In less than a month, Impact100 Greater Milwaukee has assembled a donor base of more than 100 women who together will disperse more than $100,000 in grants to area nonprofits each year.
The philanthropic organization, which will begin issuing grants to local charities in 2016, belongs to an international group, Impact100, composed of 30 chapters across the United States and Australia.
The international movement is built on a collective giving model fueled by female philanthropists. Within each Impact100 chapter, at least 100 women members donate $1,100 and earn a vote toward the distribution of a $100,000 grant, awarded through a competitive grant process.
Milwaukee’s Impact100 affiliate, announced earlier this month, earned its 501(c)(3) designation in May after several months of preparations by co-presidents Anne Trunzo and Cynthia Harris, both of whom reside in Brookfield.
Trunzo learned about Impact100 from a former college classmate who is active in a chapter in Martin County, Fla. After talking to that former classmate about the premise of the organization and learning about the kinds of what Trunzo describes as “transformative” grants it was awarding, she approached a cadre of Milwaukee contacts about launching a Milwaukee version.
Trunzo and her nonprofit colleagues proceeded to tap the expertise of nearly every Impact100 group across the country to learn best practices.
Broadly, Impact100 Greater Milwaukee aims to develop women philanthropists, connect women with local nonprofits and award grants that will prove transformational. Grant dollars are supported by $1,000 from each member donation. Remaining funds help cover the organization’s operational costs. Impact100 is a volunteer-run initiative.
The organization’s Milwaukee group will consider issuing grants to nonprofits located in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties. Nonprofits must operate with an annual budget that falls between $300,000 and $5 million and also must center their missions in one of five focus areas – arts and culture, education, environment, family or health and wellness.
The funding entity targets organizations that can implement grant dollars within 24 months in ways that are meaningful, sustainable and impactful for the community, according to Trunzo.
After receiving grant applications, Impact100 Greater Milwaukee will complete a multi-stage review process and select one finalist in each focus area. Finalists will present to the organization’s membership during its annual awards celebration in June. Following the presentations, members will vote and the top nonprofits walk home with grants that night. Awards will be broken down into a $100,000 grant, given to the organization that garners the most votes, and smaller dollar amounts given to other finalists.
Impact100 Greater Milwaukee is continuing to expand its membership, which is composed of women ages 21 and older. To join, members must commit $1,100 or a matching grant from their employer to the organization. Each member can then take part in the grant review process and vote for the annual grant recipient.
The organization is a very “participatory” and “democratic” one, Trunzo said, and each member can be involved as little or as much as they want.
While there are no strict criteria around membership, Impact100 seeks women who want to learn more about philanthropy and about nonprofits that are meeting needs in greater Milwaukee, Trunzo said.
With Harris and the board of directors, Trunzo wants to develop an active membership to drive the “hands on” experience of directing dollars, she said.
Membership for the inaugural grant cycle can be secured through the end of the year.
Nonprofits interested in being considered for grant funding are invited to send in a letter of inquiry beginning Dec. 1. More information on grants will be broadcast during an information session on Dec. 3 at the Global Water Center in Milwaukee.
Impact100 traces its roots to Cincinnati and founder Wendy Steele, who has lived with the mantra that “philanthropy should be a party with an open invitation for all to attend.” The first organization launched in 2001 and, since then, the Impact100 movement has generated more than $29 million for nonprofits.
Steele founded the first organization as she realized that women were becoming a powerful economic force, earning and controlling more of the nation’s wealth than ever before, according to Trunzo.
Greater Milwaukee’s own women have embraced the new organization with positive feedback toward its vision of changing nonprofits’ trajectories to help them achieve their missions, Trunzo said.
“I think so many people are excited about the model of Impact100 and awarding transformational grants and getting women to pool their funds together in collective giving,” she said.