Empowering Residential and Commercial Real Estate Clients to Support Their Favorite Nonprofits – FOR FREE

Investing In Communities® (IIC) turns brokered real estate transactions into free funding for each client’s favorite nonprofit. By using IIC’s free platform to sign up with their real estate broker, people and companies can generate significant funding for almost any charity, at no cost to themselves, through their home purchases and sales, as well as office, retail, and industrial leases almost anywhere in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Individuals and companies can work with a broker they already have in mind or choose from several brokers referred by IIC based on the specifics of the consumer’s desired the transaction. 

Win-Win-Win Impact

Since its humble beginnings, IIC has given more than $650,000 to 142 charities. The average check generated by a transaction is over $1,500. 

Join us in creating win-win-win real estate transactions. 

  • People and companies are able to work with a broker of their choice and direct significant funding to their favorite nonprofit(s), at no cost to themselves. 
  • Nonprofits get a sizable check and the opportunity to increase their unrestricted revenue. 
  • Brokers win clients and an opportunity to develop a pipeline for future clients, from IIC referrals.

Please help us spread the word about IIC and its philanthropic mission.

How Broker-Funded/Client-Directed Philanthropy Began

IIC grew from a business experiment in 1995, when the owners of an office tenant-rep brokerage in Chicago wanted to add a philanthropic program to their daily business activity. They called that experiment Investing In Communities.

Social Enterprise in Action

The idea was to let each client pick the charity to which they would donate part of the commission, after it was paid by the client’s landlord. In the commercial real estate brokerage industry, the custom is for building owners to pay commissions, rather than the companies that receive tenant-rep services. In order for the philanthropic program to be compliant with the IL License Act, the funds had to be given directly to the client who could then give them to a charity of their choice. It was soon discovered that the firm’s competitors, in an attempt not to lose a potential tenant-rep assignment to the firm, would quickly offer to do the same thing.

It became clear that both commercial brokers and residential brokers at most brokerage firms would eagerly agree to pay a market referral fee in order to receive a referral. That insight is at the heart of IIC as it now operates. In 2007, Investing In Communities had become a separate nonprofit that can operate across the US and beyond.  

It turns out that IIC’s model is so robust because it is based on the evidently stronger force of competition, rather than on the sadly weaker force of charity. But that’s OK!

Over the next decade we decided to shift our strategy to focus on consumers and their desire to support nonprofits rather than brokers who would be generous. We struggled through several iterations of the website, all of which were self-funded, but now we think/hope we’re pointed in the right direction toward true Social Enterprise.


Michael Pink
C0-Founder, dIRECTOR

IL Real Estate License # 471.005241

I guess I’ve always wanted to be a superhero (without the cape)

How I got here

I was born and raised in Chicago, (with early childhood spent roaming the Highland Park ravines). My business career began with a dog-walking and shoe-shining business in the high-rise apartment building we moved to when I began 4th grade. Through most of high school, I held down two part-time jobs in a tropical plant store and a quick-printing business.

Education   (Formal)

I was lucky enough to have attended the Latin School of Chicago and the University of the Pacific, where I was so interested in everything from plant taxonomy to philosophy that I graduated with a degree in University Studies. After college, I partnered with my oldest brother to start an industrial fastener distribution company in Albuquerque. Our customers were mostly uranium mines. Naturally, when the accident at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant happened, our business ended. Overnight.

Education   (Informal)

I have always been sickened by social injustice. In my childhood, I became aware of the Holocaust because I had two “cousins,” foster children, who had been taken in by my aunt and uncle in Cleveland. They were German orphans whose entire family is believed to have died in concentration camps.

In 9th grade, my parents took our family on a fantastic trip, which included Jerusalem and a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. Several years later, I traveled alone to India. Whether those experiences, seeing the poverty and the vestiges of injustice first-hand, are what led me to create a charitable platform to help others years later is anybody’s guess—though I’ve come to realize that it most likely did.

I enjoy helping

In 1985, I moved back to Chicago, got a real estate sales license, and began at a small commercial real estate brokerage firm. After 14 months, in 1986, I started, MAP Real Estate, Inc. Since 1987, when I married my wife, Sharon Porter, she and I have run MAP together. Nine years after starting MAP, Sharon and I began an experiment to see if we could make more money by giving some of it away every time we earned a commission. We called the experiment Investing In Communities® (IIC for short).

IIC started as a philanthropic marketing concept, long before it became my life’s passion. Our experiment was a success. We have gotten more business because of it, and consequently we have been able to give more than $550,000 of our commissions to over 100 charities chosen by our clients. I love to help our clients through MAP Real Estate. And I love helping the world through Investing In Communities.

I’m more interested than interesting  

My personal interests include (not necessarily in order of importance): traveling, watching good movies and great television, reading (mostly nonfiction), gardening, collecting photography (and snapping the odd shot), textiles, mineral crystals, insects, natural history art, and sculpture, as well as picking up to examine things that can be found while walking “in the woods!”

For longer than I have ever done anything else, I have been the proud and loving husband of my wife. Sharon and I delight in being with our friends and family. Through it all, like IIC, I remain a work in progress. Thank you for taking the time to get to know a little about me. If you’d like to know more about IIC or me, drop me a line at mp@iiconline.org.

Sharon Porter
Co-Founder, DIRECTOR

IL Real Estate License # 471.004049

In Sharon’s former life, she worked in public health, primarily in the area of maternal and child health. Among the many changes brought on by a move from New Mexico to Chicago 30 plus years ago, was a change in workplace from the clinic to an office, where she joined Michael Pink in his commercial real estate business.

In partnership with Michael, she began Investing In Communities as a business practice and together they have developed IIC into a social enterprise.

Sharon believes in the practice of giving to the wider community that supports one’s business, as well as in participating as a world citizen and caretaker of the earth and all its inhabitants.


Stuart Baum
President, Largerpond Marketing

Stuart is President of LargerPond Marketing and Managing Director of AlturaGroup business strategy & operational consulting. He has more than thirty years experience in Marketing & Sales — in industries as diverse as e-commerce, technology, legal, accounting, software, affinity/rewards, hospitality, education, professional services, agriculture and industrial. His career includes being Senior Writer/AsiaPacific for Saatchi&Saatchi and on their Worldwide New Business team where he led creative development for a number of companies’ entrance into China, including Prudential-Bache Securities. Stuart was a member of Hyde Park Angels, where he ran the Consumer group for 4+ years and serves as a Marketing & Sales mentor to area startups. He holds a B.A. English/Psychology from Vassar College.

He’s also the President of Holiday Heroes Foundation, a 501c3 that provides joy and normalcy to children in long-term hospital care, and manages www.StuartStories.com, a website with children stories and writing games.

Michael Cannon
senior legal counsel, ashe legal group

Michael is an experienced corporate lawyer and finance executive with considerable expertise and experience, and a deep personal interest, in working with entrepreneurial management teams to successfully plan, finance and launch new business enterprises that will make a positive difference.  Formerly a Partner and Of Counsel to two large national law firms, Michael has served over his career as CFO and as General Counsel to a wide variety of early-stage companies, and as in-house Corporate Counsel to an international management and technology consulting firm.  His direct entrepreneurial efforts have included co-founding a cable-TV career opportunity program and service, as well as co-founding an ophthalmic medical device company to treat retinal blindness.  He has also worked with community groups to acquire and finance low-income housing properties, and has undertaken corporate governance projects for various religious groups that included the founding of a religious seminary.

Bob Godfrey

Bob comes to Investing in Communities from a diverse and multi-faceted career in both academia and non-profit positions, worldwide. He has an extensive academic background in the study of all aspects of communication, including a Ph.D. from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a specialization in awareness campaigns and risk communication, and an M.A. in Public Communication Studies from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Combined with work in multi-media, public relations, education and training, his career has focused predominantly on conveying messages to a wide variety of populations in both western countries and within refugee and relief operations.

Ron Grzywinski
Retired Chairman, ShoreBank Corporation

Ron Grzywinski was the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of ShoreBank Corporation, the nation’s first and largest certified Community Development Finance Institution. Starting in 1973, ShoreBank provided finance and information services to disinvested communities in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and rural Arkansas. Subsequently the Corporation provided advisory and operational assistance to the Grameen Bank and BRAC in Bangladesh, the Aga Khan Foundation in Pakistan, as well as local development banks in the former Soviet Union, Africa and Asia. In 1996 ShoreBank Corporation created ShoreBank Pacific, the nation’s first environmental development bank.


Ron has been the recipient of the Independent Sector’s John W. Gardner Leadership Award, the Medal for Entrepreneurial Excellence from the Yale University School of Management, the President’s Founders Award from Loyola University (Chicago) and the Theodore Hesburgh Award for Ethical Business Practices from the University of Notre Dame, He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Business Degree from Northern Michigan University and was a founding member of the Ashoka Global Academy for Social Entrepreneurship. He has been the CEO of several banks and serves on the boards of numerous social purpose organizations. He is a Visiting Scholar at Loyola University.

Linda Day Harrison
Founder, Thebrokerlist.com

Linda Day Harrison is founder of theBrokerList, an interactive, collaborative community of CRE brokers and other professionals, Day Harrison is an expert at forging the kind of productive business relationships that are fundamental to CRE success. Day Harrison was an active CPM and CCIM and traded in her 3 decade career to make finding commercial real estate brokers so much easier. Blogger and CRE influencer, Day Harrison has mastered the art of blogging and the use of social media to push her site to the top of Google search. Named one of the 2018 Women in Commercial Real Estate Tech: The Top 20 Female Leaders and Influencers, by The News Funnel, and Women in Real Estate Tech: The Top CRE Tech Founders & CEOs in 2017 by Real Estate Tech News. Follow her on Twitter at both @DayHarrison and @theBrokerList.

Ray Kolak
Managing Principal, Eckhart Kolak

Ray counsels middle market business owners and their companies on their legal affairs. This might include starting a business, bringing in a partner, leasing or buying a factory, structuring a transaction to reduce federal income taxes, designing an executive incentive program, preparing product distribution agreements, or drafting a buy/sell agreement.

He has special expertise with purchases, sales, and mergers of businesses, and financing with debt and equity. Ray has been involved in many sales or purchases of businesses over his more than 35 years of practice, and has experience with tax planning, due diligence, agreement negotiations, and closings for those transactions.
Ray also advises real estate investors on real estate transactions, including purchases, sales, leases, financing, construction, zoning, real estate taxes, and ownership planning.

He advises business owners and private wealth clients on estate planning and estate administration, with emphasis on estate and gift tax planning and audits.

Ray was Chair of the 400-member Corporation and Business Law Committee of the Chicago Bar Association, and Chair of its Mergers and Acquisitions Subcommittee. He was President and a member of the Board of Directors of the 300-member Midwest Business Brokers and Intermediaries Association. Ray is a member of the American, Illinois State, and Chicago Bar Associations. He is also a member of the Business Law section (ABA , ISBA, CBA), Federal Taxation section (ISBA, CBA), Real Estate section (ABA, ISBA, CBA), and Estate Planning section (ABA , ISBA) of the bar associations. Ray belongs to the Union League Club of Chicago.

Adam Newell
Principal, Director of Consulting, The Wealth Office, DiMeo Schneider & Associates, L.L.C. Principal & Director of Consulting, DiMeo Schneider & Associates LLC

As Principal and Director of Consulting for The Wealth Office™, Adam is responsible for the oversight of the firm’s private client staff and setting the strategic direction for the group’s consulting business. He also provides investment expertise to a number of high-net-worth families, private foundations and nonprofit clients. Before this, he was a Senior Financial Planner with The Ayco Company L.P., a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs, Inc. Adam is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) and member of the Financial Planning Association. He is also a CFA® charterholder and member of the CFA Society Chicago. Adam earned a BS with high honors in Finance and a minor in Financial Planning from Purdue University. He is a founding board member of the nonprofit organization, Angel Tracks. In his free time, Adam enjoys competing in triathlons.

Layton Olson
Facilitator, Internet Public Trust

Layton Olson is a long time educational opportunity and community development professional, and retired attorney representing community enterprise organizations and professional associations. He has worked as an education, community development and digital economy advocate, and a leadership and resource development consultant . Including assistance in generating government, foundation and business grant, contract and social media network support for a wide range of family, business and civic engagement institutions and agencies.

Christina Schellpfeffer
Vice President, External Relations, Sand County Foundation

Chris leads Sand County Foundation’s communications and development programs. She joined the foundation in 2013, bringing more than 20 years of experience in marketing, strategic communication and stakeholder relations to the organization. A former journalist, she covered government, public policy and politics for nearly ten years at the Wisconsin State Capitol as Managing Editor for the Wisconsin Radio Network. As a partner in an advertising agency with a special emphasis on brand development, she consulted with organizations across the U.S. on marketing and communications issues, and led successful public relations programs securing prominent national media coverage. Her work spans industries and issues ranging from food production and medical research to environmental science and economic development.

Jessica Spencer
Founder, Penguin Connective

Jess is the founder of the educational media company Penguin Connective. She is a marketing leader and advisor, AI strategist, MBA, and lives in North Carolina with her husband and their five kids. Her career has centered around finding creative solutions and leveraging technology to its fullest potential. She joined Investing In Communities in 2023 as an advisor and is thrilled to help spread the word about how consumers can use their power to positively impact the world.