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Friendship With a Purpose: An Interview with Impact 100 NYC Founding Co-Presidents Emily Ades and Mindy Wigutow

Friendship With a Purpose: An Interview with Impact 100 NYC Founding Co-Presidents Emily Ades and Mindy Wigutow

Chapter Leadership Brief 10.20.23


In 2020, during the height of the global pandemic, Emily Ades and Mindy Wigutow founded IMPACT 100 NYC, where they envision fostering a culture of communal giving by cultivating a community of women who want their philanthropic donations to do more and mean more. Emily and Mindy have a meaningful history as catalysts for change in their communities. Emily has devoted all her professional endeavors to the field of education and nonprofit management. Currently, she works as the inaugural Director of The Kinnect Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the fashion brand, Kith leveraging the brand to make a social impact and transformative change that helps communities overcome adversity and thrive. Mindy is an attorney with real estate and commercial litigation experience who currently works in Higher Ed admissions inspiring the future leaders in law and community organizing.

How long have you been friends and how did the friendship start?
Mindy: We have been friends for almost 20 years. We were “set-up” by a mutual friend because we both had kids the same age, Egyptian mothers-in-law and big, loud families.

Emily: We bonded instantly over our love of travel, NY-style sarcasm, and ethnic foods. Most of all, I knew I had met “my people” when I found someone who volunteers in her community as much as I do.

How did you learn about Impact 100?
Mindy: My friend, Jennifer Kasmin, introduced me to the concept. She had been looking to start Impact 100 NYC, though didn’t have the bandwidth to do it alone. I thought it was a great idea, and Emily and I decided to give it a try. Emily, Jennifer, and I traveled to a kick-off in Fairfield Connecticut in November of 2019. We were so inspired that on the drive home we created a strategic plan! And even though the pandemic shifted our plans, we were determined to launch by Summer 2020, delaying was never an option.

What is the mission and structure of Impact 100 NYC?
Mindy: By harnessing the power of collective giving and collaborative action, Impact 100 NYC unites women across the five boroughs to fund transformative change that helps the people and communities of NYC overcome adversity and thrive. Impact 100 NYC is an all-women, all-volunteer philanthropic giving circle. Each member contributes an annual donation of $1,000, which we aggregate into high-impact grants of $100,000 to fund new or innovative programs. The number of $100,000 grants depends on the number of members. All members can participate in the grant review process, select the finalists, and determine the grant recipients. Impact 100 NYC is a nonprofit organization, and all donations are fully tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Every dollar of every donation goes directly to NYC nonprofits.

Emily: For young philanthropists under 18, we have nextgen, our teen chapter that promotes social impact and community service. It is a wonderful way to learn about nonprofits and meet like-minded teens in NYC. In 2022, their inaugural year, they gave a $7,000 grant to DayOne, a nonprofit that partners with youth to end dating abuse and domestic violence through community education, supportive services, and legal advocacy. This year, they granted $7,000 to Teens for Food Justice, a school-based hydroponic farm program increasing access to fresh, healthy food for low-income communities.

What is the make-up of the membership and the benefits?
Mindy: At our core, we are connected by a desire to make a transformational impact on the city we love, which has brought together a diverse group of women of different ages, backgrounds, and lived experiences. In our inaugural year, 2020 – yes, we launched in March, one week before the NYC shut-down – we had 147 members ranging in age from 20-82. Now entering our fourth year, we are close to 300 members who either reside, work, play or want to support our work in NYC. Our desire is to democratize philanthropy and welcome as many different voices and perspectives as possible.

Emily: The wonderful thing about Impact 100 NYC is that each member can choose their own level of involvement. Some members just like knowing that 100% of their donation will be put to good use in their own community following the “Give Where You Live” principle. For those who want to be more directly involved, opportunities range from participating in our rigorous grant review process, to serving on committees to volunteer, education and networking events throughout the year. And, no matter a member’s level of engagement, she has a vote in selecting the $100,000 grant recipients, which we announce at our inspiring annual event, The Big Give.

Tell us what you’ve done so far and what are your goals for 2024?
Mindy: To date we are thrilled to have collectively granted $649,000 to outstanding NYC nonprofits. Through volunteering with these organizations, we have seen first-hand the need they face and the good they do. Each $1,000 in is $1,000 out, so with each 100 members, we are able to award another transformative grant of $100,000. Our dream for 2024 is to increase membership to over 300 members and award three $100,000 grants.

Emily: By aggregating individual giving into high-impact grants, we connect members to each other, to NYC nonprofits and to the communities they serve. Impact 100 NYC empowers diverse women across the five boroughs to be changemakers by working and giving together to transform NYC communities through lasting impact. And, together through collaborative giving, decision-making and volunteering, we each become transformational forces in our own communities and in our own lives. Impact 100 NYC members have supported our grant recipients by serving as mentors, mock interviewers, career panelists, community service program builders, internship providers, garden weeders, bottle and can recyclers and so much more!

Can you speak about the grants process?
Mindy: The grant cycle opens each October with nonprofits submitting a Letter of Intent (LOI) as the first step in the application process. In their LOI, each nonprofit describes the specific program or initiative they would fund if awarded a $100,000 Innovation Grant. A committee of members vets these interested nonprofits and determines who receives invitations to move on to the full grant proposal stage. Members then review full proposals by sitting on "Grant Review Committees," which winnow down the applicants and select a finalist based on the strength of their proposed project. Annually, in May, the general membership votes from among these finalists to determine the $100,000 Innovation Grant recipients. The grant process exposes and educates our members about grant-making and the work nonprofits are doing in our city as well as provides each member with a voice in the decision-making process.

Emily: For 2024 grants, the LOI is due Tuesday, November 7, 2023, by 11:59 PM. By Monday, January 8, 2024, we will notify those nonprofits receiving invitations to submit full proposals. Full proposals are due Thursday, February 1, 2024, by 11:59 PM. Once we select our grantees in May, they become our nonprofit partners. We closely monitor and measure progress for the stated program against its goals for over two years. Additionally, the nonprofits provide our members with a variety of community service opportunities throughout the year.

How does it feel now that Impact 100 NYC has grown from three changemakers to nearly 300?
Emily: We are so thrilled about how far we’ve come and how our funds have already transformed our nonprofit partners and communities! Our $100,000 Innovation Grants funded the construction of a dedicated cabin at Fiver Children’s Foundation’s summer camp that provides resources to assist high school juniors and seniors in their planning for careers or college; enabled Futures and Options to launch “Get Ahead in Healthcare” to expose high school students to careers through internships, speakers and expos; started an adoption-competent therapy practice helping both parents and children for You Gotta Believe, a foster care adoption agency. Starting this year, Harlem Grown will use its $100,000 grant to expand their outreach in nutrition education by starting an after-school program. And, through its $100,000 grant, Sure We Can will develop another safe, supportive redemption site for canners who make their living from recycling bottles and cans.

Mindy: Over the years we have met and learned from remarkable and remarkably giving women at Impact 100 chapters across the country. It feels immensely gratifying to have also assembled a membership of fantastic, talented women in our great city. The formula is simple: More members mean more grants and more impact!

How can nonprofits apply and women become members?
To apply for a grant click here. For membership and registration information click here.


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