Sector trends

The joys of collective giving circles: Impact100 WA

Collective giving can increase the number of people donating and raise awareness of the array of impactful work being done by organisations operating across our community.

01 March 2023

The joys of collective giving circles: Impact100 WA

Collective giving has been growing in Australia over the past ten years. When you understand the benefits for those involved, it’s easy to see why. Of particular interest has been the momentum behind collective giving circles where a group of people pool their donations to make high impact, targeted grants.

The increasing popularity of these groups is worth exploring for potential donors and grant recipients as well as others interested in learning more about the for-purpose funding landscape.

To help explain and demonstrate, we’ll use Impact100 WA as an example.

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A bit of background

First introduced in the US, the ‘Impact100’ giving circle concept became international when a chapter was founded right here in Western Australia. Since launching in May 2012, Impact100 WA has given away over $2.4 million in direct grants to 45 separate charities operating across the State and has inspired a number of similar giving circles to be set up around the country. Other successful giving circles in WA include Impact100 Fremantle, 100 Women, Arts Impact WA, and Meridian Global.

So how does it work?

Giving circles enable individuals to amplify the power of giving. People come together to pool their funds, time and expertise in order to make bigger, more transformational grants and share due diligence. For example, with the Impact100 model, 100 people get together and each donate $1,000, which creates a fund of $100,000 to be given away.

Within the circle of donors, some will have time and desire to fully examine applications, some will have expertise or knowledge in specific areas and some may just wish to come along for the ride. For all of them, they know they are part of creating some powerful outcomes, achieving more together than they could on their own.

What’s in it for the donors?

Donors are assured of making a powerful impact with their funds – for Impact100 WA, 100% of their $1,000 donation goes straight to charities doing the work on the ground.

As part of learning about what makes good philanthropy, they can:

  • Discover and investigate the local charities addressing the issues in their community.
  • Get directly involved in the decision-making process by reading applications and attending site visits to see charities in action.
  • Be part of voting to determine who gets shortlisted for a grant.
  • Listen to presentations or ‘pitches’ by the selected finalists, and then make a vote for their favourite (the ones with the most votes win the grants!).
  • Receive follow up information about how the grant funds have been used and the impact the support has had on the organisation and its beneficiaries.

They get to take part in this experience with many like-minded people, sharing knowledge, stories and joyous occasions.

Why should not-for-profit organisations consider applying for these grants?

Being awarded a grant from a giving circle can be game changing for an organisation seeking to take the next step in its evolution. New projects can be trialled, or investments in new equipment or ways of working can support on-going sustainability.

Beyond the opportunity to receive a grant is a range of other significant, potential benefits related to the exposure received from applying.

Charities report that having to go through the process of planning an impact-focused application has helped crystallise their thinking around goals, outcomes etc.

Professional coaching is provided to those reaching the finals to help them to prepare their ‘pitch’ which can be applied to other fundraising situations.

The work of the applicants receives wider exposure which increases awareness of the needs and opportunities that charities are addressing. This in turn can lead to more donors, more volunteers, more advocates for their cause and even new Board members who can bring specific skills to help take the organisation forward.

Furthermore, the due diligence undertaken by giving circles on behalf of their donors means others can be confident in making private donations to these charities. Impact100 WA estimates that an additional $1.15 million has been donated to finalist organisations to help them achieve their aims as a direct result of donors learning about them through the collective giving process.

Finalists also make connections with other charities involved in the process. Sharing the stage and learning more about each other’s work is great for seeing the potential for collaborations and sharing information. For example:

  • Zonta House were able to send their female clients along to Dress For Success for job-readiness training and clothing fitouts.
  • Dismantle’s bike programs have provided opportunities for students who are part of Dandjoo Darbalung’s support program.
  • CARAD were able to pass on details of the company that ‘dressed’ their food truck when Midlas needed to sort out sign-writing for their mobile office truck and Cycling Without Age wanted their logo placed on their new trailer.

Can you give me an example of how these grants are transformational?

An early Impact100 WA grant went to EON Foundation who wanted to trial a new model for establishing edible community gardens in remote Aboriginal communities including education, training and local employment opportunities. They used the $100,000 grant to successfully demonstrate a new way of delivering their nutrition-focused, healthy lifestyle and disease prevention program. 

Impact100 WA donors could see how their support had helped to build a significant sustainable change for people in this community – kids were engaged in growing, cooking and eating healthy food, their families, school and community were provided with fresh fruit and vegetables and had greater engagement with the school. For EON Foundation, having proven their concept, they were able to leverage this success to obtain $6 million in Federal funding to extend their program across WA and the Northern Territory. These outcomes are far beyond what individual donors to Impact100 WA could have achieved with their single $1,000 gift.

What does this mean for giving in WA?

Collective giving can increase the number of people donating to charities and raise awareness of the array of impactful work being done by a wide range of organisations operating across our community.

‘Philanthropy’ is a concept often associated with only the very wealthy. Giving circles can provide an engaging and achievable way for people from all walks of life to connect with a group of like-minded individuals who want to work together to make a real impact in their community. They are usually run by volunteers who help to harness time and talent as well as treasure (i.e. donations) to help the organisations who make a difference to people’s lives.

You don’t have to have to be a millionaire to get involved but knowing how your donation has been invested and seeing the outcomes that are achieved can bring a wealth of intrinsic benefits: doing good, feeling good and knowing that your contribution has made a real impact. Who knew that giving could be so much fun?


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Acknowledgement of Country

The Western Australian Community Impact Hub acknowledges and pays respect to the Traditional Owners of the land on which we are based, the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation and extends that respect to all the Traditional Owners and Elders of this country. We recognise the significant importance of their cultural heritage, values and beliefs and how these contribute to the positive health and wellbeing of the whole community.