Impact 100 Northwest Florida is one of the largest nonprofit grant providers in Okaloosa and Walton counties. A chapter of the national IMPACT 100 movement, IMPACT 100 is based on a very simple concept; 100 women each donate $1,000 and 100% of the donations are joined together to create $100,000 grants for local non-profits to be used in transformational projects. The local chapter has grown to over 500 women and last year donated $508,000 in five separate grants. Since the local chapter was founded in 2012, Impact100 Northwest Florida has donated over $2.7 million to area non-profits.
That’s the great news… the more difficult reality is that every spring the group starts over with zero members and holds member recruitment events across our area to renew memberships and sign up new members. With the COVID-19 situation, many events were put on hold forcing the group to form new strategies for renewals and getting the word out to new members. In addition, IMPACT 100 board members wanted to find a way to help local non-profits benefit not only from the $100,000 grants to be awarded in the fall, but to also somehow help them to meet short term and intermediate needs brought on by the COVID crisis. Local non-profits were contacted and a wish list was formed which can be accessed at www.ImpactNWF.org/EmergencyWishlists.
Interview with Cindy McCue, 2020 President – IMPACT 100
What is the primary mission of IMPACT 100?
Our mission at IMPACT 100 of Northwest Florida is to financially support nonprofit organizations in Northwest Florida, bridging the geographic areas of our region and leveraging the talents of our members to be a positive force for good in our communities.
How did you become involved with IMPACT 100?
A friend was talking about it at a neighborhood lunch. I heard her say “100% of your donation goes to the grants”. I called her later to ask her about it because so many times I had given money to a charity that looked like such a good cause and later found that 75% of my money was going to administrative costs. I didn’t realize until I talked to her that 100% also stays local in Okaloosa and Walton County. I was SOLD!
How does IMPACT 100 select the nonprofits it supports?
The number of members determines the total amount given each year. Each member donates $1000 and 100% of that is given in the grants. The grants are always a minimum of $100,000. In 2019 with 508 members we gave five grants of $101,600 each for a total of $508,000.
The recipients are chosen by our members. After the nonprofits apply in late spring, they are first reviewed for financial stability, then our review committees visit every applicant to learn more about their specific transformational project. The grant committees bring forward two finalists in each of our focus areas for a final vote by all members at our annual meeting.
Does IMPACT 100 have regularly scheduled events?
IMPACT 100 has membership recruiting events and member socials. They are often hosted by our wonderful community partners, such as Ruth’s Chris, Tuscany, Solaris, Surfing Deer, Twisted Grape, and Bay Café. Our members and prospective members gather to hear about IMPACT 100, and hear from a prior grant recipient. We also have had events at prior grant recipient locations such as Gulfarium and Emerald Coast Science Center, so they can show the members how their donation was used.
There are no required meetings and members like that they can be as involved as is desired. At our social events in the summer, members get together, network, and just enjoy the comradery. We have two special events every year. Our ‘number reveal’ usually in May, but it is unsure when it will be held this year. That is when we announce the total dollar amount we have for the grants for the year based on how many members have signed up. Our second big event is our annual meeting where our members hear from the two finalists in each grant category and then vote on who will receive the grants. It is a very special day for our members.
If a member chooses to work on a standing committee such as finance, communication, or membership, those committee meetings are held throughout the year. Special committees such as grant review committees or our annual meeting committees meet at specific times during the year. Involvement can range just like the ebb and flow of life and our members appreciate that. The only “requirement” for membership is a $1,000 donation. It is important to note that ALL of the work of the organization is done by the members and thus there is no administrative cost deducted from the $1,000 donations. This is one of the most unique things about IMPACT 100 and the reason many members join… They know that 100% of their donation goes to our nonprofit grants.
What grants were most recently awarded to help the community?
We have 5 focus areas of service and we were able to award a grant in each of the areas. Arts and Culture: Muscogee Nation of Florida will be developing a museum in a historic three room school house, along with a film of local history. Education: AMI Kids will fund a Career Coordinator for GED students age 16-24; Environment: Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance will fund oyster shell recycling program and seagrass bed restoration for a healthy Bay; Family: A bed 4 Me is providing beds to children without beds in Okaloosa county; Health: Destin Harvest will purchase two additional trucks for recovering food from grocery and restaurants to be delivered to shelters and food distribution centers.
What is the greatest challenge facing IMPACT 100?
Every year we give away 100% of the grant monies collected for that year and we start at $0 again collecting memberships. We work hard at renewing members and recruiting new members to grow our grants. This year the Covid-19 crisis forced cancellation of several member recruitment events and operationally, necessitated moving our board meetings to Zoom. We have extended our deadline for membership to May 31st and are trying hard to meet our goal. The financial challenges to many of our members and the astronomical needs of our nonprofits is a double hit this year. As we come out of this crisis, we expect that the emotional and financial trauma will be great and the women of IMPACT 100 want to be able to meet as many of those needs as we can, so we need more members!
We have a category of membership called ‘Evergreen’. These special members pledge to renew every year. IMPACT 100 also wants to develop a new generation of generous women. It is for this reason that we now have a category of membership for women under 40 called NextGen. NextGen memberships are partially sponsored by other members during their first two years. This is a great way for young professionals to tap into the vast connections of IMPACT 100 while developing their personal philanthropy.
Is IMPACT 100 specific to Destin or is it part of a larger, national organization?
IMPACT 100 of Northwest Florida is specific to Okaloosa and Walton County. There are 53 other Impact 100 chapters around the country and in Australia, but each one stands alone. The chapters of IMPACT 100 share information and ideas and a common model developed in 2001 by Wendy Steele, but each chapter stands alone.
What is one thing you want readers to know about IMPACT 100?
One of our founding members said it best. “We are not looking for wealthy women, we are looking for generous women.” The needs of our community moving through 2020 and beyond after the COVID crisis cannot be overstated. We invite all generous women of Northwest Florida to join us in making an impact in Okaloosa and Walton counties!
Our membership deadline has been extended to May 31st! Visit our website www.ImpactNWF.org to find out more and join. To view the emergency wish list compiled from area nonprofits go to: www.ImpactNWF.org/EmergencyWishlists