Realtor Giving Away Homes, Paying it Forward: California Realtor Inspires Peers to Build Philanthropy into Business Model

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By building philanthropy into his business model, Newport Beach realtor, Brian Fox, turns real estate sales into homes for families made homeless in disaster or crisis situations around the world. giving away a home every time he sold a home. Partnered with global humanitarian relief organization, ShelterBox, a non-profit that focuses on emergency shelter after disaster, Brian gives away a home every time he sells a home by donating a portion of his commission towards providing shelter and household supplies to families around the world who have been displaced.

Family in front of emergency shelter tent in Brazil.

“I wanted to have social responsibility embedded into the business. But I didn’t just create this idea with my business in mind, I wanted to build a program that is scalable so other realtors around the world can participate and together we can make a bigger impact.” - Brian Fox

Commissions are a common way to motivate and reward salespeople. In the case of a real estate commission, which can be 4%- 8% of the home price, a sale can net a realtor, tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. For Newport Beach, California real estate agent, Brian Fox, he wanted to do more than just find a seller or buyer for his properties, he wanted to build philanthropy into his real estate business. Fox’s dream was to translate real estate sales into homes for families made homeless in disaster or crisis situations around the world, giving away a home every time he sold a home.

In early 2019, Fox’s dream came true and he partnered with global humanitarian relief organization, ShelterBox, a non-profit that provides emergency shelter and essential household supplies to families around the world who have been displaced in an instant. Each ShelterBox contains the items for a family to quickly set up a household, including an emergency tent to live in, solar lights, a water purifier, cooking equipment, blankets, a mosquito net, a tool set, children’s activity set, and more. ShelterBox also deploys shelter kits, which repair damaged homes or can transform into single shelter for a family in need.

The program which Fox and ShelteBox created and named, “Sell a House, Give A Home,” is designed for real estate professionals who wish to build philanthropy into their business model. Inspired by TOMS Shoes and its, “Buy-one-give-one model,” Fox is committed to donating the cost of a shelter each time he closes a property sale. Every time Fox and his colleagues sell a home, they make a donation to ShelterBox.

“There are more people displaced than any time in recorded history. Disasters are happening more and more frequently, whether it’s man-made or related to climate change, and shelter is one of the basic needs we all have in the world,” said Brian Fox. “I grew up in a family who gave back and when I started my real estate practice, I wanted to have social responsibility embedded into the business. But I didn’t just create this idea with my business in mind, I wanted to build a program that is scalable so other realtors around the world can participate and together we can make a bigger impact.”

When a family friend shared the work of ShelterBox with him, providing emergency shelter and essential supplies to families who have lost everything to disaster, Fox knew this was the perfect opportunity. The idea was then solidified after meeting with ShelterBox USA President, Kerri Murray. “In late 2018, I received a call from Brian Fox, who shared his idea for donating a home every time he sold one. I was inspired by Brian’s passion to make a difference and little did I know, that one year later, real estate professionals from around the world would be reaching out to inquire about getting involved in the program. Today we have dozens of real estate professionals signed up for, “Sell a House, Give a Home,” from across the United States, and interest from as far away as Australia and New Zealand,” said Kerri Murray, President of ShelterBox USA.

To date, Brian Fox has donated more than 30 shelters from his participation alone. He also credits the program with helping inspire his clients around his humanitarian efforts.

To learn more about, “Sell a House, Give a Home,” go to:
http://www.shelterboxusa.org/giveahome/.

To learn how to volunteer, fundraise, or to donate to ShelterBox USA, visit http://www.shelterboxusa.org or call (941) 907-6036. ShelterBox USA is a 4-Star rated charity by Charity Navigator and has Gold status from GuideStar.

About ShelterBox
Since 2000, ShelterBox has provided shelter, warmth, and dignity following more than 300 disasters in over 100 countries. ShelterBox responds urgently to earthquake, volcano, flood, hurricane, cyclone, tsunami, or conflict by delivering boxes of essential shelter aid and other life-saving supplies. Each iconic green ShelterBox contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, blankets, a water filtration system, emergency lighting, and other tools for survival. ShelterBox USA is based in Santa Barbara, California and Sarasota, Florida.

ShelterBox is an official Project Partner of Rotary International. Tax-deductible donations to the organization can be made at http://www.ShelterBoxUSA.org or by calling (941) 907-6036.
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Carrie Baptista
@shelterboxusa
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