ALTA Good Deeds Foundation: The Right Thing to Do

November 17, 2020

During the 2019 ALTA ONE conference, marketing guru Roy Spence talked about how important it is for people and organizations to have a clear sense of purpose.

“ALTA members wake up every morning with a purpose—ensuring that every homeowner and person who wants to buy property can pursue the American Dream and ensuring it doesn’t turn into a nightmare,” Spence said. “You give homebuyers and property buyers in this world of chaos one less thing to worry about. You are a force for good.”

For more than a century, this description of protecting homebuyers and sellers has held true. The recent COVID-19 pandemic brought into sharper focus how ingrained title and settlement professionals are in their local communities—not only by helping facilitate real estate transactions, but also by donating time, resources and money to local outreach.

In October, ALTA established the ALTA Good Deeds Foundation to bolster the charitable efforts of title and settlement professionals and help people with housing needs as well as those adversely impacted by national emergencies such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on individuals and communities throughout the country. As ALTA shared members’ community-based activities through the #GoodDeeds campaign, it became clear the association can be a force multiplier for this effort, amplifying the industry’s efforts and stories.

“The title insurance industry has always cared deeply about their communities—most ALTA members live in the same communities in which they work,” said Diane Tomb, CEO ALTA. “Title insurance professionals have not only worked to protect their customers during the pandemic, but they have also dedicated their time and efforts to ensuring their communities are strengthened through charitable acts like donations of PPE, food and other services. Grants from the ALTA Good Deeds Foundation will amplify the tremendous giving and service that our members provide around the country today—and certainly during the last several months as we’ve highlighted in our #GoodDeeds campaign.”

That is why now is the time to establish a new charitable foundation dedicated to helping our members as they help their communities. The Foundation is founded with the mission that Good Deeds Grow Communities. At first, the Foundation will focus on providing charitable grants to recognized 501(c)(3) organizations (through an application process) and relief for national emergencies. Preference will be given to housing-related organizations.

The key four program areas include:

  • Charitable grants to recognized 501(c)(3) organizations
  • Scholarships to a diverse pool of college students who have worked for or interned for an ALTA member company
  • Collaborative industry research with institutions of higher education and other non-profits
  • Relief for national emergencies

The Foundation will award grants and support title professionals as they work to build and strengthen their local communities and exemplify the title industry’s values of We Lead, We Deliver, We Protect.

More than $500,000 has been donated since launching the Foundation in October during the virtual 2020 ALTA ONE. Also during ALTA ONE, the Foundation awarded its first grant to New York-based The Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which provides mortgage-free homes to Gold Star families and Fallen First Responder families, in addition to providing Smart Homes to catastrophically injured veterans.

“We are honored to be the first non-profit to receive a grant from ALTA’s Good Deeds Foundation,” said Todd M. Hirsch, Director of Philanthropy for the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. “Our Foundation honors the legacy of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country, as well as veterans with a severe service-related disability through our Smart Home Program.”

Over the last few years, ALTA has explored what makes the title industry special, and why it represents and a great career opportunity. In 2017, it became apparent there were common values that run through all title companies. The Our Values initiative helped identify the industry’s true North Star.

Building on this, ALTA developed the Tell Our Story campaign to publicly celebrate the diverse and wonderful stories of title professionals and the good they do in their communities.

With the launch of the Foundation, it’s time to take the next step in this evolution and help empower industry professionals to do good in their communities.

“The creation of the ALTA Good Deeds Foundation has been a long time coming,” said Mary O’Donnell, president and CEO of Westcor Land Title Insurance Company and 2019-20 president of ALTA. “Our members are, and always have been, extremely involved within their communities. ALTA is proud and excited to support and build upon these efforts that will help bolster communities.”

#GoodDeeds Award

For the past few years, ALTA has recognized member companies with the best consumer-facing website. New this year, ALTA also gave a Title Webby award recognizing a company’s connection to its community via a social media campaign.

Campaign goals could include increasing awareness or inspiring action for a local charity or cause. They could also involve highlighting charitable work, including fundraisers for research/support, food banks and other philanthropic events that lead to a positive outcome for the community. Continental Title, which operates in Kansas and Missouri, received this year’s #GoodDeeds Award for its #CTCCares campaign. The effort resulted in more than $36,000 raised in 2020 for numerous organizations in Kansas and Missouri.

“We are humbled and honored to be recognized by ALTA for the #GoodDeeds Award,” said Matt McBride, president of Continental Title. “One of the core values of Continental Title Company

Common Bond

Helping those in need is a common bond beyond the title industry. American individuals, foundations and corporations gave an estimated $449.64 billion to U.S. charities in 2019, placing it among the highest years ever for charitable giving, according to Giving USA 2020.

Total charitable giving rose 4.2 percent measured in current dollars over the total of $431.43 billion contributed in 2018.

“The solid growth of giving in 2019 brought total giving close to the record level set in 2017, which means that the past three years are the three highest years on record. Clearly, Americans prioritize generosity as a key part of their lives,” said Rick Dunham, chair of Giving USA Foundation.

Positive economic conditions resulted in growth in giving from three out of the four sources. Economic growth also led to increases in giving to all but one of the nine major types of recipient charitable organizations.

“In 2019, the growth in total giving was driven by an increase in giving by individuals, which remains by far the biggest source of giving. Interestingly, in recent years we’ve seen a consistent and growing trend in giving by foundations comprising a larger share of total giving than it did 15 years ago,” said Amir Pasic, the Eugene R. Tempel Dean of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Part of a Bigger Picture

During ALTA ONE, O’Donnell had a conversation with José Andrés, author, humanitarian and chef/owner of ThinkFoodGroup. He is known for his groundbreaking avant-garde cuisine and nearly three dozen restaurants worldwide. Andrés also founded World Central Kitchen, a non-profit that specializes in delivering food relief in the wake of natural and humanitarian disasters.

Since serving nearly four million meals to the people of Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria, World Central Kitchen has responded to dozens of disasters worldwide and distributed tens of millions of meals in the process. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has partnered with restaurants, small farms and community leaders around the country to combat food insecurity.

“Supporting the communities in which we live and work is rooted in the Foundation's mission to provide a helping hand to those in need,” O'Donnell said. “I’m delighted we’ve launched the ALTA Good Deeds Foundation because we all must continue to work together to protect our neighborhoods.”

Andrés offered his advice for those looking to get involved.

“Thank you for all the ALTA members and being agents of change and supporting this initiative,” he said. “You must continue to give to organizations that provide a rate of return. Make sure the organizations you support really benefit people. Whatever you donate to charity, treat that donation the same way you would your for-profit investment. Charity is hard, because your return on investment is that the people in your community do better. Sometimes giving can start with a gesture of empathy. Sometimes this can be huge and can change communities.”

The Right Thing to Do

During his speech at ALTA ONE, entrepreneur and Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary said it’s important to think about what a company is doing for their community. He acknowledged the creation of the ALTA Good Deeds Foundation as “the right thing to do.”

“It’s a wonderful idea,” O’Leary said. “People must have empathy for the challenges that others are going through.”

How to Get Involved

Companies or individuals will be considered a founding donor if contributing by the end of 2020. Donations may be made at altagooddeeds.org.


Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or communications@alta.org.

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