Compass wants to be the most “inspirational” company in the history of the world, CEO Robert Reffkin said Wednesday night, and along the way plans to donate millions of dollars as part of a new charitable giving program.
The charitable giving program will be called Compass Cares. Reffkin unveiled the program in front of a packed crowd in downtown Los Angeles as part of the company’s bi-annual retreat, saying that “going forward, 100 percent of transactions will result in Compass giving a donation.”
“I want your clients to know that when they’re working with Compass they’re working with a company that gives back,” he said.
Reffkin did not elaborate on how large individual donations could be, or how exactly the program will work. However, he did say that in the coming year Compass expects to give $10 million to local communities. And, he added, he wants that number to go way, way up.
“Over the next 10 years we’ll give back collectively a billion dollars to the community,” Reffkin said to cheers from the crowd.
Local agents will decide where the donated money is spent, with Reffkin telling the crowd that “nobody knows better how to serve a community than” they do.
Compass did not immediately provide answers to Inman’s questions about what sorts of causes might receive the money, or how other aspects of the program might operate.
The announcement of the charitable giving program comes at the end of a year in which Compass experienced meteoric growth — both in terms of market penetration and in funding — and in which it became the source of some consternation within the industry for its aggressive posture.
Reffkin has since moved to soften Compass’ image, though Wednesday night in Los Angeles he still described the company with Ozymandian grandiosity.
“My dream is to create the most inspirational company in the history of this country,” Reffkin said at one point during the event, “and then the world.”
The audience of more than 2,000 people loved it, though the announcement places Compass in the company of numerous other real estate businesses that also have charitable giving platforms. Some, such as Keller Williams’ KW Cares, have distributed tens of millions of dollars to thousands of families.
The stated goal to become the “most inspirational” company also comes shortly after Compass faced scrutiny for having raised vast sums of money from a fund connected to the Saudi royal family — which is facing intense criticism for alleged human rights violations.
The meeting, in L.A.’s lavish Orpheum Theatre, was the first of its kind since Compass’ high-profile acquisition of Pacific Union International earlier this year. The line to get in stretched all the way around the block and multiple agents expressed disbelief as they paced by the mass of people waiting to get in. Passersby — perhaps with a tinge of envy in their voices — paused to ask what kind of event had drawn such a large crowd.
Inside, the 1966 hit “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” blasted over the sound system as attendees waited for Reffkin.
In addition to Reffkin’s announcement about Compass Cares, Chief Growth Officer Rob Lehman revealed Wednesday night that the company is launching Compass Card, a credit card-like offering.
Lehman also put Compass’ growth into perspective: The company began 2018 with just 30 offices, will finish the year with over 150, and should have “well over 300” by the end of 2019.
Reffkin, too, spoke about growth. Compass has massive ambitions to achieve 20 percent of the market share in the 20 largest U.S. cities by 2020, and the CEO said that the company has now achieved one of those goals.
“We are in the top 20 markets in the country,” he said.
The line drew more applause from the crowd, as did Reffkin’s insistence that agents cannot, nor should not, be replaced by technology. Though he acknowledged that players in the real estate industry are spending billions to minimize the role of the agent, Reffkin indicated Compass will forge a different path.
“I want to elevate the role of the agent,” he said. “I want to elevate the human experience.”
This post was updated after publication with additional images provided by Compass, and with additional information about the company’s background.