I am involved with a wonderful collective giving group here in Central Texas, called Impact Austin.
We have just concluded our recruitment season for the coming grant year and I had coffees and lunches with many women over the last few months, telling them my Impact Austin story, and answering any questions they had about becoming a member.
Often, when we share our stories and knowledge with other people, we seem to understand them better ourselves, and that is exactly what happened for me. As I listened and talked, I realized the genius that had gone into designing Impact Austin and its purpose.
The way I expressed this was to say to my new friends, “Impact Austin was designed by women, for women…and so it takes into account the many roles we fill throughout our lives.”
Just think about our twenties, when school or perhaps the beginning of our career or family filled our time. Then our thirties, when some of us were deep into child rearing, PTA and family and others were equally deep into building a successful career. Our forties, when some of us who married and started families young were already looking at empty nests and coming grandchildren and others were just now getting our chicks off to college…and our career women were nearing the top of their career ladders. Then our fifties, sixties and seventies, when some of us found ourselves with time on our hands and others were totally overwhelmed with the combined needs of our families, caring for aging parents, and careers or retirement activities on top of all that. Women do it all, and yet somewhere, there exists the time to give back to our communities in myriad ways.
Throughout the country, we find our niches and do what we can, but the beauty of collective giving is that it makes it possible for us to make a bigger impact than we ever thought possible. And to do it on our terms, within the limits of our resources and our time availability. There is no age limit in collective giving. Genius!
Impact Austin makes high impact philanthropy available to a huge spectrum of women. Any woman can join, and all they do is contribute $1,000 to the grants. Note: In 2015, a membership fee was added.
The goal each year is always to give out five $100,000 grants to area nonprofits in the focus areas of Culture, Education, Environment, Family, and Health & Wellness. Some women can easily write that check and others save a bit each month in order to pay their membership in November, but all have the very same benefit. They have one vote in each of the five focus areas and the majority will choose the winners each year.
This is all great stuff, but the beauty I discovered this year as I talked with so many different women at different points in their lives, is that Impact Austin is for every woman at every age. If your life is hectic, and all you can handle is your donation and voting for the finalists at the annual meeting in June…no problem! If you have a bit more time at this point in your life and you want to volunteer for a focus area committee, evaluating the actual grant applications, learning more about philanthropy than you ever thought possible, and even visiting the nonprofits as part of the finalist process…no problem! Or, let’s say you travel all the time with your business or husband and you don’t have a continuous chunk of time to donate…no problem! There is another level of volunteering called the Committee Cabinet, that allows you to donate the skills and time that you have in an area of interest.
There is something for everyone. One of the highest amounts of time and investment in Impact Austin is at the Board of Directors level, where there are monthly meetings and work is done year round, and that is also the right job at the right time for some of us.
So, is Impact Austin or a local collective giving group in your area right for you? You won’t know until you ask?