Socially Responsible Agents Donate Commission to Charities
As a family support specialist for the Southwest Human Development, Sonya Becerra would counsel families in stress so they could stay together and learn their way through their problems. She would supervise visits and help them work on parenting skills and functioning well as a family.
“The goal was to reunite families and help parents get back on their feet,” said Becerra, 29 of Avondale.
When the Phoenix native and former social worker turned to a career in real estate, she didn’t forget her experience with the nonprofit, nor the struggles of those charities to get donations and grants so they can fulfill their important, human missions.
That’s part of the reason why she signed up immediately when she heard a presentation about a new training designation for real estate professionals called the Alliance of Socially Responsible Agents, or ASRA – a new Valley-based organization with national ambitions.
ASRA agents contribute 10 percent of their commission to a nonprofit that the client chooses. That offers struggling nonprofits a potentially life-saving donation pipeline and connects buyers and sellers to agents who care about and help their communities.
“It just seemed like a real awesome thing to be a part of, so I signed right up,” Becerra said. Her broker at Peak Performance Real Estate also is an ASRA member.
ASRA was the brainchild of Kevin Johnson, a Buckeye RE/MAX broker. For years, Johnson has operated his own real estate business, Catalyst Realty Group, with this same model that helps nonprofits raise money. The idea evolved when he was working with business and personal coach Jon Bohm – who also coaches rookie players for the Arizona Cardinals on financial and life matters.
“Kevin told me he didn’t need help improving his business but wanted to have a bigger impact in the community, wanted to feel like what he did mattered,” Bohm said. “This is what he came up with. I think it’s not only brilliant, but could be a huge and growing model for giving, because everyone wins.”
Johnson pulled together a professional band of believers who helped develop the system, curriculum, marketing plan and campaign to recruit agents and non-profits. The team includes Johnson; Bohm; Deborah Whitehurst, Senior Consultant with The Phoenix Philanthropy Group and former COO at the Arizona Community Foundation; Matt Caraway, who serves at the CIO; and Hal DeKeyser, longtime Valley journalist and currently the speechwriter in the Governor’s Office.
After training on nonprofits, community need, tax and accounting elements and marketing, agents agree to donate 10 percent of a transaction to the 501(c)3 non-profit of the customer’s choice – or 10 percent of all transactions referred by a qualified nonprofit. The training also earns them the ASRA professional real estate designation, assuring customers and nonprofits that the promise will be fulfilled. Donations will be paid out of escrow, so agents never touch the contribution.
Brokers and agents gain by having buyers and sellers aimed at them by charities to help them fulfill their own missions, whether that’s helping children, fighting disease or homelessness, building a church, improving education, supporting military families or the like.
“That’s the beauty of the thing – it’s not only a win-win; it’s a five-win: The customer, agent, non-profit and beneficiary of the non-profit all win,” Johnson said. “And the community and society win as it helps address the need. And – customers get to pick their own cause, what they’re passionate about.”
Both Becerra and Johnson believe the program offers greater appeal to the Millennial generation, who surveys show are more interested in social issues.
“Children and animals have always been what I think of when I want to help,” Becerra said.
Whitehurst notes that the nonprofits that figure out the value of this model in fulfilling their mission will drive the program – and help their causes.
“If “location, location, location” is the mantra for real estate, then “donation, donation, donation” is the mantra for nonprofits,” said Whitehurst. “ASRA combines the two, linking local home sales with the charitable interests of the buyer and seller. The result will bring stronger support for the great work done by nonprofit organizations and help build better communities for us all.”
Alliance of Socially Responsible Agents
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