Last week was huge for Boomerang, a nonprofit program in Orange County that provides support to students in times of crisis and beyond. The program, since 2006, has assisted more than 300 students, helping them to manage challenges, develop coping skills and increase resiliency and independence. It also provides an alternative to suspension, with after school programming. The goal of Boomerang is to inspire youth to “bounce back from challenges and move towards positive change.”
It’s that kind of mission that caught the eye of members of the local chapter of 100 Women Who Give A Hoot, which awarded Boomerang with a $9,500 donation. The group is a branch that grew out of the umbrella organization of 100 Women Who Give A Hoot in Raleigh.
While the act of charitable giving is not unusual, the simplicity with which 100 Women Who Give A Hoot is run is uncommon.
“It’s all about collective giving,” said Tina Clossick, who is the founder of the Chapel Hill/Durham chapter. “It’s the idea of putting individual members together with small funds to make a large impact through the combined gifts.”
The donation to Boomerang was the chapter’s fifth donation, totaling more than $40,000.
“Each quarter we meet and listen to three nonprofits,” Clossick said. “We give them an opportunity to make a pitch about the work they do and how they could use the money. Then we vote at the end on which one we feel like should have the money for that quarter.”
To say the group keeps it simple is an understatement. Organizers take into consideration the often busy schedules of its members and meets one time per quarter. Each member is required to donate $100 per quarter. The organization team is a small group of volunteers. They each have one task.
“The goal here is to create an opportunity to give in a way that’s easy for anyone to do,” Clossick continued. “We have a lot of individuals who want to support causes, but at $100, they maybe don’t feel like they’re making the impact that they want. In this way they’re making a huge impact because they’re doing it in a group.
“$10K is enough to move the needle for most organizations. And normally with $100, if you were to give a check away — which is unbelievable and every nonprofit would want that — you usually don’t get a full accountability for how the money is used. In the case of us giving such a large donation, we usually require the winning charity to come back the next quarter and give us a progress report on how the donation was used and how it has impacted the organization,” she said.
The membership for 100 Women Who Give A Hoot is organically grown. The Raleigh chapter, which was started by Carolyn Walters, had grown to several hundred. Clossick saw an opportunity to grow a chapter to support more organizations in the Chapel Hill/Durham areas. Much of the word about the group traveled through social media and social gatherings.
“Each time we meet, we add around eight to 10 members,” Clossick said. “We lose a few. Sometimes people move away, or their lives change making it difficult to attend events. It’s a slow growth, but that’s ok. The goal here is to allow people who are really interested in learning about organizations, as well as supporting them. We’re not looking at all of a sudden having 300 members, or something like that. A smaller group creates more opportunity for socializing together and bonding. Obviously, we’d like more members because we want to support the organizations with higher donation amounts, but at some point, you start growing out of locations you can use for your events.”
It’s at the quarterly events when the three charities are chosen and the winner is picked. Even this process is refreshingly simple.
“All the members that show up for the event get to vote,” Clossick said. “We do hand-written paper ballots. We do it old-school. This last time we had about 50 members that showed up. We had the election primary and a basketball game to compete with, so it was a smaller turnout in terms of our members. Each member will hear the individual pitches from the organizations. We want them to base their vote on what they hear that night.”
At sign up, each new member of 100 Women Who Give A Hoot is able to pick three organizations they care about. The charities are entered into a computer system that generates a number for them. Clossick said the group usually has about 40 organizations to choose from. A few months before the event, three names are pulled.
“We’ll contact those organizations and let them know that we’ve chosen them,” Clossick said. We make sure they will be available to come to the event and talk with our group about what they do. Once their name is among the choices, we ask that the organization send information about their group, like how long they’ve been around, what they do, whether they have at least $100,000 in their yearly budget; and whether they are a 501c3. So, we have a few requirements just to make sure the money will be used in a financially fiscal way. As well as, we want to know the organization has been around long enough to know that they’re not going to go away, and that it’s well connected to be able to use that money to move themselves forward.”
In addition to Boomerang Youth, the choices at the most recent quarterly meeting were Bridge To Sports, which is about adaptability in sports for people with disabilities, and aiding their ability to participate; and the Educational Foundation, which provides literacy and opportunities throughout the community.
While Boomerang took the top donation, the other two charities did not go home empty handed.
“We actually provide funding for them through bringing on local sponsors,” Clossick said. “We have a business partner — Coastal Credit Union — that gives 100 Women Who Give A Hoot funding to host the events. It also gives funding to each of the runners up. We also bring on one impact sponsor — Investors Mortgage — that will provide funding to each of the runners up as well. So, everyone walks away with some funding.”
With an organization that has stripped away complexities and made it easier be part of an impactful donation, is there hope of duplicating the model into other regions?
“Oh definitely,” she said. “We see ourselves supporting Orange, Durham and Alamance counties. The goal is to get to the size where we have a member coming to us and saying ‘I really love what you do. You have 200 members. Wouldn’t it be great if I pulled out and created my own chapter that supported Guilford Co. with Alamance and another?’ Give more groups an opportunity to have funding, rather than have one group getting larger and larger.”
For more information about 100 Women Who Give A Hoot, go to www.chdhoot.org.