By Mac McLean

The Bulletin

Lisa Connors and Lisa Shropshire are looking for a few dozen Central Oregon women who would be willing to get together with them four times a year so they can make a huge difference in their community.

Building on an idea that came out of Michigan about eight years ago, the two women are forming a Central Oregon Chapter of 100 Women Who Care, a national network of giving clubs where 100 women give $100 each to a selected charity every three months.

“It’s group giving,” Shropshire said of the group’s giving process, which combines elements of a lottery and a venture capitalist pitch show like “Shark Tank.”

“An individual $100 donation is nice, but when you combine with 99 others, it can go a long way.”

Shropshire and Connors said 75 women from Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties have committed to joining their group.

This means they need to find some more women who can join them when 100 Women Who Care Central Oregon holds its first meeting Wednesday night (see “If you go”).

“We’re close,” Connors said. “We’re really close, and it’s coming down to the wire.”

The idea

Karen Dunnigan had a simple idea when she formed what became the first chapter of 100 Women Who Care in 2006.

Rather than make one $100 contribution to a fundraising initiative that helped the Center for Family Health of Jackson, Michigan, buy cribs and calling it a day, Dunnigan invited more than 100 of her friends, co-workers and colleagues to join her in the fundraising effort by writing their own $100 checks to the charity’s fundraising drive.

By pooling their resources, Dunnigan and her friends were able to donate $12,000 — 120 checks for $100 — which was enough for the center to buy 300 cribs that it gave to low-income mothers who lived in Jackson and its surrounding area.

Dunnigan’s group continued to grow and by December 2008 had pooled enough members it was able to give Jackson’s Interfaith Homeless Shelter a $27,000 donation — again in the form of individual $100 checks — right before Christmas.

“This donation is intended to make an impact,” the founding chapter’s Facebook page reads. “Our mission and our hope is to provide for those in the greatest need.”

Over the years, 100 Women Who Care has grownand now includes 132 chapters in 27 states, Canada and Mexico. There are 11 Men Who Care and People Who Care chapters — which are either exclusively for men or count men and women as their members — in Canada, Indiana, Iowa and Ohio.

Shropshire said she got the idea to form the Central Oregon chapter from a friend who is active with the Denver chapter and posts about it heavily on her Facebook page. It is Oregon’s first 100 Women Who Care chapter and is the only chapter in the Pacific Northwest outside of a Seattle-area chapter that is also getting ready to make its first donation.

“It’s up to us to decide what we want to do,” Shropshire said, explaining that while each chapter follows the basic model that Dunnigan created eight years ago, there is some variation in how its details are carried out.

The giving

Shropshire said any woman who wants to join her group should visit its website — www.100wwcco.com — so she can commit to attending four meetings over the coming year and donating $100 to whatever charity is picked at each of these meetings.

“We need people to live up to their commitments,” Connors said, adding the group will be able to make the $10,000-plus donation it has promised only if each of its members shows up and follows the rules.

Once they’ve made this commitment, Shropshire said, prospective members are presented with a form to nominate a charity — right now, it has to be a 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves Central Oregon and is not affiliated with a political or religious group.

She said the group’s members have selected nine charities and expects that a few more will come in before the group closes its nominating process tonight so its seven-member steering committee will have enough time to vet each group and make sure it “legitimately serves the needs of Central Oregon.”

During Wednesday’s meeting, Connors and Shropshire will take each of the nomination forms they’ve received — some charities have been nominated more than once — and throw them into a hat. They will pick the names of three charities at random and ask each group’s nominator to give a five-minute presentation about why it deserves $10,000.

“A hundred bucks is a hundred bucks,” Shropshire said, explaining each presenter will likely face a round of questions from the group after making her presentation. “If we’re going to be giving away all of this money, I’m sure there will be a lot of savvy women who want to make sure the decision we are making is the right one.”

The group will then vote on which charity most deserves their support, and each member will write that group a $100 check then and there. The winning charity will then be asked to attend the giving club’s next meeting and explain what it has done or plans to do with the money.

Shropshire said this process will come after a no-host wine bar at the Oxford Hotel that will start one hour before the meeting begins and will likely be followed by a few of its members splitting off and celebrating the fact they just made a $10,000 difference in their community.

“At the end of the day, we’re just a bunch of women writing checks,” Shropshire said. “It’s a fabulous way to get together.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7816, mmclean@bendbulletin.com

7757618