Do you remember lugging heavy suitcases around when traveling ? The whole world did this for years and years before the invention of wheels on suitcases. What were we thinking? Let’s see………..wasn’t the invention of the wheel right up there with learning to make fire? I mean it was right in front of our faces seemingly forever before the idea of wheels on suitcases caught on. I think that many ‘great ideas’ are just like that. A moment after the realization, it is like “Wow! What were we thinking?” Let me segue to why 70 co-Founders got together to create REBSEA, the Real Estate & Business Social Enterprises Association, a 501(c)(6) non-profit trade association representing ALL businesses who Give Back to the communities they serve.
Why do the 70 Founders of REBSEA donate some of their hard earned dollars to non-profit organizations? Why do so many businesses in all of our communities find such creative ways to support the unmet needs we see around us all the time? The answer seems to be that it is simply IN OUR DNA ! When we have enough of our own essential needs satisfied it seems only ‘natural’, instinctive, even compelling to reach out with a helping hand where we see hunger, despair, cruelty, or injustices of any kind. Charity is a part of our culture, in many ways a tradition, and it takes a myriad of forms. But now we find ourselves living in an information age where we are all connected in new ways with new and ever changing models transforming virtually every aspect of the way we live. Is it time for our approach to technologies, to adjust to new information ? “We believe that REBSEA is a new model for charitable giving that reflects the way we actually live together today as communities”, offered David Matluck, one of the REBSEA co-Founders. The following are some of the trends that have lead to the formation of not only REBSEA’s goals, but also the method that REBSEA is using to accomplish them.
Several years ago Matthew Bishop, the business editor of the Economist Magazine published a book “Philanthrocapitalism, How the Rich Can Save the World “. It was about exactly what Bill Gates and Warren Buffet and others are doing to change the shape of philanthropy. They are using the same principles of organization and implementation in pursuit of philanthropic goals as businesses use to make money. Accountability, efficiency, effective business models, and strategic planning that are the measuring
sticks of commerce are now being used at a level previously not seen in the world of philanthropy. Ideas as basic to commerce as merging to take advantage of synergies and the savings from streamlining redundant expenses would now be suggested and even implemented. With a businesslike approach to running a philanthropic enterprise the available resources can be spent on the actual task at hand rather than being squandered by having several organizations working on the same exact goals and competing for the dollars to accomplish them. Do we really need over 100 similar organizations focused on the exact same targets? What we really need, if we take a lesson from these thought leaders, are umbrella organizations that create synergies by fostering cooperation, provide the infrastructure to take advantage of the immeasurable benefits of networking, and work efficiently.
The next lesson involves simple math. In the case of REBSEA where its Founders are Realtors it is enlightening to see the difference between what the large Real Estate Franchises have contributed to non-profits versus individual members of these same companies. Each of these companies has one or more programs where they contribute a great deal of money to a very inspired cause. Behind the headlines and the press releases if you divide the total amount of contributions per year by the number of members of each organization you will arrive at a number that is the equivalent of each member contributing a baloney sandwich, maybe two. By contrast, many individuals belonging to the same organizations have donated a percentage of their commissions to non-profits over many years. Some have created their own non-profits or foundations that have raised enormous amounts of money to support the causes that they care about. The lesson is that there is much more going on at the grass roots level than the corporate level. Would it surprise you to learn that the average individual gives 50 times more than the average corporation to charity as a percentage of their income? The real power to make a difference in this world is at the grass roots level where our natural humanitarian instinct referred to earlier resides comfortably within our DNA.
Lesson number three has been that the many, many well intended efforts to harness the generosity of all Realtors and all businesses at the grass roots level have not succeeded for a few reasons that we can and have learned from. First of all, any such model has to be broad enough and inclusive enough in its very structure to allow for the myriad of ways that its members want to go about supporting non-profits and worthy causes. Secondly, it must be a collaboration of more than just one or two people
with an idea of how to fashion such a model and seeking recognition for their great work. REBSEA is 70 co-Founders working in a real variety of ways to support the unmet needs in their communities. You can see many of us on the home page of our website www.rebsea.org, where you can see the many different business models at work and the results they have realized. Third, we live in an age of overlapping generations, each with their own mode of communication. REBSEA must and does address its audience through the internet, social media, blogging, press releases, etc. Others who have tried have not used all of these tools that are absolutely necessary to have any real impact in our culture today. Lastly, I would say that no organization with goals as ambitious as those undertaken by REBSEA, and its unsuccessful predecessors, can expect to accomplish those goals as a part time job while running a full time business. It is just not realistic. That is why a few of us have taken extended time away from our business to
create and implement the REBSEA model. It is the only way this can happen.
I believe that what we have learned on this journey of researching and developing REBSEA has uncovered a number of important lessons that when seen as a whole make it abundantly obvious what needs to be done. To implement the true spirit of social enterprise at the grass roots level all that need be done is to create the structure necessary for the humanitarian instincts residing in our DNA to do the rest. This means having an umbrella organization such as REBSEA to be a network that non-profit organizations
can go to in order to direct their supporters to spend the dollars that they are going to spend anyway with people and companies who are willingly directing some of those dollars back into their communities to meet unmet needs. This means connecting people who are conscious of their humanitarian instinct so that they can be aware of themselves as an inclusive network where they can share ideas, learn from each other, and find ever more creative ways to accomplish their common goals. This is not
like inventing the wheel. This is like putting wheels on already existing suitcases. Once this is done we will look back and ask ourselves, “What were we thinking before we started doing it this way ?”
For information about joining or supporting the REBSEA network please visit www.rebsea.org or contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-352-4973.