Realtor® Association Donations to Communities Doubled, Volunteerism Increased During Pandemic

Key Highlights

  • The median annual value of Realtor® associations’ donations to communities doubled from $5,000 in 2018 to $10,000 in 2020.
  • Ninety-two percent of broker-owners made donations in 2020, up from 81% in 2018.
  • Two-thirds of Realtors® – 67% – volunteered on a monthly basis and 85% said that community involvement is an important part of their business plan.

WASHINGTON (December 3, 2020) – In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Realtors®, real estate agents and their respective firms have increased their philanthropic and volunteer efforts, according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors®. The median annual value of Realtor® associations' donations to communities doubled from $5,000 in 2018 to $10,000 in 2020.

The Community Aid and Real Estate Report – the CARE Report – offers insight into the monetary and volunteer contributions of members, broker-owners and association executives or multiple listing service staff. This year's CARE Report found that, compared to the most recent 2018 study, food and monetary donations remain high and volunteering has increased among Realtors®, while Realtor® associations held more fundraisers for their communities.

"Realtors® are in the business of helping people and serving their communities, and we've seen countless examples of this play out nationwide during this pandemic," said NAR President Charlie Oppler, a Realtor® from Franklin Lakes, N.J., and broker/owner of Prominent Properties Sotheby's International Realty. "To hear that my colleagues in the real estate industry have pitched in to an even greater degree than usual is indeed heartwarming, but it is also not surprising."

Two-thirds of members at large – 67% – volunteered on a monthly basis (66% in 2018). Among all members, an average of four hours per month were spent volunteering, while that number increased to eight hours among those who volunteer on a monthly basis. Eighty-two percent of Realtors® made charitable donations last year, equal to the share recorded in 2018.

Among broker-owners, 79% volunteered their time on a monthly basis, versus 77% in 2018. Ninety-two percent of broker-owners made donations in 2020, up from 81% in 2018. In terms of monetary donations, the median amount broker-owners donated annually was $2,000.

Sixty-eight percent of association executives or multiple listing service staff volunteered monthly and 93% of AEs or MLS staff made personal donations in 2020. Ninety-one percent of AE or MLS respondents' associations conducted a fundraiser for their community in 2020, an increase from 89% in 2018.

"Historically, Realtors® have a proven track record of donating time, money and energy toward various charities and volunteer efforts," said Oppler. He cites the assistance and community service efforts of agents particularly during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Realtors® responded to the pandemic in a variety of manners, including by making food deliveries to the elderly and frontline workers, conducting wellness checks and visits to senior neighbors, and offering virtual companionship to those isolated or quarantined alone. Additionally, 36% of brokers and their firms donated money or nonperishables to food banks during the pandemic and another 11% volunteered their time at such organizations. Twenty-seven percent donated masks and protective gear in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus, 16% donated school meals to children, and 9% were able to provide stable and secure housing to those in need.

While individual real estate agents were generous with their time and money, philanthropic efforts also carried over to their respective firms. Sixty-eight percent of members reported that their firm urged employees to volunteer, up from 64% in 2018. Fifty-eight percent of members said involvement in their community is "very important" to their business plan, and another 27% said such participation is "somewhat important."

"Since I entered this industry, I always valued giving back to the community and the ideal of paying-it-forward," said Oppler, whose 2021 plan includes volunteerism and community services initiatives. "I have no doubt that America's 1.4 million Realtors® will continue to help our neighbors and lend assistance wherever possible as we collectively work to move beyond COVID-19 in the coming months."

Survey Methodology

In August 2020, NAR e-mailed a survey to general members at-large, broker-owners, AEs, and MLS staff on the topic of charity and volunteer work. The data compiled for this report is based on 6,988 respondents for a response rate of 4.8 percent. The survey was sent to a total of 147,000 people and approximately 107,000 of the total sample was randomly selected Realtors® who are not Brokers of Record. The remaining invitations were sent to a random sample of 40,000 Designated Realtors® (Brokers of Record) and all AEs, which included some MLS staff. The margin of error for the survey is +/-1.17 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

The National Association of Realtors® is America's largest trade association, representing more than 1.4 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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