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The Challenges of Measuring Social Impact

April 13, 2012

Read the full article at Sustainable Brands.

Social ventures are launching rapidly across the globe and striving to build sustainable business models that drive social or environmental progress. Yet to achieve progress through enterprise, social entrepreneurs must confront a challenge that has long plagued the nonprofit sector – quantifying and tracking social impact.

Substantive impact measurement can be costly and complex, but it’s critical for social ventures pursuing greater scale and efficacy. Recently, sector heavyweight Ashoka launched an open resource that will encourage and facilitate impact tracking across the social change sector – to the benefit of social entrepreneurs, ventures, funders, and investors globally.

Colleen Poynton

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

When we talk about measuring social impact, we generally mean measuring social or environmental outcomes – i.e. 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] While traditional business is concerned with profitably generating outputs, a social enterprise must produce outputs profitably (or at least sustainably), while also advancing a desired social or environmental outcome.

Unfortunately outcomes are not as easily quantified as outputs. They are messy results of numerous variables, only a few of which a social enterprise can hope to influence effectively.[2] The measurement challenge that social businesses face is to demonstrate a connection between output (say, # jars of honey made by formerly incarcerated workers) and outcome (i.e. increased employment and reduced local recidivism rates), and to describe that connection quantitatively (i.e. “Our operations lowered recidivism by 15% relative to control populations over 5 years.”). Quantifying and tracking this relationship is costly. It requires greater data collection and analysis upfront (before launch) as well as over time….

Read the rest of Colleen’s article at SustainableBrands.Com Read more…

Deals that Make a Difference: A Beautiful New Space and Professional Furniture for Delta Institute

April 10, 2012

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

And now the follow-up you’ve all been waiting for: so how did Delta Institute use its over $10,000 in funding from Investing In Communities?

In addition to getting a beautiful space at a very affordable rent, Delta used its no-cost funding from Investing In Communities to buy the furniture necessary to make its new office space truly professional. In fact, we were thrilled to get a sneak peek at their new space! And wow – check out the number on that check. What could your favorite nonprofit do with that kind of funding?

Chicago-based Delta Institute generated over $10,000 in free funding for itself by working with a socially responsible real estate professional.

Want to learn more about how this deal made a difference for an amazing nonprofit? Make sure to check out our first post in this two-part series about Delta Institute’s nearly $11,000 in free funding.

Read more…

Want to Grow Your Personal Brand? Start By Giving.

April 3, 2012
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.

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.

Read more…

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

March 28, 2012

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? Read more…

Deals that Make a Difference: Delta Institute

February 29, 2012

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!” Read more…

Public Benefit Corporations: providing a legal framework for investing in our communities

February 6, 2012

Guest post by Layton Olson. Layton specializes in representing tax exempt community, trade, and professional organizations at Howe & Hutton LTD.

Layton Olson, Attorney with Howe & Hutton LTD.

Last month, a dozen companies committed to advancing social good filed to be classified as ‘Benefit Corporations’ in California. Their decisions represent a commitment to business strategies that systematically contribute financial, time, human, and other resources to charitable, educational and community improvement initiatives and institutions.  California has joined the six states – Vermont, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Virginia and Hawaii- that have enacted so-called public benefit or “B Corp” legislation since 2010.  Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Michigan and some cities have similar laws under consideration.

While traditional C Corporations are chartered to maximize benefit (i.e. profits) for shareholders, the B Corporation is legally chartered to consider and benefit stakeholders – a group that also includes employees, the environment, vendors, and the broader community… Read more…

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

January 17, 2012

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 Read more…

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