Giving Circles in N.J. Payout $3.48 Million

More than 1,100 New Jersey women have joined one of the four women’s giving circles hosted by The Community Foundation of New Jersey (CFNJ) and have made nearly $3.5 million in philanthropic gifts.

Through Impact 100 Essex, Impact 100 Garden State, Impact 100 Jersey Coast, and Impact 100 South Jersey, 1,100 New Jersey women have made 40 grants to nonprofits totaling $3,488,500. Most grants were for more than $100,000, with some smaller awards to additional finalists, according to an announcement from CFNJ. The foundation has $460 million in assets.

Impact 100 Garden State was founded in 2013, with 135 women joining together to make one $135,000 grant. Now in its seventh year, Impact 100 Garden State, led by president Merle Johnson, has more than doubled in size with 346 members who have granted more than $1,697,000 to nonprofit organizations serving Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, and Union counties to date.

“The concept for Impact 100 was and remains simple,” said Carole Rogers, who first brought the Impact 100 idea to the Garden State.  “When we approached the Community Foundation of New Jersey in late 2012 to launch the state’s first Impact 100, the idea was for 100 women to each contribute $1,000 to the fund, which would then solicit applications from nonprofit organizations and hold a vote to select one grant recipient for that year’s total amount of funds.”

Impact 100 Jersey Coast, the state’s second chapter, was launched in 2016 and has granted a total of $1,167,000 to projects in Monmouth County in its first four years. “The growth has been astonishing,” said Heather Burke, co-founder of Impact 100 Jersey Coast. “Impact has resonated with hundreds of women from all walks of life in our community and has touched the lives of many thousands more through the projects we have supported with our shared dollars. The story we are telling throughout our state offers a new model of philanthropy and collective action.”

Impact 100 Essex was founded the following year and will have granted out more than $395,500 in Essex County by the end of this month. “We revel in the collaboration of the engaged and diverse women of Essex County and the many inspiring local non-profits working to make our communities stronger, safer and more just,” said Margo Greenfield, who is a co-convenor of Impact 100 Essex.

Impact 100 South Jersey, founded in 2017 through the Community Foundation of South Jersey, has granted a total of $229,000 across Camden, Burlington, Gloucester, and Cumberland counties.  

“We saw the vitality of the Impact 100 model across the Delaware River in Philadelphia, and we knew that we wanted our own giving circle supporting organizations in need in this southern part of the state, which doesn’t always get the same attention,” said Kyle Ruffin, one of the five founding members of Impact100 South Jersey.

“We are beyond inspired by the more than 1,100 women from across the state who have stepped up, formed strong associations, and are learning about and investing in nonprofit partners who are leading change in their communities,” said Margarethe Laurenzi, chief philanthropic officer at the Community Foundation. “Collaborating with and supporting these Impact 100 women to help them make their philanthropic vision a reality is especially rewarding for the Community Foundation.”