The Dubuque chapter of 100+ Women Who Care has wasted no time in raising and directly donating funds to area nonprofits.
As a rule, the group’s members waste no time at all, if they can help it.
Each meeting is a tightly wrapped parcel, an hour almost to the minute. At 6 p.m., members sit — after 30 minutes of socializing — in a ballroom at Dubuque Golf and Country Club.
Then, members proffer nonprofits on slips of paper for which they wish to advocate. Someone draws three names out of a fish bowl.
Then, members who submitted the chosen nonprofits have five minutes to plead their charities’ case. Another three minutes are reserved for questions from the audience.
After the presentations, the room votes for the cause that moved them most. And once a winner is chosen, everyone in the room writes a check that will be given directly to the nonprofit in question — no pooling in a foundation, endowment or trust before reaching the folks who benefit.
“We like to keep it simple, sister,” chapter founder Carolyn Gantz told the group Wednesday night.
That is part of what caught Gantz’s eye and inspired her to bring a chapter of the national organization to Dubuque in 2016. A similar organization — 100+ Men Who Care — launched in 2015.
In the women’s group’s first 15 meetings, members have raised more than $250,000.
“I thought, ‘This is just too easy a way to raise money,’” Gantz said. “And as you saw tonight, it is very quick.”
Wednesday’s meeting did run a tad long due to a miscommunication with a presenting nonprofit. It turned out Restorative Strategies, the first group drawn, is not its own 501(c)3 nonprofit, existing instead under the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque.
Accordingly, it was disqualified, but not until after the group’s presentation.
There’s big money at stake during these evenings at the country club, so members and potential beneficiaries take their few-minute pitches seriously. The group usually donates in the ballpark of $18,000 every meeting.
Bonnie Kiernan has been a member of 100+ Women Who Care in Dubuque since the beginning.
“My sister and I came the first night,” she said. “We saw the ad in the newspaper and said, ‘I think we can afford $400 a year.’”
That’s what it comes down to for most members — four meetings per year, one $100 check per meeting. Of course, members can always donate more if they wish.
While this is the same basic structure as 100+ Men Who Care, which also has an active Dubuque chapter, Kiernan insists the men could learn something from her group.
“We see the publicity for the men, but we always bring in more money,” she said. “It makes me think, ‘Do you boys need help?’”
Wednesday night, 100+ Women Who Care donated to the First Congregational Church’s weekly “Cafe.” Member Tami Ryan, who pitched for the program, said the church had a funding gap of $13,000 to expand the kitchen, which was much needed for its weekly free community meal.
The Cafe ultimately beat out contenders the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival and Finley Pediatric Rehabilitation, despite barely making the cut. It was the option drawn to replace the disqualified Restorative Strategies.
This was the Cafe’s second chance, too, having been beaten out at the August meeting by Tri-State Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Slavery.
The next meeting will be held Feb. 5.