Collective Giving and Foundations: Learning From and With One Another - Exponent Philanthropy
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Collective Giving and Foundations: Learning From and With One Another

Photo from Impact100 Philadelphia

As a co-founder of Impact100 Philadelphia with my colleague Beth Dahle, I have worked in collective giving for the past 14 years. That means:

1. Thinking about member recruitment, engagement and management. This year, we have 454 women members who joined to have their individual donations pooled into our larger collective grants to nonprofits in the Philadelphia region.

2. Wrestling with how our grantmaking (that is, our members’ donations) can have the most impact. In 2022, we will award $435,000 in the form of unrestricted core mission grants of $100,000; operating grants of $50,000; and smaller no-application awards of $10,000 and $15,000 through our pilot Community Awards program.

3. Pursuing ways to engage as many perspectives as we can and advance equity. We always stay focused on our mission of engaging women in philanthropy, raising the profile of smaller nonprofits, and making our community more just, equitable and healthy for everyone.

Collective giving

Since our founding in 2008, members have spoken about how much they learn by participating in collective giving. A member once said, “I think of my donation like a tuition payment—I’m learning so much!”

Some of our members have their own family foundations. They have joined Impact100 Philadelphia, at least in part, to learn ways to strengthen their foundation grantmaking. I recently spoke to such a member, who asked to remain anonymous.

You’ve been a member of both Exponent Philanthropy and Impact100 Philadelphia?

“Yes. At Exponent Philanthropy conferences, we met people involved in other small foundations. There was a lot of diversity among them and in how they operated. We took a lot away from those conversations. We joined Impact to experience the collective giving process. I think more minds mean more ideas. You’re not just giving because of a personal preference, but you’re doing it in an intentional way, in a more formalized process. For us, joining was a no-brainer, really. We saw Impact100 giving grants, doing it so well, and encouraging giving throughout the whole Philadelphia region, through this vehicle of collective giving.”

Have you changed your foundation giving as a result?

“My daughter and I have both served on Impact100 Focus Area Committees, reviewing proposals. At first, my daughter had less exposure to grantmaking. She was primed for learning a lot! We both agree we got so much out of those committees. We learned a lot from Impact100, especially how to better evaluate things like the financial health. Our foundation may do it in a more informal way, but our processes have improved based on what we leaned. As a private foundation, we feel to some degree that we can make decisions based on what feels right. We also learned about a very wide range of nonprofits! A number of them have now received grants from our family foundation. We figured they were well vetted, having gone through the Impact100 process.”

What is it about collective giving that appeals to you?

“I like that you can participate, whether you have time to volunteer or not. If you are on a Focus Area Committee, you are hands on with proposal review. But if you’re not, you receive a really thorough packet of materials about the grant finalists. You have more than enough information to make a decision and cast your vote for the grantees. Even if you’re less involved, you gain a better understanding of how to evaluate an organization. Another thing I value is the exposure to issues affecting our region, and the solutions that nonprofits are finding. More narrowly, that helps our foundation with making our grants. But for Impact100’s members, in a larger sense, this exposure is so important and is such a benefit of membership.”

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About the Author

Mary Broach has 30 years’ experience in the nonprofit sector, in both staff and board positions focused on development, communications, management, and strategic planning. Since 2009, Mary has been a consultant with The New Group Consulting, helping clients with strategic initiatives and organizational development.

Comment

  1. Lisa Silvershein

    I am part of Impact100 SRQ (Sarasota). We are thrilled to have $660,000 to grant this year. It is a wonderful organization. Thanks for sharing the organization and concept with all Exponent Philanthropy members.

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