Since its inception in 2009, the number of Impact100 Sonoma members has grown from 100 to more than 300. This means that in June, $304,000 will be awarded to nonprofits serving Sonoma Valley, bringing the total amount of grants dollars awarded from 2010 through the 2018 grant cycle to nearly $2.1 million.
Gera Vaz, membership chair and co-president, announced the numbers at the members’ annual meeting on Jan. 27. She also noted that nearly 20 percent of the current membership is new to the organization.
“Despite fire-related personal hardships that have affected many of our members, and the outpouring of community contributions going directly to fire victims, our members believe in the mission of Impact100,” said Vaz. “They value the vital impact of our work to support the near- and long-term needs of our local nonprofits and the community as a whole.”
Impact100Sonoma is a giving circle of at least 100 women who each contribute $1,000 annually – 100 percent of which is directly distributed to local nonprofits serving Sonoma Valley.
The new membership includes four women who were selected to participate in the organization’s second year of the NextGen Program, which provides memberships for young women in Sonoma Valley who aspire to become leaders in local philanthropy. In addition, a grant from the Vera C. Hendry Foundation was announced that will fund 50 percent of 12 NextGen members’ annual donation for up to three years. The Morgridge Family Foundation continues to support the memberships of three additional professional women.
Reflecting on the 2018 record membership, co-President Lynne Lancaster said, “After a difficult year for Sonoma Valley, the needs of our nonprofits have never been greater.”
Lancaster said she’s “thrilled” by the growing membership.
“More than 100 of our members have volunteered to review, discuss and evaluate grant proposals this year,” said Lancaster. “During the process they learn a great deal about philanthropy and get to know our Sonoma Valley nonprofits on a deeper level. Many go on to donate or volunteer directly with those organizations.”
A highlight of the annual members’ meeting, according to Vaz, was a presentation from Beth Brown, president and CEO of the Community Foundation Sonoma, who described her staff’s efforts to create an effective and inspired recovery effort in the aftermath of the October wildfires:
“Long-term operational funding for community recovery requires attentive grant making, and both large and small grants can have a huge impact,” Brown said in a press release following the meeting. “This is maybe, hopefully, a once-in-a-lifetime disaster. The other side of that is that this is a once-in-a-lifetime philanthropic opportunity.”
She described it as a moment to “dig deeper into your wallet, maybe deeper into an issue you care about.”
“The forces of need and challenge, generosity and opportunity are colliding at the same time. (Impact100 Sonoma) is modeling how to rise to that challenge and make a collective impact as one community,” said Brown.
With a Jan. 30 deadline for grant applications near, nonprofit organizations are submitting Letters of Inquiry for the 2018 $100,000 Impact Grant and proposals for community grants ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. Volunteer grant committee members will review the grant proposals, visit the nonprofit applicants, and determine a list of finalists to present to the voting membership in May.
On June 9, the full membership will vote on who will receive grants for 2018. “People love this process because it is a democracy,” said Lancaster. “And because you can be directly engaged, hands-on, in making a difference.”