WE’RE HEARING when economic times are hardest, the mortgage industry seems to become the most generous.
That thought occurred to me this week when I considered all the money and time the mortgage industry donates to their communities to help needy families.
To be sure, most act simply because they are in a position to help, they appreciate the rewards the mortgage industry brought their way, and are humbled by the chance to give back, to make a difference in the lives of less fortunate people. These acts of generosity are delivered with deliberate kindness of forethought.
For instance, the MBA Opens Doors Foundation, the charitable arm of the Mortgage Bankers Association, has raised $270,000 since it was established in 2011 and has made 35 mortgage grants to families with sick or injured children. It encourages its members to raise money for the foundation through a customer-centric campaign, such as a promised donation for each loan closed. Host an employee campaign, matching donations dollar for dollar. Last, it suggests that donors encourage colleagues to also support the cause.
Its efforts are far from unusual in the mortgage industry.
Earlier in August, for instance, the Chronicle of Philanthropy's yearly corporate giving survey reported that Wells Fargo donated more than $300 million making it No. 1 in charitable giving in the. Wells Fargo’s moved up three places due to its gift of $77 million to NeighborWorks America that helps first-time homeowners with their donations in areas hit hardest in the country by the financial crisis and housing crash.
Other companies that made donations to NeighborWorks are Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, JPMorgan Chase, Property Masters, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka and National Association of Realtors.
Among the top 10 most generous givers to the United Way through their employees are Wells Fargo and Bank of America.
Ellie Mae created EllieCares, which is run by employee-volunteers and selects local and national charities to support. Employees are given time off with pay to participate in these activities and employee donations are matched by the company. Among events employees participated in were the Community Food Bank, as well as supporting food drives and volunteer workdays during the year and building homes with Habitat for Humanity East Bay.
Over the past few years, Nationwide Title Clearing’s executives and employees delivered more than 300 pounds of food to the Palm Harbor Food Pantry, also known as FEAST, to provide meals to nutritious meals to hungry children during the summer months. Also, employees volunteered at Island Earth Days, an event held in recognition of national Earth Day to promote environmental sustainability.
Nationwide volunteers also participated in the monthly Old Palm Harbor Main Street “First Friday” Food Truck Rally in Palm Harbor, a family-friendly event held to preserve and promote economic development in Palm Harbor. The NTC volunteers hosted a free children’s arts and crafts activities tent for young attendees.
For some, no doubt, their philanthropy is not pure altruism—but a chance to garner positive publicity, boost their egos, or attain some other award. But that does not undermine the positive effects the efforts had in the lives of other people.
And while the press notes these negative motivations, and rightfully so, that are often simply to make amends for business sins committed doing the go-go years of the mortgage bubble the donations help people. That’s true even if the gifts would not have been made in the absence of the negative publicity.
However, if the charity helps ensure the hungry eat three meals a day, or to the homeless receiving a roof over their heads, the motivation for the gifts is a secondary concern. It’s unlikely, by the way, the people receiving the help mind that very much.
The bottom line is that many firms in the mortgage industry have an appetite for giving back to their communities, and because they do so, the lives of other people are improved.
Matt Strickberger is the managing partner of OnPoint PR and Consulting LLC, a public relations firm that represents lenders, servicers, technology companies and others. He was editor of Mortgage Technology magazine from 1997-2000. If you have comments or suggestions for future columns, email him at email@example.com.