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Real Estate Makes a Difference for 15 Nonprofits

November 10, 2011

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.

IIC distributed the funds before a full house at the grand opening celebration of Urban Partnership Bank’s new microbranch in downtown Chicago. Attendees from across the local nonprofit and business community mingled over refreshments, while waiting to learn who the fortunate beneficiaries would be.

Urban Partnership Bank CEO William Farrow, IIC Co-Founders, and Bill Lowry congratulate Community Shares of Illinois

In an unusual twist, the philanthropy was distributed through a random drawing – giving all eligible nonprofits* an equal chance to benefit. The funding was spread among 15 nonprofit recipients, with one grand award of $10,000 going to Community Shares of Illinois.

The MC for the evening, Bill Lowry of Chicago Community Trust, spoke eloquently about the importance of building mutually beneficial partnerships between nonprofit and for-profit organizations. The former host of Opportunity Line, a local television show that helped over 2 million viewers gain access to employment or job training, Lowry experienced what can be achieved when the private, public, and civil sectors work together. “(Opportunity Line) would not have happened if CBS, the City, the State, the Chicago Urban League, Corporations, and the Chicago Chamber of Commerce hadn’t come together as partners determined to met the unmet needs of the City’s communities.”

Bill Lowry of Chicago Community Trust

Lowry applauded the partnership between IIC and Urban Partnership Bank, but lamented that such innovative unions don’t occur frequently enough. “That’s why we have to work even harder to demonstrate the power of actions like this, and the unlimited potential provided by their replication” Lawry noted.

Luckily, IIC is built for replication.  As a free tool, IIC empowers companies and individuals anywhere to benefit their community  through their brokered real estate transactions. With IIC, real estate consumers harness the power of the purse and competitive markets to make their real estate deal make a difference.  And by aggregating socially responsible professionals and reputable nonprofit organizations online, IIC is building a future in which consumer-directed philanthropy is effortless, accessible, and free.

corporate and nonprofit leaders come together to support the community

Quoting the former CEO of Inland Steel, Lowry reminded listeners that, “No company can prosper if the community in which it lives is not healthy.” As Urban Partnership Bank and others have proven, IIC is an innovative way for  companies to deepen their commitment and connection to the community. And as the lucky broker in this deal learned,  IIC is an effective way to attract new business and set yourself apart,  by replacing referral fees with philanthropy.

IIC invites companies everywhere to follow Urban Partnership Bank’s example, and make their real estate deals make a difference.

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