February 6, 2013
All grant-making organizations must raise funds, manage their boards, evaluate applications, and administer grants. But it is those organizations that make a discernible impact in the community that are the true exemplars.
No one knows that better than the six New Jersey women working through the Community Foundation of New Jersey (CFNJ) to start their own grant-making organization, and it’s why they’ve made impact the name of the game — literally. “Impact 100 Garden State” is in its formative stages, but aims to have a meaningful impact in the community by supporting one nonprofit organization per year with a significant grant.
The concept is relatively simple: 100 women each contribute $1,000 to the organization, which then solicits applications from nonprofit organizations and holds a vote to select one grant recipient for that year’s total amount of funds. By focusing the entire fund on one organization per year — rather than a multitude of worthy causes — the impact is especially meaningful.
“Women love to be able to join together and make a difference in the community,” says Carole Garibaldi Rogers, the original convener of the group. “And for those women who couldn’t give a $100,000 grant on their own, they have a real sense of involvement with what we’re doing together.”
In fact, the Impact 100 model is being used to great success across the country and around the world. In Cincinnati, for example, the local chapter of Impact 100 has distributed over $1.8 million to local nonprofits since 2001. According to the group, the benefits are realized not only by the recipient organizations, but also by those organizations “whose good works have been reviewed, discussed, and seen first-hand by the members of the organizations … [and who] have received other grants or funding as a direct result of the exposure gained through their application to Impact 100.”
As Impact 100 Garden State grows, its two primary goals are to raise funds and begin accepting grant applications in January 2013. These tasks, which are major undertakings in their own right, are made manageable due to CFNJ’s handling of all the other aspects of the program, including its fiscal, legal, and compliance requirements. With CFNJ serving as the organization’s “incubator” in the short-term, the six women who founded the group are able to focus on what is most important.
“We are going to be talking with our own networks and inviting other women to participate so that we can raise the funds to really make a difference,” says Kathy Teti, another founding member of the organization. “When we put all the money together in one bucket, every woman who contributes will have a say in the grant decision, and is invited to be involved in our evaluation process.”
The organization will accept applications that cover one of five main focus areas: family, education, health and wellness, environment, and arts and culture. To be considered, applicants must have a current or planned project in Morris, Somerset, Passaic, or Sussex County. The organization will review applicants’ financial information and conduct extensive site visits.
“That is what’s kind of exciting about this,” says Bonnie Gardner, one of the founders. “We really don’t know what organizations will apply. And so we’re going to do the research and visits and identify some especially well-run organizations that could really benefit from a grant of this size.”
Once a small number of applications are selected as “finalists,” there will be a full meeting of the membership at which those finalists will give presentations. The members will then vote to select one nonprofit that will receive the funds. The decision is announced and the grant is made that night. The recipient has 24 months to utilize the funds and must apprise Impact 100 Garden State as to their progress.
“This whole concept is simple, it is easy, and it makes an impact,” says Kathy. “We’re focused on the next year or two and making this an annual event, and after that, I’d like to see this continue in perpetuity.”
Given the group’s enthusiasm for the Impact 100 model and their collaborative work with CFNJ, it is only a matter of time before their impact is felt across the state.
To learn more about Impact 100 Garden State or to get involved, please contact CFNJ.