OVERVIEW: Impact100 Philadelphia is a women’s collective that funds $100,000 program grants to local nonprofits in five focus areas. This organization does accept unsolicited letters of inquiry once per year for project support. But keep in mind that to be eligible for one of these grants, your nonprofit must be located in the counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or in the county of Camden, New Jersey.
FUNDING AREAS: Arts & Culture, Education, Environment, Family, and Health & Wellness
IP TAKE: This is a very accessible and approachable funding group that is a great resource for all kinds of lesser-known charitable causes in the Philadelphia area.
PROFILE: Impact100 Philadelphia is a women’s collective giving organization that provides high-impact grants of $100,000 to local charitable initiatives that reach underserved populations. This is a unique grantmaking model that pools together the money of Impact100 members, who are women that can commit to contributing at least $1,000 each year.
A major goal of this organization is to increase women’s philanthropy in Philadelphia, as well as raise awareness about worthwhile, lesser-known charities in the region. This grantmaking group was patterned after the original Impact100 in Cincinnati, which has been operating since 2001 and donated nearly $2 million in local grants. Impact100 Philadelphia was founded in 2008 by Beth Margel Dahle and Mary Broach. It awarded its inaugural grant in June 2009 and provided grants totaling $2,025,000 in its first eight years of operation.
One thing that caught our attention about this funder was that every dollar donated by members goes directly toward grants. Interest earned on the collective fund and donations made specifically for operations pay for administrative costs. Impact100 won the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ “New Generation Philanthropists” award in 2010 and PathWays Trailblazer award in 2009.
We asked Impact100 Philadelphia Co-President, Jacquie Stern, about where the largest funding needs lie in Philadelphia and what focus areas are most important to her organization. Here’s what she said:
Like our name says, we are looking to fund projects that will have a large impact, with priority given to organizations targeting an under-served population or highlighting unmet needs in the greater Philadelphia area. We also look to fund organizations that may not have traditionally had access to grants of this size ($100,000), specifically those with operating budgets between $300,000 and $5 million. We have five focus areas: Arts & Culture, Education, Environment, Family, and Health & Wellness. Five finalists, one from each focus group, present to our membership at our Annual Meeting in June and the grants are awarded that night.
Impact100 gives priority to projects that target underserved populations, and preference is given to nonprofits that have annual operating budgets between $300,000 and $5 million. To learn about the types of organizations that Impact100 Funds, check out the foundation's Grant Recipients page.
Impact100 looks for arts and culture initiatives that improve arts education and participation in the arts. Education funding is open to opportunities for both children and adults. Environmental initiatives should improve urban spaces, preserve/revitalize facilities, or educate the public about environmental concern. Family initiatives should enhance the lives of children, and health initiatives can be for either physical or mental health.
Here’s what Stern had to say about how Impact100’s funding strategy differs from that of other foundations:
Our grant-making process is different from a professional foundation because each one of our members comes from a different background with different experiences, interests and ideas. Our process is collective from start to finish, with members reviewing proposals, going on site visits, reviewing financial statements and, ultimately, voting on the grant awards. One woman, one vote, so our 377 members will collectively award $377,000 to our five finalists in June at our Annual Meeting. Three finalists will receive $100,000 project grants, with the additional $77,000 being awarded as unrestricted operating grants for all five finalists.
Impact100 Philadelphia uses an online application process for both letters of inquiry and full proposals. Your only option is to apply for a $100,000 project grant, as leftover funds are distributed as unrestricted operating grants after the project grants are decided upon. Site visits are regularly conducted as part of the process after full proposals are narrowed down.
We’ll leave you with a piece of advice that Stern has for potential grantseekers in Philadelphia:
We fund high-impact grants of $100,000 so we ask nonprofits to present a proposal for a new or expanded project. Our members aren't afraid to take risks, so while our grant-making process thoroughly vets the organizations we fund, we encourage our applicants to dream big and share those dreams with our members. Our most successful grantees have been able to show our members the impact the money will have on people in our community.
This is a foundation that believes in transparency, and the best place for new nonprofits to start is on the Grant Applications Overview page. Grant recipients are voted on by Impact100 members during the annual meeting in June. General inquiries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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