Ann Pierson and her husband Warren and their six children, Andrew, William, Patrick, Barbara, Amelia and Chloe moved to Oconomowoc from Wauwatosa four years ago. Getting involved and helping others is important to Ann and her family.
“I’ve really been a mom for 26 years and I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to volunteer at my children’s schools and for organizations like the Alzheimer's Association. My husband and I are also involved with the Milwaukee Rescue Mission,” says Pierson.
Pierson didn’t hesitate to jump in after she heard from a friend about a new grass-roots philanthropic organization of women called Impact100 Greater Milwaukee. She wanted to see firsthand what can happen when women join forces to make a significant difference in their communities. Now, she is the organization's special events director.
Founded in 2015, the group collectively awards transformative grants to nonprofit organizations in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington Counties. Women age 21 and older are invited to become members to make a lasting impact on their community through an annual donation of $1,100 ($1,000 to grant funding and remaining $100 supports operational expenses).
The Impact100 concept was launched in 2001 by Wendy Steele in Cincinnati. Today, 38 Impact100 organizations in the U.S. and Australia have granted more than $42 million to nonprofit organizations.
“What a novel idea to get women together to really make a difference. Philanthropy should be a party with an open invite to everyone. The idea is so simple -- one woman, one gift, one vote to determine the winner of a transformative grant,” explains Ann. “For every 100 members, Impact100 Greater Milwaukee will award one $100,000 grant. The more members we have, the more we can award.”
In its inaugural year, Impact100 Greater Milwaukee grew beyond its membership goal of 120 to 218, allowing the group of women to give two transformative grants of $100,000 each to Literacy Services of Wisconsin and Neu-Life Community Development Center. Three $6,000 merit grants were also awarded to Adaptive Community Approach Program of Waukesha, Rebuilding Together Greater Milwaukee and Zachariah’s Acres in Oconomowoc.
Eligible nonprofit organizations are invited to submit grant applications between Nov. 1 - Dec. 30 for programs or projects within one of five focus areas -- arts and culture, education, environment, family, and health and wellness. Last year, 90 nonprofit organizations from all four counties submitted grant applications to Impact100 Greater Milwaukee.
Following a rigorous evaluation process by members, focus area finalists are invited to present to the full membership at the Annual Awards Celebration held in June. Following the presentations, members vote and the grant recipients are announced during the event.
“I’m excited to see it grow -- it’s contagious. This year’s goal is to recruit 325 members so that we can give three transformative grants. It’s an awesome opportunity to work with other women. To come together to give a transformative gift and to see how it can really make a difference is exciting,” says Pierson. “We can do a lot with $1,000, but we can do so much more with $100,000.”