from the Salvation Army. “Instead of throwing them away, why don’t they call the Salvation Army who can come and pick them up free of charge and all of those items will go into our stores to be sold?”

How to Get Involved: You can read more about the program on this website and order a marketing kit, which includes cards to hand to your clients when they’re moving with all the information they need. If you don’t have time to order a kit, you can simply tell your clients to schedule a pick-up online at their convenience.

  1. Real Estate Wednesdays
    Throughout the holidays, real estate agents come together on Wednesdays to ring bells for the Salvation Army’s red kettle drives. In 2015, more than 2,400 real estate professionals participated to raise a combined $201,000. They call the movement Real Estate Wednesdays and encourage real estate agents and clients to come together for the cause.

“Bell ringing is essential to the work that we do,” says Dobney. “Every time we have a volunteer ringing bells we do see an increase in the monies that are given during that time. We’re only looking for a two-hour time slot.”

Bell ringing doesn’t have to be a solo activity, either. In fact, Dobney says groups often join together to fill their time slot.

“It can be a family thing, or a competition amongst the REALTORS®. There are many different ways to make it a lot of fun for all those involved.”

How to Get Involved: The Real Estate Wednesdays website has resources on how to start bell ringing in your area and ideas on how to include other real estate agents and your clients. If there isn’t already a Real Estate Wednesdays group in your area, you can sign up to become a captain—which means you take responsibility for a kettle for all the Wednesdays between Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can schedule other real estate agents and groups to ring during different time slots.

  1. Giveback Homes
    If you’re handy and want to put some sweat equity into your charity work, consider teaming up with Giveback Homes. Here’s how they describe themselves on their website: “Giveback Homes is a community of real estate professionals who are committed to creating social change by helping build homes for deserving families around the globe. We work together to organize fundraising events [and] mobilize teams of volunteer home builders, and we inspire others to take action for social good.”

They currently build homes across the U.S. and in countries like Mexico, Haiti and Nicaragua.

How to Get Involved: Become a member on their website to support home-building financially and through Giveback Build Days domestically and internationally. Once you’re a member, the organization will set you up with branded marketing so you can differentiate yourself with your clients and let them know you support this charity as part of your work.

  1. Automatically Give Proceeds With Charitable Agents
    If you want to make a monetary donation as part of your work, consider signing up with Charitable Agents, one of the only real estate charities that allows you to give clients the option of designating a portion of your fee to a charity of their choice.

It’s essentially a network of agents who have committed to giving 10 percent of their earnings to charity. Clients who are searching for an agent can browse the directory for someone near them, choose the charity they want to support and move forward with the transaction.

How to Get Involved: Contact Charitable Agents through their contact form to apply to be an agent in their network.

  1. Door-Knocking With a Purpose
    Looking for an opportunity that’s less structured than one of these real estate charities? How about trying a new take on door-knocking. Canvass the neighborhood with large paper bags that people can fill with canned goods for the local food bank. You can brand the bags with your name and business, and leave some information about the food drive you’re doing. Then, circle back a few days later to pick up any food. It’s an easy way to connect with people in your community, an approachable way to door-knock, and you’re doing something good for the community at the same time.

Giving Back Makes You Happy
Even though it takes some extra time and effort out of your day to organize and participate in charitable events, giving back feels great! Plus, it could help you meet more people in your industry and community. The best part, though? You’re helping people truly in need using your expertise in real estate.

Alexis Petersen is the director of Content at Real Estate Express, a national leader in online learning for pre-licensing, continuing education and professional development. For the last six years she has been educating real estate professionals on how to successfully launch and advance their career. She’s also a seasoned marketing veteran, with nearly 15 years of experience.

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