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Impact100 Philadelphia members consistently report that participation in the grant making process is far more gratifying than originally anticipated. Many confirm that this is their primary motivation to join and rejoin Impact100 Philadelphia year after year. Our organization’s leadership has analyzed this process, solicited feedback, revised and refined definitions and procedures to develop the best possible methods to evaluate nonprofits in our community. Toby Gang and Sandy Lazovitz, our Grants Co-Chairs, conducted information sessions attended by 132 nonprofit organizations this fall to generate excitement, answer questions and explain ‘the mission and grant applicant eligibility requirements for Impact100 Philadelphia.

After meaningful research and reflection, in 2017, Impact100 Philadelphia elected to award Core Mission grants. Our goal, to allow nonprofits to put dollars where they are most needed, resulted in significant growth in the number of letters of inquiry we received from local nonprofits. The 220 organizations which indicated interest in applying for support from Impact100 Philadelphia represent a whopping 30% increase from last year. These numbers are proof positive that our efforts to serve our community in the best way we can has broadened our reach and created enthusiasm and energy among our constituents.

Some members are curious as to how the Letters of Inquiry are sorted and evaluated. It is interesting to note that applicants identify the specific focus area for which they would like to be considered. Of course, many nonprofits cross the boundaries of our focus areas. For example, it is possible to fit neatly into both the “Family” and “Health and Wellness” area, but it is up to the nonprofits to chose one.

Groups of members with at least two years of service on Focus Area Committees read every single one of the applications. It’s not an easy process, and members sometimes report concern that community needs are too overwhelming, that no amount of money or innovative programming will alleviate the suffering caused by deep poverty, addiction and homelessness in the Philadelphia area. However, readers find hope and resilience in the Letters of Inquiry Impact100 Philadelphia receives. Interest is piqued in evidence based programs, advocacy and new solutions to decades old problems. We want to hear more.

This year, 79 organizations have been invited to submit Full Proposals to Impact100 Philadelphia: more than ever before. Teams of women will read, evaluate, visit, consider and deliberate as our grants process moves forward. We look forward to selecting five outstanding organizations, among the many qualified applicants, to introduce to our full membership in June. The art, science and magic of grant making is in full swing for 2018.

Special thanks to Wendy Peck for her reflections.