In response to the effects of the coronavirus on Sonoma Valley, Impact100 Sonoma, a local women’s collective grantmaking organization, has suspended its traditional grant review process and instead will divide its pool of $303,000 equally among all 23 grant semi-finalists
With its typical annual disbursement, one nonprofit is awarded $100,000 grant. This year, 23 organizations will each receive $13,170 in unrestricted funds. (full list included below).
The move is intended to directly benefit the local Sonoma Valley nonprofit community, many of whom are serving frontline roles in providing immediate relief and basic necessities to the hard-hit community.
While this is an unprecedented move for the 11-year-old organization, Grants team member Dana Simpson-Stokes believes it is very much in keeping with Impact100’s focus on “trust-based philanthropy,” which recognizes that nonprofits themselves are best-positioned to make decisions about what they need, and will do so wisely. Simpson-Stokes said, “In Sonoma Valley, we are uniquely poised to apply this concept because we are a small community and our local nonprofits are well-known to us.”
For an organization that prides itself on the simplicity of its “one woman, one vote” concept, the decision to distribute the funds without a vote of the full membership on a slate of finalists was not taken lightly. As Co-President Lynne Lancaster remarked, “We gave this long and thoughtful consideration. We truly believe in the democratic philosophy of our giving group; however, we wanted the money to be available very quickly, and it would have been nearly impossible to vote on proposals that were written before this pandemic. Ultimately our dedicated board came to this decision, and we hope our members will be proud of the impact their funds will have by making these exceptional trust-based gifts during this challenging time.”
With one out of every three of its 303 members serving on a Grant Review Committee, Impact100 traditionally engages in a thorough vetting process of paper screening, financial review, site visits, committee nomination, and finally a vote by the full membership on a slate of finalists. Early last month, the Grant Review Committees had reached the third stage, with candidates identified for site visits. However, it quickly became apparent that this process would not be able continue given the widespread disruption and the shelter-in-place order.
While reviewing all available options for proceeding with the distribution of $303,000, the Grants team made the final recommendation to divide the funds among the candidates identified for site visits. Co-President Claudia Sims praised the careful deliberation of the Grants team, saying “this situation is without precedent, but our team thought of everything and we’re grateful to them and to the 23 organizations we’ve entrusted with our funds.”
The 23 recipient organizations: