Women have always been the backbone of philanthropy, and the generous women in Indian River County are no exception. They’re on nonprofit boards, they chair committees, organize fundraisers, plan galas, and host luncheons.
In the Summer of 2001, the late Ellie McCabe established Women & Philanthropy (W&P) to educate women about charitable planning and giving. By December 2003, Ellie had a vision of supporting the nonprofits in Indian River County in a new way by encouraging broader engagement from women in the community. W&P began thinking of forming a women’s giving circle.
Here’s where serendipity comes in. Susan Hopkins, who was deeply involved with W&P, read an article in “People” magazine that featured Debbie Ritchie, founder of Impact 100 Pensacola. Debbie was invited to speak at a W&P breakfast meeting in October 2008, and ignited a spark.
To move the effort forward, an Impact 100 “Leadership Team” was formed where responsibility was shared among five women—Laura McDermott, Nancy Lynch, Sherry Brown, Sue Hopkins, and Sandy Rolf. Ellie donated the professional expertise of Lenora Ritchie, who was executive director of what later became The Robert F. and Eleonora W. McCabe Foundation. She and Kerry Bartlett, who was executive director of the Indian River Community Foundation (IRCF), helped establish the infrastructure. Dace Stubbs donated the seed money to cover expenses.
By December 2008, after hours of meetings, Impact 100 of Indian River County (Impact 100 IR) was formed. The W&P steering committee morphed into the Impact 100 IR board.
The women went to work recruiting members. They held neighborhood parties, made phone calls, and wrote personal notes to invite friends and acquaintances to join. The rise in the “power of women” both financially and in the workforce made the timing perfect for starting a local chapter of Impact 100. They recruited 205 members in the first year, and awarded two grants in April 2009 for a total of $205,000.
The first two recipients were the Exchange Club’s Family Service Center and Treasure Coast Food Bank’s Backpack Buddies Program, which provided food for hungry grade-school children to take home for the weekend. In the beginning, Impact 100 IR was under the IRCF umbrella. By 2017 it was going through some major growing pains and wanted to be independent. On July 1, 2019, Impact 100 IR officially became its own 501(c)3 with its own charter, bylaws, and board of directors. According to Amy Acker, who was on the board and president during the transition, this was a major milestone for Impact 100. “We had to have our own accounting, insurance, website, and governing body. We hired our first contractor to help with administration and went online to manage our membership database,” she explains. “It was a big leap of faith, and we made it happen.”
Today, Impact 100 IR is one of the largest chapters in the world. With almost 500 members, the women of Impact 100 IR have awarded more than $6,000,000 in grants to 58 nonprofits in the past 15 years and funded 96 critical projects in Indian River County.
We truly are working together to help make our community a place where every person has the opportunity to thrive.
15th Anniversary Celebration - Share to Care
In celebration of 15 years of investing in our community, Impact 100 Indian River hosted Share to Care, a nonprofit community fair, showcasing over 40 nonprofits that have received grants or merit awards during our first 14 years. Check out our slideshow of photos from this event.