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Meanwhile, Carol Arthur, executive director of the Domestic Abuse Project, which received $10,000 last quarter, moved to the front of the room to thank them for their gift.
Arthur later said: “The money is, of course, of great benefit. … But it’s also such a powerful message to the families … to know that a group of 100 women came together and made a public statement that they want to help them.”
Finally, the night’s winner was announced: Spare Key, a Minnesota-based nonprofit that provides a housing payment to families with a child suffering from a life-threatening illness.
As if on cue, the women opened their purses and pulled out their checkbooks.
Susan Johnson of Minneapolis was among those grabbing a pen. A marketing manager for a national corporation, she travels frequently. She thinks The Power of 100 is a terrific organization for busy women who care about their communities.
“It’s exposed me to organizations I would never have known about,” said Johnson. “And it’s really nice to be able to meet the executive directors of the organizations [funded] instead of getting a slick marketing brochure in the mail.”
Low tech, low time
The idea of “giving circles” is not new. They range from small groups meeting in living rooms to more structured programs affiliated with foundations.
What’s unusual about the Power of 100 is that it is a grass-roots group, created solely by word-of-mouth, that has managed to give away nearly $40,000 its first year.
A recent study by Indiana’s Women’s Philanthropy Institute indicated that women baby boomers and older women — the demographics of the group writing out checks on this day — donate a greater portion of their incomes than men of the same age.
The founders of the Power of 100 hope that generosity continues. They envision an east metro and a west metro chapter down the road.
“I think people have a desire to do something, but writing out a check for $100 doesn’t have the impact that $10,000 does,” said Kuehn. “And a lot of these women are looking for an opportunity to get together with like-minded women. They want to accomplish more.”
Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511