2011-10-13 / Business

New business sends real estate commissions to variety of charities

Big Brothers Big Sisters receive big check
By Stephanie Bertholdo


SHARING—Jamie Alcroft, president of Community Relations Community Funding Solutions; Lisa Meeker, chief development officer Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County; Lynne West, CEO Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County; Bennett Liss, founder of Community Funding Solutions; and B.J. Ward, owner of Comfort Real Estate Services Inc. display the donation check. SHARING—Jamie Alcroft, president of Community Relations Community Funding Solutions; Lisa Meeker, chief development officer Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County; Lynne West, CEO Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County; Bennett Liss, founder of Community Funding Solutions; and B.J. Ward, owner of Comfort Real Estate Services Inc. display the donation check. A new business, Community Funding Solutions, is encouraging real estate agents to hand over a portion of their commissions to charities selected by home sellers.

The Westlake Village-based company has created what it calls “sustainable giving” opportunities for a variety of nonprofit groups and public schools.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County, based in Camarillo, is the first nonprofit to receive funding from CFS.

Jamie Alcroft, vice president of community relations for CFS, said the Big Brothers organization will receive $1,500 from a commission on a home sold through Rodeo Realty in Calabasas. The money will be sent to the organization when escrow closes, he said.

“It’s the homeowner’s decision where they want the money to go,” Alcroft said. While some home sellers might choose to funnel money into a local school, others may want to support different charities.

Agentsgenerallyearna6percent commission on a home sale. When an agent signs on with CFS, 15 percent of the commission is donated to the charity of the seller’s choice and 10 percent is paid to CFS. Alcroft said real estate agents are accustomed to paying a referral fee, but this new standard will directly benefit a variety of cash-strapped schools or charities.

Realtors understand that people want to do business with agents who demonstrate that they care about their community, Alcroft said.

Alcroft has high expectations for the firm, which was created by Bennett Liss, founder of PACE Communications, which provides schools with emergency communication systems.

The funding company has a goal of turning every real estate transaction into a philanthropic opportunity.

“If the 28 homes that sold in Agoura last month had CFS real estate agents, over $100,000 could have been generated within the community in one month alone,” Alcroft said. “The potential might be hard to imagine now, but choosing your Realtor in advance will protect home values in our area and supplement much-needed funding.”

When an agent has donated $30,000 to local charities, they will no longer be required to give 10 percent of the 25 percent chunk of commission to CFS, Alcroft said.

“They will then have the option of donating the entire 25 percent to the charity or school.

“Every day you read in the papers that funding is being cut,” Alcroft said. “All we are asking is that agents give a portion of their commission and plow it back into the community so that it might flourish. When our schools and youth services suffer, the property values and desirability of our area diminish. The entire community feels the adverse economic impact.”

Lynne West, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County, said the organization’s executive board considers the CFS program “a truly sustainable funding solution that will support the work we do of providing children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better.”

CFS was formed in June, and Alcroft expects the program to go national. So far 20 agents from a variety of real estate firms have signed up with the business, but more schools and community organizations and charities must sign up to receive money.

For information visit www.communityfundingsolutions.com.

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