When they were planning to launch, the trio of women—Kim Patterson, Alice Greene and Brandi Phillips– thought they would hold the first meeting of 100+ Women Who Care Pittsburgh at Alice’s place downtown and host around 10 women. “This is how groups start,” says Patterson. “Small.”
Instead, 90 women signed up through Facebook to join the new group with its simple and efficient premise: pool together a group of at least 100 women to contribute $100 each to a nonprofit they all vote on. The time commitment? Minimal. One hour every three months.
Last Tuesday night, 45 women showed up at Alice Greene and Dinah Denmark’s striking penthouse loft downtown for the first one-hour meeting to sip wine, meet other members and vote on a nonprofit to receive their money.
“The women kept coming in,” says Patterson, a social worker at Allegheny Health Choices. “It truly was a call to action and women responded.”
Many nonprofits were suggested ahead of time by new members on the Facebook page, from Jeremiah’s Place to Beverly’s Birthdays. At the meeting on June 16, members dropped names of their suggested organizations in a fish bowl and three were selected at random to be presented that night.
The three women representing the organizations—you must be present to win—talked passionately for five minutes each. Hannah Hardy presented the DePaul School for Hearing and Speech, Joy Braunstein pitched The Western PA Humane Society and AJ Drexler relayed the mission of The Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.
Then the voting began, a simple process of writing the number one choice on a paper ballot and dropping it in the fish bowl. The votes were quickly tallied in the bedroom and the winner—The Women’s Center and Shelter—was announced on the spot.
That was the cue for the women to write their $100 checks directly to the Women’s Center which were collected in—where else—the fish bowl.
The founders will continue to collect from the women who pledged to join the group through the end of June, says Patterson, as they continue to recruit others. To join, a woman needs to commit to donating four times a year at four meetings for $400 total. (You don’t need to be present to donate.)
The three women, with some help from Julia Weiskopf, created the group “as a way to pool money and donate a reasonable chunk of unrestricted money for an organization. The nominees must be local so it’s a way to keep the money local and make local impact,” says Patterson.
In an email that was widely shared prior to the meetings, they explained the idea behind it:
“100 Women Who Care is for you if:
• You don’t have time (or you do) in your busy life to volunteer but have been wanting to help those in need, and you can commit to one hour every three months.
• You want 100% of your donations to go directly to a local charity.
• You want your $100 donation to become a part of a larger amount of money by joining together with other women—creating a powerful local impact.”
One Hundred+ Women Who Care has chapters throughout the country. The first chapter was created in 2006 by a woman in Jackson, Michigan and it has since been referred to as speed donating as women meet briefly and infrequently to learn about local charities and nonprofits and collect money to award one. Each member writes a check to the winning organization so they get credit for their donation but recipient organizations agree to not solicit them in the future.
“I think we will have around $5,000 to present to WCS,” says Patterson who adds, “Not bad for an hour’s work!”
While the group is very pleased with the outcome so far, they have another matter to address. “Our goal over the next few months is to bring more diversity to the group,” says Patterson. “There are so many local causes that help the Pittsburgh community and the more diverse the group, the greater the widespread impact.”
For more information and to join the group, click here. Know of other women who might be interested? Feel free to spread the good word and check the Facebook page for updates on the next quarterly meeting.