By Hook Harmeling, Senior Director

Raising money in your professional career rarely translates to your personal life. We may live and breathe our profession, but generally I like to try and have some time to decompress. While I may do that from time to time, I never stop raising money.

The Ryan Gibson FoundationIn 2001, I lost one of my best friends, Ryan Gibson, to leukemia. Ryan not only was one of my best friends, he was my biggest fan. In order to try and continue his legacy and to help fill a void, I started a nonprofit that raises much-needed research dollars, called The Ryan Gibson Foundation. (

What I didn’t realize when I started the foundation was how much tougher raising money for a nonprofit is, versus my day job here at Metropolitan Capital Advisors, where I raise money for commercial real estate developers and investors. To make it even more challenging, I chose (or rather Ryan did for me) to fund research, which has no face. Rather than introducing you to a young, promising senior in high school that needs a scholarship, I have to point to a sterile lab filled with scientists. No homeless food shelters to help those in need, but rather more mice to buy to test the theories. Basic science research is where all great therapies and drugs start, but it does have a name and moreover, research does not provide instant results.

In real estate, you are going to usually have a chance to get your money back, while in leukemia research, you are never going to see that money again. You write the check and away it goes on the quest to find a cure. Where it starts to get interesting though, is in the returns on your investment.

You may see a 15% return on your real estate project, but you will never save someone’s son from another chemotherapy shot. You may be able to even re-invest that money time and time again, amassing a fortune, but you will never be able to save a daughter’s life.

We may live and breathe real estate investment, but we oftentimes are reminded, what is ultimately a more important investment in the long run.