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In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, REALTORS®, real estate agents and their respective firms have increased their philanthropic and volunteer efforts, according to a new report from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The median annual value of REALTORS® associations’ donations to communities doubled from $5,000 in 2018 to $10,000 in 2020.

The Community Aid and Real Estate Report—the CARE Report—offers insight into the monetary and volunteer contributions of members, broker/owners and association executives and multiple listing service staff. This year’s CARE Report found that, compared to the most recent 2018 study, food and monetary donations remain high and volunteering has increased among REALTORS®, while REALTOR®, associations held more fundraisers for their communities.

“REALTORS® are in the business of helping people and serving their communities, and we’ve seen countless examples of this play out nationwide during this pandemic,” said NAR President Charlie Oppler, a REALTOR® from Franklin Lakes, N.J., and broker/owner of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty. “To hear that my colleagues in the real estate industry have pitched in to an even greater degree than usual is indeed heartwarming, but it is also not surprising.”

Two-thirds of members at large—67 percent—volunteered on a monthly basis (66 percent in 2018). Among all members, an average of four hours per month were spent volunteering, while that number increased to eight hours among those who volunteer on a monthly basis. Eighty-two percent of REALTORS® made charitable donations last year, equal to the share recorded in 2018.

Among broker/owners, 79 percent volunteered their time on a monthly basis, versus 77 percent in 2018. Ninety-two percent of broker/owners made donations in 2020, up from 81 percent in 2018. In terms of monetary donations, the median amount broker/owners donated annually was $2,000.

Sixty-eight percent of association executives or multiple listing service staff volunteered monthly and 93 percent of AEs or MLS staff made personal donations in 2020. Ninety-one percent of AE or MLS respondents’ associations conducted a fundraiser for their community in 2020, an increase from 89 percent in 2018.

“Historically, REALTORS® have a proven track record of donating time, money and energy toward various charities and volunteer efforts,” said Oppler. He cites the assistance and community service efforts of agents particularly during the COVID-19 outbreak.

REALTORS® responded to the pandemic in a variety of manners, including by making food deliveries to the elderly and frontline workers, conducting wellness checks and visits to senior neighbors, and offering virtual companionship to those isolated or quarantined alone. Additionally, 36 percent of brokers and their firms donated money or nonperishables to food banks during the pandemic and another 11 percent volunteered their time at such organizations. Twenty-seven percent donated masks and protective gear in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus, 16 percent donated school meals to children, and 9 percent were able to provide stable and secure housing to those in need.

While individual real estate agents were generous with their time and money, philanthropic efforts also carried over to their respective firms. Sixty-eight percent of members reported that their firm urged employees to volunteer, up from 64 percent in 2018. Fifty-eight percent of members said involvement in their community is “very important” to their business plan, and another 27 percent said such participation is “somewhat important.”

“Since I entered this industry, I always valued giving back to the community and the ideal of paying it forward,” said Oppler, whose 2021 plan includes volunteerism and community services initiatives.

Oppler has publicly challenged membership to participate in various community services and log their volunteer hours over the next year, with the goal of reaching 5 million hours by November 2021. NAR has a tracker at where REALTORS® can record their hours, earn a digital badge and see their volunteer work represented on a map.

“I have no doubt that America’s 1.4 million REALTORS® will continue to help our neighbors and lend assistance wherever possible as we collectively work to move beyond COVID-19 in the coming months.”

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