eXtend a Hand secures 501(c)(3) status, making contributions tax-exempt
Community, integrity, collaboration and service have been among eXp Realty’s core values since it was founded as an agent-centric real estate brokerage in 2009. These core values are at the heart of why eXtend a Hand was created – to provide financial assistance when eXp real estate agents and staff face hardships, such as natural disasters, health issues, domestic violence, family deaths, divorce or emergency surgeries.
When Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston in 2017, for example, a volunteer committee led by Glenn Sanford, Founder, Chairman and CEO of eXp World Holdings, and Lexy Sanchez, a Tempe, Arizona-based real estate agent who was a founding member of eXp’s Agent Advisory Council, quickly stepped in with financial support for affected agents, brokers and staff. One of those brokers was George Huntoon, a Katy, Texas-based U.S. Marine Corps veteran who braved the storm in a small fishing boat to rescue hundreds of Houston residents while his own home was flooding.
Contributions to eXtend a Hand Are Tax-Deductible
Since 2017, eXtend a Hand has grown in its capacity to give, obtaining 501(c)(3) status in 2021. Regulated and administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury through the Internal Revenue Service, Section 501(c)(3) allows for federal tax exemption of nonprofit organizations, specifically those that are considered public charities, private foundations or private operating foundations. This means that eXtend a Hand contributors are now eligible to receive a tax deduction.
“It makes the structure of our nonprofit more official, and it will help us to grow and provide for more people,” said Annie Pellegrini, who joined eXtend a Hand as its first full-time employee and program manager in November 2021, after serving as an eXp Realty lead management specialist. “I’m very excited because my background is in nonprofit management. I’ve worked for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and I’ve been involved in the fundraising community and real estate for over 25 years. This role marries the two.”
In 2021, eXtend a Hand has provided almost $90,000 in grants through individual donations, fundraising events such as the EXPCON 5K Fund Run & Walk and purchases of I Heart eXp merchandise from the eXp brand store. As eXtend a Hand has increased fundraising efforts, Pellegrini said she hopes to make a greater impact by increasing the average grant amount.
eXtend a Hand Plans to Expand Program Internationally
In 2022, eXtend a Hand plans to implement an official fundraising and donor platform and website where people can apply for a grant and schedule automatic contributions. Until then, people can submit an application for a grant. Current eXp Realty real estate agents, brokers and staff can also join the eXtend a Hand group on Workplace.
eXtend a Hand is also collaborating with Micah Mruwat, a Lakewood Ranch, Florida-based broker associate and director of Community Day, to make eXp’s next annual day of service a success.
Eventually, Pellegrini said she hopes to expand internationally.
“Canada had a natural disaster recently, and we would like to help our displaced real estate agents,” Pellegrini said. “With 501(c)(3), our mission has to be within the U.S., but I would like to help agents in all eXp Realty locations.”
Although it has evolved over the years, eXtend a Hand has always been about eXp’s agent-first culture and paying it forward. eXtend a Hand’s generosity during Hurricane Harvey was so memorable to Huntoon that four years later, at EXPCON 2021, he presented a check to the official nonprofit.
“The company realized I was in a bad spot and immediately sent me money and I couldn’t believe it,” said Huntoon at EXPCON 2021. They helped me out a lot, so I want that money to go back to whoever needs it next.”