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Making an impact: From left, Wakatipu Community Foundation CEO Jennifer Belmont, American philanthropist Carrie Morgridge, Impact100 Queenstown founder Kristen Holtzman and her hubby, Marc

By TRACEY ROXBURGH

One hundred women will unite in Queenstown this year to give a game-changing $100,000 grant to one local charity or not-for-profit group.

Impact100, the brainchild of American Wendy Steele, sees 100 women each donate $1000 to the main fund.

Charities or not-for-profits apply to be considered as recipients, they’re checked out and whittled down to five finalists, who’ll present to all the Impact100 members at a dinner, during which they’ll each have one vote. The winner will be announced on the night.

Local resident Kristen Holtzman’s behind the Queenstown chapter of the philanthropic initiative, inspired by her friend, influential American philanthropist Carrie Morgridge, and says the grant is “transformative” for the recipient.

“This is really an opportunity for a charity to sit back and say, ‘what idea have we shelved that we’ve never been able to do, but now we can do because of that $100,000 grant?’

“I think it would make a major difference to a local charity that’s already doing amazing work.”

Launched in Ohio in 2001, the Queenstown chapter is New Zealand’s first, but the 60th Impact100 internationally, including 50 in the States.

Holtzman says on one hand starting to gather ‘founding members’ in February, at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, was terrible timing.

On the other, given the needs in Queenstown at present, it couldn’t have been better.

This week she signed up her 72nd founding member and says the initial deadline to have all 100 women signed up by the end of this month is “within reach”.

The philanthropic initiative is being supported by the Wakatipu Community Foundation (WCF), so every dollar committed will go to the eventual recipient.

“We are not recreating the wheel – this has been done before, it’s successful, $US80 million has been pumped into local communities helping local charities.

“I want this to be just an easy, lovely, wonderful thing to build more philanthropy and more philanthropists in our community.”

Originally from Colorado, US, Holtzman says she’s been “overwhelmed” by the response to date.

Examples of how the grant has helped elsewhere include funding a therapist for two years for a ‘Boys and Girls Club’ in the States, to make sure kids’ mental health was being looked after and, regardless of their family situations, they had support.

Steele’s founding grant went to a dental clinic, in Ohio, which was refurbed and refitted with new chairs and equipment to provide free dental care.

“That’s the lovely thing about philanthropy – the ripple effects are amazing.

“In Ohio, people were able to go in, get their smiles fixed and felt more confident in a job interview … and there was this huge upsurge of dentists who wanted to be involved and help out.

“It lifted up the community in so many unforeseeable ways,” Holtzman says

More information on the initiative’s on the WCF website – they’re hoping to put a call out for charities interested in applying for the $100,000 in the next month or so.

tracey.roxburgh@scene.co.nz