There are many ways to make a difference in the world. Some people donate time and talent. Others spend weeks organizing fundraising events. But what if you only had an hour to spare, three to four times a year?
In 2008, a national organization called 100 Women Who Care answered that question with a novel concept—bring together 100 women who can commit to one hour of their time and a $100 contribution on a quarterly basis. Choose a few worthy charities, and those $100 individual checks have the exponential power to raise $10,000 in just one hour.
Jill Casey of Hinsdale says she and a group of philanthropic-minded women in our community heard about this concept but wanted to put their own spin on it. Interestingly enough, that seed of inspiration came from the pages of our own Hinsdale Living magazine.
“Last February, Ruta Brigden had read in Hinsdale Living a Country vs. Town article on a woman who was on the board of the Western Spring’s 100 Women Who Give A Damn. Having served and been a leader in a variety of Hinsdale-based organizations, she was looking for her next adventure and was inspired by their mission,” says Casey.
Brigden asked Dee Bauer to join her in attending the group’s April 2019 event. Meanwhile, 4,000 miles away in Maui, Casey was also having dinner with a friend and learned about the Maui chapter of 100 Women Who Care.
“Having just worked eight months on the board of another local nonprofit planning a big charity luncheon fundraiser, I was drawn to how efficient and simple this model was in raising money for a variety of organizations,” Casey adds. “I came home from spring break and told my friend Christine Trainer that we needed to consider doing this as our next adventure.”
Two weeks later, Trainer saw the social media posts from Brigden and Bauer’s experience at the Western Springs event, told Casey about it, and by coincidence, Casey ran into Bridgen at Fuller House. It was a meeting that seemed meant to be.
“We knew there were so many women in the Hinsdale and Clarendon Hills area eager to contribute towards bettering the lives of people in our community,” Casey says.
She is now joined by Bauer, Brigden, and Trainer on the cofounding team, along with Kara Boyle, Cathy Coyne Hofmann, Donna Mittelstadt, and Shazia Sultan.
“We have eight founding members and we’ve all volunteered or been in leadership roles supporting the various local philanthropic organizations over the years. And I know we will continue to do so. But this approach is different,” Casey says. “It’s simple, but powerful. And it reaches the smaller charities that don’t have big enough budgets to reach enough people. There will be no luncheon or dinner to plan, or months of fundraising. And 100 percent of the donation will go directly to the charity.”
Rather than creating a local chapter of the national organization, Casey says they wanted to follow Western Springs’ lead and form a nonprofit of their own. Hence, 100 Women Making It Happen was born in Hinsdale, harnessing the strength of a diverse group of local women bound by a commitment to helping the community.
“Our founding members represent different schools in our community, have different aged children—from newborn to college-aged—have experience in working with a variety of different local nonprofits and come from different social groups,” she explains. “With the skills and amount of experience these women each bring to the table, I am completely humbled to be working with each of them.”
While the group had to cancel its April kickoff event because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Casey is confident that they will be ready to move forward and make an immediate impact as soon as life returns to normal—with plans to reschedule sometime this fall.
“In one hour, with 100 women, we hope to raise $10,000 for the winning charity. Each of the three charities will have five minutes to give their pitch, all in attendance will vote for a winning charity, and they will each have a table provided for them to connect with these women afterward—for volunteer opportunities or further donations,” she explains. “So, regardless of the outcome, they will have the opportunity to reach these women.”
Sounds like a win-win for all—especially in these uncertain times.
“The economic repercussions from the COVID-19 pandemic have affected charities enormously. They need our help more than ever right now,” Casey says. “We’ve already discussed reaching out to organizations particularly impacted by this crisis, and perhaps organizations that provide shelter for the homeless. As soon as things stabilize a little more, we will resume working harder than ever to find the ones in most need of our assistance.”