How One of the Nation’s Largest Real Estate Firms Gives Locally in Florida



Real estate companies certainly aren’t the largest funders on the corporate philanthropy scene, but some of them do establish their own foundations to channel charitable giving. Successful real estate founders and CEOs tend to give independently through their individual donations and family foundations later in life.

Michael Saunders and Co. is one of the largest real estate brokerage firms in the country, with 23 offices and over 600 agents serving Southwest Florida’s Gulf Coast. This has been a hot spot for real estate for many decades, and the company’s success has led to increases in foundation giving.

Nonprofits working in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties in Florida should get to know this real estate company a bit better because this is where foundation support is focused. It recently awarded a total of $56,000 in grants to 50 local causes in the area. A quick bit of math will tell you that these grants weren’t large; however, a lot of Florida groups are getting a piece of the action.

So what types of organizations fall in this real estate funder’s favor?

Funding priorities here are mostly centered on basic needs. Groups that provide shelter, sustenance, education and paths to self-sufficiency are typically favored by Saunders. Organizations that serve the needs of veterans have fared particularly well with the foundation lately.

For example, Jewish Family and Children’s Services of the Suncoast received a grant to support veteran families with housewarming blankets. The local Meals on Wheels organization is using the foundation’s money to provide hundreds of meals for needy Sarasota residents. Michael Saunders and Co. also likes to fund causes that strictly benefit people in the immediate area, rather than nationwide charities.

A driving force behind this local dedication is employee engagement—Michael Saunders realtors draw closer connections to the communities in which they sell homes through this type of grantmaking process. Company employees nominate the grantees and present the awards in person. The foundation accepts grant requests by employee nomination and awards grants in the summer and winter of each year. Back in January, the foundation awarded $41,000 to local organizations.

A list of organizations that the foundation has supported over the years can be found on the corporate foundation website. The Michael Saunders and Co. Foundation has given over $457,000 to around 150 local groups since 2011. This means that a significant number of local grantees receive Saunders support year after year.