Employee buy-in is essential to the success of any corporate responsibility program, and the Intero Foundation – formed in 2002 with the founding of the Intero real estate brokerage -- operates a grassroots model that engages the company’s staff and works to give back to the local community in a meaningful way. “The giving is driven by agents who want to contribute to the cause,” says Lynn Tognoli, a member of the Intero Foundation’s board of directors.
In 2018 the Cupertino-based foundation granted nearly $350,000 to 18 California organizations, with a focus on impacting children and the elderly. Nonprofits receiving grants included Jacob’s Heart, Meals On Wheels San Francisco, CASA of San Benito, Silicon Valley Children’s Fund, Rebuilding Together and Coastside Children’s programs.
Intero Foundation is volunteer-run, and operates its annual grant round through a Silicon Valley Community Foundation corporate advised fund. In 2016, Intero began working with SVCF with the goal of streamlining and modernizing foundation operations and developing a more strategic operating plan. “Before joining forces with SVCF, we didn't know what we didn't know,” says Tognoli. “SVCF also helped us expand our work to include a broader pool of nonprofits.”
Intero Foundation's work is core to the company’s mission, says Tognoli, explaining how Intero's founders created the foundation as a way to give back and connect with the local community. What started as a simple bike donation to children in need has grown to span all 15 California communities where Intero has offices. Each office has a foundation ambassador who rallies support and engagement. Real estate agents are encouraged to donate a percentage of every commission from a completed home sale to the foundation. These funds are supplemented by other organization-wide fundraising initiatives.
“Intero’s approach to grantmaking mirrors its passion for serving the community," says SVCF Vice President of Corporate Responsibility Stuart Burden. "The company has deep local roots. Intero’s philanthropy draws on team members’ heightened understanding of local needs and possibilities -- especially around education and care for children and the elderly. SVCF’s partnership with Intero is special because of our shared focus on mobilizing local resources to tackle local issues."
Each year, Intero staff invite nonprofits to apply for funding, and after the organizations submit grant proposals, Intero staff and board members vote on which organizations will receive grants, which are generally between $5k and $30k. Over the foundation’s 15-year history it has granted roughly $5.5 million.
“The foundation is unique because it is so grassroots,” says Tognoli. All donations stay local to one of eleven California counties -- Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz
Over the years, Intero has also found that engaging with nonprofits fosters a deeper connection between their team of real estate agents and local communities.
For more information about how SVCF’s Corporate Responsibility team can help your company connect with your community, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.