Home. I help people find them and let them go. On paper, it’s a business transaction, but the journey literally hits home in a deeply personal way.
My own childhood home was in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was the 9th of 10 children, and one of only two girls. With an 18-year age spread between the oldest and youngest, my mom had her hands full for several decades until she ventured out into the semiconductor industry. My dad was a salesperson who raised us to work smart and give 110%. All 12 of us fit snugly into our 1800 square foot home but thanks to my parents and older siblings, our basic needs were lovingly met.
But life doesn’t turn out exactly as you plan and mine was no exception. Fast forwarding to adulthood, I found myself newly divorced after 12 years of marriage in 2007 needing to start over. Precipitated, but not caused by the divorce, I felt empty, like something was missing. No matter what I did, that feeling would not go away. Eventually, it was my mom’s “count your blessings” mantra that woke me up and made me realize how fortunate I was.
Searching for personal fulfillment and joy, I tried volunteering, but it was impossible to stick to a schedule with my hectic and unpredictable real estate career. Out of this frustration, an amazing idea blossomed-- a goose bump moment where I realized I could sell real estate (a career that I had fallen in love with), utilize my years of experience in the sales and marketing world, AND make a real difference while doing it! GIVE Realty was born that day, and my life has never been the same.
I started GIVE Realty in 2008 with the goal of fostering philanthropy through real estate sales. I decided to donate 25% of the gross commission to the nonprofit of my client’s choice. I admit that at first, it was a marketing idea to set me apart in the field and increase my client base. What I wasn’t prepared for was the personal transformation that would take place because of it.
Less than two months after I launched GIVE Realty, the financial crisis hit. And the real estate market was at the heart of it all. It made for a hard beginning, but I was determined to stick with my business model and donation commitment. The first check was $1050 to Mobile Loaves and Fishes. From that point on, my feeling of emptiness melted away! Having never given more than the occasional few dollars to the church basket or neighborhood fundraisers, I was shocked to find great need in my own backyard. I also learned that unrestricted funds are hard to come by for nonprofits. I was encouraged to see the difference even a few dollars could make and how impactful all donations can be.
What’s more, my agents and I get to share this joyful experience with our clients, who are often experiencing the thrill of making a large gift for the very first time. This is worth every penny. It’s heartwarming to see the ripple effects when our clients become volunteers of the organizations they donate to. I love instilling the joy of giving within others, seeing which organizations they choose, and learning more of the personal story behind their recipient choice.
Word of our business model spread and after many nonprofits came knocking directly on our door, GIVE Realty took our giving up a notch by funding several organizations that strengthen the nonprofit community and build community leaders. We also started a Scholarship Fund for social entrepreneurs to attend Leadership Austin Essentials, a program that helps build leaders in our rapidly growing metropolis. Giving is so ingrained into our business practice that it is now a beautiful hum at GIVE Realty as well as in my own personal life. My personal passions include giving to programs that empower girls and preserve open space in my community.
It’s a huge responsibility to help a client sell or purchase a home and making money is no longer my main motivation. I DO feel the financial punch that donating more than 25% makes (or 50% after expenses), but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve learned to live small so I can give big. The business and I have won many awards, earning me the distinction of being among the top 5% of agents in our area, but that’s icing on the cake. More importantly, I hope it sends a message to others about the gift of supporting the broader community of non-profits.
Me, a social entrepreneur? Who knew? The benefits of a socially responsible business are truly priceless. I get to work with committed clients and team members who make the world a better place, and still get goose bumps every day! Success now has a whole new definition for me. I found my path to inner peace – giving back and building a philanthropic community, one home at a time.