IIC Helps Housing Choice Partner Create Opportunities For Fair Housing

November 14, 2013 at 10:51 pm

 Christine Klepper, Executive Director of Housing Choice Partners shares how being an IIC Partner helps create opportunities for fair housing.

About Housing Choice Partners

Housing Choice Partners Clients

Housing Choice Partners Clients

Housing Choice Partners of Illinois, Inc. (HCP) was founded in 1995 by metropolitan area Fair Housing organizations. Advocates were concerned about concentrations of poverty and race that had developed as a result of the suburban rent subsidy program (then called Section 8).

HCP was created to promote racial and economic diversity in housing. We work primarily with low-income families who have a housing choice voucher, helping them move into opportunity areas that are more racially diverse, have less poverty, better schools, lower crime and more job opportunities. Our goal is to encourage low-income families to have access to these areas. Over the last 17 years, we have been able to serve over 800 families and relocate them to opportunity areas in over 85 different communities.

We were referred to Michael Pink, our broker, and the founder of IIC, through the wife of one of my board members, who runs a Chicago foundation. She interacts with a lot of non-profits around the city and was aware of the great work that IIC does.

IIC Helps Partner Woodstock Institute Further Research on Vacant Properties in Cook Country

November 13, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Dory Rand, President of Woodstock Institute shares how being an IIC Partner helps further the mission of her organization.

About Woodstock Institute


Woodstock Institute President Dory Rand

Woodstock Institute is a leading nonprofit research and policy organization in the areas of fair lending, wealth creation, and financial systems reform.  Woodstock Institute works locally and nationally to create a financial system in which lower-wealth persons and communities of color can safely borrow, save, and build wealth so that they can achieve economic security and community prosperity.

Woodstock Institute has been a recognized economic justice leader and bridge-builder between communities and policymakers in this field since it was founded in 1973 near Woodstock, Illinois. Now based in Chicago, we work with community and philanthropic groups, financial institutions, and policymakers. Funded by foundation grants, consulting fees, and charitable donations, we conduct research on financial products and practices, promote effective state and federal policies, convene a coalition of community investment stakeholders working to improve access to credit, and help people use our work to understand the issues and develop and implement solutions.

Doing Business Doing Good SM

August 16, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Doing business, doing goodIn 1995, Sharon and I began incorporating something into the practice of our brokerage company MAP Real Estate, Inc. that we thought would both:

  • Get us more business
  • Do something good for the world

We called that new approach to doing business, Investing In Communities®.

We continued the practice for many years, and began to realize that it could become much more important than “just our company.” The business practice got us a lot of business that we would not otherwise have gotten. That’s why we call it doing business, doing good SM; and it’s for this reason that we founded the nonprofit, Investing In Communities. Although it’s a nonprofit, Investing In Communities is the opposite of a charity. IIC funds charities.

The right way to be a human – and the smartest way to be a business person. It’s also the smartest way to be a consumer. More on that, in another post.

We didn’t know in 1995 that we were turning our for-profit real estate brokerage firm into a social enterprise. As time went by, we learned more and more about social enterprise and why that business model makes so much sense.

Over the years, the world has only become more needy and more crowded, with fewer resources. It would be impossible for us not to be “investing in communities.” It’s simply the right way to be human – and it’s the smartest way to be a business person.

Since 1995, we’ve distributed well over $400,000 dollars of our own commissions. That’s in addition to everything that we’re doing to fund the creation of Investing In Communities. It may seem strange, but we’ve been going so fast that it wasn’t a priority for us to find out what was done with the money we gave to the 50 or so organizations which received funding before we activated the nonprofit. It was enough to know that these were very good organizations, doing great work – even if the work was being done for the benefit of someone that we didn’t know and would never meet. Now that we’re building the nonprofit and all funding is directly from Investing In Communities, we take a more formal approach to tracking impact.

Investing In Communities is something that we’re very passionate about and very fortunate to be doing. If we could go back to 1995, we would definitely do it all over again.

For the Happiest of New Years, Let’s all win!

January 7, 2013 at 9:17 pm


With this post, we both close the old year and bring in the new. While Investing In Communities® has accomplished a lot in the year past, we have far to go – probably around the world.

IIC’s community of communities – those seeking to strengthen and expand collaboration between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors for their mutual benefit – has nearly 400 participating charities. Because of our history, about 60 % are located in Chicago metro. The others range from St. Croix to Hawaii, from ME to WA, and from Mexico to Canada!

Feed the Hungry San Miguel

Because of a very active IIC volunteer who lives there, many of our 50 Member agents work in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. We just made our first distribution to an IIC Nonprofit Partner not located in the US, Feed the Hungry San Miguel. What makes this event even more notable is that it’s the first time that the Member’s pledge was matched by their client. In fact, the client more than matched it. IIC requires only that the fortunate agent who is awarded the brokerage assignment pledge a minimum of 10% of that commission for distribution through IIC to their client’s favorite charity.

How Real Estate Helps Children Grow Into Leaders

June 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm

“I’m a Dream Leader … I have to help people now.”



Despite the hard work of his single mother in raising J.L. and his siblings, J.L. experienced a difficult childhood.  In order to ensure that his family always had enough to eat, J.L. would regularly shoplift.  He was heading down the wrong path.  That was until he attended his first Dream Leader Conference.

Dream Leader Conferences are programs created by Dreams for Kids in which at-risk youth and children with disabilities are brought together with their peers for the purpose of learning and helping others.[1]

After opening up and sharing his difficulties at home during the Dream Leader Conference, J.L. began the process of becoming a true leader.  In discussing his old practices of stealing, J.L. said, “I’m a Dream Leader now. That isn’t what a Dream Leader does. I have to help people now. There are so many people who need more than I do and I have to help them. I need to be a good example.”

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 Entreprenuer.com. 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.

TWO Real Estate Deals Make a Difference: Operation Homelink and Circle of Parents

March 28, 2012 at 3:46 pm

We’re excited to announce that TWO fantastic nonprofits have just received funding through Investing In Communities! Investing In Communities (IIC) recently distributed over $3,000 to two Nonprofit Partners: $881 to Operation Homelink and $2,313 to Circle of Parents. What made this philanthropy possible?

Operation Homelink

Dan Shannon of Aspire Properties makes his deal make a difference – over $800 in free, unrestricted funding for Operation Homelink!

An anonymous client generated free funding for Operation Homelink by working with a socially responsible real estate professional - Dan Shannon of Aspire Properties. And Metropolitan Group generated free funding for Circle of Parents by working with Michael Pink of MAP Real Estate - another broker committed to serving his community.

As IIC Real Estate Members, Dan and Michael are making real estate deals make a difference. For these transactions, Dan and Michael both pledged to send 10% of their commissions to IIC, dedicated to the nonprofits of their clients’ choices. Now that’s commitment to client and community!

And what do these great nonprofits do?

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!”

RE: “Doing good is good for business.”

December 8, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Yes it is.

Ever since IIConline.org launched back in November 2010, we’ve brought the concept of doing business, doing good to the real estate industry. Why? Well, like most, we believe in doing right by our community. We’re also friendly Midwesterners. But most importantly, we know from experience that doing good is just good business.

Branson's Virgin Group recently acquired Northern Rock and is resurrecting the troubled bank as Virgin Money

But don’t take our word for it. Really, don’t. In fact I would much prefer if you took Richard Branson’s word for it. Or maybe Colin Dyer’s. These guys know a thing or two about business. The founder of Virgin Records, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Mobile, and the much-hyped Virgin Galactic (yes that’s on-demand space travel) among others, Branson is worth around $4.3 billion.   Dyer oversees the second largest publicly traded commercial brokerage firm in the world – Jones Lang LaSalle – with over 40,000 employees in 750 locations across 60 countries.

Both are on record with very public declarations that social responsibility is  good business.

In 2010, Dyer released a white paper titled The Business Case for CSR in which he provides bottom-line arguments for JLL’s commitment to socially responsible business practices. He frames the company’s six pillars of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the context of competitiveness, market opportunity, efficiency, enterprise risk, and reputation – metrics that even “the most single-minded profit-oriented shareholder” can endorse.

And recently, Richard Branson sat down with The Telegraph to discuss the upcoming release of his book, unpoetically titled Screw Business as Usual.

Okay. We’re Listening.

Real Estate Makes a Difference for 15 Nonprofits

November 10, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Can the simple act of signing an office lease fund college visits for 350 disadvantaged youth? Can it prevent an aspiring nurse from dropping out of training? Could it provide at-risk children with a safe place to learn and play? As Urban Partnership Bank and IIC proved, an everyday real estate transaction can do all that and more.

attendees await the awards

On October 25th, over 150 leaders from Chicago’s nonprofit and business community turned out  to celebrate a new kind of philanthropy. Fifteen fantastic nonprofits received a total of $42,000 in free, unrestricted funding through IIC, thanks to Urban Partnership Bank’s socially responsible, business savvy decision.

Urban Partnership Bank (UPB) seized a unique opportunity: secure office space while benefitting its community at the same time. How? The bank required competing brokers to participate in Investing In Communities (IIC) if they wanted to win its assignment.  UPB awarded its assignment to a broker who agreed to participate in IIC, by pledging at least 10% of his commission on that deal to nonprofits.

By using IIC as bargaining tool, the bank generated $42,000 in philanthropy, at no cost to itself, just by finding office space. That’s right $42,000 in corporate philanthropy – for free.