While donating time and money to a local charity is rewarding on its own, the process of finding a worthy cause, sorting through legitimate nonprofits and deciding which organization will best use that money can be difficult.
Some area philanthropy groups are making the giving process more enjoyable by combining the money and research efforts of members along with a couple of beers, or maybe wine, to pick a deserving charity.
In November, about 25 men met at Pour Tap Room as part of the 100 Men Who Care group in Wilmington. The newly formed organization has the goal to recruit 100 men who each donate $100 to an organization of their choosing.
During its first meeting in November, the men donated $5,000, to Cape Fear Volunteer Center’s Hurricane Relief efforts.
The local chapter was co-founded by Aaron Rovner, founder of SaaS Hero; Adam Fox, CEO and owner of Foxter Solutions Inc.; and Jason Ashby, an engineer at FireEye Inc.
Fox learned about the 100 Men Who Care organization through a friend who is part of the Knoxville chapter.
“It sounded like something that I thought we could get started here and have a good turnout and have a big impact,” Fox said. “I kind of love the fact that we didn’t have to start up a 501(c)(3).”
The group, which has now grown to 50 members, decides whom to donate through a simple process. Any member can nominate a charity and then three are randomly chosen. The three members whose charity was chosen present, no PowerPoints, to the group. Members then vote and write a check to the charity with the most votes.
The founders decided to form the group because they felt they were in the lucky position to contribute to others.
“We have a pretty fortunate life, all things considered,” Rovner said.
“We don’t have to worry about eating or shelter, those basic things that a lot of people don’t necessarily have the good fortune to have available to them.”
The 100 Men Who Care chapter’s premise is to provide a casual and approachable system for giving.
“This is just a super easy way for us to show up, get some guy time along with it, have some beers, some food and network,” Ashby said.
While the organization is laid-back in nature, the founders are providing the structure needed to keep it running, including creating a website, a Facebook page and organizing the event. They also encourage members to contribute more than just their money.
“It’s really nice because it’s like a democracy. Members are involved. We’re not dictating anything,” Rovner said. “It’s not like you mindlessly show up, here’s 100 bucks and then you just hang out. It doesn’t work if the members aren’t involved. The democratized nature of the whole thing is what everybody really likes about it.”
100 Men Who Care thrives on the premise of simplicity and resembles a group of women in Wilmington who have chosen to donate in a more methodical way.
In May, about 135 women will meet to choose organizations that will receive thousands of dollars in grants.
They are part of Women’s Impact Network, which locally started in 2011 with founders Laurie Taylor, vice president of development at Lower Cape Fear Hospice, and Donis Smith, vice president of wealth management at UBS. WIN began with 20 women who wanted to make an impact in the community.
The network was initially part of the N.C. Community Foundation, but it branched out as more women joined.
“A friend of a friend invited us to an introductory kickoff meeting,” said Laura McCabe, WIN board member.
McCabe joined the group and the education committee to figure out what it means to be a knowledgeable contributor.
“I got involved in that committee because what I realized is that it’s not just about what our grant topics are for a particular year; it’s learning to be a better philanthropist,” McCabe said.
While WIN has the same premise 100 Men does of joining pooling donations, the structure is more systematic.
There are various committees that make up WIN, including two grants committees and committees for different focus areas, including education, health and wellness, arts and culture and the environment. The organization also has an events committee and board members.
WIN asks charities seeking funds to submit grant applications that are judiciously read by the grant committees.
Since WIN started in 2011, it has donated $259,000 to organizations in the community. WIN typically donates two grants in the $25,000 range and smaller grants of about $7,500. The Cape Fear Literacy Council was one of last year’s grant recipients.
The women at WIN consider philanthropy to be the focus, but there is also some time to socialize around the idea of giving.
“When we get together, there’s always wine. There’s always some refreshments,” McCabe said. “We encourage our members to think about getting involved in one of the subcommittees. In that process, you meet a few other WIN members; you find out what you have in common and that establishes the relationships.”
Groups such as 100 Men Who Care and WIN represent a spectrum of philanthropy that give area residents the opportunity to combine resources and influence the community they live in.
“If you’re a person at a point in your life where you want to give more back, it can be kind of overwhelming to figure out, ‘Well, where do I want to do that?’” McCabe said. “A group like WIN is one of those groups that kind of brings you in, welcomes you and we’ll help you figure out where you want to put your passion.”