Lo­cal women lever­age their fi­nan­cial strength in num­bers

Just start­ing out, 100 Wool­wich Women are seek­ing mem­bers to sup­port lo­cal char­i­ties

The Woolwich Observer - - LIVING HERE - FAISAL ALI

THEY SAY MANY HANDS make light work, and putting that the­ory to the test is a new com­mu­nity ini­tia­tive be­ing or­ga­nized in the Town­ship of Wool­wich. The 100 Wool­wich Women Who Care are com­ing to­gether to pool the com­bined re­sources of women across the com­mu­nity to sup­port lo­cal ini­tia­tives.

The group is still in its early stages, and is look­ing for lo­cal res­i­dents to join ahead of their in­au­gu­ral meet­ing next month.

“Ba­si­cally, the idea is we’re go­ing to meet four times a year: Fe­bru­ary, May, Septem­ber and Novem­ber,” ex­plained Leigh Rees, group mem­ber and co­founder. “You com­mit to one year, and what that means is that you have com­mit­ted [to do­nate] $100 for each meet­ing.”

Mem­bers agree to give $100 each, and all the money is col­lected to­gether and do­nated in one lump sum to a sin­gle cause within the town­ship. Mem­bers vote on their choice of char­ity, and the se­lected cause re­ceives all the dona­tions. In the span of a sin­gle meet­ing, a group of 100 women can gen­er­ate a sum of $10,000 – all of it go­ing to bol­ster the cho­sen or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“I think it’s the best way to get the big­gest bang for your buck,” said Shar­ron Cook, an­other of the group’s founders, who first pro­posed start­ing the 100 Wool­wich Women to her friends. “You can turn your $100 into $10,000 in an hour. What bet­ter way for a char­ity to get a chunk of money?”

There are chap­ters of 100 Women groups across Canada and the U.S., in­clud­ing in Water­loo Re­gion, as well as re­lated groups like the 100 Men Who Give a Damn. See­ing the suc­cess of these or­ga­ni­za­tions in their own com­mu­ni­ties, Cook pro­posed start­ing a Wool­wich col­lec­tive to her friends at her book club, and the group jumped on the op­por­tu­nity.

“I just thought it was a re­ally great idea when Shar­ron pre­sented it to us,” said fel­low mem­ber Shan­non Car­bone. “I know my­self I don’t have a whole lot of time. I have two kids, I’m busy run­ning around, I have other com­mit­ments in my life, and this is just ... an hour

com­mit­ment four times a year, so it worked for me.”

The 100 Women Who Care model of fundrais­ing grew out of the U.S. in 2006, when a group of over 100 women in Michi­gan banded to­gether to buy baby cribs for a lo­cal char­ity. Each woman agreed to do­nate $100 to the cause, and in the course of a sin­gle meet­ing were able to raise thou­sands in short order. The idea has since been adopted in com­mu­ni­ties across the con­ti­nent.

“And the beau­ti­ful part is, peo­ple are so busy nowa­days, so the big thing is the lack of a huge time com­mit­ment,” added Donna Robert­son. Meet­ings are also a great chance for mem­bers to so­cial­ize and net­work as well, and have fun while rais­ing a large amount of money and hav­ing a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the com­mu­nity, they point out.

“And it’s such a sim­ple premise. It’s just sim­ple math. We can make it hap­pen, let’s do it,” said Cook. “And what a great wind­fall for a lo­cal char­ity.”

Three char­i­ties are in­vited to at­tend the meet­ings and ex­plain, in a brief pre­sen­ta­tion, why they would like the group’s dona­tions and what they hope to do with the funds. Af­ter some so­cial­iz­ing, the wom­en­mem­bers then get to vote for their choice of char­ity.

“So any char­ity that can pro­vide a re­ceipt to donors can be se­lected,” ex­plained Rees. “And of the three, women that at­tend the meet­ing vote, and the char­ity with the most votes wins the evening and all that money is do­nated.”

Rather than col­lect money it­self, the 100 Wool­wich Women group acts as the fa­cil­i­ta­tor for dona­tions and rais­ing aware­ness. Mem­bers of the 100 Wool­wich Women write their cheques di­rectly to the char­ity it­self, en­sur­ing the char­i­ties are the sole re­cip­i­ents.

“All of the money goes to the char­ity. We col­lect the cheques, but we don’t col­lect the money. So the cheque gets handed over, and all of the ex­penses for the meet­ings are spon­sored,” noted Cook. The win­ning char­i­ties are also in­vited back to fu­ture meet­ings to talk about the im­pact the dona­tions had on their ef­forts – giv­ing donors a real sense of how their money has ben­e­fit­ted their com­mu­nity.

Be­sides ad­di­tional mem­bers, the group is also look­ing for spon­sors to host their meet­ings. Char­i­ties in­ter­ested in re­ceiv­ing dona­tions from the group are also be­ing en­cour­aged to reach out; so long as they op­er­ate in Wool­wich Town­ship and can pro­vide re­ceipts to donors, they are el­i­gi­ble to be nom­i­nated.

The group will be hold­ing their first meet­ing on Fe­bru­ary 5, and or­ga­niz­ers are en­cour­ag­ing any­one in­ter­ested to at­tend. Only mem­bers, how­ever, will be able to cast their vote for a char­ity.

Those in­ter­ested in join­ing the 100 Wool­wich Women, or learn­ing more about the group, can also do so on­line at www.100wool­wich­women. ca, or by con­tact­ing them at 100wool­wich­[email protected] gmail.com. Mem­ber­ship forms are avail­able on the web­site, as well as information for char­i­ties and spon­sors alike.

[FAISAL ALI / THE OB­SERVER]

The 100 Wool­wich Women Who Care is seek­ing new mem­bers in the town­ship to join ahead of their first-ever meet­ing next month. The lo­cal group’s co­founders in­clude Donna Robert­son, Shar­ron Cook, Leigh Rees and Shan­non Car­bone.

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