Women Who Care program provides support for local causes
By Jon Shoulders
»Ten thousand dollars in one hour. That simple phrase captured the attention of Gail Richards, president of the Johnson County Community Foundation, and inspired her to learn more about 100 Women Who Care, a uniquely structured, nonprofit philanthropic concept taking hold across the globe.
Carol Phipps, pantry manager at the Interchurch Food Pantry of Johnson County, had reached out to Richards for help putting a local 100 Women Who Care group together, and Richards was intrigued by her explanation of the organization’s donation process. “The group has an immediate, direct impact on the community through no-strings-attached donations to local charities, and the time commitment is minimal, which is attractive to a lot of women with big time commitments elsewhere,” Richards says.
Four times per year, members of 100 Women Who Care gather for an hour-long meeting to nominate a nonprofit charity benefiting Johnson County as the recipient of a monetary donation, and the names of all organizations suggested by members are gathered into a hat. Three names are then drawn, and a representative for each organization drawn gives a five-minute presentation. A vote is taken immediately following the presentations and a brief question-and-answer session, after which each member writes a $100 check for the winning charity.
Garnet Vaughan, group member and communications director, says the goal of the 71 women who have joined thus far is to grow to at least 100 members, which would mean a $10,000 total donation per quarterly meeting. “It’s truly no strings attached. The recipients use 100 percent of the donation on whatever their most pressing need is at that point in time,” says Phipps, who was introduced to the concept in 2015 after getting involved with a 100 Women Who Care group in Edgar County, Illinois, and subsequently reached out to Cheryl Morphew, president of the Johnson County Development Corp., and Dorcas Abplanalp, board vice president of the IFP, last June to spearhead a similar group in Johnson County. The trio then enlisted the help of Richards and organized a kickoff luncheon in December that featured Rowana Umbarger, a group member and steering committee representative, as the keynote speaker. “If we get past 100 members, then of course that’s great,” Phipps adds. “There’s one in Vigo County that’s at over 200 members.”
The group represents part of a national and global movement that began in 2006 in Jackson, Michigan, where a local business leader named Karen Dunigan conceived the donation structure as an efficient way to provide cribs, blankets and mattresses for mothers in need. There are currently dozens of women, men, children and all-inclusive groups in the United States — including Bloomington, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Terre Haute — as well as Canada, Mexico and several other countries.
Morphew says the timing and circumstances surrounding the group’s first recipient of funds, the IFP, serve as a perfect example of the benefits of unconditional, unrestricted donations. “The presentation given by Lisa Lintner, director of the Johnson County Public Library, on the food pantry at our February meeting was extremely impassioned and brought some people to tears,” she says. Not long after that first 2016 quarterly giving meeting on Feb. 11, the pantry’s two furnaces broke down, requiring immediate repair to help fend off the winter cold for pantry patrons. On the day of the check presentation in the amount of $4,800 at the pantry less than two weeks later, new furnaces were already being installed.
“Many times grantors don’t want to fund operating expenses, and they want to find something project-specific or program-specific,” Morphew says. “With this there are no strings attached, and we trust that they’re going to spend the money in a way that they need. The Interchurch Food Pantry is a perfect example. A grant probably wouldn’t have paid for replacing heating and air conditioning.”
Vaughan says membership fees consist of $500 annually, including an initial donation of $100, which is put into a fund held by the JCCF for future projects, and quarterly $100 donations at each hour-long meeting.
“I think having that smaller time commitment in comparison with other things that a lot of women in the organization are involved with is going to help us tap into an audience of women who want to give, but whose personal and professional circumstances don’t give them the opportunity to go once a week, once a month, et cetera,” Vaughan says. “They’ll be able to do this for just four hours a year and still make a huge impact.”
100 Women Who Care Johnson County
What it is: A charitable initiative consisting of quarterly, hour-long giving events, to directly benefit nonprofit organizations through monetary donations.
Membership information: Total annual donation commitment is $500, including $100 deposited into a future fund at the Johnson County Community Foundation, and quarterly donations of $100 at member meetings. Membership forms are available online at jccf.org.
Contact information: 100WomenJC@gmail.com
Upcoming meeting dates for 2016: Aug. 11 and Nov. 10
Location: Elks Lodge, 56 E. Jefferson St., Franklin
Time: Social gathering and networking at 5 p.m., followed by official meeting from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Cost: $10 per person; includes refreshments and cash bar