Impact Grants Initiative
Modeled on the strategies of social venture philanthropy and giving circles, the Impact Grants Initiative (IGI) program at the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund employs a high-engagement and empowerment educational approach to grantmaking. Laura co-founded the IGI program in 2011 to provide donor-participants with an effective, hands-on way to make a real difference in our community. Donors involved in IGI groups identify pressing needs in the community, work together to focus the scope and define realistic outcomes, elicit and evaluate grant proposals, and conduct site visits that provide an on-the-ground look at how these programs function. The IGI donor-participants then collectively select a group of organizations to fund and work with them to set goals that will result in measurable change. Together, they organize a learning community to help share insights and develop best practices. Many IGI donor-participants remain advisors to and advocates for the funded organizations for the duration of the multi-year grant to help ensure their success. The IGI groups have expanded to serve different niche markets and/or issue areas, including young adult groups focused on awarding grants to innovative projects in the community, groups focused on funding projects in Israel, groups interested in supporting youth serving organizations in the Bay Area, and a newly piloted Women’s Fund that awarded grants to address the unmet needs of women in the community, including single-parents, and low-income women and girls. Since the first pilot IGI group in 2012, there have been 16 subsequent IGI grant rounds, awarding over $4 million in grants to 57 organizations both locally and in Israel.