Property professionals in the United States are driving business and philanthropy simultaneously with a social venture that builds homes for the underprivileged.
U.S. based organisation Giveback Homes is a network of property professionals, including real estate agents, home builders, mortgage brokers and interior designers, that can extend their brands with goodwill.
“People want to work with people who are doing good, and we’re finding giving is good for business,” says Giveback Homes founder, Blake Andrews.
Members offer clients the opportunity to help change lives by ensuring that for every property sold, built or designed, Giveback Homes will build a home for a family in need.
“By using our giving platform, our members have made a commitment to build homes for families in need and at the same time differentiating themselves in a competitive industry,” says Mr Andrews.
“The biggest challenge is explaining to potential members that we are not a charity. We are providing them with a turnkey way to give back and see tangible results…While Giveback Homes at its core is a giving platform, it’s also so much more.”
The concept for Giveback Homes was derived the non-profit subsidiary of TOMS shoe store, where Mr Andrews previously worked, and which practiced a one for one shoe-giving model, donating shoes to poor children in 50+ countries.
“It was in Nicaragua that I saw the impact a pair of shoes had on a child, I also saw the unfortunate living conditions; horrible structures made of plastic tarp, branches, and dirt floors,” says Mr Andrews.
“It was on this trip that I told myself if I ever started a social enterprise of my own, that I’d want to try to find a way to build these people safe homes.”
It wasn't until a few years later while on the market for a new home that Mr Andrews and his wife began to collaborate with their then real estate agent, Nick Schneider, that Giveback Homes became reality, taking on Schneider as the first official member.
Since the network was established – a result of numerous phone calls, emails, advertisements and presentations – Mr Andrews says they partnered with Habitat for Humanity in 10 locations, built 16 homes in Nicaragua, and funded three build days in the U.S., all in under a year.
In the U.S., Giveback Homes has now built projects in Los Angeles, Orange County, Dallas, San Francisco, New York, San Diego, Phoenix, Denver and Las Vegas.
“Basically as soon as we have enough members within a certain area, we work towards starting a building project there,” says Mr Andrews.
“Nicaragua has always been close to my heart…that’s why we decided to start there. But the goal would be to expand across all of Latin America, and even broader… I would absolutely love to see this take off in Australia.”