It all started with a Cincinnati woman named Wendy Steele in September of 2001 who had an idea to promote philanthropy among women: Ask individual women to donate $1,000, pool their contributions, and award all the money to several charities they agree to endorse. No big black-tie gala, no abstract giving to some amorphous cause—just a direct, local vote to fund programs deemed transformational—and everybody wins. The idea—known as Impact 100—grew and it has made its way to Boca Raton via Tandy Robinson, a Delray woman who learned about it from a program in Vero Beach.

The board and the core group is comprised largely of members of the Junior League of Boca Raton,  but there are others as well—all of whom ponied up $1,000 each. They solicited community non-profits to apply for a total of five “high-impact” grants—four of $12,000 each and one grand winner of $100,000. The group of roughly 70 applicants was winnowed down to five finalists.

And on April 24, those five finalists came face to face with their “angels.”

All 148 of the women who donated $1,000 each gathered in the Wold performing arts center at Lynn University with electronic clickers in hands to vote on the charity that would win the grand $100,000 prize. As each group gave its seven–minute case (no power point presentations allowed—just a talk), you could hear a pin drop. The Anti-Defamation League presented a moving anti-bullying campaign for Palm Beach County Schools; the Florida Fishing Academy revealed plans to build a “green” boat to teach kids about the marine environment and “ethical angling;” The Milagro Center presented its case for an interactive theater program that would educate the community on solutions to family crises and social issues; the Parent Child Center introduced its new program aimed at intervening and advocating for children trapped in domestic violence situations; the Urban League of Palm Beach County presented a case for its mobile produce markets designed to serve “urban food deserts.”

Each charity won—but the grand winner was the Parent Child Center’s new Parent Child Trauma Team.

And the other winner? The Palm Beach County community, and the people who want to give, but want to know who gets the money, and how they can best help. This innovative program cuts out all the expense associated with big parties and lavish entertaining and gets directly to the heart of need in our community. And it happens one woman at a time. I was impressed as well as invigorated by Impact 100, and I wish them well in their quest to double in size over the next year.

If you would like to be part of this group please pledge your membership through the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties. Please visit or email