Many of us want to volunteer or donate to a charity we are passionate about. But finding the time or allocating a budget isn’t always at the forefront of our minds. This is where 100+ Women Who Care comes in; the philanthropic group gathers social-minded women of all backgrounds, challenging them to donate mindfully to local charities. The group asks for a donation of $100 and an hour of time every four months. The total donation is often upwards of $10,000 a meeting.
100+ Women Who Care formed in 2006 by Karen Dunigan of Jackson, Michigan. She used a pay-it-forward approach, calling up every woman she knew to join a fundraiser. After the first meeting grossed $10,000, the organization continued to grow, and chapters began to form in cities all over the country.
Marilyn Edwards co-founded the Rhode Island Chapter with her neighbor, Martha Nichols in 2012. Marilyn initially heard about 100+ Women Who Care from an attorney she met while she was at a cousin’s 50th anniversary party in California. It inspired her to bring the organization to Rhode Island. Marilyn immediately appointed nine members to a steering committee and they each tried to recruit ten people.
“I knew Rhode Island needed us and charities out there are always in need of funds,” Marilyn says, “We really want to be a part of helping each other, which is really what life is all about.”
The Rhode Island chapter has donated over $78,000 to nine charities since it began. It was also the first group to form in New England.
How it Works
100+ Women Who Care meets for one hour four times a year. Before each meeting, all members have the opportunity to nominate a Rhode Island based non-profit organization, charity or worthy cause. Three nominations are drawn randomly from a hat at the beginning of each meeting. Afterwards, the members who proposed those charities will spend five minutes informing the group about the organization’s local impact, intended use of funds and other logistics. Once votes are counted, every woman pulls out her checkbook and donates $100 on the spot.
“There is no middleman. It goes directly to the organization; we don’t cash anything. It works fast and well.” Marilyn says.
During some of the meetings, speakers will come in to discuss how they used the money. The organization chosen at the Rhode Island Chapter’s first meeting stood out to both Marilyn and Martha; it’s called We Share Hope in Warren. They collect food from grocery stores that would otherwise be thrown away (but isn’t expired), and they deliver it to the poor, distressed and under-privileged. We Share Hope used the money to buy a new van so they could go out and help people on the streets. They stop and deliver food to any homeless person they see.
“This donation will always stay with me because there was a shared feeling that we were doing something groundbreaking for the community,” Martha says.
Another organization, Adopt-a-Family in Woonsocket, provides clothing and toys to low-income families around the holidays. One little boy got a bathrobe, which he had never seen before. He found it to be the “the gift of all gifts”, Marilyn says, “and we don’t realize things like that.”
100+ Women Who Care aims to raise $10,000 at every meeting, but due to fluctuations in enrollment, the group sometimes raises over or under their goal. The group currently has 94 members and is always looking for more women who have a passion for helping their community.
“We would love to expand and get people from all over the state to take part. [That way] we can learn more about charities that are nearby and that need us,” Marilyn says.
This project is ideal for women who want to help those in need, but cannot find the time to add another undertaking to their busy lives. Meetings are always an hour, and women have the option to attend the social reception held beforehand where they can meet other like-minded women who come from a wide range of professions, backgrounds and neighborhoods.
Gatherings are held at B. Pinelli’s in East Providence, who provides the space at no cost. One night, their greeter even donated $100 and told Marilyn that he really believed in the mission of 100+ Women Who Care.
The rewarding feeling of watching $100 immediately manifest into $10,000 is truly infectious, especially when it goes to changing the lives of people in the local community. Both women and men alike are realizing the power of 100+ Women Who Care.
“This is an innovative, cre- ative model for philanthropy. In the space of an hour, we are able make an immediate difference in the lives of those in need.”
The next meeting will be on June 4 at B. Pinelli’s restaurant in East Providence. Visit the facebook page or e-mail 100+ Women Who Care at firstname.lastname@example.org