People across the county may be familiar with a variety of well-known philanthropy organizations, but they may not have heard about a new one that’s operating right here in Westchester.
Impact 100 Westchester is an organization of women from all over the county that started last year, and it aims to make big changes in local communities through collective funding. The basic fundraising method of Impact 100 is simple: each member contributes $1,000, all of which goes towards transformational grants given to underfunded not-for-profit organizations at the end of the year.
The grants are aimed at providing charitable organizations with adequate funding to further address the causes they support. The process of deciding which organization receives a grant is democratic, with each member participating in a final vote to decide where the money goes. Grants are given to organizations in each of the four major categories: health and wellness, arts and culture, environment, and education.
Though this particular branch is new to Westchester, the idea of Impact 100 has existed for several years. There are currently 18 Impact 100s around the country, and according to Donna Seife, the vice president and non-profit coordinator for Impact 100 Westchester, the various branches tend to work together and help new branches get off the ground. She adds that the Westchester branch has benefited from word of mouth among local women.
“What happens is that when women get involved, they tend to bring their friends in to get them involved,” she says. “We’re really proud of all the women who joined us in our inaugural year. It’s so heartwarming and exciting to see the enthusiasm that women in Westchester possess.”
In its first year, Impact 100 Westchester garnered 132 members. Now in its second year, that number is up to 184. With $184,000 in funds to work with, the organization has the ability to make a significant impact on the community. Last year it gave its biggest grant of $100,000 to a local furniture bank called the Furniture Sharehouse, allowing them to invest in essential resources such as new trucks for transporting furniture. As the membership of Impact 100 Westchester continues to grow, so will the outpouring of funds to the local community.
Seife believes that Impact 100 is not only beneficial for the community at large, but also for the members who join.
“Impact 100 is about harnessing the power of women and letting women learn from each other,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to be in a room with like-minded people who like to get things done.”
When asked about goals for the future of Impact 100 in Westchester, Seife insists that the sky is the limit. She admires the branches that have already established themselves firmly within their communities (such as the one in Pensacola, Florida that has over 800 members), and she hopes that a similar future is in store for the Westchester branch.