“Make a Difference” typically focuses on items our readers might have around the house and be willing to donate to worthy causes, but we’re making an exception this week in the case of two very special organizations that have been making a huge difference in our region in recent years.
Although these groups collect money rather than material things, they do it in a most unusual way and one we’re certain our readers will want to learn more about. Imagine raising $20,000 in one hour for a worthy cause — minus the live and silent auctions, the raffles and chicken dinners, and without the least bit of arm-twisting.
This new form of philanthropy, known as giving circles, offers a novel way for people to leverage their funds and make an impact. It began locally as two organizations, the first one known as “100 (+) Women Who Care,” at that time the third chapter in the country, which was followed by “100 (+) Men Who Care,” the first men’s chapter in the nation.
Kathy Banwart, who now lives in Iowa but returns for the “Women Who Care” meetings, first brought the creative concept to Dayton seven years ago after hearing about a similar organization in Michigan. When Bob Hewitt of Miamisburg heard about the group, he started one for men.
Both the women’s and the men’s group members meet four times a year and pick a different local charity at each meeting. Each person then writes a $100 check directly to the winning charity. There’s no paperwork, no billing or bookkeeping, just a very special delivery to the always-thrilled recipient.
The expedited process is especially appealing to busy folks who enjoy getting together, educating themselves about their community and making a difference. It’s also great for those who have a favorite cause they’d like to promote that might end up with a sizable donation from the group. One hundred percent of the monies raised at each meeting goes directly to a charity in the Greater Dayton area.
Banwart said the results have been amazing. The women’s group currently has more than 200 members and has donated close to half a million dollars to a variety of local causes.
“And it has all happened in just 25 one-hour meetings where three names are drawn,” Banwart said. “Each of those three members has five minutes to convince us to vote for her cause.”
To date, 100 (+) Men Who Care have met about 18 times and have donated over $100,000 to Dayton-area charities. Recent winners include The Artemis Center, Crayons to Classrooms, Dayton Early College Academy, Hannah’s Treasure Chest, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Building Bridges and Daybreak.
Each member commits to providing a fully tax deductible, $100 donation per quarter.
“That means at current membership levels and because there is no overhead, the winning charity receives an always needed and very much appreciated cash contribution of about $6,000,” said Joe Lehman of Bellbrook. The men’s finances are handled by the Dayton Foundation.
Banwart said an added bonus is that each donation just drops in the laps of the recipient without it costing them a nickel of their money or a minute of their staff’s time writing grant applications or doing fundraisers. At each meeting, representatives of the groups report on how donations have touched lives and made a difference.
At this point, the women’s group has supported 25 organizations ranging from the Dayton Boys and Girls Club and Good Samaritan Homeless Clinic’s Dental Clinic to the PALS for Life, a local breast cancer support group. Their donations have been used to furnish two lounges at Daybreak, purchase laundry machines for St. Vincent’s, and send more than 50 WWII Vets on Honor Flight to see their memorial in Washington D.C.. They helped the House of Bread stay open to serve a meal on Sundays as well.
Banwart said sometimes a personal need results in a new not-for-profit, such as once when a member’s child was suddenly in intensive care at Dayton Children’s and she saw how helpful it would be to provide local hospitals with kits filled with personal care items that parents might need when they suddenly find themselves unwilling to leave their children. So she started a group called Helping Hands.
Both of the local chapters have inspired the creation of similar chapters around the country as a result of members spreading the word. “And the need for donations from a group like ours has increased as other sources have diminished funding,” Banwart said.
NEW MEMBERS WELCOME
If you’re interested in joining these groups, all you need to do is show up at the next meeting or call to say you’d like to be added to the membership rosters. You aren’t required to attend the meetings; you can just send your check.
The women’s group will meet from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 16, at McGohan-Brabender, 3139 South Dixie in Moraine. If you want more information, check out Dayton 100(+) Women Who Care on Facebook or call Kathy Banwart at (937) 477-3277.
The men’s group will meet at that same location from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 20. If you are interested but can’t make this meeting, contact Joe Lehman at (937) 760-8095 or e-mail him at email@example.com. Check out the web site at www.100plusmenwhocare.org/
HELPING OUR COMMUNITY MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Make a Difference publishes the wish lists of nonprofit organizations, connecting our readers with those groups that are in need of new or gently used items. If your organization would like to be included, send details to Meredith Moss: MMoss@coxohio.com. Include a daytime phone number.