In 2007, we formed an Illinois nonprofit corporation called Investing In Communities® (IIC). Its first website launched in June 2010. IIC has always been a social enterprise, which is different than a charity. While a charity is the voluntary giving of help to those in need, a social enterprise is defined as “an organization that is directly involved in the sale of goods or services to a market, but that also has specific social objectives that serve as its primary purpose.”
WHAT IS IIC?
IIC is a nonprofit social enterprise that uses real estate transactions as a means of providing philanthropy (70+% of our referral fees!) to the charitable causes chosen by home buyers and sellers, and by companies that lease office, retail, or industrial space.
IIC long ago stopped being a way for me to create business opportunities. It became my passion. Even though IIC is, relatively speaking, a small enterprise, it gives me a big sense of accomplishment (and a big sense of relief) that through it I can finally do what I’ve always wanted to do – make a difference in the world by helping others.
As IIC scales, the amount of good it can do promises to exceed my wildest imagination. Leaders in the real estate industry (i.e., the Chicago Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors) have told us that IIC’s model could prove valid in countries where large US residential and commercial realty brands have a significant presence. That’s because in 50+ of those countries, the US marketplace norms for commissions, referral fees, and strong competition have all become the standard.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Since 2010, we have continued to make changes to IIC to make it even better. We have now given over $500,000 of our own commissions to our clients’ chosen charities. IIC will always be our baby and we have personally paid to raise it. That’s only fair. But, while kids are wonderful, they are expensive and they change as they grow.
IIC is now able to turn virtually any brokered real estate transaction in the US, Canada, and Mexico into a deal that makes a differencesm for a charity of the client’s choice. Despite the fact that IIC’s funding comes from a portion of brokers’ commissions, they are happy to work with us because we bring them business they would otherwise not have. That is why any individual or company desiring their transaction to support a charity of their choice at no personal expense needs to contact IIC before they engage a broker.
ANY BROKER YOU CHOOSE
IIC will work with any broker. We choose brokers solely based on their being a good fit for the type, price range, and location of the transaction. Competition is a fact of life for all brokers—residential and commercial. IIC is simply leveraging market forces and industry-wide brokerage practices to create a new source of funding for the social sector.
Our charitable platform works with the purchase or sale of a home or other type of real estate and with leases for office, retail, and industrial space. It doesn’t matter whether you already have a broker in mind or want IIC’s help identifying up to three brokers that specialize in the specifics of your upcoming real estate transaction. IIC can benefit virtually any charity whose mission aligns with one or more of our six focus areas: Women & Families; Health & Wellness; Arts & Culture; Education; the Environment; and Social Justice — all broadly construed.
It’s been a heck of a ride! I hope to have many years ahead of me as a tenant-representative. When that chapter of my career ends, I intend to keep running Investing In Communities for as long as possible!
Next up – Lease-Planning: Your Program of Requirements is a Great Place to Start