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Giving a Place to Call Home - Stephanie's Story

One Realtor’s Philanthropic Business Model is Giving Hope to Families Around the World


By building philanthropy into her business model, Windsor-Essex realtor, Stephanie Winger, turns real estate sales into homes for families made homeless in disaster or crisis situations around the world by partnering with global disaster relief organization, ShelterBox. Through ShelterBox, a non-profit that focuses on emergency shelter after disaster, every time Stephanie sells a home, she donates a portion of her commission towards providing shelter and household supplies to families around the world who have been displaced.

With the housing sector growing more than ever, more people are buying and selling their homes. This constant demand for realtors lends itself to the necessity for these realtors to really differentiate themselves from their local competition. According to a Forbes study, 87% of consumers said they would be willing to buy a product, or a service based on a company’s advocacy concerning a social matter.  Being more than just a seller can often lead to huge returns in customer acquisition.

Home buyers know that realtors gain commissions for homes they sell, the generosity of what some realtors use these commissions for is what turn heads. Stephanie Winger wanted to build this generosity into her business model. She wanted to settle Canadian families and in turn support settling families who have lost everything by disaster or conflict all over the world. When she was approached by ShelterBox Canada to do just that in 2019, she jumped on board.

ShelterBox works with communities who have faced severe losses after a disaster with the aid items needed to not only shelter but turn a shelter into a home. Named after the trademark green boxes that their aid is received in, items often included are an emergency tent to live in, solar lights, a water purifier, cooking equipment, blankets, a mosquito net, a toolset, and more.

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I have already received a great response from clients. They are excited to see that I support ShelterBox. They are glad that, through me, they are able to be a part of giving a home to a family. It was really a way for me to combine my passion for ShelterBox with my clients’ desire to also give back

– Stephanie Winger

ShelterBox also deploys shelter kits, which repair damaged homes or can transform into single shelter for a family in need. “As a Rotarian, I heard about the [Buy a Home, Give a Home] program through my club’s relationship to ShelterBox. I am always looking for a way to give back, and it seemed like a natural connection. I find a home for a client here; I then am able to provide a home for a family who is displaced somewhere else in the world.”

The “Buy a Home, Give a Home” program which ShelterBox first began in the USA, after Realtor Brian Fox had a passion about ShelterBox, and wanted a program to consistently give back and inspire other Realtors to do the same. “Buy a Home, Give a Home” is designed for real estate professionals who wish to build philanthropy into their business model. For each home sold, the realtor commits to providing a shelter kit or shelter box for a family after a disaster, ensuring a family has the ability to recover.

“There are more people displaced than at any time in recorded history. Disasters are happening more and more frequently, and shelter is one of the basic needs we all have,” said Acting Executive Director of ShelterBox Canada, Tess Widdifeld.

Of course, for realtors in the program, the motivation for joining is to give back in a tangible way, however, there are clear benefits to their firm as well. “Being a member of the program sets you apart from other Realtors in the area,” says Tess Widdifield, “a realtor who is able to show that they care about the global community as well as their own not only receives the joy of their generosity, but also attracts others around them to be generous as well.”  It is proven that social corporate responsibility is important to homebuyers. According to the BDC, showing that a firm values positive social change can solidify and guarantee customer loyalty. In a market where clients often deal with realtors multiple times in their life, this return client loyalty can really impact the strength of a Real estate firm.

“Having dedicated realtor partners like Stephanie on board with the ‘Buy a home, Give a Home’ program, we know that that we can reach even more families in the time of crisis.  I am inspired by Stephanie’s passion to make a difference and I know there are many members of the realty community that are also inspired by the amazing work that she is doing. We hope to have even more realtors involved in the program over the next few years,” said Tess Widdifield.

To date, Stephanie Winger has sheltered more than 12 families from her participation alone. She also credits the program with helping inspire her clients and Rotary Club to learn more about ShelterBox through her launch party last summer.

Learn more about the Buy a Home, Give a Home Program

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