In 2003, a group of local women met in Pensacola, Florida with the idea of giving life to effective philanthropy in our community. They wanted to make a significant difference. They had just the idea to transform their collective efforts and resources into a viable plan of action.
The inspiration came from a group of similarly-minded women in Cincinnati, Ohio. Wendy Steele had the idea to promote philanthropy among women. In 2001, she mobilized close friends and business associates to form a nonprofit operating as IMPACT 100. The concept was simple, yet ambitious. The Cincinnati founders recruited 100 women to donate $1,000 each, and collectively funded a $100,000 grant to a charitable initiative which demonstrated the potential for community impact and sustainability.
The IMPACT 100 model was so successful that it was picked up by the national news media. Debbie Ritchie made it her mission to bring IMPACT 100 to her beloved Pensacola. The founding board of IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area brought together not 100, but 233 women. With the $233,000 collection, the grass-roots philanthropy funded two grants, each for $116,500. For every 100 members recruited in a given year, IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area is able to incrementally fund charitable initiatives in amounts not less than $100,000.
Qualifying 501(c)(3) organizations are invited to submit applications in one of five focus areas, all of which IMPACT 100 deems vital to community service. The object is to (1) cultivate, develop, and enhance the cultural and artistic climate; (2) further the educational process and improve access to education for children/and or adults; (3) restore, preserve, revitalize or enhance the facilities, surroundings and/or recreational opportunities; (4) strengthen and enhance the lives of children and families; and (5) improve the physical or mental well-being of people living in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
Since 2003, IMPACT 100 members leveraged their collective resources to fund 47 grants to 39 nonprofits. A total of $5,151,000 has been invested to revitalize our communities. Today, the women of IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area are as committed as they were in 2003. They remain steadfast in their mission to know and serve the community, to collectively fund significant grants to charitable initiatives, and to set an example of effective philanthropy. In spite of its growth from 233 to 1025 members, IMPACT 100 continues to be an all-volunteer organization with 100% of membership dues used to fund the grants.