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The Impact of Philanthropy

The Impact of Philanthropy – Impact100 Awards Dinner Speech.

Jennifer Belmont

Thank you to all the amazing women of Impact100 and for this incredible initiative. Philanthropy is my favourite topic, and our mission at the Wakatipu Community Foundation is to help local philanthropy thrive.

A few years ago when I spoke at the first Impact100 gala - I couldn’t help but marvel at all of you beaming back at me - and can’t help but feel the same pride and joy now seeing so many smiling gorgeous wonderful women all gathering together because of philanthropy. My heart is singing with absolute joy! Nearly $700,000 after tonight giving back into the community through your efforts. I do believe that philanthropy, in all its forms - time, talent, and treasure, can bring out the best in you and, in turn, nurture a better, more resilient community. And research has even demonstrated that giving back can contribute to a longer life - now if only it could solve wrinkles I think our coffers would be overflowing!!! Four years ago Kristen Holtzman started impact100 under lockdown. I never thought we would get to 100 and now this year at 200! What a fantastic and life-changing legacy you all are sharing in. And hats off to the amazing Clare, Joan, Euni and the rest of the team and Kristen who started us all off. Legacy isn't just about what we leave behind; it's about what we build together in the here and now, with an eye toward the future. Impact100, and the Wakatipu Community Foundation are creating a legacy of positive change because of you wonderful donors, that will benefit generations to come. When we invest in our community today, we are sowing the seeds of a brighter tomorrow. The legacy we create through our collective philanthropy is one that will be celebrated long after we're gone. The Wakatipu Community Foundation’s primary goal is to grow local philanthropy - and I would say there is no better example of this then what is happening tonight. YOU all made this possible! I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for you all. At the Community Foundation - we help build those legacies and each legacy fund, to me, is more than just a fund; it's a tale, a testament to values and history. Dr. Claire Routley, a UK legacy giving expert and our guest a couple of weeks ago, says that “legacy giving is a conversation between generations.” What a beautiful way to describe philanthropy. So what is our generation’s legacy going to be? It's my duty and honor to help capture these legacies to immortalize these stories and continue that conversation through generations. It is both a privilege and a deep responsibility I hold very dear, and it's undeniably the most fulfilling aspect of my job. The community foundation recently celebrated its 5 year anniversary - and I can’t be more proud of our success in being one of the fasted growing community foundations in the country - $2.5M in grants and more than 50 legacy funds and $35 million dollars in pledged endowments, I believe we are igniting a genuine sense of community. It's possible that the breathtaking beauty of our surroundings serves as a catalyst for this remarkable culture of generosity. We reside in the midst of such natural magnificence that the desire to make a positive impact on our community becomes almost second nature. This is often described as the Power of Awe; who knew there were studies on this when we live it every day! Philanthropy is more than just writing a cheque; it's a deep-seated commitment to improving the lives of others. It's about recognizing the privilege we have and using it to lift up those who may not have the same opportunities. The women of Impact100 understand this deeply. Through this extraordinary giving circle, you have exemplified the true spirit of philanthropy. You have not only given your financial resources but also your time, expertise, and passion. Your dedication to the causes you support is a testament to the power of collective giving and the incredible impact it can have on our community. Just look at the Impact Report - what an incredible thing you all have done. One thing though I want to highlight is on page where it tells about the volunteer hours from the amazing Impact100 team. 1600+ hours from your Impact100 team in 2022 and 50% more in 2023. I’ve worked in philanthropy for over 30 years - countless volunteer hours - and it's mostly women - that comprise each organisation. But one thing I can tell you - that that figure is not sustainable for any organisation. We need to find a better way to pay for this and other organisations running on a smell of an oily rag. And remember it’s mostly women running these charities.

As funders, we all need to look at making sure all of the organisations that come to us are adequately paying their staff. We need to build in endowments and long term sustainable funding for all of our organisations. It’s actually one of the reasons that I started the community foundation - I was really getting tired of sausage sizzles - there had to be a better way. And yes there is and the Community Foundation model does exactly that - through generous donors - we build in long term funding streams for donor’s chosen charities. Let’s think about doing exactly that for Impact100 as well. Impact100 a testament to the power of women coming together, and a living legacy of philanthropy in action. Your work has already made a tremendous impact on our community, and I have no doubt that the ripple effect of your generosity will continue to touch countless lives for years to come. Let's celebrate not just the accomplishments of the past but the promise of the future. Together, we are creating a legacy of love, compassion, and positive change that will endure for generations. Thank you, Impact100, for your extraordinary dedication to our community, and for showing us all what can be achieved when we come together with purpose, passion, and a deep commitment to making the world a better place.

Jennifer Belmont is the Founding Trustee and CEO of the Wakatipu Community Foundation, and founding member of Impact100 Wakatipu. She is a current trustee of the Wakatipu Community Hub, and previous CEO of the Wakatipu High School Foundation. She can be contacted at

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