Realtors launch endowment fund

Keely Dakin
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The Association of Saskatchewan REALTORS (ASR) announced a new grant program at the Golf and Curling Club on Thursday.

A realtor examines the 2012 Update Report on the Impact of REALTOR Corporate Social Responsibility in Saskatchewan at the Golf and Curling Club on Thursday. Bill Madder, chief executive officer of the Association of Saskatchewan REALTORS, can be see in the background, speaking about the importance of social responsibility to modern day businesses and to the province’s citizens.

The Saskatchewan REALTORS Care Fund and Granting Program begins with $130,000.

In 2013, $30,000 will be used as the first year’s contribution to charities in six different regional areas across the province, while the remaining $100,000 will be used to create a long-term endowment fund.

The Saskatoon Community Foundation will manage it for an annual fee of 1.5 per cent. The fund should be making enough in interest to pay that and still reap a profit.

“This is a long-term project and we’re looking forward to helping the endowment and the funds grow and that this be a growing benefit to all of Saskatchewan,” said Bill Madder, chief executive officer of the ASR.

The intention is to continue annual donations.

The annual interest will not however be enough to fulfil their goal of donating $30,000 a year.

“We are shooting for $30,000 every year, but again that will depend how much we are able to generate. It could be more than that. We hope to maintain the $5,000 level for each region, but again that will depend on the fundraising that we are able to do,” Madder said.

Other forms of fundraising will be done throughout the year to bolster the fund.

“We’re wide open to any ideas on how to grow that fund,” he said.

“We created the endowment or the foundation to support the work that’s already being done by our provincial realtors.”

Madder said they don’t want their initiative to be competing with other non-profit, so he asks people to continue contributing to their chosen organizations.

“It’s not a competitive thing at all,” he said.

While certainly of value to the larger community, the initiative also has a business-savvy angle.

Realtors do not have the greatest reputation, Madder said. They are known more for making money than for giving it away.

Madder spoke about the importance of social responsibility from a business perspective and how that has changed over the generations. While 50 years ago, being a great businessman may have been enough, now he said, statistics show that people expect the businesses they support to give back to the community in a concrete and measurable way.

“There tends to always be -- or often -- a focus on the negatives that happen. Our members are involved in a large number of transactions throughout the year, around the province and when something goes wrong, that seems to be the ones that are focused on … I guess that’s natural but I think we feel it’s important to acknowledge the (positive) things,” Madder said.

“We’re hoping that we get so many applications that it’s a hard decision." Bill Madder

He said that while realtors sometimes get a bad rap, and they want to change that, it is more about showing the public the positive things that realtors are already doing.

“Our members are active. I mean they’re regular people, they’re community-minded and I think we tend not to get recognized for that … A lot of our members are higher profile members of the community and they’re very busy business people but they don’t often get acknowledged for … coaching the hockey teams and helping out with the blood drives or relays, or those kinds of things,” Madder said.

“There’s over 50 (community) initiatives that have been done in Saskatchewan,” he said.

In and around Prince Albert, some initiatives include donations to Victoria Hospital and independent donations to the SPCA.

“I think most of our members … just naturally do help out in the community and that’s just the way they are and I think that’s the way most people are, but I think maybe they tend to not focus on that because they do that anyway.”

“(We are) not suggesting that anybody do anything differently, just that they … tell us and we can sorta help them, support the projects that they do … show the public that they are involved and that they are good members of the community and that they aren’t just there to collect a cheque and make money. They are there to help grow the community and grow the province,” Madder said.

Applications for charities are not yet available. They will be released in the new year to be spread among charities.

Projects will be chosen based on a set of criteria. Their target organizations are those focused on shelter, environmental protection, safe neighbourhoods, community development and opportunities for disadvantaged citizens. 

“We’re hoping that we get so many applications that it’s a hard decision,” he said.

“Our industry is shelter related, so housing-related charities are likely to see some benefits… also any other environmental initiatives,” he said.

The REALTORS Care project has been in place for about four years, and was adopted from others happening in B.C., Alberta and Manitoba.

Organizations: Saskatoon Community Foundation, Victoria Hospital

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Prince Albert, Alberta Manitoba

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