Impact beyond measure

3 minutes read
Posted 9 June, 2023
Big Reveal newleteer

John Halliday with (from left) grants committee chair Joan Kiernan, with Living Options’ Alison and Olivia Wildey, and Impact100 Wakatipu founder Kristin Holtzman, at the opening of the Tom Pryde Centre in Arrowtown, which received at $100,000 grant in 2022.

Impact100 Wakatipu proves the old adage that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

By the numbers, the concept is that 100 women donate $1000 each and the $100,000 total is given as a grant to a local good cause.

But the ripple effect of that simple idea has proved to be exponential, with a transformational impact not only on the organisations that receive funding but also on all the women involved in making it happen.

That’s one of the main aims of the non-profit organisation, to empower women to become philanthropists and overcome any barriers they face.

Created by American civil activist, social entrepreneur and philanthropist Wendy Steele, in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2001, the Whakatipu chapter was founded by now-trustee Kristen Holtzman in 2020.

It has already raised almost $700,000 for projects by local charities.

Impact100 chair Clare Irons says women from all walks of life are involved, with about two dozen volunteering on its committees. All women over the age of 16 are eligible to become supporters.

“When you join Impact100, there’s no obligation to do anything more than that,” Irons says.

“Some women come to every event throughout the year, some come to just a few, and others want to get fully involved and serve on the committees.

“We cater to everyone and our committee members represent all stages of life; business women, mums, retirees. It’s brilliant. There are so many women in the region who have incredible experience, skills and expertise, and they volunteer those skills to help us.”

Impact100 works under the umbrella of the Wakatipu Community Foundation. Its governance committee, which reports to the foundation, consists of Irons and the chairs of its three sub-committees: grants, fundraising and marketing committee, and events.
The committees organise the various aspects of the organisation’s work throughout the year, from welcoming new members to assessing applications and site visits to the gala dinner each October, when the five finalists present their projects and members vote.

“We’re really looking for projects that will make a major impact, hence the name,” Irons says. “So, either a broad impact on a group of people or the community or a really life-changing impact for a small number of people.”

Last month, Impact100 Wakatipu announced it has more than 200 women making donations this year, so there is $205,000 in total grants available. Two charities will receive $100k each, and there will be a handful of smaller grants.

“As we are all volunteers, 100% of this is passed back to our local community through our major grants,” Irons says.

They are now calling for expressions of interest.

In September, the five finalists then meet informally with supporters, to introduce themselves and chat about the projects.

“Our supporters can then go away, do their own research, find out more, but we encourage them not to make a decision until they’ve heard the presentations at the gala dinner.”

Previous winners include The Order of St Johns Wakatipu, Pivotal Point Charitable Trust, Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust, and the Tom Pryde Centre.

“We find women involved with charities often want to become members because they’ve seen how it really makes a difference. We also have businesses sponsoring women to join us, and the brilliant Hugo Charitable Trust has sponsored five women this year.

“It’s a great way to bring women from across the community together; we are essentially a giving circle and the community knows what it needs. It’s inspiring for everyone involved to see women take the next steps on their philanthropic journeys.”

To qualify for consideration for the grant, applicants must be a registered charity, be based in the Wakatipu, and must have a project to the value of at least $100,000. Expressions of interest applications are on the website at and close at 5pm on 30 June.

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