For seven years, I’ve been a proud board member at Building Impact, an innovative Boston-born non-profit which has engaged the city’s Commercial and Residential Real Estate Community for its noble mission: supporting local non-profits by harnessing the collective energy, resources and goodwill of companies and individuals in buildings.
It all began back in 1998 when Paradigm Properties CEO Kevin McCall had the novel idea to connect more than 20 nonprofits with the tenants of buildings owned or managed by his company to organize building-wide charity events. This arrangement was formalized as Building Impact in 2003 and, today, it facilitates community service for 575 companies and 20,000 individuals in over 50 buildings, channeled to 200 nonprofits in Greater Boston.
McCall recognized the tremendous amount of untapped potential for those who live and work in Boston. Still, not all individuals are natural activists or inclined to do the research to identify the quality organizations that have the greatest impact. That’s where Building Impact comes in; offering a plug-and-play business model for thousands of individuals to make a real difference in their community. It will vet the nonprofit, look for only preeminent organizations to partner with, and negotiate the terms of engagement.
Never in its history has Building Impact been more relevant or had more potential for growth. It appeals to young professionals by tapping into social networking, both online and in-person. Volunteering, happily, is viewed by this generation as a way to network, to meet new people, and to help the community in a way that just writing a check does not.
“We really tap into the altruism of the millennial generation,” said new CEO Diana Brennan, “They want to make a significant impact and are all about work/life balance.”
Brennan was brought in to help strengthen the organization so Building Impact can experience growth in Boston and, eventually, beyond. While the next real estate market in which to leverage the B.I. model has yet to be identified, it is one of Brennan’s top priorities over the next 18 months. She sees the way Building Impact partners with nonprofits–and customizes volunteer experiences to their needs–as her organization’s competitive advantage.
Building owners are among a city’s most powerful figures and one of its most valuable resources. The theory that you should give back to the less fortunate in a community in which you own a large piece of capital isn’t just a quaint notion, it’s a conviction that should drive every building owner to act.
Not only does Building Impact provide a real need for nonprofits, it creates a sense of community. Boston has benefited from this call to action. Which city should be next?