I’ve heard a lot about Impact 100 Baldwin County over the years and knew it was a group of women who were collectively making a difference throughout Baldwin County communities. 

The organization first came to my attention a few years ago when Impact 100 Baldwin County made a large grant to the Daphne Search and Rescue organization to acquire a new underwater sonar system. This was a year after the horrific storm that affected the annual Dauphin Island Regatta sailing race. The results were devastating. I was curious to learn about this group that supported this important volunteer company, whose mission was underwater search and rescue. 

Impact 100 has been whirring around in my brain for a while, so I asked one of its members, Ellen Dyas if she could help me arrange a sit down so that I could learn more about what they do. I met with the president, Sandy Stepan, and President-elect, Bailey Stitt, and Aeana Carpenter, Communications Chair to be educated in this amazing organization.

Simply put, Impact 100 is a group of women who believe in women’s philanthropy, and they make a big impact through large grants to 501.c.3 public charity nonprofits that are doing good work important to the well-being of this area. The first Impact 100 group started in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2001. The model asks a minimum of one hundred women to come together with a commitment to contribute $1000 each annually.  The funds are pooled and awarded to selected organizations yearly.  Today, there are 68 chapters of Impact 100 throughout the US and globally.

In the Scenic 98 Coastal area, there are three chapters. Mobile’s Impact 100 chapter was formed last year. Pensacola Bay Area Impact 100 chapter began in 2003 and has over a thousand members who have collectively contributed over $15 million to the community.  Impact 100 in Baldwin County was formed in 2008 and they have granted more than $5 million to date.  

Each Impact 100 chapter is independent yet aims to best address its community’s needs. The concept of pooling resources for greater impact has taken off. The Baldwin County chapter has 450 members and is now hosting Mix & Mingle membership drive events for those interested in learning more about the organization. Their goal is to reach 500 members by March 31, 2023.

After the membership drive in April, the number and amount of each awarded grant for  2023 will be announced. Last year, five nonprofit organizations received grants of $109,000 each. The five areas on which they focus are Arts, Culture, and Recreation; Education; Environment and Preservation; Family; and Health and Wellness. The process for selecting which nonprofit will receive a grant is rigorous. 

Each Impact 100 chapter is a registered 501.c.3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization. 100% of members' contributions are awarded annually. The fiscal fundraising drive begins December 1 each year, and members have until March 31 of the following year to complete their $1000 pledge. Members are under no obligation to be involved beyond their contribution, but there are plenty of opportunities to be active participants. 

As an old fundraiser myself, I was impressed by how thoroughly the grant applicants are given the guidelines for qualification and the transparency with which grants are awarded. Impact 100 hosts workshops that any nonprofit can attend. They go through the application process and explain how organizations should prepare. The first step to receive an application,

is a letter of intent that shows interest in applying for a grant.

Once all applications have been submitted, the review process, including an in-person visit to each applicant, takes about eight to ten weeks. Then there is an “Evening of Impact.” All members can attend and the top two finalist organizations from each of the five categories speak to the group about their organization and the purpose behind their grant request. At this point, each Impact 100 member votes for their favorite in each of the five categories, and the grants are awarded that evening.

A grantee has 25 months to complete their project. All projects are monitored closely to assure that funds are spent within the confines of the grant application and the project budget. Once a project is completed, any unspent funds will roll over into the next year's grant funding pool, therefore ensuring that a member's $1000 donation will always be used for grant projects that are benefiting the citizens of Baldwin County.

Being involved in Impact 100 allows members a first-hand look into the nonprofit world of the unsung heroes who are the glue that holds our Baldwin County communities together. “It’s a real privilege to work with these organizations,” says Sandy. “Any woman 18 years or older can become a member of Impact 100.” Impact 100 is an all-volunteer organization. 

“There is no limit to how large we can grow. We started with one grant 15 years ago and have now awarded 53 grants to 41 nonprofits so far. We encourage women to check out our website if interested in filling out a membership application or just learning more about us.  There is also information for a member of the nonprofit community who may be interested in applying for a grant.” 

To say Impact 100 is making a significant difference in the communities in which they live is an understatement. It’s the power of women coming together to make a difference throughout the Scenic 98 Coastal community! 

That’s a beautiful thing indeed, and we owe each of you our heartfelt gratitude!

Feb 1, 2023
Community Endeavors

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