2011-10-13

Co.Exist

Making Real Estate Markets Work For Nonprofits

Sell your house, give to charity. My Broker Donates enlists the help of brokers to give parts of their fees to area nonprofits--organizations whose work often drives up property values.

The real estate market was supposed to be the driving force behind the economy. Now we know that wasn’t really true. But what if there was a way that every time a house sold in the United States, it did some good, by generating thousands of dollars for nonprofits? That might sound like an insane dream, but My Broker Donates, was launched in 2011 to do just that.

There are 5 million homes sold in the U.S. each year, which could generate $4.82 billion in new nonprofit funding at the 15% rate that My Broker Donate commands. As it is Greg Baumann, the company’s COO, figures it could reach 1% market share in a few years, and direct $48 million a year for nonprofits. 

"Nice, big scalable numbers," writes Baumann by email. The company is one of a number of companies looking to add some altruism to plain vanilla commercial transactions. "Our mission is to make the model ubiquitous, eventually. Just the small matter of creating a new norm. Home sales equal charity donations."

Baumann figures that nonprofits should see some returns for all the investments, financial and otherwise, they make into communities, many of which raise property values. The fees come out the referral commissions that brokers normally receive, rather than the pockets of buyers or sellers. Brokers buy into the system because it brings in new business at little cost, along with highly qualified clients. Nonprofits from Sierra Club to the Taproot have backed the idea.

Since kicking off in January, My Broker Donates has enrolled more than 40 nonprofit partners, and closed several house transactions, with more in the pipeline. It sees such philanthropic expectations becoming as common as car donations are today for nonprofits.

"We believe we have proven the concept," says Baumann. "Now it’s about scaling." <[Images: Flickr user Images_of_Money]

Reach Michael J. Coren via Twitter or email.

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