Purpose driven community engagement and marketing is a big imperative for Corporate America. Houston headquartered national mortgage Lender Envoy Mortgage just initiated the Gift of Home program, an example of a brand that does the talk and the walk when it comes to corporate social responsibility and diversity. Erin Schwartz, Corporate Communications Director at Envoy Mortgage, explains to Portada how the Gift of Home program works and her overall approach to community engagement.
Corporate Social Responsibility should not be taken lightly by corporations, particularly in times of COVID-19. Houston headquartered Envoy Mortgage, a top 100 national mortgage lender, is acting accordingly and recently introduced the Gift of Home program through which it will gift 50 households across the U.S. up to $150,000 in mortgage assistance, including taxes, as part of this program designed to show gratitude during a challenging time for customers. Through June 2021, Envoy Mortgage will randomly select 50 of its customers from across the country to receive one month’s mortgage payment and tax assistance. The recipients will be announced by surprise from market to market.
“Traditional community engagement is not doing it anymore. We wanted to do something meaningful that has an impact on people’s lives.” Erin Schwartz, Corporate Communications Director at Envoy Mortgage, based in Houston, tells Portada. Schwartz, who leads all internal and external communication functions for Envoy’ Mortgage, adds that “when the pandemic hit many sectors were deeply impacted. There was a lot of uncertainty in financial services and mortgage services. However, lower interest rates did very well for the real estate industry. So we decided to give back and do something for people suffering in the pandemic.”
To ensure the greatest good, Gift of Home recipients are customers who play essential roles in their communities To select recipients Envoy Mortgage looks into two subsets of its customer database: Borrowers of VA (Veteran Loans) and FHA Loans (Loans that have a federal assistance). Within these two subsets they looked for first responders, nurses, educators and small business owners and their employees. Recipients are mostly in urban areas or within 30 miles of urban areas nationwide throughout Envoy Mortgage’s footprint of 130 branches nationwide .
Community Engagement: Hispanic and African-American
The program officially launched in Envoy Mortgage’s hometown of Houston, where the company surprised Josué Rios, a firefighter from Mexican descent, who contracted COVID-19 while working on the frontlines. Envoy Mortgage is making all of Mr. Rios’ mortgage payments, January through December 2021. “2020 was a challenging year, not only for my family, but also for so many others in our community. I’m overwhelmed and so grateful to be receiving the Gift of Home from Envoy Mortgage,” says Rios, who works at Fire Station 83. “This is life changing and means the world to me and my family.”
There are three Hispanic winners so far. The third winner was announced last Wednesday March 10 when Sandra Velasquez, a local Senior patient representative at the Children’s Pediatrician & Associates, COVID survivor, mother of four, head of HH, from Salvadorian origin in the DC area was surprised and delighted with Gift of Home from Envoy Mortgage, gifting her a month of her home loan mortgage payment including taxes. According to Schwartz, particularly Hispanics and African-Americans are a great target for the Gift of Home program as well as for Envoy Mortgage’s overall community engagement strategy which includes consumer education virtual seminars that educate about different mortgage programs whose down payment requirement is below 20%. Diverse population segments are particularly underrepresented in the real estate industry. This is not the case at Envoy Mortgage: 17% of Envoy team members identify as Hispanic, 15.71% of loans funded in 2020 were to borrowers that identified as Hispanic or Latino in their application. The Hispanic borrower average funded home loan amount was US $242,317.
Community First Communication Approach
Schwartz notes that Envoy Mortgage is a community first organization. “Being involved in our community is just part of our DNA. Our customers are our neighbors. Despite our advances in technology, people want to talk to other human beings. We are a high touch organization that wants to be involved with real persons. This is our secret to ensuring our customers love their mortgage experience.”
The microsite https://giftofhome.envoymortgage.com/ is the cornerstone of Envoy’s outreach and
the central dashboard and repository for showcasing the program and the recipients. “It’s all about the recipients and their stories,” Schwartz asserts. Envoy Mortgage did do a paid social campaign (Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn) for the kick-off of the program. However, Schwartz notes that most of their outreach is purely organic: “The story tells itself. We engage local team members and loan officers who feel really proud to work for a company that does so much for the community. The recipients also become informal spokespersons and ambassadors and are interviewed in the radio and other local media outlets.”
The community engagement initiative has obtained a substantial amplification on social media. From January 12, 2021 to March 1 the Gift of Home initiative has garnered 1,169,509 impressions, 455,163 video views and 63,410 engagements
The Gift of Home community engagement program will run through the fall when it will be culminated with another grand winner. It is planned that there also will be a program during the holiday season every year.