Women Donors in Search of Impact: What's Up With This Philadelphia Giving Circle?


Around this time last year, we checked in with Impact 100 Philadelphia, which is a women’s giving circle that had $380,00 to spend on local nonprofits in 2016. Well, it seems that membership has declined a bit, because there is only $360,000 available for Philadelphia nonprofits in 2017. There are 360 members now, but they’ll still be giving out three core mission grants of $100,000 and two unrestricted operating support grants of $30,000.

Related: $380,000 is up for Grabs for Philadelphia Nonprofits in 2016

But what’s most interesting about this opportunity isn’t the membership; it’s the changing focus. The idea of core mission grants is a new one that the women are trying out to be even more responsive to local groups.

Emily Biscardi, board member and grants co-chair, explained the funding shift like this:

Core Mission Grants can be used for existing or new primary programs or services, necessary improvements to infrastructure, or other initiatives to strengthen the nonprofit in its work in the Greater Philadelphia area. We have broadened our grant criteria to allow nonprofits to tell us what they most need to fulfill their mission

Core mission grants are a departure from the traditional project grants that have defined Impact 100 giving for so long. Instead of funding only new or expanded projects, this new support can be for primary programs or services, necessary improvements to infrastructure, or nonprofit strengthening initiatives. And this isn’t the only change going down. Impact 100 Philadelphia is also lengthening the time that grantees have to expend the $100,000, from 15 months to 24 months.

A statement issued by the foundation shared:

These changes come as the result of a year-long strategy planning process and a close look at the effectiveness of Impact 100’s grantmaking. Philanthropic research has found that restricted project funding can hamper a nonprofit’s ability to implement core programs, leads to an under-investment in infrastructure and is linked to poor performance.

However, some things are also staying the same. The focus areas will continue to be arts and culture, education, environment, family, and health and wellness. And all funding is still restricted to the Greater Philadelphia area. Initial letters of inquiry are due January 3 to be considered for these 2017 core mission grants. Through its collective funding process, this giving circle has given out over $2 million locally since 2008.