Real Estate Commission Helps Good Cause

Written by Posted On Sunday, 12 November 2006 16:00

Depending on where you live, tens of thousands of dollars are paid in real estate commission. Now, imagine hearing this from your real estate agent.

"I provide them with a link. I show them what they can do and I give them an explanation and I tell them that their money is going to help fund this organization," says Scott Zelkin, Realtor with @properties in the Chicago area.

Zelkin is an agent who believes in giving back to the community and he's doing it with the help of each real estate transaction he closes. A portion of his commission is given to Charity Guide, a non-profit organization.

"Charity Guide provides people [who have] busy, unpredictable schedules with a way to volunteer. We offer them a way to make a difference in as few as fifteen minutes or, if they have a little more time, a few hours once or each week, or on a volunteer vacation," says founder Michael Organ.

The organization connects people with their passions and allows them to make financial or physical contributions to various service projects such as: animal welfare, environmental protection, health and safety, children's issues, poverty and homelessness.

For Zelkin, donating some of his commission was not a new concept. When he worked in New Hampshire he set up a way to donate money following his closed transactions to a local area hospice.

"I think it made [clients] feel not only are we paying for the [real estate] service but also a portion of our money is going to go to a good cause. It was almost a way for [clients] to say 'Hey, we know something good is going to come out of working with Scott, aside from giving us good service and being somebody we will be proud to work with,'" says Zelkin.

Of course, donating money is one way to set him apart from the competition in a highly competitive field. But Zelkin claims he was drawn to the concept of giving back to the community after the volunteerism spirit was ignited in him through his former profession. As a National Hockey League referee, Zelkin says he had many ways to get involved with charity events and to make financial contributions. The NHL, like many companies, supported various charities and made it easy for employees to help out. It's much like the way many of us contribute to non-profit organizations such as the United Way.

Call it a creative marketing business strategy or altruism -- either way, the end result benefits many while making a lasting impression in consumers' minds.

"I think of my own situation. I sold a house a few months ago and I interviewed a handful of agents and if one had come to me and said "By the way, we're all pretty good but a point of differentiation for me is that you'll know that a portion of the commission is going to go to a good cause -- that would've been significant to me," explains Organ.

Right now, Zelkin is the only agent to work with Charity Guide, but Organ is optimistic that others will follow suit, especially because of the rapport that can be developed by the good deed.

"Once [an agent] makes a sale, Charity Guide will be following up and sending a letter to the client, thanking [the client] for having done business with [the agent] and letting [the client] know how [his or her] portion of the donation is being used," says Organ.

And as more consumers work with agents who use services such as Charity Guide, Organ is also hopeful that awareness will grow about the website and its potential to put people in contact with projects and services to volunteer for.

"Most people don't find themselves doing something which at the end of the day they can say, 'Yes! I know how I made a difference today.' What Charity Guide allows them to do is from any place at any time -- even if they're traveling and they're in the outskirts of Pittsburgh in a hotel room at 10:30 at night -- they can go on to and find a way to make a difference right then," says Organ.

The website is structured so that busy volunteers who visit it can help out in as little or big a way that they want to.

"Every service project is structured with a "challenge" section and a "how to make a difference" section. The challenge section inspires their interest and the how to make a difference section is literally how-to, step-by-step instructions on what they can do right now to make a difference," explains Organ.

The best part about this website is that within minutes you can have dozens of ideas about volunteering. And even better—just imagine if the purchase or sale of your next home contributed to making the world a better place to live.

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Phoebe Chongchua

Phoebe Chongchua is an award-winning journalist, an author, customer service trainer/speaker, and founder of Setting the Service Standard, a customer service training and consulting program offered by Live Fit Enterprises (LFE) based in San Diego, California. She is the publisher of Live Fit Magazine, an online publication that features information on real estate/finance, physical fitness, travel, and philanthropy. Her company, LFE, specializes in media services including marketing, PR, writing, commercials, corporate videos, customer service training, and keynotes & seminars. Visit her magazine website:

Phoebe's articles, feature stories, and columns appear in various publications including The Coast News, Del Mar Village Voice, Rancho Santa Fe Review, and Today's Local News in San Diego, as well as numerous Internet sites. She holds a California real estate license. Phoebe worked for KGTV/10News in San Diego as a Newscaster, Reporter and Community Affairs Specialist for more than a decade. Phoebe's writing is also featured in Donald Trump's book: The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying Foreclosures. She is the author of If the Trash Stinks, TAKE IT OUT! 14 Worriless Principles for Your Success.

Contact Phoebe at (858) 259-3646 or Visit for more information.

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