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Opinion

New Hampshire’s ‘Women Who Care’ Carve a Collective Path to Giving | Opinion

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by Krystal Hicks, New Hampshire Bulletin
July 14, 2023

When was the last time you felt compelled to make an impact in your community, but within seconds your philanthropic flame was snuffed out by the mile-long to-do list that came to mind? Trust me, I can relate. So, when my friend Samantha Backus told me over dinner recently that she “helped give away $10,000 to a nonprofit last night,” I about spit out my drink.

“You did what? How?” I asked, immediately intrigued. Sam proceeded to tell me about 100 Women Who Care, a national organization with hundreds of local chapters (and several in New Hampshire) that brings together 100 busy, but motivated, women each quarter for a little bit of networking, and a whole lot of philanthropy. “But where does the $10,000 come from?” I asked. 

“It’s almost too simple,” she said. “You get 100 local women who each donate $100 to be a member for that quarter and each one of them gets to nominate a local nonprofit of their choice. The board of directors schedules the quarterly meeting, selects three of the nonprofits from the list of nominations, and invites a representative from each of the top three to attend the meeting. The reps each get five minutes to pitch to the group on what they would use the money for, and then members vote. Whichever organization gets the most votes gets the $10,000 – that night.” 

She was right. It sounded almost too simple … but in the best possible way. As my mind raced, looking for possible snags to no avail, we locked eyes and said, “So we’re doing this, right?”

Almost overnight, Sam and I gathered as many names as we could think of and began recruiting three other board members, Lourdes Riva (finance), Audra Labrie (marketing), and Brittany Isabelle (compliance/operations), to help us bring this to life.  Within one month, we had our first board meeting and created a list of potential members to invite to get the ball rolling. The framework for the Seacoast chapter of 100 Women Who Care was officially born. 

Since that first meeting in May, we have successfully registered our organization and filed the request for our 501(c)(3). We identified a location for our inaugural meeting that felt special and exciting, the 100 Club in Portsmouth, and we began building the marketing and communications systems necessary to engage with our community of members.  

To say we were nervous – but excited – is an understatement. “What if we can’t get 100 members? What if we can’t recruit enough sponsors to offset the operational costs of the meeting space, food and beverages, and systems we need to operate?” Questions like these ping-ponged among us every meeting, leading up to our launch, but I have to say – you know you built a strong board when fear inspires hustle. Everyone plugged in and contributed, even paying out of pocket for the little things we knew would make a nice difference for members. And just like that, socials were launched, website content was loaded, and we were live. 

I am thrilled to say that within less than three weeks of formally announcing the Seacoast chapter was taking in members, we secured our inaugural 100. We also received in-kind donations from a local florist as well as a brand photographer to help ensure our first meeting on July 27 is a memorable one. Lastly, we welcomed two incredibly generous, local sponsors, Collins Lending and Studio One Cycle, which ensures that members won’t be incurring any additional costs to attend our meeting outside of their $100 donation. (Open bar and shrimp towers anyone?) 

Even with all of the momentum we’ve gathered this far, the best part of this experience to date has been the feedback from our new members. Almost daily, we are fielding comments like, “Wow, I can’t even tell you how excited I am to meet these other women!” And, “So you’re telling me that all I have to do is pay $100 to help give away $10,000? And it’s tax deductible? Sign me up.” It really goes to show you that making a wave of impact in your community doesn’t require a major investment of time or money, but simply a focused and collective effort from like-minded and motivated individuals who can envision something bigger than themselves.  

For more information on the Seacoast chapter of 100 Women Who Care, please visit 100womenseacoast.org

New Hampshire Bulletin is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. New Hampshire Bulletin maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Dana Wormald for questions: info@newhampshirebulletin.com. Follow New Hampshire Bulletin on Facebook and Twitter.