Article by Laurie Loew
“Eat your vegetables…Chew with your mouth closed….Count your blessings…” Like so many other children, I was raised hearing this from my parents. That and to drop a few dollars in the collection plate every Sunday. Growing up, I didn’t have a lot, although I did fare better than my brothers. I was the youngest of two girls in the family, had eight brothers, and grew up in a four bedroom, two bath, 1800 square foot home. To say I grew up motivated by money is an understatement.
Fast forward eighteen years, and I’m surrounded by over-achieving brothers whose businesses are thriving. Nine years later, I’m vice president of a company. Two years later I’m married, and eleven years after my marriage, I’m going through a divorce and trying to figure out what to do with my life.
I had enough stuff to fill all the rooms in the new condo I purchased. The car in the garage, although not new, was paid for, and I didn’t have a single credit card with a balance. Strangely enough, I was unhappy and feeling sorry for myself when I heard the “count your blessings” voice in my head and realized just how fortunate I was.
Along with remembering that good advice, an amazing business idea blossomed. A goose bump moment took place, wherein I realized I could continue to sell real estate, a career that I had slowly fallen in love with, plus I could make a difference while doing it. What I was not prepared for was the personal transformation that would take place because of it.
Give Realty was born that day, and my life has never been the same. I got my broker’s license and started Give Realty in July of 2008 with the goal of fostering philanthropy through real estate sales. This would be done by donating 25% of the gross commission to the charity of the client’s choice. Surely this would be a great differentiator in the real estate market, and growing the business would be the easy part. I wasn’t prepared for the national financial crisis that followed a mere two months later.
What surprised me even more was the great need in our community and the impact even a few dollars can have. Unrestricted funds are hard to come by for many nonprofits. The donations Give Realty makes are filling a great need. Little did I know, I had created a social business and was considered by some to be a social entrepreneur. But I understood I had to keep on doing this, regardless of the economy, because it was rewarding on so many levels.
Today, 38 nonprofits have received over $79,000. To help keep my expenses low, I’ve rented out my condo, still have the same car and, unfortunately, my credit cards now have balances. Money is no longer my main motivator; success has a whole new meaning, and I’ve never been happier.
It may sound a bit cliché, but the benefits of a socially responsible business are truly priceless. I get to work with the best clients, make the world a better place, and still get goose bumps every day!
Laurie Loew is a Broker and the Founder of Give Realty. To learn more about Laurie, visit www.giverealty.com