The North suburbs will soon be home to a chapter of "100 Women Who Care," a unique philanthropic concept that has chapters springing up all over the country. We recently had a chance to talk with Laurie Richter, the founder of this new local chapter.
Q: How did you come up with this idea?
A: I wish it was my idea but all I can take credit for is knowing a good idea when I hear it. It was started by a woman in Jackson, Mich. who was asked to raise funds for a project to buy baby beds. In her own words, "I knew I could help. I knew I could raise the money but, I was tired, I didn't want to organize a fundraiser and have meetings and everything that goes with it. I just didn't have the time. I knew that, with my friends help, we had to know at least 100 women in the community that could afford to write a check for $100 each to reach the goal of $10,000." They got 128 women together and in an hour, they had raised $12,800 for their project. This simple idea gave birth to 100 Women Who Care.
Q: How does it work?
A: Basically, 100 or more women get together four times per year. Any member can nominate a local charity and three nominations are randomly chosen. The nominating members give five minute presentations on their charity, the group votes on which charity to support, and then each woman immediately writes a $100 check to the winning charity. This results in an instantaneous collective donation to the charity that is substantial enough to make a real impact.
Q: Why did you decide to start this?
A: I met a woman who worked for a homeless shelter in Michigan that was about to close because of a lack of funding, and her local chapter of 100 Women Who Care came through and saved the shelter. But the amazing part of the story is that they did it in an hour. I ran a church fundraiser for several years, so I know how much time and effort these activities usually take. I was fascinated by this more business-oriented approach to fundraising.
Q: In what ways is it a business-oriented approach?
A: It's a simple but elegant solution to the challenges of fundraising. First of all, it's very respectful of members' time and money. They are only asked to commit one hour and $100, four times a year. Yet at the end of that hour, the group will collectively raise more than $10,000 for a charity, once the group reaches 100 members. That's a tremendous outcome with minimal input. More businesses should be run this way. Second, the members are truly empowered. Those of us in the founding group are really just organizers. The membership determines which charities to pursue and each person has an equal vote in the outcome. Third is accountability. Each meeting starts with a short presentation by the recipient of the last meeting's award, who is tasked with telling us how the money was or will be spent. How often have you made a donation to an organization and actually found out what happened with it? And finally, the meetings, themselves, present our members with a terrific networking opportunity. Established chapters have told us to always have these meetings in a venue which lends itself to socializing because many of the women will come before and stay after to mingle.
Q: How can someone get more information or join the group?
A: Our inaugural meeting is at 7 p.m. on May 14 at Eddie Merlot's in Lincolnshire.
Everyone is welcome. For more information, please contact Laurie100Women@gmail.com, or visit our website www.100WomenWhoCareNorthSuburbanChicago.com.
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