Impact100 Sonoma is a women’s giving circle and a community grant-maker. We are part of a national community of 22 other Impact100 organizations in small and large cities around the U.S., and five in Australia.
It’s a simple concept that has an extraordinary impact. Here’s how it works. When a Member joins, she makes a pledge to give a tax-deductible donation of $1,000. Members pool their gifts, review proposals and vote on which nonprofits will be the recipient of the $100,000 Impact Grant and the smaller Community Grants. It’s One Woman – One Gift – One Vote. Every cent of each Member’s membership contribution – 100% – goes directly to our grant recipients and is guaranteed to stay within the Sonoma Valley.
Impact100 Sonoma is managed by volunteers and, as a result, has a modest operating budget which is funded through individual gifts, sponsorships by local businesses and interest income.
Do giving circles shift money away from individual nonprofits already supported by the community?
No. Nonprofit organizations and their board members, donors, and supporters should not worry about giving circles diverting funds away from causes and individual organizations already supported in the community. Giving circles cause members to give more and give more broadly, rather than shift giving away from individual nonprofits. That equates to more charitable dollars and more donors in the community. Giving circles provide a gateway for people to become first- time donors.
Do giving circle donors make their charitable donations only through their giving circles?
No. Members of giving circles give more, on average, than donors who are not in giving circles. Giving circle members give to a larger number of organizations compared to other donors. Research indicates that giving circles cause members to increase their overall charitable giving. Donors actively involved in a circle’s grant making decision process give the most overall. Giving circle members are more likely than other types of donors to make multi-year gifts.
Do giving circle members give to organizations that don’t have the capacity to use the funds wisely within the established grant implementation period?
No. Giving circle members give very strategically. They are likely to give to advance a vision for change, conduct research to help decide on which organizations to fund, support general operating expenses in addition to or instead of specific programs, and check organizational performance data when making funding decisions. Giving circles enhance the giving strategy of donors by helping donors’ gifts to be thoughtful and beneficial to nonprofits.
Are giving circle members fully aware of the issues impacting the communities in which they live?
Yes. Members of giving circles are highly engaged in their community. Giving circles help donors to learn about community organizations, issues, and solutions. Giving circle participants report that their giving circle involvement has caused them to gain greater knowledge of philanthropy, develop a better understanding of the challenges facing nonprofits operating in their communities, and gain an increased understanding of the personal day-to-day struggles of individuals in need. Giving circle members believe in the positive impact of giving on the health of their community.
The answers to the above frequently asked questions are based on an in-depth report released in May 2009 entitled The Impact of Giving Together: Giving Circles’ Influence on Members’ Philanthropic and Civic Behaviors, Knowledge and Attitudes, by Angela Eikenberry and Jessica Bearman.