A Decade in, This Women's Giving Circle in Philly is Going Strong. Can it Woo Millennials?

One grant by Impact100 went to supporting senior citizens. photo: Marlinde/shutterstock

One grant by Impact100 went to supporting senior citizens. photo: Marlinde/shutterstock

Impact100 Philadelphia, a women’s giving circle in its 10th year, is going full-steam-ahead at its decennial. Last month, the funder named five grantees for a total of $387,000—a pool created by $1,000 from each of its 387 members. It also announced the launch of a new program called, “The Young Philanthropists,” which will reduce membership fees for women aged 21 to 35.

Giving circles are playing an increasingly significant role in U.S. philanthropy. As Inside Philanthropy reported in 2017, the number of circles has tripled since 2007. While many Philadelphia nonprofits continue to struggle financially, grants from circles like Impact100 Philadelphia can make a huge difference.

Impact100 Philly’s five annual awards are made up of three core mission grants and two operating grants, in the areas of arts and culture, education, environment, family, and health and wellness. Five finalists presented their causes at the annual meeting in early June, and members voted on their awards. This year’s grantees are:

Core Mission Grants of $100,000:

  • The Nationalities Service Center, which teaches immigrant women English, provides a path to citizenship, supports refugee resettlement, and offers trauma survival counseling for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, employment services, health care, and family strengthening services.

  • The Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly, or CARIE, which supports senior citizens in accessing “appropriate levels of health care services to maintain independence” with a focus on vulnerable individuals who are ill, living in poverty, or lacking social support, along with their families.

  • Hopeworks, which provides information technology training and internships to youth and young adults coupled with “concentrated emotional, academic, and social support.”

Unrestricted Operating Grants of $43,500:

  • Taller Puertorriqueño, which “preserves, develops and promotes Puerto Rican arts and culture.” It also supports increased appreciation for other Spanish cultures and delivers diverse arts programming to students and adults.

  • Philadelphia Orchard Project, or POP, which plants and tends city orchards. It works with other community groups to help locals “become good stewards of their neighborhoods.”

Impact100 Philadelphia began to give core mission grants in 2016, as opposed to traditional project grants.

“We have broadened our grant criteria to allow nonprofits to tell us what they most need to fulfill their mission,” board member and grants co-chair Emily Biscardi told Inside Philanthropy at the time.

Impact100 Philadelphia invites interested millennials to a Young Philanthropists Kickoff later this month, on July 24. Women who join this program will get a discounted buy-in price of $575, which is 50 percent off. Only about 30 of the groups’ current members fall into the 21-to-35 range, and it hopes to build up its future leadership through this initiative.

"Millennials will bring diverse perspectives to our organization and grantmaking process and help us to sustain Impact100 Philadelphia into the future," Impact100 Philadelphia co-presidents Madge Rothenberg and Carolyn Ashburn told Inside Philanthropy

Supporting community-centric nonprofits in Philadelphia may have a strong appeal for younger donors. Millennials are more strongly driven to engage locally than nationally, according to a 2017 Millennial Impact Report.

Also on the horizon for this giving circle is the national Women’s Collective Giving Grantmakers Network, or WCGGN, Conference in Philadelphia in October. Impact100 Philadelphia is the local sponsor for the event called, “Changing the Face of Philanthropy,” which will host hundreds of representatives from WCGGN’s 60 member organizations.