Give All That You Have To Give

Homebuilding is a notable profession, and giving back inspires others to do the same

By Christine Rombouts

It’s that time of the year—when the spirit of giving is at its best. Homebuilders are certainly a generous group and here we salute their efforts and hopefully, encourage more to do the same. Now more than ever, given all the things that are happening around us, we need more of this generous spirit.

Americans and its organizations gave about $484.85 billion to national charities in 2021. That number increased four percent from the previous year’s estimated total of $466.23 billion, according to Giving USA as reported by Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. 

There are many benefits to philanthropy. Experts conclude that charitable giving can improve one’s emotional and even physical well-being, and philanthropists have the satisfaction of knowing they have contributed to the greater good. In fact, some studies show that philanthropists have less depression, higher self-esteem, lower blood pressure, and may even live longer than those who don’t give.

Corporations that support charitable giving receive a wealth of offerings from building a better public image, creating more vital brand awareness, and attracting new partners and talent who may be attracted to a company that contributes to charities. Employees who work for companies that give back to society are happier and contribute more to their jobs. And, because corporations are created to make money, a strong philanthropic streak often boosts sales and new customers. Of course, there are also tax breaks. 

According to Scott Larson, CEO of HomeAid, he’s seen a greater push towards philanthropy and a more organized approach by homebuilders to incorporate provisions within their operations. (See Scott Larson’s column in this same issue about HomeAid, its projects and how you can become more involved in this incredible organization.) 

“In recent years, there has definitely been a push toward corporate social responsibility (CSR) and related ideals like conscious consumerism. Corporate social responsibility is a model of doing business that encourages companies to be mindful of the impact they have on the surrounding environment and community. The principles of CSR state that companies should establish practices that have a positive impact on the environment and all members of society, including both internal and external stakeholders,” said Larson.

I am happy and honored that I work with a number of companies that have gone above and beyond this year on the call to give back. Here is a brief rundown of some of the notable charitable acts I’m especially proud of.

Tri Pointe Homes in Austin went above and beyond this year! We’re talking diaper drives, blood drives, walkathons and more. They teamed up with St. Jude’s, Austin Angels, We are Blood and other groups to answer the call for service.  For the Builders for Babies Diaper Drive, they donated 6,330 diapers, 352.4 ounces of formula, and 247 packages of wipes. They met and exceeded their goal by raising $2,310 and then Tri Pointe Homes corporation matched the donation, with a total donation of $4,620. They raised more than $3,300 for children’s cancer efforts. They also encouraged their employees to donate blood and were able to get 14 registered donors, collect 12 units of blood and save 36 lives. They are sponsoring foster children for pop-up birthdays and plan to help 150 families with Christmas baskets and food this year through the Austin Angels organization. 

Corporations that support charitable giving receive a wealth of offerings from building a better public image, creating more vital brand awareness and attracting new partners and talent who are attracted to companies that contribute to charities.”

Chelsea Timmons, Vice President of Community Experience at Tri Pointe Homes in Austin, explained why they go to such great efforts. “I believe it is important for homebuilders to give back because the act of philanthropy teaches a sense of community, promotes awareness to the world and the challenges around us, creates a deeper sense of purpose, and allows our teams to gain perspective. This year in our employee engagement survey, I was proud that our employees spoke about the importance of giving back when they noted their desire to do more volunteer work in the coming year.”

With Tri Pointe Homes, philanthropy runs deep and starts in the home office. Here are what the corporate executives had to say about their participation in the HomeAid Orange County diaper drive, in which 50 team members participated and more than $17,000 was donated to HomeAid Orange County. 

“HomeAid’s annual Diaper Drive is a wonderful opportunity for us to come together, not only as individuals, but as a team and industry to support HomeAid and the families in our communities experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness,” said Heather Breidenthal, chief human resources officer at Tri Pointe Homes. “Here at Tri Pointe, we believe that ‘making a difference’ extends beyond the typical business boundaries, such as using our homebuilding expertise, resources, relationships and people to support organizations like HomeAid. Contributing our time and energy to such causes epitomizes our deeper commitment to having a positive impact on peoples’ lives. Plus, the event is just plain fun! I’m always in awe of the amount of creative energy that participants put into building the structures and the positive spirit everyone brings to the drive-through diaper drop-off,” said Breidenthal.

Thomas James Homes is another homebuilder who is committed to philanthropy, especially Habitat for Humanity International. After years of providing professional volunteer homebuilding support to Habitat, Thomas James Homes donated $100,000 to support the organization’s efforts to increase access to affordable homeownership for more families in the United States. Like many other nonprofit organizations, Habitat relies on volunteers to achieve its mission. TJH employees in California have volunteered with Habitat for more than 10 years. As TJH plans for 2023, it has committed financial support and expanded volunteer service to include multiple builds in Arizona, Northern California, Southern California, Colorado, and Washington.

“As a homebuilder, we’re dedicated to building homes as sanctuaries,” said Tommy Beadel, co-founder, and CEO of Thomas James Homes. “Our partnership with Habitat cements our ties both to the communities we build and an industry that seeks to improve access to and empower families through homeownership. We feel a strong call to action to align ourselves with partners that live and breathe missions like ours.”

LJP Construction Services is another company that has answered the philanthropy call. Led by President Don Neff, he’s made significant charitable contributions on behalf of his two favorite causes:1) Building Industry Technology Academy (BITA) through the California Housing Foundation; and 2) the Tustin Rescue Mission, which serves transitional homeless people.

“BITA provides much needed educational support for our building industry,” said Neff. As Larry Webb from the New Home Company has frequently stated over the years, ‘Homebuilding is a noble profession.’ We could not agree more and the industry has a huge need locally and nationally for additional well-trained construction professionals with a passion for creating housing opportunities for all demographic segments of our society. This includes a range of talents from field laborers and trades people to executives. Terri Brunson is the Executive Director providing strong leadership for the BITA program and under her guidance has expanded to include nearly 50 high schools. It’s a viable model for other state HBAs to follow.

Neff described another organization that he gives to on a regular basis—The Tustin Rescue Mission, which was constructed and dedicated by Orange County homebuilders and provides temporary housing solutions and educational opportunities for many people, both singles and families, who need a helping hand. Notwithstanding the material wealth we see frequently in our communities, there is still a shadow population of people in need, who may be temporarily down on their luck. As a friend and colleague of mine once said, ‘Only by the grace of God, there goes you or me.’ 

Perhaps Neff said it best: “We have enjoyed many blessings in this industry and the greater world context in which we operate, and it’s essential to look back with gratitude and give back, by providing educational opportunities to those less fortunate. As is well known.”

10 Reasons Why Philanthropy is Important

“Philanthropy” is simply defined as goodwill toward other people. But why does philanthropy matter and what value does it bring homebuilders? Here are ten reasons why it’s so important according to The Important Site.

#1. Philanthropy strengthens community 

We’re all “connected” now thanks to technologies like the internet, but in other ways, we’ve never been more disconnected. For many people, the days of a tight-knit community seem like an eternity ago. Philanthropy fuels a person or organization’s involvement in their community. Whether it’s giving time or money, philanthropy brings people together to support a cause that’s bigger than themselves. In a society where giving freely is common, there’s a much stronger unity and sense of belonging.

#2. Philanthropy is contagious 

Philanthropy is important because it has a snowball effect. When an individual or organization contributes to a cause, others around them take notice. Philanthropists often wield considerable influence in their communities. When they use that influence for good, it has a significant impact. Everyone is searching for meaning. When they see it can be found in philanthropy, they’ll try it for themselves.

#3. Philanthropy helps you network

Society is built from networks. Whether personal or work-oriented, networks are very important for success and happiness. Philanthropy lets you connect with like-minded individuals or organizations and expand your network. This is a mutually-beneficial system where people rely on each other and grow together.

#4. Philanthropy benefits mental health 

Philanthropy is about looking outside yourself and helping others. For most people, this fosters a strong sense of personal fulfillment. People who feel like they have a purpose and are making a positive impact on the world tend to have better emotional health. Research shows that generosity can reduce stress and symptoms of depression. When volunteering with others, philanthropy can also reduce a person’s loneliness.

#5. Philanthropy benefits physical health, as well 

Philanthropy’s benefits extend beyond improved mental health. Stress manifests itself physically as headaches, high blood pressure, and even a weakened immune system. With less stress, your physical health can turn a corner. Research from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Tennessee shows that charitable givers have lower blood pressure. Studies also show a link between selflessness and a longer life span.

#6. Philanthropy supports underfunded causes 

Philanthropy is important to society because governments can’t address the needs of all causes. Frequently, certain government budgets get slashed because of politics or a need to shift the money elsewhere. This can leave gaps in areas where support is needed. Philanthropic individuals and businesses help fill in the gaps by supporting causes and organizations that don’t use government funding. Without philanthropy, many needs in society would go unmet.

#7. Philanthropy is good for business 

Philanthropy has advantages for businesses. In today’s world, consumers care a lot about what a business is doing to improve the world. Research shows that people are more likely to buy from companies that support charities and causes they care about. When their values align, these customers are also more likely to pay more for products and services. With philanthropic actions, a company has the opportunity to make a positive impact and build a loyal fan base.

#8. Philanthropy attracts new employees 

Customers aren’t the only ones interested in philanthropic organizations. Job hunters today are also interested in companies that are committed to goodwill. Often, it could be the deciding factor when a talented employee is deciding between jobs. Organizations that want to attract the coming generations should prioritize philanthropy. That will make the business world a better place.

#9. Philanthropy improves employee morale

Studies show that when employees feel like their work is meaningful, they are happier. For many, this means a career switch that puts them at an NGO. Many employees say they plan on never leaving the nonprofit sector, even though the pay is usually lower than what they would receive elsewhere. For other businesses (that aren’t NGOs), facilitating philanthropic opportunities can improve employee morale. Most people want to be part of a company that puts good out into the world. Knowing their company is sponsoring programs, supporting causes, and providing volunteer opportunities will increase their job satisfaction.

#10. Philanthropy helps you learn more about the world 

A philanthropic mindset involves more than just throwing money at any cause or organization asking for it. People who are truly engaged with philanthropy are committed to learning more about the world and experiencing new things. Through volunteering and research, causes become more personal and real. This broadens a person’s perspective, sharpens their empathy, and fuels their spirit.

Christine Rombouts is a publicist in the homebuilding industry and a senior contributing editor at Builder and Developer. She can be reached at [email protected].