Kelly Hartman on Why She Became an Impact 100 Member

Kelly Hartman is the President of Outside the Box, a non-profit that provides services for adults with developmental disabilities. She shares her experience with winning the Impact 100 $100,000 grant in 2011 and why she decided to join Impact 100 herself.

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im·pact n. The power of making a strong, immediate impression.

From the perspective of pure definition, this seems simple. Conversely, the empowering footprints left on my work, my heart, and my future by the women of Impact 100 are all but simple – and stretch far beyond immediate impression.

On a journey that started in 2008, a couple of women set out to change the world in a sense. We believed that services for people with intellectual disabilities were lackluster. For many families, a literally disabling “label” for their child came with an expectation of unachieved goals, dreams turned nightmare, and a lot of unanswered questions. At an early age, folks were being defined by the “DIS” in disability. It had become a social norm to live with a bar set incredibly low.

Despite the sun rising on the worst economy of our young times, we started thinking “Outside the Box” and dove head first into “not for profit” in every sense of the word. With the inevitable learning curves and the pursuit of a dream, we very quickly learned about fundraising, relationship building and development. In this, our “development consultant” (because we could not afford a full time position) suggested a potential experience for us….an opportunity to learn about grant writing and a way to get our names out there:  “You should apply for the Impact 100 Grant.”  (Insert hilarious laughter, as this is known to be the most coveted grant award in central Indiana, and what many believe is one of the most competitive.)

To this day, many people still don’t know that our first ever grant writing experience, our first ever interview process, our first ever official grant application was for Impact 100. On June 11, 2011, we were awarded $100,000 to use for capital improvements to our newly acquired campus. In just over two years since that amazing night, we have more than doubled the number of people we support and have achieved our goal of a financially sustainable business model.

I have often said, the word “impact” doesn’t come close to describing what has happened to Outside the Box as a result of these amazing women. The women of Impact 100 have become our mentors, our cheerleaders, our greatest fans. They have volunteered with us, they have attended our fundraisers, they have made countless donations of recyclable goods to our art studio. And my guess is that many women of Impact 100 had never really encountered or understood the continuum of supports for people with disabilities before Outside the Box.

This defines what Impact describes as a “giving circle.”  I have long believed, “You get what you give.”  As a result, I felt compelled to become part Impact 100 myself. The enthusiasm and passion of these women nurtures such a magnetic energy, that I wanted to – without hesitation – become a part of this amazing membership. I love the idea that my philanthropic giving comes together with others to make a major impact on an organization.

Seriously, if you take a look at some of the organizations that have won the Impact 100 grant, it’s obvious how these gifts have truly transformed not only the winners, but our community. Tindley Collegiate Academy, Indy Reads, Jameson Camp, Herron High School, Rock Steady Boxing and others – as they were impacted, they impact others. It is serendipitous.

Spending my first year as a “member,” I just observed. I didn’t go to any of the “get to know you” events. My participation was at the bare minimum. While I did attend the membership dinner, I wanted to simply give back and enjoy seeing the process unfold. And as a member, that was just fine – there is no requirement for involvement. But again…that amazing energy drew me to get more involved. So in 2013, I participated on one of the grant review committees. Finally, a sneak peek of the other side of the process. I found that my insight as a grantee brought a lot to the process. The synergy in our committee led us to mentor, cheerlead, and support our finalist. It then occurred to me….the experience of Impact 100 membership has molded me into the kind of “gift” that I once received. It really is difficult to put into words the experience of a “circle of giving.”  The concept stretches so far beyond the power of women giving as one. I plan to be part of Impact 100 indefinitely.

For Outside the Box, we received a financial gift that allowed us to grow. But we were honored in a way that empowered us to give back. Since receiving the grant, we have cross collaborated with more than a dozen Impact 100 finalists. Further, four women from our leadership team have joined via a syndicate membership. The experience allows all of us to know more about many wonderful charitable causes in our community.

Greater Indianapolis Impact 100 has changed my perspective, and continues to leave fingerprints on my soul and the lives of the many people we support. So yes, impact: The power of making a strong, immediate impression certainly defines the membership at a glance. But the process of these powerful amazing women giving as one is transformative and inspiring beyond words or understanding.

 Join Impact 100 at Outside the Box TONIGHT for the final Follow the Impact celebration for 2013.What: Follow the Impact at Outside the Box
When: December 4, 5:30-7:30pm
Where: 3940 E. 56th St. Indianapolis