I’m a Financial Advisor, so why am I writing about giving? Perhaps it’s the ROR, the rate of return. If you could turn $1,000 into $100,000 in one year, wouldn’t you? You might think that kind of ROR impossible, but there is a place in the charitable world where it happens. I have done just that for five years and counting through organizations in my community, Impact100 Martin and Impact the Palm Beaches, that empower this kind of return.
The key word is “impact.” I can give $1,000 and know that I am helping, but I don’t really see or feel the results. While I’m sure the organizations are grateful for my donation, it is not making a noticeable difference, and I’m not as yet financially equipped to make larger gifts. However, when I band together with a hundred other people, each giving the same amount, we make an “impact.” A donation of $100,000 can allow the organization we vote on and select to make a substantial change: serve a previously underserved population, fill a need, expand a program, or otherwise make an impact in the community it serves.
In the Impact groups I’m involved in, the 100 people are all women. One woman, one thousand dollars and one vote. It’s a simple model, but it is powerful and speaks to how women give.
A January 2021 article in the New York Times described how women are changing philanthropy. “Wealthy women giving their money and time away is nothing new. But for many decades, those who were married did so in their husbands’ names, or more quietly, without wide recognition. A study published in 1985 that followed 70 female volunteers in ‘high society’ for several years found that the unpaid work the women did was often unrecognized or belittled.”
However, the article continues, “in recent years, with the rise of women in the workplace and the growth of movements centering their experience, women’s giving has become a subject of study by professionals in the nonprofit world and by academics.”
The article quotes Dr. Debra Mesch, an educator and expert on women’s philanthropy: “‘Gender matters in philanthropy,’ Dr. Mesch said. ‘Men and women engage in philanthropy differently. One is not better than the other. They’re just different.’ For example, research has shown that single women give more than single men (a Barclay’s report said that among high-net-worth individuals in America, women give nearly twice as much as men do); that in marriage, women socialize their husbands into giving; and that women are more likely than men to engage in group giving.”
Breaking tradition takes time, but giving circles like Impact100 allow for real change. People participate in these groups for various reasons. They want to know that their contribution is making an impact; they want to be apart of something bigger; they want to have a say in the direction of a large gift; they want to learn more about their community’s needs and the organizations serving those needs. We have found in our own giving circle that the grants process often results in our members donating their time to the organizations. They benefit from the process and become passionate about the mission of the organization. It’s a win-win for our community, as these organizations all need volunteers, board members, and professional expertise, as well as funding.
The Impact model also levels the playing field for donors. My vote is equal in value to each of those of my fellow members. And collectively we’re making my gift, everyone’s gift, do more. We’re expanding the philanthropic opportunities in the communities where we live and work. And, perhaps what I love most about the grants, they are sustainable and will have an exponential impact on our community for years to come.
The Impact model is simple and can be easily replicated. It can empower philanthropic-minded people to make their money go further, get a bigger ROR. If you have an Impact group or similar giving circle in your area, consider participating. If you don’t have one, and you are driven to make an impact, consider banding together with like-minded individuals, and using the resources available to you locally, such as a United Way or Community Foundation, starting your own.
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