Kim MacGregor was mesmerized as she listened to a woman standing in front of a room filled with fellow Edward Jones investors, explaining what the 100+ Women Who Care was all about and the direct impact a group of like-minded women could have on their local community.
Kim, an Edward Jones financial advisor and president of the Dowagiac Area Chamber of Commerce, left that meeting in 2013 knowing she had to bring the group to Cass County, and with the help of five other founding members, that is exactly what she did.
“We are a group of women that’s interested in supporting our local community, and no matter who we are or what our background is, we come together to make it possible for a lot of different nonprofits to operate,” Kim says.
Cass County’s 100+ Women Who Care is a national organization that does not work like other nonprofit groups. There are no fundraising events to organize and host, no accounting records to keep and no weekly or monthly meetings to attend. The group’s only task is to meet four times per year. During those meetings, each member gives $100 to the chosen nonprofit organization.
Cass County’s 100+ Women Who Care has donated money to local groups like the Salvation Army, Fitch Camp and the Marcellus Township Library.
Members bring an idea for a charity to the meeting, all the ideas are put in a hat and three are drawn. The names drawn become the three presenters. The member who nominated the organization will sometimes bring a representative from the charity with them, or present on their behalf.
All the women listen to the needs of each group, and at the end, vote. The majority wins, and each member writes a check directly to the organization for $100.
“I’ve given money to nonprofit groups over the years and always wondered, how much difference does my $100 donation really make,” Kim says. “But, you take my $100, combined with the rest of the group — which is currently at 46 — and that money can really make a difference.”
Groups that are not chosen at the meeting do not leave emptyhanded. The presentation process itself serves as a marketing tool for the organizations drawn, offering the charities a platform to share their message with an audience of engaged citizens who may be able to help outside of 100+ Women Who Care.
Throughout the presentation and voting process, members offer presenters advice and put them in contact with other resources whenever possible. Any group that is not chosen is welcome to present again.
When Kim initially started the group, she said she was focused only on giving to the community she loved. She had no idea what she would get in return from these women.
“I get to talk to these women, who have years and years of experience,” she says. “They have ideas, they have vision and they have determination. This group is a tremendous opportunity for me to speak with the women of this county and develop some meaningful relationships.”
Kim says new members are always welcome. While the group has grown to 46 members, there is plenty of room for more. Meetings are hosted once every three months at various locations throughout Cass County.
“I have no plans of leaving, ever,” Kim says. “I spend an hour preparing for (and attending) a 45-minute meeting once a quarter. Why would I quit? I love giving and seeing the impact of what we are doing for this community.”
To date, the group has donated funds to more than 16 nonprofit groups, from libraries to churches, theaters, museums and medical facilities. Their gifts have impacted many in Cass County, but there are so many, according to Kim, that still need their help.
“We are never at a loss for new organizations to recommend,” she says. “And to date, we haven’t given to the same organization twice.”
For more information about Cass County’s 100+ Women Who Care visit the organization’s website at casscounty100wwc.webs.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Ann Reiff