Womens groups show just how much difference $100 can make
Jackie Crnkovich, executive director of the Elmhurst Walk-In Ministry, attended a meeting one morning at Angelo’s Ristorante in Elmhurst and walked out an hour later with 135 checks totaling more than $13,500.
Sherry Manschot, marketing manager for the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association, or WDSRA, was invited to a similar meeting at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites in Carol Stream. She walked away with 100-plus checks totaling more than $11,000.
The two women and the organizations they represent were the beneficiaries of the philanthropic efforts of 100 (+) Women Who Care, local giving circles that seek to meet specific needs in their communities.
The concept is simple. Groups of women — ideally 100 or more, hence the name — commit to writing a $100 check each quarter, or four times a year, to local charitable organizations chosen by the group. By pooling their donations, the women can leverage the money to have a larger impact on a local organization.
The streamlined concept made a lot of sense to Marta Davy, a vice president at a financial consulting firm who helped form the Elmhurst chapter of 100 (+) Women Who Care last year. “You feel,” she says, “like you’re being a part of something that really makes a difference.”
The chosen non-profit group must be operating as a 501(c)(3) and must be local. The DuPage chapter of 100 (+) Women, for instance, requires recipient organizations be located within county borders, while the Elmhurst group only chooses those located within the community.
During each meeting, women who wish to speak about a particular nonprofit write the name of the organization on a piece of paper and throw it into a hat. Three groups are chosen and then the sponsoring
persons have five minutes to talk about the organizations they have nominated, their missions and the populations they serve. All members then vote, and the organization with the most votes receives the donation.
At the next meeting, a representative from that organization attends the gathering to share about the impact of the donation.
In February, the Elmhurst group chose the Elmhurst Walk-In Ministry, which helps residents experiencing emergency situations by paying one month’s utility, rent or mortgage bill. Since 135 women were present at the meeting, the Walk-In ministry received a donation surpassing $13,500, a gift that totaled about 10 percent of the organization’s entire annual budget, according to Crnkovich.
“Getting a gift of that size is really huge for us,” Crnkovich said. “It just increases our ability and our confidence to help whoever comes to our door.”
The donation to WDSRA by the DuPage chapter of 100 (+) Women Who Care in February, will make it possible for kids and adults who have mobility limitations to play sports like basketball, softball, tennis and hand cycling.
The impact of the larger pooled gift, says Manschot, is that it allows organizations like hers to “dream a little bigger. You can fulfill a need that maybe you couldn’t fulfill before.”
Manschot has a unique perspective because she has been both a recipient and donor, having recently joined the DuPage group herself. “I love the idea of being able to take whatever small donation I can make and leveraging it into a bigger donation,” she explains. “It’s a phenomenal way to make your dollar go further.”
Sally Wiarda, a substitute teacher who lives in Wheaton, first heard about 100 (+) Women Who Care when her sister-in-law’s organization, the Center for Family Health in Jackson, MI, received the very first 100 (+) Women Who Care donation. A local resident of Jackson, Karen Dunigan decided in 2006 to pool money from her female friends, neighbors and community members to buy cribs for low-income mothers.
“When I heard about it,” Wiarda said, “I thought, ‘I could do this. I know a lot of people, and they know a lot of people.’”
The first meeting in DuPage started small, in winter 2007 during a snowstorm. A few dozen people showed up at the Carol Stream Holiday Inn where the chapter’s quarterly meetings are still held. Then, women told other women, and about 80 people came to the next meeting. Soon, the group surpassed 100 women.
Now, after 29 meetings, Wiarda says the DuPage chapter of 100 (+) Women Who Care has donated about $330,000 to local nonprofit organizations.
Several Elmhurst women who attended a meeting of the DuPage chapter decided to try to replicate the model in their community. They started their own chapter in November and after two meetings, the group has given around $25,000 to Elmhurst organizations.
The propensity for giving has also sprouted a 100 (+) groups in Naperville and Downers Grove. Wiarda added that a group of men has also decided to give $110 per person, per quarter.
For Wiarda, helping the 100 (+) circles grow for the last seven years has been a powerful experience. “Everyone likes to be a part of something in life, when you feel like you’re contributing,” she says. “This was something I felt like I should do. When you’re part of something that will truly make a difference, I just feel so grateful. I mean, it’s just been an honor to do it.”Edit Module