The Impact of Giving
So much of our culture has changed for women in the past century, giving us rights that were once only bestowed upon men: the right to vote, the right to own property, the right to higher pay, and even the ability to own our own businesses. While we may have long had a role in philanthropy, the ways of being involved seemed limited, as well.
Inspired to create a new outlet that allowed women’s philanthropic pursuits to be expanded and more encouraged, Wendy Steele founded Impact100 in 2001. At its core, the organization sought to empower more women to find their voices as activists and impact their communities through large grants. A year later, Impact100 became a nonprofit and donated its first grant of $123,000. In 2003, Impact100 was featured in People magazine, which served as a catalyst to beginning a movement. Now, Steele’s model has been replicated in cities all over the world and only continues to grow.
The idea behind Impact100 is just as it sounds: 100 women donate $1,000 each to form a $100,000 high-impact grant that allows a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to accomplish their goals and change lives. “This model of philanthropy is known as a giving circle, and its goal is to make a significant impact in the community through large grants to area nonprofits,” explains Anne Irving, Corporate Giving Chair of Impact100 Baldwin County. “Our goal is to reach 500 members each year, enabling us to give five $100,000 grants—one in each of the five focus areas of arts and culture; education; family; health and wellness; and environment, preservation, and recreation.