I sat down with CEO Joe Neri, and the Senior Lender of the Columbus Office, Omar Elhagmusa to talk about IFF – a mission-driven lender, real estate consultant, and developer that helps communities thrive. They are unique in that they lend specifically to non-profits, and provide the wrap-around real estate services that are generally outside a non-profit’s core expertise.
IFF grew out of a need in Chicago, where non-profits were asking for grants to fix up some of their leased spaces – and they really didn’t have the capability or financial instruments to make it happen. What IFF realized was that traditional lenders appraised properties, and lent money with very specific objectives in mind… but what non-profits needed was a much different mechanism.
Since non-profits aren’t in it for the money, they really don’t cultivate the real estate expertise that they need in the long term. IFF realized that they could provide that expertise, as well as sound financial backing for non-profits. It still needs to make financial sense – but it’s not about turning people away and only funding the winners. It’s about coaching everyone to the point that they can fund them down the road.
IFF takes a very long-term approach to work with companies because the growth of non-profit missions can span decades. Joe actually has some cool success stories in the podcast, watching a food pantry grow from a small pantry to a much bigger, well-established entity.
What struck me time again throughout the podcast, was the attitude of “we’re here so that non-profits can focus on their mission and who they’re serving” – taking the burden off the non-profits to be real estate experts, and focus on what they do best. Their company mission is to fund everyone… (just not necessarily today) – so clients are approached with the sense of how what’s needed for them to realize their mission.
IFF is expanding rapidly in Ohio to become a full-service provider – so if you know of any non-profits with real estate needs, have them reach out to Omar Elhagmusa to kick-start the conversation.
You can find Omar’s contact details on IFF’s website.