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Commercial Department: From the Editor: September 2008


From the Editor

We're having a hard time finding subjects for our monthly Helping Hands feature. Which is weird.

When the mortgage-banking industry wasn't fodder for unsavory headlines on a daily basis, we heard from plenty of mortgage professionals who had volunteered in their communities and wanted to get the word out. Today, when numerous lenders might find additional public-relations value in borrowing a certain company's "We're nice people, too!" tagline, not so much.

Weirder still: According to a Volunteering in America and Corporation for National and Community Service report this past July, 60.8 million Americans volunteered in some way in 2007. That's more than a quarter of all residents ages 16 and older.

Granted, the case can be made that a quarter of all mortgage brokers potentially were cut from the ranks last year. But for those who are still around, the benefits of corporate outreach and simple volunteering often exceed a mere PR boost.

Since the late 1990s, companies of all sizes have bought into the philosophy that employees who volunteer benefit the company. They spread the company's name in a good light — often, for no cost to the company's marketing department. They acquire leadership and team-building skills — often, without tapping the company's training budget.

Large corporations such as Cisco — whose "Cisco Citizens" offered 168,000 volunteer hours in 2007 — and Microsoft — which offers some employees as much as five days of paid "volunteering leave" each year — have gone a step further by devoting additional resources to ensure their employees recognize the value of volunteering. In turn, they attract employees who return the favor.

As fall gives way to the holiday season, outreach options are aplenty — from those available through sites such as Volunteer Match ( to the simple search-based-donation services on

If you find something you like and want to share your good fortune, we're here:

  • In other news: We're pleased to introduce our new Property TypeCast column. Each month, Reis Inc.'s Victor Calanog and his cohorts will analyze trends in one of the major commercial-property-type sectors. This month, he examines the potential for a multifamily bubble.


Tony Stasiek was an editor at Scotsman Guide. For questions on this article, call (800) 297-6061 or e-mail

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