August 3, 2010; Source: Wall Street Journal | For those of you that do not already know, the Wall Street Journal now prints a “Donor of the Day” column that has become a must read for many. Yesterday Suzanne Sunshine was profiled. This author knew Ms Sunshine at LISC where she was the unsung hero in LISC’s program for helping CDCs develop supermarkets in low-income neighborhoods.
Last year, she started a private, for-profit real estate brokerage and consulting firm specializing in nonprofit office space. In an era of much-hyped, short-on-evidence innovations, S. Sunshine & Associates LLC operates on an innovative model. On every deal, she arranges for 10 to 50 percent of her real estate commission to be returned to the client or an associated charity. In her first year of operations, she has made a profit and returned over $100,000 to New York charities.
After having worked for big time commercial brokers, she realized that she could alter their business model for social benefit: “I was giving 50 percent of my commission to the brokerage firms I worked for and thought there was better use for the money,” she says. Not only does she find space for nonprofits, she works with individuals and businesses interested in seeing part of their broker commissions go to charity. She also helps nonprofits negotiate or renegotiate leases or sublease excess space.
Sunshine only takes three or four nonprofit clients at a time, and does so only after a very thorough review of their finances, governance, and viability. Sunshine does all of this without an L3C, a foundation PRI, or a B Corp designation.—Rick Cohen