Here’s how you can contribute to the charities you care about most through everyday real estate transactions – at no cost to you.

Investing in Communities® is a free service that refers brokers to people who are buying or selling a home, and to companies that want to lease office, retail, or industrial space. We can help make your next real estate transaction faster, easier, and more rewarding. It’s a great way to support your favorite charity — anywhere in the US, Mexico, and Canada.

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How you and your chosen charity will benefit:

  • We offer an entirely new way to support a charity or cause you are passionate about – at no expense to you.
  • We use social media to highlight the charitable impact that you make possible (you may, of course, remain anonymous if you choose).
  • Our process for selecting brokers and donating referral fees is completely transparent.
  • We are a 100% nonprofit social enterprise, though we are not a charity.


For any brokered sales and any commercial leasing anywhere in the U.S.

Test Positive Awareness Network (TPAN)

RECEIVED: $16,066


DETAILS: $2,531 as a result of a residential sale. $13,535 as a result of an office lease. Help Test Positive Awareness Network (TPAN) with your next real estate transaction.

Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

RECEIVED: $36,511


DETAILS: Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law chose a broker through IIC and received $11,511 from an office lease renewal and $25,000 from a relocation.

Kennebec Estuary Land Trust

RECEIVED: $6,905


DETAILS: Eckhart Kolak selected Kennebec Estuary Land Trust in Maine to receive $6,905 from an office lease renewal.

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Yes.  When you register your real estate transaction with IIC we will notify your Favorite Charity that you have arranged for them to receive a Charity Support Payment from us if and when your real estate transaction closes. Upon closing of your transaction (and after we receive our Referral Fee from your Representing Broker), we will promptly make the Charity Support Payment in your name to the Favorite Charity you have designated for your transaction. 

Yes. You may select different Favorite Charities to receive Charity Support Payments on different transactions that you register with us. You may also select more than one Favorite Charity with respect to a given registered transaction, as long as the transaction will generate a Referral Fee sufficient to allow us to make a Charity Support Payment to each Favorite Charity of at least $350. Otherwise, we will send the entire Charity Support Payment, however much it may be, to only a single Favorite Charity of your choice. 

Our founders, Michael Pink and Sharon Porter, conceived IIC in 1995 out of a personal commitment to aid their real estate clients in providing added financial support to the communities and causes that their clients most cared about, but not at their clients’ expense. Michael and Sharon accomplished this by developing a program of sharing a part of the commissions that they had received on their clients’ real estate transactions with charities of their clients’ choosing. That program was carefully structured to be in full compliance with the licensing regulations that govern the business activities of real estate brokers in Illinois. In 2010 they launched IIC as a nonprofit corporation, separate from MAP Real Estate, their commercial real estate brokerage business. Through June 2018 Michael and Sharon have arranged for clients of MAP Real Estate to provide over $520,000 in funding through IIC to a wide variety of charities – all at their expense and at no cost to their clients.  See their personal stories at About Us.

Registering your transaction with IIC provides you an opportunity to direct that a portion of the commission received by your broker on your transaction be paid to an Eligible Charity of your choice – at no  cost to you! You will also receive our help in finding an experienced broker to handle your real estate transaction (your Representing Broker) if you don’t already have one in mind. 

We maintain a searchable directory of charities that we have determined qualify as Eligible Charities at our Charity Directory. If you believe that your Charity meets our eligibility requirements, then please advise your Charity of your interest in having them receive a Charity Support Payment from us, and ask your Charity to take a few minutes to complete our brief online application form at Charity Application.

That’s what we call a Charity that meets our guidelines and, as such, is  able to receive Charity Support Payments from us. Generally, we will approve as an Eligible Charity any organization that is tax-exempt under Section 501(c) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code and whose principal purpose is to address issues of health, education, employment, poverty, safety, shelter, arts, science, animal welfare and/or general welfare on a non-discriminatory basis, and no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.  We will generally not approve as an Eligible Charity any organization significantly engaged in, or attempting to influence, political, legislative, or religious activities (though we may approve organizations with a religious affiliation that provide services described above to members of the community at large without regard to their religious affiliation).


No.  We pay an Introduction Fee as a way of compensating an Eligible Charity for the effort of introducing the IIC Program to you, but only in the situation where you choose another Eligible Charity to be your Favorite Charity.

You may select more than one Favorite Charity with respect to each registered transaction, as long as your transaction generates a Referral Fee that is large enough for each Favorite Charity to receive a Charity Support Payment of at least $350. Otherwise, we will send the Charity Support Payment from your transaction, however much it may be, to only a single Favorite Charity of your choice.  

You select a Favorite Charity from the list of Eligible Charities contained in our Broker Referral Request Form when you register your transaction with us. If a Charity you wish to benefit from your transaction is not already listed as an Eligible Charity, please contact us at and we will determine if your Charity meets the requirements to be an Eligible Charity.

No. We simply ask brokers if they would like to receive a referral from us. It’s an understatement to say that we anticipate brokers will generally answer yes to that question. So far, more than  99% of the ones we have asked, answered YES!

Payment of referral fees is common in both the residential and commercial real estate brokerage industries. And we believe that most brokers will welcome IIC referrals. Even if you know the  brokerage company or agent that you want to work with, our referral of you to them will still represent new business for them.  We intend the Referral Fee that we charge to be competitive in the market where your real estate transaction is located. For that reason, we believe that an IIC referral will “cost” no more than any referral that a broker receives from other brokers.

We will undertake to identify up to 3 brokers with the appropriate experience based on the specific details of your desired transaction (residential or commercial, office or industrial, etc.), its approximate size, and its geographic location, not on how charitable they may be. And, you choose the one that you prefer to handle your transaction as your Representing Broker. Only you make that final decision. And, you can use IIC even with a broker that you already know.

It’s important to wait to do that until after you have registered your transaction with us and we have contacted your selected broker to refer your transaction to them. Then you can contact the broker that you want to act as your Representing Broker to discuss entering into a brokerage contract with their brokerage company. We will let you know after we have made this referral. If you sign a brokerage contract before we contact that broker, we will not receive a Referral Fee from their brokerage company, and we will therefore be unable to make a Charity Support Payment to your Favorite Charity.

If you would like a particular brokerage firm or a particular agent (licensee) to represent you in your upcoming transaction, then when completing the Broker Referral Request Form please indicate “Yes” to the question “Have a Broker in Mind?” and provide us with the requested information about your preferred firm and/or agent. Be sure to register your transaction with IIC before you contact any brokerage firm or real estate agent, and before you sign a brokerage contract with any of them, so that IIC will be in a position to refer your transaction to them and earn a Referral Fee. If you do not have in mind a particular brokerage firm or agent, then please indicate “No” to this question, and we will introduce up to 3 appropriate brokers for you to choose from in selecting your Representing Broker. The final selection of your Representing Broker is always yours to make. And, remember that you can use IIC, even with a broker you already know!



You can register with us the purchase or sale of any residential or commercial real estate or the lease of office, retail, and industrial space located in the United States, Canada or Mexico. At present, IIC does not work with apartment leasing.


Just register your real estate transaction with IIC before contacting or engaging any real estate broker to represent you in your transaction. Registration is fast and free – you simply complete our online Broker Referral Request Form  at

When you use IIC to engage a broker for your real estate transaction, you enable IIC to earn a referral fee from the real estate company with which that broker is affiliated, after your transaction closes. IIC then enables you to provide 70% of that referral fee to an Eligible Charity of your choice at no cost to you! If you do not have a broker in mind for your transaction, we will help you identify appropriate brokers for you to choose among one that will become your Representing Broker. IIC selects brokers solely on the basis of being a good fit for the business specifics of your upcoming transaction, and not because they may be charitable. If you already have a broker in mind, we will make the same arrangements with them.

It’s not magic. It’s IIC’s social mission plus ever-present marketplace forces that make it all possible.

IIC’s model can work because of factors that appear to be structural to the residential and commercial real estate brokerage industries across the country. These factors include fierce competition among licensees, local market knowledge, specialization usually in a single category of real estate, and state-by-state licensure, coupled with regulatory constraints that govern the business conduct of licensees, with regard to how they can and can not pay referral fees.

Leveraging all of that, IIC’s charitable mission enables home buyers & sellers and companies leasing, buying, or selling commercial property to support a charity of their choice, at no personal or company expense, using virtually any broker, including one they already know!


Yes. IIC is licensed in Illinois as a real estate broker. This allows sponsoring brokers in any state to pay us a Referral Fee in full compliance with their state’s licensing regulations. But IIC has not in the past, and has no plans in the future, to act as the licensed real estate fiduciary (Representing Broker) of any party in any real estate transaction.


No! When you register your transaction with us by completing our Broker Referral Request Form, you are not entering into a brokerage relationship with IIC. Instead, you are simply authorizing us to introduce you to brokers who are appropriate for your consideration because we’ve determined that their respective realty practices are a match for the property type, location, and general price range of your desired transaction. You choose one of them and they will be solely responsible for representing you as your fiduciary (your Representing Broker) in your real estate transaction.

We will pay at least 70% of the Referral Fee that we receive in connection with your registered transaction to your Favorite Charity, as a Charity Support Payment. We will retain 30% of the Referral Fee to cover our operating costs, and to pay Introduction Fees to any Introducing Charity with respect to your transaction (discussed below).  As IIC grows, we intend to increase the percentage of Referral Fees that we pay out as Charity Support Payments. 70% of the referral fee equates to approximately 18% of the commission that either the seller’s broker or the buyer’s broker will receive if both the buyer and seller have a broker. Even if there is a single broker, IIC will pay out as a Charity Support Payment at least 70% of its referral fee. Although in that situation, the percentage of the total commission may be other than 18%.

Referral Fees vary by property type, size, and local market.

For residential transactions, we’ve found that 25% is the most common referral fee that residential brokers offer to pay to any broker for the referral of a buyer. For the referral of a seller, multiple brokers have told us that 30% is acceptable.

The referral fee is calculated as a percentage of the commission that’s paid to the company at which your Representing Broker works.

In general, if the referral is for an inexpensive home, the referral fee percentage will probably be lower than for an expensive home.

For commercial leasing, there is no such “rule of thumb” because leases for commercial space vary widely in length and commission is determined, in part, by length of lease. The largest commercial IIC transaction, thus far, was a 10 year office lease for 24,000sf that generated $42,000 of unrestricted funding that was split by 15 charities.


While there are no obligatory standards for many things in real estate transactions, including the amount of referral fees, there are prevalent norms.

For example, in our experience, with residential purchase and sale transactions the referral fee is most often 25% of the commission that will be paid to either the seller’s broker or the buyer’s broker.

However, for commercial leasing, there is no such “rule of thumb”. That’s because leases for commercial space vary so widely in their length. And the commission is determined in part by length of lease. Because a broker who gets a commercial lease referral doesn’t know at the time of receiving the referral  how long the lease will be, and therefore how much the commission might be, we are unable to provide a “typical’ referral fee percentage for office, retail, and industrial leases.

In contrast, with a home purchase or sale, the transaction either closes or it doesn’t. If it closes, the full commission is paid. If it fails to close, no amount of commission is paid.

Yes, by sharing your charity’s dedicated IIC page on social media or by email.

Yes. When brokers pay the referral fee to IIC, we keep 3/10 to help cover our administrative expenses, and the other 7/10 goes to your charity. (We round up for the charity share and round down for the IIC share. In the example of a $100,000 home sale or purchase, IIC would keep $185 (29.6% of the referral fee) and your charity would receive from IIC $440 (70.4% of the referral fee).

Yes, anyone can make a referral to a real estate broker. But by law in all states, referral fees may only be paid by sponsoring brokers to other sponsoring brokers. When you register your transaction with IIC (which is a licensed Illinois real estate broker), and we refer you to a broker whom you select to handle your transaction (your Representing Broker), IIC will be paid a Referral Fee (a very common practice in the real estate brokerage industry) if and when your transaction closes. We can refer you, even to a broker that you already know.

IIC is at the forefront, innovating the approach of using the well-established real estate brokerage referral-fee system as a way for you to support an Eligible Charity, at no cost to you.

We select brokers solely on the basis of being a good fit with the information you provide on our Transaction Registration form for type and size of transaction, as well as your specific neighborhood(s). That’s because we believe your top priority should be to get the best deal with your upcoming transaction. We do not select brokers simply because they may be charitable. Then we ask if they are interested in a possible referral. If they say yes, we can present them as one of the options for you to choose from. If you already have a broker in mind, we will make the same arrangements with them. In our experience, it’s rare for brokers to decline a referral opportunity.

If you want your transaction to provide a Charity Support Payment to your favorite charity at no cost to you, you would need to select from the brokers that are contacted by IIC, in order to enable payment of a referral fee to IIC. But, we can call any real estate licensee in the country (There are about 2 million of them!) and ask the question that always makes them giggle, “Would you be interested in a referral?” That’s exactly what we ask the three brokers after we’ve determined they are a match with the specifics of your upcoming transaction. And we can ask the very same question even of a broker that you already know!

Yes! If you have a contact person at your charity, let them know you’d like to choose their organization to receive a Charity Support Payment from IIC from your upcoming transaction. It will only take them a few minutes to complete our online charity application.

Yes, if you come to IIC before you sign a brokerage agreement with their company. Otherwise, that broker will no longer be in competition to win you as a client. Brokers, across the country, routinely and gladly agree to take less than the full commission. This happens, for example when the prospective client wants more than one licensee at the same brokerage company to represent them or when the prospective client wants licensees from more than one brokerage company to represent them. We think the latter is probably more common in commercial transactions. But, probably the most frequent example is residential brokers getting referrals from other brokers, for which they are delighted to pay a full referral fee. After all, if they reject the referral, they will not get any of the commission.



Of course you can! Everybody has a friend of a friend who’s a broker. And there’s Google & Yelp. But none of those options will support your favorite charity at no expense to you. IIC can work with any broker you want. But let us contact them first, so we can require them to pay a referral fee if you become their client. And why not let us give you a couple other options for the sake of due diligence?



Our success depends on our ability to provide you with a choice of brokers that are qualified for the specifics of your upcoming transaction. We can even include a broker you already have in mind. With IIC, the priority is getting a good broker for you. Our charitable mission enables you to do social good, regardless of the broker you choose.

No! IIC is not a marketing engine for brokers. We do not accept payment from brokers, in return for our calling them first. Instead, IIC is a resource for consumers – a new way for individuals and companies to use brokered real estate transactions to support their Favorite Charities at no personal or company expense, regardless of which broker they choose for their transaction.