SOUTHERN INDIANA — The Women's Foundation of Southern Indiana is working toward making a bigger community impact by harnessing their collective power.
At a meet-and-greet at the Pepin Mansion in New Albany Tuesday, organization leaders announced a new model for fundraising that is aimed to focus resources for dramatic changes.
Impact 100 Southern Indiana, a local initiative based on a global model, brings together donations that can be combined to go toward something much bigger than individuals in the organization could accomplish alone.
The goal is to raise $100,000 through 100 individual donations of $1,000 each and award it in the fall to a nonprofit organization serving women or families in Clark, Floyd or Harrison counties.
The donations can come from individuals or split among up to four people, each $1,000 carrying one vote in the say of where the larger sum will go.
The Women's Foundation, which has been around for more than a decade, has always focused on helping the community through scholarships or other grants. But by redirecting donations in this way, they can make a much bigger impact.
“We just thought, 'This is a way to really impact our community,'” advisory board member Beth White said. “There's no other way that any one [member] could do that.”
Lindsey Neely announced the new initiative to the roomful of mostly women Tuesday night, with excitement on the new direction the organization is taking.
“I've been in the fundraising business and the event business and there is not another model like this,” Neely said. “This is truly a grassroots effort [and] we are going to make a big difference right here in the community in which we live.”
To help determine where the most need in the community is, the foundation commissioned a baseline study of women and girls of Clark, Floyd and Harrison counties.
Meaningful Metrics, compiled by the Applied Research and Education Center at IU Southeast, takes a look at five core areas in the needs assessment — changing lives, promoting health, supporting education, building financial independence and empowering well-being.
Requests for proposals will go out in June, and organizations will be scored based on criteria satisfying these categories. The three top-scoring groups will present to the members at an annual dinner in September, where they vote for the group that will get the $100,000 for this year.
“One of the most powerful components of this model is that it's 100 percent in and 100 percent out,” Neely said. “And so 100 percent of that is going to the grant recipient.
“Women coming together to meet those needs ... we just know it's the start of something big and we could not be more excited about that.”
Since the entire $100,000 will go toward one group, community members can still help sponsor in other ways — by becoming an event sponsor, committee member or a member of the Hazel Society. This means a $100 donation to go toward help with operating costs and is in honor of the Women's Foundation founder, Hazel Bales.
The number $1,000 is meant to connect the donors with their cause even further — for many members this amount represents a need to budget, so when it is given, it takes on more meaning.
The parent group also sponsors several other membership options — two applicants will be selected for a matching membership, which means they pay $500 but get full benefits. They must agree to serve on the committee for two years.
The Young Philanthropist Program is designed to introduce people 18 to 39 years old to the concept. It supplies a portion of the $1,000 donation for three years, while the member serves on the committee.
Kerri Cokely, president of the advisory board, said she expects this model to take off.
“Our community has lots of inspiring leaders and they have ideas, just waiting to connect with the right partner to make it happen,” she said. “I think we're going to see amazing things happen.”
White said these are just the first steps in a movement she hopes will continue to grow.
“I think of it as we're planting a seed,” she said. “We have a very lofty goal and we may not see the tree, but we're going to plant that seed and we're going to hope that it continues to grow by other women joining and seeing the excitement we have.”