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It’s no surprise that a real estate company with a history of fighting racially discriminatory home sale laws during the Civil Rights era would embrace philanthropy as a corporate value.

And as the region’s largest locally owned residential real estate company, opening a fund at their hometown community foundation to support local nonprofits was a natural fit.

So as Baird & Warner approached its 160th anniversary, the firm dreamed up a way to celebrate in style, while remaining true to its founding values—by giving away $160,000 to area nonprofits providing shelter and housing.

These include Family Promise North Shore, which keeps homeless families with children together as it helps them return to permanent housing, and StandUp For Kids, which works to break the cycle of youth homelessness.

“We want the people making contributions to be involved with where the money’s going.”

“The Baird family’s vision is that giving back is just what you do,” says Baird & Warner chief operating officer and executive vice president Jennifer Alter Warden. “So an ongoing part of our firm’s mission is giving back to the communities that have made us successful.”

The firm’s longstanding charitable giving program, the Good Will Network, is powered by automatic contributions that add $10 to the fund for each real estate transaction—part donated by the company and part by the sales associate. Employees and clients can also give directly, with their contributions matched by Baird & Warner.

With a constant flow of small donations from multiple offices, it’s a complex program—so Baird & Warner partners with the Trust to manage the program. The Trust handles financial administration, while the firm focuses on its mission of giving away millions to great causes.

For the 160 Years of Giving Back celebration, potential grant recipients were nominated by each of the firm’s branch offices. Then, in fall of 2015, broker associates, employees, nominees and members of the public voted to determine the 16 winners, which each received $10,000. More than 80,000 votes were cast.

“We want the people making contributions to the Good Will Network to be involved with where the money’s going,” Warden explains. “It’s all part of our view of what makes a vibrant organization.”