Giving back to the community is a cornerstone of the ethos for many in the real estate industry.
It is also an important part of many Realtors®’ business model. At the Saint Paul Area Association of REALTORS® (SPAAR), giving back is so important it’s part of our tagline: Better Agents, Better Communities.
Community Engagement is one of SPAAR’s four pillars (along with Professionalism, Communications and Advocacy), the structure outlined in the association’s Strategic Plan. This Strategic plan envisions opportunities to promote homeownership to increasingly diverse communities and to drive community engagement by members. These opportunities are built into the missions of SPAAR’s Committee for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Community Engagement Committee.
SPAAR’s Community Engagement Committee advances the Strategic Plan in two ways:
- By recognizing the many ways SPAAR Realtors® and members are involved in the communities where they live and work and
- By creating opportunities for members to give back through contributions of time and service or donations of cash and goods.
Let’s consider how the committee achieves these goals, how you can participate—and why.
Member Recognition – The committee works to draw attention to the many ways SPAAR members work to improve their communities. The committee’s goal is to increase recognition by reaching out to members. This is a recognition that SPAAR could effectively serve members by meeting them where they are; by recognizing independent efforts to build better communities.
SPAAR Hero – Monthly recognition of a SPAAR member’s community involvement. Each SPAAR Hero is recognized on spaar.com, on social media and through a press release. Each recipient receives $250.00 for a community cause or organization they support. Past recipients have included members who volunteer with food banks. Nominations are open year-round and are reviewed by the committee.
SPAAR Good Neighbor Award – Annual recognition of one SPAAR member whose community involvement has made a demonstrable difference in improving the community. Nominees include SPAAR Hero honorees; additional nominees are welcome. Application is available to download here. SPAAR Good Neighbor is selected by the committee. The award is announced at SPAAR’s Winter Social and Installation of Officers in January. The SPAAR Good Neighbor receives $1,000.00 for a nonprofit organization they support.
NAR Good Neighbor – National recognition from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Nominations are open January through May of each year, with honorees named at NAR’s Annual Conference and Expo.
Service opportunities – Each year the committee organizes service opportunities to bring together SPAAR members to volunteer with community-based nonprofits, with an emphasis on organizations with missions related to housing. The Dresser Build with Bridging, held each November, brings together volunteers who assemble dressers that are distributed to families in need. (This year’s event is Friday, November 19. Register here.) Other recent service projects have partnered with Lyngblomsten Care Center and ReBuilding Together Twin Cities. The committee welcomes suggestions for projects or partners.
In 2022, the committee will kick-off a pilot project of on-demand service projects, bringing opportunities to members’ offices. These will be short-term, portable events for SPAAR members to participate in as a team or office. Watch eNews and SPAAR.com for details in December.
Collection Drives – Throughout each year the committee promotes collection drives to benefit nonprofits in SPAAR’s area. In 2021, collection drives for Every Meal, the Blue Star Mothers of America and Bridging, Inc., solicited items from SPAAR members, teams and offices. Frequently SPAAR members share these drives with clients on social media to extend the impact.
The REALTORS® Charitable Foundation, affiliated with the Saint Paul Area Association of REALTORS® (SPAAR), also coordinates service opportunities and collection drives. In partnership with Bridging, Inc., four dresser building events will take place across SPAAR’s service area in 2022. These events are supported with a $100,000.00 grant announced by the foundation board in September. Learn more about SPAAR's REALTORS® Charitable Foundation by visiting www.realtorscharitable.org
It’s an important question… in today’s competitive housing market, who has time to volunteer? And why should I make time to give back to the community?
For many, the warm feeling or sense that it is “the right thing to do” is justification enough for community involvement. Many acknowledge achieving personal growth through service to the community.
However, there are additional important benefits to community involvement. Improving the community by investing your time and resources can increase opportunities---stronger communities are more desirable to homebuyers—and builds positive relationships and networks. Your knowledge of community resources developed through volunteering contributes to your community expertise as a Realtor®. Professional development opportunities---developing new skills and elevating your presence and polishing your brand in the community are additional benefits.
Realtors® contribute to positive publicity and raise the industry’s reputation in the community through community involvement. This demonstrates the value real estate professionals contribute beyond the scope of real estate transactions.
Like to learn more? Check out NAR’s 2020 Report CARE: Community Aid and Real Estate. This report includes statistics on how and why Realtors® give back to the community. More than sixty-seven percent of REALTORS® volunteer every month and 82% donate to nonprofits and community organizations annually. C.A.R.E. Report: Community Aid and Real Estate (nar.realtor).
For more information or if you have questions about SPAAR’s Community Engagement Committee, please contact Joe McKinley via email.