Mothers and Daughters Join Forces to Make an Impact

by Jennifer Bortel

As Impact 100 has grown and matured since its inception in 2006, an exciting new trend is has emerged among our members: mothers and daughters participating together. This year, at least seven mother-daughter pairs have joined Impact 100. Through their experiences with Impact 100, mothers are able to share with their daughters their commitment to philanthropy, while the daughters often bring a new perspective to the Impact 100 process.

Founding member Barb Maurath shares why she thought Impact 100 would be a great experience for her daughter, Elizabeth, who is taking part in her first year with Impact: “In my experience, there is no better way to learn [about philanthropy] than by actively participating in all aspects of the decision process, including the research, discussion and following through to see if the project goes as planned.”

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Barb and Elizabeth Maurath

Megan Van Valer, who joined with her mother, Rosie Taylor, says that her mom encouraged her decision to become a member, despite Megan’s busy schedule caring for her children and running two businesses. “We enjoy being together, and it is a great way to do that while also discovering and giving to our community with likeminded people.”

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Rosie Taylor and Megan Van Valer

Working together also provides an opportunity for mothers—many of whom have decades of philanthropy experience—to share the power of collective giving with their daughters and show them how giving circles like Impact 100 can have a direct, positive impact on the community.

Founding member Laurie Boyd, who participates with her daughter, Jessica Boyd, says, “I think it is important to educate our daughters about philanthropy and to become involved in the community.” Laurie describes how Jessica became involved: “I recruited Jessica as a volunteer when I was in charge of the annual dinner. She did vote tabulation for a couple of years and was able to hear the finalists’ presentations and witness the announcement of the winners. I talked about the FAC [Focus Area Committee] process with her and shared with her how much I enjoyed learning about all the nonprofits in the community.”

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Laurie and Jessica Boyd

Jessica’s own early volunteer experience gave her insight into how meaningful the Impact grants could be. When she found out that one of the finalists on her mom’s committee was an organization at which Jessica had volunteered in high school, she was all-the-more interested in hearing about their project, because she knew how significantly $100,000 would affect the particular organization.

It isn’t always the mothers who have experience when it comes to charitable giving. Sometimes the daughters are the ones with the background in philanthropy. Longtime member Margy Van Winkle notes that her daughter, Katy Allen, has more perspective on the Impact candidate projects because of her work in philanthropy and consequently can contribute substantively to the nonprofit evaluations. “On the other hand,” says Margy, “I can look at current projects in relation to several decades of experience in the volunteer world. It’s been lots of fun.”

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Margy Van Winkle and Katy Allen

Sarah Grain, who is an Impact 100 member along with her mother, Mary Bennett, also has nonprofit experience. Sarah’s past work with a nonprofit enabled her to see the influence of community philanthropy, and she wanted to be a part of it. She says, “I love having the opportunity to be on the funding side of that magic through my involvement with Impact 100.”

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Sarah Grain and Mary Bennett

Not all mothers and daughters are able to serve on a Focus Area Committee together, but for those who have this opportunity, being on a committee offers a unique experience to work closely with each other to review proposals, go on site visits, and discuss and select a finalist: in other words, the chance to spend time together doing rewarding, community-building work. Margy Van Winkle and Katy Allen have served together on at least three Focus Area Committees. Says Margy, “The committee work is the most rewarding part of membership, I think, and we have both learned so much.” Daughter Katy agrees. “We really enjoy the time together doing site visits. We get to learn together and give together. It’s a blast!”

Participating as a mother-daughter pair offers other “perks”: if one person has other commitments, her family member can help keep her in the loop. Mary Bennett says that she wanted Impact 100 to be something she could do together with Sarah. But because Sarah is busy with three small children, Mary acts as the more active member. Says Mary, “I knew this would be something Sarah would also have a passion for and thought it would be fun to do together.” Even though Sarah has other commitments, she is still excited to participate. “I loved the idea of joining forces to do something big in our community,” she says. “As a part the Impact 100 team, I can help an organization dream BIG, and be a part of something innovative, game-changing, and powerful for the people and places that organization serves.”

Katy Allen notes that her mother is often traveling in the winter when the committee meetings are scheduled, so Margy and Katy both read the proposal reviews and then Katy represents Margy’s preferences at the meetings.

Laurie Boyd says that since she has retired, she is not as active in Impact 100, but now her daughter Jessica has the opportunity be the more active member. Says Jessica, who is serving on a Focus Area Committee this year, “Having my mom involved has been great since we’re able to discuss some of the previous finalists that we remember and talk about why we thought certain ones were popular in the voting process. It’s also been good to be able to discuss some of what makes a good proposal.”

Mothers and daughters agree that getting to spend time together enhances their Impact 100 experience. Most importantly, they have the chance to make a difference together. Says Margy, “Serving together has given us a chance to carve time out of busy schedules to do something we both consider important….and to learn a little about how the other functions outside the family in the larger community.” Daughter Katy agrees: “It’s a privilege to work together in this kind of meaningful way.”