On December 13, 2018, the Arizona REALTORS® 2019 President Patrick Lewis hosted a Facebook Live event called “How REALTORS® Give Back” with Leila Woodard and Shane Cook. Here are some highlights.

Patrick Lewis: REALTORS® do a lot within their communities. In fact, 82 percent of REALTORS® donate money to charitable causes every year. A lot of that that goes on here in Arizona. I have two amazing REALTOR® leaders with me now who do a lot for charitable efforts — Shane Cook from My Home Group and Leila Woodard from Vision Realty Pros. How are you giving back to the community?

Leila Woodard: I started giving as a child and I’ve continued that into my real estate profession. I feel like it’s our social responsibility as agents to show the community that we care for them, and it’s a great way to incorporate charitable giving into your business. It’s important to find something you’re passionate about.

I also surveyed my clients to see what they like…they all supported children, homeless, the elderly, pets. So, those are some of the charities that I tap into. I donate a portion of my income to charity, around $30,000 to $40,000 this year, and I also volunteer 600 or 700 hours a year.

Patrick Lewis: That’s awesome.

Shane Cook: I’ve been lucky enough to have some crossover with Leila in some of the foster and adoptive organizations. Recently, a couple that I’ve run into are ASANow.org and they’re in the middle of building a community center in Mesa, Jacob’s Mission. We helped them locate a property this year and we’ve both spent time over there volunteering. I’m sure we’ve all contributed in different ways financially.

Patrick Lewis: So, with all the options there are to get involved in different charities, why these?

Leila Woodard: I’m passionate about and foster children because I was a foster parent. Shane and I have always worked at different brokerages, but we come together, and we give.

Patrick Lewis: Amen. I think that we are community, not competition in so many ways.

Shane Cook: A lot of nonprofits have very passionate, talented people. But what they might not have are the skills to get through a town’s zoning process, or negotiate on functionally obsolete property, or find and finance property they can’t afford other than through donations.

I’m going to use crowdfunding in my business soon and one of the main goals is to make it a philanthropic-type platform — where we can continue to help nonprofits locate functional real estate assets that will help them build on their platform of service to the community.

Patrick Lewis: It’s not just the ability to give things, it’s the ability to give that expertise to overcome those obstacles. I absolutely love the crowdfunding aspect. What do you see moving forward, Leila?

Leila Woodard: I sell a lot of homes because people are dependent on my donations. So, it drives me every morning. I’m told you need to aside 20, 25 percent for marketing your business. (Charitable giving) is how I spend my marketing money. I really don’t have to buy leads or do anything like that because my clients want to work with me because I do good.

Shane Cook: Giving is built into her business because it’s part of who she is. She gives without the expectation of return and that’s what’s attractive about working with her.

Leila Woodard: I’ve been working with a lot of people who are living on disability income and they’re going to be homeless because finding a rental under $700 for a one bedroom is impossible. (Properties) that are available have wait lists of one or two years.

Patrick Lewis: Do you have anything that can help our members begin that journey of more charitable giving?

Shane Cook: Stop thinking about it and just go try something. I don’t care if it’s a little bit of time at your local association, or feeding meals at the food bank, or just tagging along with somebody else to watch for the first time. Generally, the emotions you go through in one of those experiences is all it takes.

Leila Woodard: Find a way to incorporate it even in a small level in your business. And be very careful how you market it.

Patrick Lewis: Don’t exploit it.

Leila Woodard: Yeah. If you say, “If you’re going to buy or sell a house with me, I’ll do this…”, that’s not right. That’s rebating. I’m sure our Commissioner wouldn’t love that — you have to be very careful.

Patrick Lewis: How did you find some of these local charities? Where would be some “step one” places for members to start looking?

Shane Cook: There are hundreds of ways to get involved; look around Facebook. I’m in my third or fourth year ringing the bells with Joanne and Joe Callaway; they set up (Real Estate Wednesdays) with the Salvation Army. There’s lots of opportunities, whether you’re passionate about feeding people (Paz de Cristo) or helping people get housed (House of Refuge) or making sure they have Christmas trees.

Patrick Lewis: Are there places where people can see a list of charities?

Leila Woodard: CharityWatch. It’s very good to follow the money (and see) where it’s being spent.

Patrick Lewis: Find your passion, go out there and be a part of the community.

Portions of this transcript may have been edited for clarity.

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