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  • Impact Austin

MEMBER VOICES: Volunteering Returns the Favor, Part II

In celebration of our 20th anniversary year, Impact Austin is sharing a variety of stories from and about our members. Each story is unique to the voices we profile, but each also speaks to one aspect of our extraordinary collective.

The Grants Committee is highly regarded within Impact Austin, a well-organized pipeline of brilliant women with an abundance of leadership opportunities. Grants volunteers are trained and dedicated: to our mission, to an ethical and anti-racist

grantmaking process, and to the Community

Partners we fund.

But, like most Impact Austin committees, the Grants Committee needs more womanpower! Many existing volunteers do choose to stay with the committee for years. But some retire. Others move on to new volunteer and leadership challenges. And some take a well-deserved break. And all this means there is space - for more volunteers, for new perspectives, and for the lived experiences that will make our grantmaking even richer.

Many Impact Austin members serve on Grant Review Committees (GRCs), and we appreciate all who do. Fewer take the next step to serve as leaders within the Grants Committee. Existing Grants leaders want you to know what volunteering has meant for them and how the experience gives back in so many ways. Some quickly voiced these benefits:

  • Learning from other women

  • Appreciating the diversity of our members and our nonprofits

  • Insights learned from site visits

  • Learning leadership skills

  • Interacting with nonprofits

  • Friendships with awesome women

  • Learning about the needs of the community

  • Feeling more a part of Impact Austin

Some of the team's leaders had even more to say.

Marla Whelan (right):

I joined Impact Austin to learn about community needs and to meet like-minded women. Being part of the Grants Committee is a great way to accomplish both goals. What I did not expect is the growth and learning I would gain by working through issues with women with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. And, we have fun too!

Karen McLinden (left): I have been with Impact Austin for 10 years now. After the first two years as a GRC member, I volunteered to be a Grants Committee Chair. I was able to work with and learn from amazing women who care passionately about our community. In whatever role I've served, I have valued and trusted my co-chairs to support me and have my back as we work through each cycle toward our goal of bringing two outstanding finalists to the membership. I am now Grants Co-Chair. It all started by saying YES to leading a Grants Committee.

Gloria Hughes (above, center left): I joined Impact Austin because I was interested in learning more about the nonprofit demographics in Austin and the surrounding area. As an active member for 2 years now, IA exposed me to so many organizations who need financial support to grow and develop. My first GRC Equity co-chair experience has been challenging, insightful, and exhilarating. It is important, meaningful work that results in a positive impact on the community, and it's a great way to learn more about the organization and the communities it serves. The position provided me with the opportunity to lead, work with, and learn from the dynamic women on the Grants committees and develop new friendships. I would highly recommend any of our members to consider volunteering for a GRC chair, or a GRC shadow position. It has been a wonderfully rewarding growth experience.

Margaret von Flatern (left): The Grants Committee is the heart of Impact Austin. It is where I have found the most fulfillment in my time as a member. The opportunity to hear firsthand from our nonprofit community about the needs in Central Texas is always eye opening, and the work that’s being done to meet those needs is inspiring. The women who volunteer their time to this important work are some the most thoughtful, smart, and hardworking women I know. Not to mention the work is fun, and incredibly rewarding. There are laughs, tears, and plenty of lively discussion. My hope is that every woman in Impact Austin has the chance to take part in the review process at some point in her IA lifespan. They certainly will not regret it.

Elaine Jensen (right): This year we had the pleasure of having a large number of new younger Impact Austin members on our GRC. At our final meeting, one of these amazing women said to us, “I hope to be like you when I’m old…er!” I just loved this, because it never occurred to me that we were helping these young women become the philanthropists of tomorrow.

2022 Health & Well-Being Grant Review Committee at their final meeting

Girls GIving Grants needs adult advisors and co-chairs to oversee the program. Here's what two Advisors had to say about their experience.

Nicole Martin: Serving as an advisor for Girls Giving Grants has been an incredible and rewarding experience. When I first joined G3 as an advisor, I was surprised and impressed by how much of the program the girls lead themselves, from running whole group meetings to leading application review committees. The young women in G3 are passionate about making a difference in their community, and it is inspiring to watch them critically discuss grants, grow in their understanding of philanthropy, and develop leadership skills. Volunteering with G3 has been an amazing way to support the next generation of changemakers in our community.

Marissa Vogel: As a G3 Advisor, I'm constantly reminded how often we underestimate the abilities of our youth until we empower them. I have been volunteering as a G3 Advisor for 5 years and have enjoyed watching the girls go through their own journey of learning about our community challenges through their group discussions. It is truly inspiring to see the leadership inherent in them come out as they collaborate to determine which nonprofit will advance to the finalist round. My participation as a mentor piqued the interest of my own teenage daughter and she is now on her third year as a G3 member, taking on an ARC co-leadership role in her last year of participation. I appreciate this opportunity for us to give back to our community, together.


Opportunities do exist to shadow current leaders on the Grants team. Reach out to if you'd like to consider the possibilities. You can also check out our Volunteer page for its language on the Grants Committee and Grants Technology Support Committee. Service on Spring Grant Review Committees will open on January 13, 2023. Learn more about GRCs here.


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