Calgary’s Business: What’s the history of how and why CREB’s Charitable Foundation was founded?
MacKay-Lyons: Officially established in 1987, CREB Charitable Foundation was formed by a small group of realtors as a way for our members to give back to the community in a tangible and meaningful way. Over the last 31 years, our member realtors have raised over $6.3 million, which has benefited more than 150 local community organizations in Calgary and area.
CB: What’s its purpose and vision?
MacKay-Lyons: The foundation is the giving arm of the Calgary Real Estate Board. Our philanthropic focus is housing and shelter-related projects. Historically, we provided many micro-grants for a wide variety of local charities in the community. More recently, the foundation has worked to align our vision and goals with a focus on legacy projects that will have a lasting impact. After carefully reviewing our history of community support, we found that our most ambitious projects were the ones that had the most significant and sustainable impact in the community. Today, the foundation supports those organizations that work with families from one end of the housing spectrum to the other. Our current support model fits best with shelters for families without homes, emergency shelters for women and children, housing for school-aged moms or housing for low-income families.
CB: How is money raised for the foundation and its projects?
MacKay-Lyons: Our realtor members are at the forefront of everything the foundation does. It’s their continued hands-on volunteer work and financial generosity that allows us to support people in our local community. The majority of our funding comes from a small portion each CREB member pays as part of their annual dues, allowing us to harness the power of many. Thanks to the generosity of our realtor members, a small foundation like ours can make a big impact in Calgary and area.
Because our administrative costs are covered by CREB, every dollar donated to the foundation goes directly to the community. But our efforts don’t stop there. In fact, we hold three main fundraising events each year: our annual Realtor Round Up held during Stampede; our charity putting contest at CREB’s annual golf tournament in August; and the famous Realtor After Party and silent auction in December. We are so lucky to have some very generous sponsors that help us offset the costs of running these fundraising events.
Our perennial efforts focus on Friends of the Foundation, a fundraising program to which realtors, businesses and the public can donate. Additionally, we hold a variety of smaller fundraisers throughout the year, including Calgary Home Show tickets sales and raffles.
CB: What projects is the foundation working on?
MacKay-Lyons: Our biggest focus right now is our new partnership with Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta, and fulfilling our pledge to raise $1 million over the next three years. Habitat for Humanity is an organization that believes in the value of sweat equity and CREB Charitable Foundation shares that value. We also believe that every family deserves to have a roof over their head and a place to call home.
Just as our realtors work with clients every day to help them find the right house, now through our partnership with Habitat for Humanity, their philanthropic focus will also help low-income families realize their home ownership dreams. Along with our financial support, realtors are also volunteering their sweat equity throughout the year at a Habitat for Humanity build site to help construct homes.
These full-day builds have become one of our community outreach favourites at the board – even our staff are getting involved. I too caught the volunteer bug and have been on enough builds that I had to get my own steel toes – pink, if you can imagine.
CB: What do you see for the future of the foundation and where it’s headed?
MacKay-Lyons: The foundation’s strength comes from its membership: the realtors. As these professionals live and work here in Calgary and area, they will always have the community’s best interest at heart. They know the importance of a thriving and sustainable community better than anyone else.
The foundation will continue to support housing and shelter-related projects. We will continue to do this work in a way that ensures our funding impacts the community in a significant way and continues to build upon our legacy of giving.
– Mario Toneguzzi