Tracking Social Impact with Ashoka Changemakers: How Dreams for Kids is Getting it Right

April 18, 2012 at 6:31 am

Wonderful news! Investing In Communities is excited to announce a new partnership with Ashoka Changemakers. As a Funding Partner on Changeshops Beta, IIC will require all funding recipients to set up a free Changeshop so they (and we) can track the social impact of IIC’s funds.

What is social impact, anyway? When we talk about measuring social impact, we generally mean measuring social or environmental outcome – the result of implementing a program, producing a good, or consuming a product or service.  Outcomes are distinct from outputs – the amount of goods produced or products delivered [1].

Create a Changeshop

Grow and track your impact – and we mean your outcome!

And why is this distinction important? Suffice it to say that the past ten years have seen an incredible upsurge in both the intensity and extent of outcome-oriented philanthropy [2]. Put another way, let’s face it: tracking the impact of social ventures has become an integral factor in determining which organizations receive funding. Foundations, corporate donors, and the government are all starting to evaluate impact. Funding is scarce, and you don’t want your organization to miss the boat. But it’s not just about funding. The real goal of impact assessment is to understand how to better serve your beneficiaries. (To read more about the broader implications of this industry shift to outcome-oriented philanthropy, we encourage you to check out a recent article by IIC’s Colleen Poynton: “The Challenges of Measuring Impact Assessment”).

With these two objectives in mind – funding and social good – let’s look at just how Investing In Communities’ partnership with Ashoka Changemakers will help nonprofits, consumers, and real estate professionals make a difference in their communities. 

Want to Grow Your Personal Brand? Start By Giving.

April 3, 2012 at 8:30 am
Colleen Poynton

Post by Colleen Poynton, Manager of Business Strategy and Development at Investing In Communities

You’re still in real estate. Still. As in – still after one of the worst downturns an industry has ever seen, you’re still in it. Why?

Why do you do what you do? You help people purchase and sell property. You help companies find the right space, or landlords find the right tenants.

If you stuck out this recession, the odds are decent that your job isn’t just a paycheck.  There’s a reason you do it. When was the last time you shared that reason with a potential client?

“People buy things from people they like and can relate to.” This great insight is from an article by Lambeth Hochwald over at Simon Sinek puts it another way – “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Let’s translate these observational statements into actionable business strategy: If you want to establish trust, loyalty, and a productive business relationship you need to create a connection with potential clients.

Hochwald’s article offers several good recommendations of how to build that connection, but point #4 may be the most critical, and I think, the most frequently misinterpreted: “Talk about yourself.” You probably already do this – sort of. You tell clients all about your expertise, your past success, your certifications, client endorsements, etc…etc…

You tell them how you’ll meet their real estate need, but do you ever tell them why?

Perhaps you love to help create strong, vibrant business districts in your city. Perhaps you have a passion for homes and interior spaces – for their idiosyncrasies and personalities. Perhaps you’re a life-long resident of your city/town/county and you know the neighborhoods/schools/parks/local gems better than anyone. Maybe you just really get a kick out of making clients happy.

For some excellent insight into why the WHY is critical, watch this great Ted Talk by Sinek.[ted id=848]

Okay, so back to point #4.

The author also suggests that you share a personal fact about yourself (not too personal) – one a customer can relate to. Maybe you volunteer at a local shelter, tutor kids on the weekend, lead a scout troop, or do pro-bono web development for nonprofits (call me). Whatever it is – odds are there’s something other than work that makes you tick. That human element is – surprise – something your clients happen to share.

Point 5 in this article is also essential. Now that you’ve opened up a bit, sit back and listen. What’s important to the person across from you? What makes them tick? Do you share a common passion, conviction, or hobby? If the answer is yes, you’ve successfully laid the foundation for an authentic relationship – one that just happens to involve a business transaction.

Deals that Make a Difference: Delta Institute

February 29, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Delta Institute’s long-range vision is to transform the Great Lakes Region into the center of the rapidly growing green economy.

We’re exited to announce that another great nonprofit has received funding through Investing In Communities! Investing In Communities (IIC) recently distributed over $10,900 to our Nonprofit Partner, Delta Institute. What made this philanthropy possible?

Delta Institute generated free funding for itself by working with a socially responsible real estate professional. With its lease nearing expiration, Delta Institute chose to look for a new space and to be represented by Michael Pink of MAP Real Estate, Inc. As an IIC Real Estate Member, Michael is making real estate deals make a difference. Through IIC, at least 10% of Michael’s IIC-related commissions go to the nonprofit/s his client selects. For this transaction, Michael pledged to send 15% of his commission to IIC, dedicated to the nonprofit of Delta’s choice. In fact, Michael pledges at least 10% of every commission to the nonprofit of his client’s choice.

Delta Institute’s President and CEO Jean Pogge embraced this opportunity to secure funding for Delta at no cost. Jean says, “This check from Investing In Communities made my day, my week, and my year. Thank you so much for pioneering this new way of doing business!”

Real Estate Deals that Make a Difference: Increasing Women’s Access to Prenatal and Postpartum Care

January 17, 2012 at 8:00 am

This month, we’ll be spotlighting the impact achieved by three Nonprofit Partners as a result of receiving funding through Investing In Communities. Last week, we highlighted the amazing work of Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium. Today, we’ll be learning about another fascinating nonprofit: Centro San Bonifacio. And stay tuned as we share more inspiring tales of real estate deals that make a difference!

Spotlight: Centro San Bonifacio

Real Estate Deals That Make a Difference: Immigrant Nurse Receives Scholarship to Continue English Studies

January 9, 2012 at 8:00 am

This week, we’ll be spotlighting the impact achieved by three Nonprofit Partners as a result of receiving funding through Investing In Communities. And first up, let’s hear it for Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium! Stay tuned on Wednesday, January 11, and Friday, January 13, to read more inspiring tales of real estate deals making a difference.

Spotlight: Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium

Virginia Jaime would have to drop her class. She had registered for a TOEFL course at Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium, but times had gotten tough for her and her family. As a licensed nurse in Mexico, Virginia had helped her family live a comfortable life. However, she needed to improve her English to become licensed in the US. Without this class, she couldn’t learn English and couldn’t support her family. Even the $200 price tag was too much. She was stuck. 

Real Estate Deals That Make A Difference: PAWS Chicago

December 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Associated Publications and IIC Present $4,800 in Free, Unrestricted Funding to PAWS Chicago

This November, Investing In Communities distributed $4,796 to our Nonprofit Partner, PAWS Chicago. What made this philanthropy possible?

Associated Publications Inc. (API) made its real estate deal make a difference through IIC by working with a socially responsible real estate professional. With its lease nearing expiration, Associated Publications chose to be represented by Michael Pink of MAP Real Estate, Inc. As an IIC Real Estate Member, Michael can use IIC to pledge at least 10% of his compensation to the nonprofit/s his client selects. For this transaction, Michael used IIC to dedicate 15% of his compensation to API’s preferred nonprofit. In fact, Michael pledges at least 10% of every commission to the nonprofit of his client’s choice. Michael is doing business, doing good, “and getting a lot of business doing it!” he says enthusiastically.

Associated Publications Editor-in-Chief Bonnie Krueger-Spurlock embraced this opportunity to support a meaningful cause at no cost to the company. She selected PAWS Chicago to receive the IIC funds from this transaction. PAWS Chicago is the city’s largest no-kill humane organization, focused on ending the killing of homeless pets. 

EMBARC Inc. Holds Launch Party in Chicago

May 18, 2011 at 9:51 am

We’re excited to announce that the IIC NGO Partner EMBARC Inc. will be celebrating its Chicago launch this Thursday, May 19that Schubas Music hall. IIC is looking forward to attending and helping Embarc recognize this milestone.

Embarc Launch Party, May 19

EMBARC is a non-profit organization, providing unique cultural experiences and interactions to high school students from Chicago’s most socially and economically isolated neighborhoods. The program forms partnerships with the public school system as well as local businesses and arts organizations in Chicago’s thriving cultural community.

EMBARC provides culturally enriching experiences for students and fosters a teen-led community, in order to develop a college-going culture that brings mobility not just to the students but also the community around them.

Interested in Embarc’s mission? Well, be sure to stop by if you’re here in the Chicago region. The event is free an open to the public. Come learn more about Embarc’s programs and goals for the future, enjoy cake and refreshments, and discover how you can get involved.

To view event details, visit the event invitation here.

Good Karma

May 9, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Last month, IIC partnered with the new social app KarmaKorn to raise awareness for our Nonprofit (NGO) Partners. We encouraged participants to show their support for their favorite IIC NGO Partner by sharing their stories on the IIC wall. Participants shared relevant links, photos, and information. By participating through the KarmaKorn app, individuals  received Karma Kernels, with which they can encourage others do good actions through KarmaKorn.

Hephzibah Children’s Association

We’re happy to announce that Jennifer Stix  is the winner of the IIC-KarmaKorn Contest! Jennifer showed her support for a nonprofit she’s passionate about – Hephzibah Children’s Association. Thanks to Jennifer, Hephzibah will receive $250 from IIC – a small token of our appreciation for the work that Hephzibah and all of our outstanding NGO Partners do. For her commitment, Jennifer will receive an iPod Touch! Hephzibah was founded in 1897 by Mary Wessels, who opened her home to displaced children when a fire destroyed a local orphanage. Ten years later, Mary purchased a small home at 332 Lake St. in Chicago, to accommodate more children as word  of her work spread. Hephzibah Home continued to grow and flourish through the 1920s, the Great Depression, and WWII by cultivating strong relationships with community members, who gave generously of their resources and time. While the needs of the children that come to Hephzibah have changed with the times, the mission of the house has remained constant: to provide safety and care to society’s most vulnerable children. Today, Hephzibah Children’s Association provides a diversity of much-needed services. From the Diagnostic Treatment Center and Residence that helps children heal from abuse and neglect, to foster care and adoption services, to family counseling and support, crisis intervention, family reunification, day care, and educational enrichment programs, Hephzibah strives to provide a comprehensive network of support for children and families subject to the pressures of poverty, neglect, chronic illness, mental instability, joblessness, and abuse. The longevity of Hephzibah Children’s Association speaks to the value and quality of the services it provides. Thanks to Jennifer Stix for showing her support for this fantastic organization. IIC is proud to have Hephzibah Children’s Association as a Nonprofit Partner. Is your favorite nonprofit an IIC NGO Partner? Visit to learn how IIC is turning real estate transactions into philanthropic events, and generating no-cost, unrestricted funding for great organizations like Hephzibah.  Partnership in IIC is free, so be sure to share IIC with your favorite nonprofit today!

Take Action and Get Giving!

March 21, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Post Your Passion to Win $$ for Your Cause

What nonprofit or cause are you passionate about?

IIC has over 140 NGO Partners that are working in any of six different focus areas to improve and serve our communities.

access the contest page

Now, IIC is teaming up with KarmaKorn to give you the chance to show your support by posting your passion. Let us know what IIC NGO Partner you care about and why.  IIC will select the most inspiring post, and the author will win $250 for his or her favorite IIC Partner and an iPod touch!

To participate, visit the IIC KarmaKorn contest page.

KarmaKorn is a virtual currency that Facebook users can earn by completing good actions, and can spend to create good actions that they want others to do. By completing the IIC action and showing your support for hard working NGOs, you will earn KarmaKorn Kernals that you can use to create actions for others to complete. Watch this video to see how KarmaKorn is creating a marketplace for good.

Hello World! IIC Celebrates Its National Soft Launch!

November 15, 2010 at 6:09 pm

It’s time to Get Givingsm! Today, Investing In Communities® celebrates its national soft launch!

IIC Online is on track and moving towards full functionality. Now individuals, corporations, real estate brokers, and nonprofits can all visit IIC Online to become a part of the Social Ecologysm. Be on the lookout this week for a Chicago Sun-Times article on IIC®!

Be sure to check back here soon as the IIC blog tackles this month’s topic: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Read our thoughts and then add your perspective!

In the meantime, visit IIC on Facebook and contribute to the discussions page! Is there a connection between philanthropy and other forms of engagement? How does your own personal philanthropy impact you? Become a part of the Social Ecology, and add your voice to the conversation!