Viewpoint: Double Your IMPACT – PNJ

Viewpoint: Double your IMPACT

I’m still glowing from being able to give away $1,025,000 in grants last October to 10 local nonprofits. My feelings of pride, satisfaction, joy and gratitude will last all year.

“Lucky you. Wish I had that kind of money!” you may be thinking. You do, just not by yourself. In truth, the 10 grants of $102,500 each were funded by1,025 women in our community. How? By joining forces as IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area.

The concept is simple: Each woman gives $1,000 annually, 100 percent of which goes to fund grants. There is no paid staff; expenses are covered by donations; and professional management is provided by passionate, capable member volunteers. Each year, IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area awards grants of at least $100,000 each to 501(c)(3) organizations that serve Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in the areas of Arts & Culture; Education; Environment; Recreation & Preservation; Family; and Health and Wellness.

IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area is not the only IMPACT 100 organization in the country (or even the world, as now there are five in Australia), but it is the largest of 26.

What’s the motivation? Improving the community is at the heart of every IMPACT 100.

The mission statements of the various IMPACT 100 organizations are similar; our local one is:

To know and serve the community.

To collectively fund significant grants to charitable initiatives.

To set an example of effective philanthropy.

Interest in starting IMPACT 100 locally began when Debbie Ritchie read a magazine article about the success of the first IMPACT 100 organization in Cincinnati. She and several other women researched the steps to form one. Initially, they hoped to attract 100 women to this new venture, but 233 joined, and they were able to award two grants of $116,500 each to Habitat for Humanity and Interfaith Ministries that very first year, 2004, despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan.

Other than a slight dip in 2007 (that darn recession), we have continued to grow in membership and the number of grants awarded. Since its inception in 2004, IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area has awarded 57 grants to 48 nonprofit agencies, totaling $6,176,000. Imagine how much has been accomplished in our community as a result!

We are thrilled with the outcomes of our efforts, certain that every woman in every IMPACT 100 organization feels that same sense of accomplishment. The completion of projects that may never have been otherwise feasible has been exciting. We have grown in part because our community can see the projects that we have funded; can meet the people impacted by the grants; and can feel the difference we have made through our effective model of philanthropy.

We will continue to grow because we understand the positive power of collective giving.

As a bonus, the very act of an agency applying for a grant has its benefits, too. We call this the impact of IMPACT, whereby the applicant is often able to attract additional volunteers and donations to help further their mission. Many committee members who make site visits find themselves donating their time and resources when a cause touches their heart.

Any woman age 18 or over can join IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area during the 2015 membership season which ends March 1. The organization is holding a series of free informational events for women who might be interested in joining. Nonprofits interested in receiving a grant must submit a Letter of Intent to Apply by April 30, and grant applications are due in June. Visit our website – www.impact100pensacola.org – for dates of upcoming events.

Kathleen Vestal Logan, M.S., M.A, is a member of IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area.

http://www.pnj.com/story/opinion/2015/02/06/viewpoint-double-impact/22996233/