BERLIN – A group of local women interested in making a positive impact on their community have a lot to celebrate, according to its organizers.
In its first two years, 100+ Women Who Care on the Shore – a group that donates money to local charities – has raised more than $20,000 for six nonprofits.
But the group’s philanthropic endeavors don’t end there. Those with the organization said they wish to grow their membership in an effort to support more nonprofits in a big way.
Organizers Janelle Mulholland, Susanna Eisenman and Anna Newton founded the local chapter of 100+ Women Who Care in 2016, shortly after Mulholland visited her mother in Iowa.
“I was home in Iowa and my mom said she had this group to go to after I left …,” she said. “She started telling me about it and I looked at her and said, ‘That sounds awesome. I want to start one.’”
After returning to Maryland, Mulholland quickly set out to find more information on the organization – which has more than 400 chapters worldwide – and gather interest. Along with friends Eisenman and Newton, she soon began to reach out to others in the community.
“We knew it wouldn’t be a lot of work and that it might be a lot of fun,” Mulholland said. “We would learn what is going on in our community and make a direct impact.”
Unlike other organizations, Mulholland said 100+ Women Who Care on the Shore is not a 501c3, but rather a group that collects money for nonprofits.
“We don’t really go out and ask for money and we don’t go out and hold fundraisers,” she said. “We are basically a philanthropy.”
Three times a year, the group meets for one hour to learn about local nonprofits that are nominated by members. The group then selects one agency to receive individual checks of $100.
“For a $100 donation you get a nomination and a vote,” she said. “You nominate your charity, we throw every slip in a box, we pull three randomly, and then those three women get up and talk about their favorite charity and why it’s near and dear to their hearts. Then we vote and the charity with the most votes we write our checks to.”
Mulholland said the only requirement is that women select a nonprofit that is local and benefits Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset counties.
“That rules out a lot of national charities,” she said. “Although we think they do good work, that’s not the purpose of our organization.”
Mulholland said the organization serves as a platform to raise funds for smaller charities. To date, the group has raised $20,100 for local nonprofits, including the Cricket Center, Stephen Decatur High School Band Boosters, Women Supporting Women, Atlantic General Hospital’s Healthway Drive Community Garden, Germantown School Community Heritage Center, and Hope4Recovery.
“We really wanted to give a boost in the arm to the smaller local charities that maybe people haven’t heard about or that really don’t have the funds or staffing to raise a lot of money on their own,” she said.
While attendance fluctuates, Mulholland said an average of 26 women attend meetings regularly. She noted, however, that all women – younger and older – are welcome to join.
“Mainly we want to make a direct impact on our community, and not by buying raffle tickets and wrapping paper and doing bake sales,” she said. “You go to a meeting, have some social time, hear about what is going on in the community, vote and bam, we raise whatever we raise. At the last meeting we had 25 people and we raised $2,500 in an hour.”
Committee member Michelle McGowan said she joined the group to help the community and support lesser-known nonprofits.
“This is really the first thing I’ve been involved in outside of work,” she said. “I really love how we are raising awareness for local charities that really don’t get a lot of publicity.”
McGowan encouraged anyone to attend a meeting.
“We welcome anybody that wants to see what we are all about,” she said. “Working together we can make a huge impact on our community.”
Mulholland said the group’s goal is to get at least 100 active participants, which would enable members to raise $10,000 at each meeting.
“We like to say it’s the power of giving collectively …,” she said. “It’s really amazing what we can do when we put our money together and help these smaller organizations.”
This year, meetings will be held at Fins Ale House and Raw Bar in Berlin on Feb. 5, April 30 and Oct. 1 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The group will also host a dinner for members in the spring to celebrate the power of giving and the organization’s accomplishments.
“It’s high impact and very little time and effort,” Mulholland said.