When speaking of philanthropy, one might envision black-tie galas, reserved-table dinners or family-friendly carnivals — all of which involve immense amounts of planning, marketing, time, manpower, overhead, and hobnobbing with the wealthy and prestigious.
But giving circles, which The Center for Effective Philanthropy says have probably existed before written history, are experiencing a comeback across the country and providing a powerful way for diverse citizens to unite and make a difference in their communities with little time and monetary commitment.
From 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Idaho Central Credit Union at 4400 Central Way in Chubbuck, 100 Women Who Care Pocatello will hold its very first chapter meeting and officially help bring the giving circle movement to Pocatello.
Heading a steering committee of eight local women, Stacey George hopes that many others in the community will catch the vision and bring their connections, experience, viewpoints and votes to the meetings to help local non-profit organizations.
George said that the 100 Women Who Care organization leaves local chapters to specify their own rules and regulations.
“Other groups are really strict with rosters and other things on how they maintain their membership,” George said, “I would prefer it be where people come because they want to come and be involved because helping in our community is important to them.”
George’s steering committee decided to establish the Pocatello chapter based mostly on the original chapter’s ideas:
• Chapters meet four times a year for only an hour.
• Local nonprofit organizations are nominated by attendees and the steering committee chooses three of those nominated.
• All attendees are asked to bring a $100 blank check to the meetings. (The $100 donation can be divided among several individuals if the amount is too much.)
• At the meeting, the person who nominates each of the three non-profit organizations and the organization representatives explains the needs of the non-profit organization and how the money would be used if awarded.
• Attendees who donate get to vote for one of the three non-profit organizations and the organization that receives the most votes receives the money.
• Blank checks are then filled out and given directly to the organization’s representative that night.
• At the next meeting, the nonprofit organization that was awarded the money reports back to the group on the use of the money and how it benefited those for whom the non-profit helps.
• Non-profit organizations not chosen can be nominated again; those receiving awards can only receive the award once per year.
For years, George had been searching for a way to do more for Pocatello’s community, but had limited time and money outside of her service for church and family.
In May, George found the answer when she read an article written by Lois Collins in the Deseret News regarding a giving circle movement called “100 Women Who Care” which was started in 2006 by a woman named Karen Dunagan from Michigan.
Dunagan found out that new mothers in her Michigan area were bringing their newborns home to sleep in drawers or boxes because they couldn’t afford cribs. Dunagan asked a few friends if they wanted to contribute $100 with her to help buy some cribs. These friends recruited more friends who each made a contribution of $100 which ballooned into $12,800 for cribs.
Dunagan and the other women decided to continue the group and founded the first chapter of the 100 Women Who Care organization, which Collins says has grown to over 650 established chapters and more than 250 in the process across the U.S.
The national organization has umbrella-ed it’s name to “100 Who Care Alliance” because several groups have diversified beyond “women.” International chapters have also started emerging in places like Mexico, Pakistan, Singapore, Australia and Canada.
Upon reading about the idea in March, George contacted a few friends who enthusiastically got on board in May. This group of women decided to move forward with creating a chapter in Pocatello and the steering committee was established consisting of Stacey George, Heidi Payne, Marzyeh Jalilzadeh, Joanna Davidson, Kathleen Hofman, Lanae Kener, Sherry Reddish and Becky Payne.
“We decided to give it a shot and see how the people of Pocatello respond,” George said, “and if it’s something they want. ...We obviously don’t know of all the good causes that are out there. A more diverse group of women of all ages and interests brings with them their different connections, networks, and resources. They bring with them knowledge of valid organizations that are needing help.
“We have a goal of growing this organization as not only a community of women who share in the experience of uniting to make a large donation” George continued, “but also in women connecting and interacting with each other who may not otherwise do so. … By including women from other religions, walks of life, and ages, I feel that will make us a better group of women because we all bring little pieces to contribute that others don’t have and that will make us into a bigger a whole.”
George also said that charitable organizations interested in being considered for nomination or anyone who has questions can contact the steering committee via email at email@example.com The chapter is also possibly seeking corporate sponsors to help with consolation prizes for the two non-profit organizations that do not walk away with the meeting’s vote. More information is also available on FaceBook.