The grant-making group Impact100 Sonoma had much to celebrate at its annual meeting — its 10 year anniversary, a record number of members, and a new annual high — some $314,000 — to be distributed to Sonoma Valley nonprofits in June.
The idea behind Impact100 is simple – gather at least 100 women who each contribute $1000 annually, every penny of which is directly distributed in grants to local nonprofits.
Every year since its founding in 2009, the membership of Impact100 has grown, according to Gera Vaz, co-president and membership chair. “This year the organization welcomed a record 66 new members for a total of 319 – another membership high. This year, $314,000 in grants will be awarded on June 8, bringing the total amount of grant dollars awarded since its founding to $2,376,000.”
“Another year of growth demonstrates the confidence members have,” Vaz told the January 26 gathering. “We have 319 thoughtful women leaders who are making this happen.”
This year, for the first time, we offered Shared Memberships so two women can share the cost of the $1,000 donation to become a member. “We are thrilled to welcome women to join us who might otherwise have financial restraints, and our organization will offer this opportunity for 2020 membership as well,” said Vaz.
The record membership number also includes five women who were selected to participate in the third cohort of the NextGen Program, which provides two-year member scholarships for young women who aspire to become leaders in philanthropy. Proof of NextGen’s success in boosting young women into leadership positions is reflected in the fact that four NextGen members are now serving on the board of directors of Impact100 Sonoma.
At the luncheon, Sonoma Mayor Amy Harrington presented a City Proclamation congratulating the organization for 10 years of exemplary stewardship and support of nonprofit organizations that serve the people, resources and environment of Sonoma Valley, and for empowering women of all ages and backgrounds to become leaders of the community and beyond.
The meeting’s keynote speaker, Colleen Willoughby, is credited with creating the model of collective grant-making. When Willoughby saw how few women served on boards or were decision-makers she founded the Seattle CityClub, now boasting 47,000+ members; when she noticed that women volunteered but it was men who made financial donations she founded the Washington Women’s Foundation; in response to the growing number of collective-giving groups, she started the Women’s Collective Giving Grantmakers Network (WCGN, now Catalist). She continues to be active in women’s philanthropic issues.
“Collective giving gives women, or anyone, the opportunity to be a philanthropist for transformative results because of the leveraged activity of many donors pooling their funds,” she said “Women together will build on opportunities to make things better, stronger and more beautiful for the futures of our children, our God daughters and those yet unborn. God gave us a world to be loved. We must grasp the golden ring and bring that promise back to life. Women’s collective giving funds will be a player.”
After her talk, Willoughby was interviewed by Wendy Hoffman, former co-president of Impact100, and took questions from members. When asked how collective giving transforms women grant-givers, Willoughby quoted Seattle philanthropist Sam Stroum’s definition of philanthropy: “Philanthropy is a connection between the head and the heart. It has little to do with the pocketbook.”
The deadline for nonprofit organizations to submit grant proposals or Letters of Inquiry to Impact100 Sonoma for 2019 is January 31. To honor its 10th anniversary, Impact100 will award a special Anniversary Grant of $50,000.
This is in addition to their annual $100,000 Impact Grant and Community Grants of $5,000 – $20,000. Volunteer Grant Review and Financial Review Committee members will review the grant proposals, visit the nonprofit applicants, and present a list of finalists to the entire membership for voting in May. On June 8 at the Annual Award Celebration all 2019 grant recipients will be announced.