Commissions for Charity

Local Realtor donating percentage of sales to five nonprofit groups

BY TONY DOBROWOLSKI The Berkshire Eagle
PITTSFIELD — After his real estate agency recently ended a longterm relationship with a national realty company, Pittsfi eld Realtor Steve Ray decided to donate part of his company’s commissions to charity. Ray changed his agency’s name to Berkshire Real Estate Associates and formed an “agents of charitable giving program” to give 5 percent of the fi rm’s net commission income to fi ve local charities. This is the same percentage of net commission income that his agency used to send to the Nevadabased realty company, Assist-2-Sell. “For the last 14 years or 15 years I was a franchise, and when I decided not to be a franchise I changed our business model,” said Ray, who is the 2018 president of the Berkshire County Multiple Listing Service. His agency is located in the Berkshire Common complex at 2 South St. “Our commitment was to focus locally and market locally. We felt that one of the ways to do that was to redirect the money sent to Nevada back into the community, so we picked fi ve charities,” he said. “We thought it would be more effective than if we had 50 (charities) or more.” Several Berkshire chari
table enterprises were considered, but the fi ve organizations that Berkshire Real Estate Associates settled on were Soldier On, the Berkshire Humane Society, the Boys and Girls Club of the Berkshires in Pittsfi eld, the Pittsfi eld Parade Committee and Berkshire County Arc. “There was no shortage of people who were worthy or ideas that people had for charities, but we had to start somewhere,” Ray said. “Maybe someday we can expand it.” John Perreault, the executive director of the Berkshire Humane Society, appreciates the support. “I think it’s a great program,” Perreault said. “Being a small little nonprofi t in the Berkshires we rely heavily on our small and local businesses. We survive on them. This is just one more way someone creatively thought of to support the little guy. It’s going to make a big difference for us.” The Berkshire Humane Society does not have a development director or a development department, so having another entity raise funds for them is an added bonus. “Every day we’re out there trying to fi nd money to keep our doors open,” he said. “Without having a development department, this assistance is helping us out. We’re the recipients of their generosity.” Ray had previously helped Berkshire County Arc fi nd room for a training facility in the Berkshire Common offi ce complex. “We’re very appreciative,”  said Berkshire County Arc president and CEO Kenneth Singer about Ray including his agency in the program. Nationally, Realtors have a
long history of donating portions of their commissions to charitable causes. A real estate agency in Minnesota holds an annual walk/run for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation that has raised close to $11,500 for charity in 17 years An Arizona-based nonprofi t, Brokers for Charity LLC, made up of a consortium of real estate professionals, donates 10 percent of the residential and commercial real estate commissions it receives to the nonprofi t of each client’s choice. A third group. Agents for Change, made up of two Realtors in New York’s Capital Region, donates 10 percent of its personal commissions to a charity of their client’s choice. At Berkshire Real Estate Associates, clients can also choose the charity that receives the percentage of the commissions. “This just seems to be something that gives people an opportunity to have a voice,” Ray said. “People so far have told us they are happy. I had a couple that had a disagreement over where it should go. We think that’s a pleasant problem.” Because the program began in January, only a small amount of commissions have been donated so far. But Ray hopes to be able to contribute $10,000 in commissions to those fi ve organizations by the end of this year. “The charities certainly appreciate it,” he said.
Business Editor Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at tdobrowolski@ berkshireeagle.com or 413-4966224