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Some conversations stick with you—and that’s what happened when we connected with Impact Fairfield County (Impact FFC) to learn more about their collective giving circle, which brings a group of people with shared values together to collectively discuss and decide where to make a pooled gift. Giving circles provide support with their dollars, but also build awareness, volunteering, creating opportunities for becoming board members and more.

Based on the Impact 100 model of collective giving, this beautifully simple, incredibly impactful concept has created a powerful way to engage women of Fairfield County, Connecticut in local philanthropy on a deeper level. Founded in 2015 by Wendy Block and Vicki Craver, their goal was to gather at least 100 women in the area to pool their contributions to make significant philanthropic investments in local nonprofits. Today, they continue to unite women around the mission to reach underserved populations and improve the lives of those in their local community with large, transformational grants. Keep reading to learn more about their inspiring story.

Women Are Leading The Way

Did you know that 70% of giving circles are majority women? As Impact FFC has shown, amazing things happen when women come together. For instance, a $1,000 donation on its own can have some impact. But what about a $100,000 donation? That can be life changing. That’s exactly what Impact Fairfield County and hundreds of other Impact 100 groups around the world are doing. Impact 100 groups bring together at least 100 women from within their different communities. Each woman donates $1,000, allowing the groups to pool their contributions and make $100,000 grants to select nonprofits each year. It is money from within each community going right back into the local community.

The Group Is Growing

The response from women in Fairfield County has been tremendous. In the eight years since its founding, the group has grown to about 260 women. As a result, Impact FFC is able to make two $100,000 awards each year, plus a donation for general operating expenses to each of the finalists. In 2022, the group funded New Reach, which works on issues of homelessness and affordable housing, for an eviction prevention program. In addition, nOURish Bridgeport, which fights food insecurity, received the second grant to expand its indoor urban hydroponic farm.

“Impact is a stop-and-think gift,” says Katharine Lumby, the organization’s co-president, about the $1,000 price tag. “We want our members to be invested in the work that we’re doing.”

Not only do women give, but about half of the members also vet proposals, poring through audited tax returns and doing multiple site visits to get to know the organizations well. While some women in Fairfield County—home to some of the wealthiest zip codes in the U.S.—have no problem making the upfront donation, others have to budget for it. Still others can’t afford it. Last year, Impact FFC awarded 14 scholarships to women who wanted to take part in the grantmaking process but didn’t have the financial means. A scholarship subsidizes the cost of full membership.

“We want every single person who wants to be at the table to be at the table,” Lumby says.

To learn more about IFFC and their mission, click here.

We hope you have enjoyed our posts highlighting women in philanthropy this Women’s History Month. As we close out this last issue, we want to say thank you to all the women, past, present and future, who are propelling philanthropy forward. We hear you. We see you. We celebrate you.

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