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Impact Giving and their Impact on Bracken's Kitchen

When we think of Impact Giving, founded in 2009 by a group of friends in Laguna Beach who wanted to change their way of giving, it makes us think of the famous Margaret Mead quote:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

What is Impact Giving? After the financial crisis of 2008, a group of five like-minded ladies got together to discuss how they could continue making impactful donations. They wanted to keep up their level of giving, but the financial crisis affected nearly everyone. While brainstorming, they thought, “If we pool our funds together and award grants to nonprofits, the money that we’re able to give can make a more meaningful impact,” said Jennifer Grzeskowiak, a board member who is also the Marketing and Communications Chair. “That was the inspiration.”

The founders are still involved. Most of them are part of Impact Giving’s “Legacy Circle,” a group of founders and former board members that help host events and provide input on important issues. Today there are almost 120 Partners” at Impact Giving. Members are referred to as Partners, as everyone has an equal say in which nonprofits receive grants from the organization.

“One of the things that makes Impact Giving different from many other women’s giving groups is that we don’t have very many restrictions,” said Jennifer. “The nonprofit can be local, global, for children’s causes, agriculture, it’s really just what a Partner is passionate about.”

Since their founding they’ve awarded $1.48 million by way of 76 grants to nonprofits in 12 countries. They’ve announced their 2022 grant recipients at their Annual Awards Event on June 2 at Turnip Rose in Costa Mesa. Every Partner pays annual dues that are then put together and used for grants announced at this big event. Five to eight grant recipients are awarded every year. They also typically have 18 finalists every year, and Partners get to vote on which ones will receive a grant.

“I love what we have created,” Jennifer said. “At our Annual Awards Event, we now fundraise for the finalists who didn’t receive a grant from us. Throughout the year, Partners now can designate extra donations for the finalists! The additional donations get divided up between the nonprofits who didn’t receive a grant. Finalists are still receiving about $3,000 to $4,000 after the Awards Event, and it’s unrestricted. They can use that money however they need to!”

They also have a Partner Connection series where Partners host educational events on a variety of topics. Last year, Caterina Richards of Bracken’s Kitchen hosted a cooking class. Others learned how to make beautiful floral arrangements; and a financial advisor spoke on ESG investments.

“One of the things that I love about Impact Giving is that I am learning about a nonprofit that I am happy to know support,” Jennifer said. “The work that Bracken’s Kitchen does is amazing. I love that everything they do is in a dignified manner with compassion for the people that they are serving. It’s what they are doing, but also the way that they are doing it. To see them continue to grow every year and to see new ways that they are serving the community is inspiring.”

The team at Bracken’s Kitchen is so grateful to be an Impact Giving grant recipient three times since 2017. Impact Giving granted Bracken’s Kitchen funding in 2017, 2019, and 2020, for a total of $68,000. These funds supported: providing a second food truck to double meals per year from 40,000 to 80,000; the purchase of a steamer and floor drain installation; and the purchase of a brazier and new hood and kitchen exhaust system, allowing us to meet a goal to increase our food service program by 100 percent.

Impact Giving is a great example of how important and impactful collective giving can be. Their grants have truly helped us feed even more people in need.



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