Grant Process Values Inclusion

Raffle Raises Thousands Each Year

By Loni Nannini

Since it was formed, the Long Realty Cares Foundation has fine-tuned a unique dual-pronged process for implementation of the collective power of caring. 

“Many people who are philanthropic-minded have multiple interests and give to multiple nonprofits,” said Thom Melendez, president of the board of directors for the foundation. “For agents and employees of Long Realty Company who are already supporting charities, giving through the Long Realty Cares Foundation is almost like doubling or tripling your gifts − and in some cases, even more.”

The foundation collects donations for grants primarily from Long Realty Company sales associates who gift funds through commissions during closings on home or property transactions. The optional gifts are a flat fee or a percentage of select transactions, and real estate agents can choose to have funds distributed per transaction or annually. All Long Realty Company employees can support the foundation through direct gifts by credit card, check or cash.

Every donor to the Long Realty Cares Foundation is designated a “member” of the foundation and is then eligible to “sponsor” nonprofits.

“To be a sponsor, you have to be involved with the charity. For example, if you want to sponsor Youth on Their Own, you have to be a volunteer or perhaps a board member of the nonprofit and then you can ‘sponsor’ or request that YOTO become a beneficiary of a grant from the foundation,” said Melendez, adding that financial support to a charity also qualifies one as a sponsor.

Each sponsor submits a written grant request to the board member affiliated with their respective Long Realty branch office. That board member presents the grant request to fellow board members and serves as a liaison between the sponsor and the board.

Grants are funneled back into the community by the 17-member board of directors comprised of representatives from Long Realty Company offices throughout the region, including Sahuarita, Sierra Vista and Green Valley.

Monthly Gifts that Keep Giving 

Grant requests generally range between $500 and $5,000 and multiple grants are gifted monthly depending on the funds available. Through August of this year, more than 40 monthly grants of various sizes have been gifted to nonprofits to address diverse needs.

“We love the idea that everyone can join in. By making a $25 or $50 donation, sometimes people think, ‘What will that do? It will help a little, but will it make a difference?’ When you get a bunch of people contributing and pool the donations, before you know it, your donation has touched 57 different charities in just one year,” said Melendez.

The foundation intentionally operates with only a small endowment, according to Board VP Ron Sable. 

“The board of directors holds back a small amount in case of catastrophe, but we believe it is our responsibility to get donor dollars into the hands of charities the donors actively support and to the programs that are so important. That is why we tell donors that their gifts can be leveraged into larger gifts for their favorite charities,” said Sable.

Amplified Caring through Annual Significant Gifts

The foundation takes gifting to the next level with Annual Significant Gifts − five-figure grants that were implemented because of the Ticket to Care annual fall raffle.

The raffle, which has been trademarked by the foundation, is the brainchild of real estate agent Liz Peckham, board president from 2011-2013. A seasoned fundraising veteran for Catalina Foothills School District Foundation, Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson and Tucson Medical Center We Are Champions (an affinity group of the TMC Foundation), Peckham developed the event in 2008 in response to ongoing need from local nonprofits.

“We were trying to think of creative ways to fill the need of the community because we had so many grant requests, plus we wanted to gift some larger grants that would have a large-scale impact,” said Peckham. 

To that end, she created a raffle comprised of one-of-a-kind experiences − dinners with Long Realty executives, combination golf/spa days and other attractive prizes − that would appeal to groups of friends and families. 

The fundraiser was an instant success and has evolved to include more than 100 offerings each year with a grand prize of $5,000 and two $1,000 prizes, as well as gift cards to local restaurants, golf packages, art and jewelry, gift baskets from local businesses and much more. Since the onset of COVID-19, prizes have included $5,000 in gift cards from local restaurants purchased by the foundation in an attempt to offset the financial hardship experienced by small, locally owned businesses during the pandemic. 

Ticket to Care 2022 Raffle ticket sales are open to the public and begin online Oct. 10 and continue through Nov. 2.; tickets are one for $15, two for $20, 12 for $100, 65 for $500 and 110 for $750.

Ticket to Care presents an affordable opportunity for the community to come together with a common goal of caring while raising funds for projects with far-reaching impact, according to Long Realty Cares Foundation Administrator Michelle Salvagio. 

“For only $15, you could potentially win a grand prize of $5,000, so this is truly a win-win because that money is going toward programs that continue to improve the places where we work and live,” said Salvagio. 

Since 2017, the foundation has gifted a total of six Annual Significant Gifts in amounts ranging from $20,000 to $65,000. Chosen by members of the board of directors, the diverse grants have served as vital seed money for projects such as the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation Thornhill Lopez Center on 4th for LGBTQ+ youth; El Rio Health’s Cherrybell Health Center; the Healing the Healer Patio at Tucson Medical Center; the Habitat for Humanity Tucson Connie Hillman Urban Construction Knowledge (CHUCK) Center, and the Ben’s Bells “I am Tucson” Mural at Tucson Convention Center. Additionally, one grant provided an accessible van for Esperanza en Escalante, which provides transitional housing and other services for homeless and near-homeless veterans.  

A Pulse on Local Philanthropy

Ultimately, the entire grant process for Long Realty Cares Foundation is designed to monitor the pulse of the ever-expanding nonprofit sector in Southern Arizona and respond to needs through gifts both small and large. The grants are frequently accompanied by hands-on, personal support from members of the Long Realty Cares Foundation in the form of supply drives, in-kind gifts and volunteer hours. 

The net result is increased public awareness about the array of nonprofits serving the region. 

“REALTORS® encounter so many different people throughout their days and it gives them opportunities to really connect with different nonprofits,” Peckham said. “We deal with clients from every walk of life who know of organizations that many people have never heard about. Through the Long Realty Cares Foundation, we are in the perfect position to help get the word out and provide support.” 

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