Impact100 WA was started in late 2011 by a group of friends who wanted to contribute something significant to their community.
It began with a discussion about how to make philanthropy easier for those around us and was fuelled by an introduction to the work of the Impact100 groups in the US. The idea is simple: encourage 100 people to give $1,000 annually, pool the funds, and make an annual high impact $100,000 grant to local, less well known, community organisations.
We launched in 2012 and, two years on, we have so far granted $245,000, and are enjoying a membership of around 90 (and there’s still over a month to go until the next grant is decided) and that’s not including our 30 YoungImpact100 members – the new philanthropic Australians aged 6 to 18.
How do we attract members?
- Our first year was very much spent approaching our friends and dragging them in! Some were very keen, others were just happy to help us out in the first year, some were unable to get involved, and some were not interested at all (yet!).
- We did lose about a third of our initial membership in the second year but interestingly, we have just seen many of these people re-join in the last few weeks, having skipped a year altogether. One of our recent newsletters was sent to ‘lapsed’ members, which appears to have re-galvanised them.
- We seem to have had good retention from last year to this – suggesting that we now attract steadier members who are in for the long haul.
Our current policy for recruiting new members is:
- We still hope to bring in friends but have now expanded this policy to encouraging our members to also get their friends involved.
- We host occasional coffee mornings and evening events, as well as some public (free) talks to which everyone is invited – and then encouraged to join up! It has resulted in only a handful of new ‘sign-ups’ but it absolutely raises our profile and is, therefore, very worthwhile.
- We have realised that our Grant Awards dinner is an extremely powerful motivator because it is such a feel-good event. This year we are holding it in a larger venue and inviting our members to make up a table of potentially interested friends.
- We are also grateful to GivingWest, which has been excellent at pointing potential members in our direction.
Valuable lessons learned:
- Every event is a recruitment drive. We have a sign-in sheet at the door of each event (so that we can follow up with guests) and we always have information flyers for attendees to take away, as well as lots of members on-hand to spread the good word.
- Despite us offering many opportunities for involvement, and despite many people saying how keen they are to get involved, the reality is that only a core interest group will actually follow through.
- It’s important to realise that some people just aren’t interested, however much we want them to be! Everyone has his or her own priorities.
- Food and drinks are a failsafe drawcard…
About Sophie Chamberlain
Sophie Chamberlain is one of the founding committee members of Impact100 WA and she is heavily involved in the communications and grant assessment sides of the group’s work.
“This is the best role because we get to find out about all the amazing organisations that are doing great things for our community,” she says.
“I love how we are making ‘meaningful giving back’ so much more accessible, easily achievable, and FUN!”
Sophie has a background in IT, is on the board of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, and also helps to run the Chamberlain family PAF.
Want more guidance on growing a giving circle?
Australian Women Donors Network: Giving Circles – The power of giving together
Colleen Willoughby: Something Ventured – An Innovative Model in Philanthropy
Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers: A Handbook for Giving Circle Hosts