Doing Well by Doing Good – Philanthropy as a Business Model

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Growing up in Anchor Point, Alaska as a precocious and involved youngster, I was often the recipient of local support. Whether it was the local businesses sponsoring my run for rodeo queen or receiving the Elks and Realtor scholarships as a senior in high school, community backing was ever present. My involvement in the equine and agricultural industry over the next two decades would teach me a great deal about working together and supporting the next generation. Investment in our youth is an investment in the future of our society.

After I married, had children, and began building Coastal Realty in Washington, it quickly became clear to me that advertising and marketing come at an incredibly high cost. Many of our clients own small businesses, run farms, or have nonprofits and I have always struggled with the idea that we would have such a large expense that would not directly touch our local businesses.

Remembering my childhood, and the Have a Heart Program my parents (Coastal Realty) implemented over the years, I started holding back a percentage of each commission and combining it with our advertising budget to sponsor and support local charitable endeavors. It was hard not to invest initially in online lead generation, but I believed that building my business this way, on a grassroots level, would be meaningful and successful.

I am proud of the fact that over the years we have said yes to everything from animal rescues, supporting the arts, domestic violence organizations and recovery nonprofits, to sponsoring horse shows, fairs and 4-H and FFA programs. We have booths at the local fairs, street fairs and events. We have sponsored buckles and trophies and saddles. We sponsor Realtor events that help to protect our client’s interests. If it’s a worthy cause, I always try to find a way to say yes.

I make sure to frame the conversation with the organization or individual by explaining that we make these contributions because the community supports our business, and it’s a way we can both market our business and support worthy causes at the same time. It’s a true win-win. To me, business and philanthropy need not be separate, and as a Realtor I believe that is my duty to help build strong communities.

In 2019 we slowly began the merging of the Washington and Alaska branches of Coastal Realty, and it has felt extremely rewarding to offer a new annual scholarship to a graduating senior from Anchor Point, to sponsor the Anchor Point Youth King Salmon Derby Champion, and to sponsor the Peninsula Horseman’s Association. This summer we are excited to host the first annual Concert on the Green in Anchor Point, with all proceeds benefiting the Lisa Halverson Foundation (children and education) and the Anchor Point Food Bank.

Last week we attended the local Horse Camp in Ninilchik Alaska, and it was so wonderful to watch my son and nephew participate in the same camp my sister and I attended as kids. Some instructors were the same as 35 years ago when I first attended, and the other instructors were women who went to horse camp with me years ago. All of them were donating their time, horses, and effort to make sure that the next generation of kids from our area grow up with the same community values we all hold. I have no doubt that my childhood experiences and support from people outside my family greatly shaped my world view.

I want to give special recognition to our clients, because it truly is their loyal support and shared belief that allows us to adopt this business model. I feel grateful to be raising my children in a community and industry where giving back is commonplace.


See this article in the July 2021 online edition:

July 2021

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