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Making an impact


A women-run organization votes yearly to help local nonprofits in a big way.

Malena Lott October 5th, 2011

Some women get together for bunko on Thursday nights. Others pool their money in a bigger pot and scream when someone else wins at the end of the night.

 Such is the annual scene for Impact Oklahoma, the nonprofit organization comprised of communityminded women who donate $1,000 a year to impact the quality of life in Central Oklahoma in five focus areas: family, culture, health and wellness, environment and education.

Then they gather to listen to five nonprofit finalists’ pitches, and decide who will be awarded the funds.

right, Theresa Todd

It’s “The X-Factor” for the good deed crowd. Impact Oklahoma’s membership co-chair, Theresa Todd, said she joined seven years ago because 100 percent of her donation went directly to the selected nonprofits.

“The power of one — one woman, one vote, $1,000 dollars — multiplies into $100,000 grants for nonprofits in Central Oklahoma,” she said.

Unlike most organizations where a staff and board of directors decide how donors’ money is spent, each member of Impact Oklahoma gets an equal say. Based on a strategic grant process beginning each March, eligible nonprofits enter for a specific project, not operational expenses or annual appeals.

As Impact Oklahoma grows — it’s now at 278 members — so does the pot of money given annually. Started in 2003, the organization has the goal of 500 annual members so that each key area can be awarded $100,000 in donations each September.

Since its inception, Impact Oklahoma has awarded $1.5 million in charitable grants, impacting local organizations with 14 $100,000 grants and eight smaller ones. Past beneficiaries have included Calm Waters, YWCA, Girl Scouts, Food for Kids, Boys and Girls Club and many more.

The 2011 awards included:

—$100,000 to the City Rescue Mission to create the Impact Hunger Food Pantry, a grocery store-style food distribution center serving the most impoverished in the community; —$100,000 to NewView Oklahoma to establish a vision clinic that will serve 1,530 patients annually with funds used for the purchase of optometric equipment as well as portable vision assessment; and —$79,500 to Homeless Alliance to expand its program to help more than 200 homeless families.

Todd said one of her most memorable experiences was witnessing two new members — both daughters of current members — be a part of the beauty of philanthropy: “Watching their faces as the night evolved, hearing the stories from the nonprofits and seeing how a simple concept can make an impact to so many in our community.”

For more information, visit impactok.org.

Photo by Mark Hancock

 
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