Women gather to give big

Newly formed chapter of national nonprofit raises $11,200 for charity that assists children

By Patty Hastings, Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith

Published:

 

If You Go

 Who: 100 Women Who Care SW Washington.

• What: 100 Women Who Care SW Washington’s next meeting.

 When: 6 p.m. Jan. 23.

 Where: The Heathman Lodge, 7801 N.E. Greenwood Drive, Vancouver.

www.100womenwhocaresww.org

An amused photographer stood on a ladder, looking at the group of more than 100 women trying to organize themselves for a group photo. They crowded on and around a small stage Monday night at The Heathman Lodge, quieting their chatter only for a few seconds until they heard the camera shutter click.

The photo commemorated how in one hour that evening they had collected $11,200 to donate to the Portland-based nonprofit Friends of the Children. A few women sitting front-and-center for the photo were holding the giant check.

It was the first meeting of 100 Women Who Care SW Washington, a newly formed chapter of the national 100 Who Care Alliance. The alliance began in 2006 when someone at the Center for Family Health in Jackson, Mich., asked former mayor Karen Dunigan to raise $10,000 to buy 300 cribs for expectant mothers. Dunigan, who died in 2014, knew she could find 100 women who could give $100 each. The effort was so successful, she decided to do that four times a year, and then the idea spread across the country.

If 100 women give $100, or a total of $10,000 each quarter, that’s $40,000 being invested in local charities each year. This pooling and siloing of resources from a group of people is called a giving circle. Rather than scattering money across the community, a large lump sum makes a bigger impact. And, the members feel more ownership over what they’re doing because they collectively decide how the sum is spent.

“There is need here, and we see it every day and it can feel overwhelming,” said Katherine Morris, one of the directors. She emceed Monday night’s meeting. “This is where we can make an impact and we can see the impact.”

About six months ago, Morris, along with Kristin Hofmann, Heather Morris, Melissa Warren, Autumn Preece and Brook Trang, talked about friends they knew in Seattle who were forming a chapter of the 100 Who Care Alliance. They wanted to do something similar in Southwest Washington and met a couple of times a month to pull it together.

“It’s just such a big impact for such a small time commitment,” said Trang, who described the members as “amazing, wonderful women.”

The group got 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in time for Monday’s meeting, when they hoped to have 75 members registered. Instead, they had about 150 women on board and aim to have about 200 by the next meeting in January. It’s called 100 Women Who Care, but membership isn’t limited to 100 people, Katherine Morris said.

“It’s an opportunity for us to get together as women,” Hofmann said. “We may not have the time to dedicate to volunteering, but we can do one night a quarter where we come together and donate $100 each.”

The evening included a social hour, with food and drinks donated by The Heathman Lodge, and raffle prizes.

Over the next week or so, 100 Women Who Care SW Washington will collect online donations and checks from members who weren’t able to make Monday’s meeting before giving all of the money to Friends of the Children, which will use the money to establish mentors in Clark County. Salaried, professional mentors work with at-risk youth from kindergarten through high school graduation to help them develop life skills and be more successful as they enter adulthood.

Among eight nominated charities, three were selected randomly from a jar and then representatives gave presentations about those charities and how the money would be spent. After the votes were tallied, Friends of the Children was deemed the winner. The other two can go back into the nomination pool.

Giving circles, including women-only giving circles, are not new to Clark County. The local chapter of Dining for Women focuses on international organizations that benefit women and girls in the developing world. The Vancouver Women’s Foundation doles out smaller one-time grants to local women in crisis to help get them back on track. And, Empower Women + Girls aims to celebrate, promote and empower women of all ages through its charitable giving.

The 100 Women Who Care doesn’t have a niche focus. Eligibility rules state that nominated charities can’t be overtly political or religious and have to be official 501(c)(3) nonprofits serving Southwest Washington that have been established for at least one year.

Those are the rules for now until the group gets too big and has to branch off. A couple of women visited Monday’s meeting because they’re interested in starting a Longview chapter.