APOLLO BEACH – It’s been 18 months since Amber Watt and her mother, Ann Rand, founded 100 Women Who Care, a South Shore-based organization that has donated more then $20,000 to a half dozen area charities. Its 40 members come from Riverview, Ruskin, Apollo Beach, Wimauma, Gibsonton, Sun City Center and Brandon.
Past recipients include Angels for Foster Kids, Apollo Beach; the Bloomingdale Library Attack Survivor, Riverview; Collins Elementary School PTA, Riverview; My Warrior’s Place, Ruskin; United Methodist Church of Sun City Center’s Backpacks on a Mission; and the Firehouse Cultural Center, Ruskin.
A charity, nonprofit organization or program is eligible for a maximum of one award per year.
The selection process is simple by design, Watt said.
Members sign a commitment to donate $100 every three months to a worthy cause, local charity or nonprofit group the group as a whole decides to support. At the group’s quarterly meetings, anyone wishing to nominate a recipient places her name in a basket, and then three names are drawn.
Each of those women are given five minutes to make a case for their nominees. A five-minute question-and-answer period follows their presentation to give members a chance to learn more.
The entire membership then votes on who should get the money, and everyone writes a check directly to that organization. Members who can’t attend a meeting for any reason give their check and proxy to another member or agree to mail a check within a week.
Currently the quarterly donation is $4,000. As the membership grows so will the size of the donation.
All of the members’ checks are taken directly to the recipient by Watt, Rand and, if desired, the person who made the nomination.
“We don’t even have a bank account,” Rand said. “One-hundred percent of the donations go to the recipient.”
It’s a win for everyone concerned.
“I like the fact the combined donations of group members have much more impact than individual donations would make,” said Penny Smith of Ruskin, who joined the group last February. “I also like the simplicity of the process, and that you’re in and out in an hour once a quarter.”
South Shore’s version of 100 Women Who Care was modeled after the first group of its kind was formed by Karen Dunigan of Jackson, Mich., in 2006.
“She felt there had to be a better way of raising money other than through bake sales, rummage sales, walkathons and the like,” Rand said. “I had been thinking about how to get more involved in community and liked the idea of more effectively raising money for charity.”
She and Watt, a stay-at-home mom who used to write grants and raise money for a nonprofit organization in Michigan, started the Apollo Beach-based group with 30 members in February 2012.
100 Women Who Care isn’t a nonprofit group and has no national affiliation.
“One of the beauties of our organization is there are really no set rules,” Watt said. “Preference is given to supporting local groups and causes but our members make the ultimate decisions.”
But that’s not as easy as it sounds, Rand said.
“One of the things I wasn’t prepared for was how difficult it was to choose a recipient, and it continues to be,” she said. “There are so many worthwhile groups and causes to support.”
On Aug. 27, 100 Women Who Care will have its next quarterly meeting from 7 to 8 p.m. at the MiraBay clubhouse, 107 Manns Harbor Drive, Apollo Beach. Visitors are welcome to come, observe and make a donation if they choose, but they cannot vote or make a nomination unless they become members.
To learn more, visit 100 Women Who Care on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.