Alpha Home representatives receive their $100,000 grant check at Impact SA's 2016 Grant Award Night. Credit: Courtesy / Impact SA

Having lived in San Antonio most of my life, I am proud of our community and its development throughout the years. I also feel a strong sense of ownership and responsibility for making it a better place to live for everyone who is proud to call it home, especially since we have been so richly blessed.

Because there are so many wonderful nonprofits serving the greater San Antonio area, it’s challenging to decide where to put your philanthropic dollars in order to make the greatest impact. I’m sure I’m not alone in facing that quandary. I want my dollars to make a real impact, and I want to know exactly where they are going.

Six years ago, I found an organization that meets these criteria. I have been a member of Impact San Antonio, a women-powered philanthropic nonprofit that empowers its members to make a significant difference in their community. Impact SA is part of a growing movement of women’s philanthropy that follows the Impact 100 model founded in Cincinnati in 2001. There are now more than 40 such organization across the globe with only two in Texas – San Antonio and Austin. All follow a very simple but powerful methodology.

Through collective grant-making, Impact SA combines its members’ donations and awards $100,000 grants to local nonprofit organizations. Each year the organization invites existing members to renew their financial commitment and new women to join this impactful organization. For each of us, it boils down to a personal decision about where we decide to invest our philanthropic dollars.

Here are the top five reasons that drive my decision to renew year after year:

  • Return on investment: I’m able to amplify my giving times 100. Every 100 women who contribute $1,000 create a $100,000 grant that we award to nonprofits serving Bexar County and its contiguous counties. My contribution dollars grow exponentially and are invested locally.
  • Philanthropy made personal: I see my “fingerprints” on the high-impact projects that are funded by the women of Impact SA, as I get to vote on how the grant dollars are distributed. I know exactly where my dollars are going and how they are being spent.
  • Relationships formed by a common goal: I have met and formed lasting relationships with women I might never have met otherwise, despite having grown up in San Antonio. We share a common bond of trying to make this community a better place for all our residents. The new relationships also extend to the agencies we have supported. I have become so much more aware of the richness of our nonprofit community and how I can make a difference.
  • Efficiency and stewardship of contributions: One hundred percent of my membership contribution goes toward the grant pool, making this one of the most efficient and effective forms of giving that I’ve ever experienced. I know where and how my dollars are spent. Once the grants have been awarded, Impact SA stays connected to the agencies, providing significant oversight throughout the entire grant execution.
  • Freedom to choose my involvement: We call it “membership on your own terms.” If all you have time to do is write a check, that is perfectly acceptable. But if you want to attend informative, inspirational, and fun events, serve as a volunteer, or even become president, there is freedom and opportunity for that as well.

Impact San Antonio is in the last days of its membership drive, which ends June 15. Since the organization was founded in 2004, the vision has been to achieve the membership strength of at least 500 women to award five grants, one in each of our five focus areas: Arts and Culture, Education, Environment/Recreation/Preservation, Family, and Health and Wellness.

All five of these areas are critical to any community that wishes to survive and thrive.

Last year we broke all records and, for the first time, had the membership strength to award four grants. What an impact we made as we awarded $100,000 grants to Alpha Home, Bexar County Partners for Youth, Family Service Association, and Providence Place. Visit our website to see the other nonprofit organizations that have been beneficiaries of the more than $2.2 million awarded since Impact SA’s inception 13 years ago.

We invite all women to join us in our Drive for Five. You can go online and watch an informative video to learn more about the organization and the impact we have made. Hopefully you’ll make your own decision to join the women of Impact SA and make a tremendous difference in our community while receiving so much in return.

Beverley McClure is president of the board of directors of Impact San Antonio.