Women are especially hardwired for giving back, it’s in their DNA.  Women are problem solvers; they are empathetic and altruistic. So the challenge becomes how to fit philanthropy into a woman’s busy schedule.

Fortunately, there is a new trend in philanthropy and it’s called a “giving circle.” The word “giving” is used because women think of themselves as givers. “Circle” means that the participants pool their money so they can make larger gifts to selected nonprofits.  

The majority of the first giving circles were created by women for women members.  In 2006, Karen Dunigan created a giving circle in Jackson, Michigan, called 100+ Women Who Care. A decade later, over 450 giving circles modeled after Karen’s group have spread across the world.

One of those giving circles has been bringing women together in the Valley of the Sun for over two years. 100+ Women Who Care Valley of the Sun has three sister groups who meet quarterly for one hour at a time.

The Ahwatukee group is right here in our neighborhood. The chapter has donated almost $140,000 to local charities since its inception and is looking forward to a strong, impactful year of giving in 2017.  

Each quarter we attract new women to our groups and our quarterly donation totals increase. Our Ahwatukee group is like two degrees of separation. Guests and new members are bound to know someone in the group given our tight knit community.

The group is a gathering of like-minded, passionate women who want to connect to one another and to their communities.

The ladies are leveraging their resources so their small gifts ($100 per quarter) add up to a significant donation to a local charity ($10,000 per quarter). It is not about just signing a check; it is about caring.  

The women in this group bring the charities and their plight to the attention of the members. These women care about the issues facing us today – poverty, hunger, homelessness, cancer, disease, seniors, and children to name a few. The stories they tell the group are transformative. They evoke our imagination, connect us emotionally and move us to action,” reflected.

Ahwatukee resident Sandra Franks is a member and nominated Singleton Moms. The local nonprofit supports single parents who are battling cancer. It provides meals, household goods, cleaning services and a small monthly stipend that can be used to pay a monthly bill.

“I love the practicality and how the organization thinks of everything, so the moms and dads can focus on healing and spending time with loved ones," remarked Franks.

In October, Franks’ story touched the hearts and Singleton Moms was selected by 100+ Women Who Care to receive donations totaling $11,100.  

Sometimes, a member’s connection to a charity is rooted in a deep personal experience. Ahwatukee residents Daradee and Ross Murray suffered the life altering loss of losing their son, Liam, to congenital heart disease.

By chance, the Murrays met Dan and Margaret Majetich at an event several years ago. The Majetichs are the founders of the Nick and Kelly Children’s Heart Fund, named after their two sons who passed away from congenital heart disease.

The two couples formed a lasting bond and have worked to raise funds and spread awareness of this common birth defect that affects about 1 percent of births per year.  

The Fund seeks to minimize the financial and emotional burden on families and enable children with heart disease to enjoy an active, fulfilling life.  

Murray’s charity was drawn from the hat at the group’s August meeting and her touching personal story garnered the votes and donations of the members.  Several children were able to attend the camp, free of charge, because of 100+ Women Who Care Valley of the Sun’s donation of $10,400.  

The 100+ Women Who Care model has allowed us to cast a wide net into our community and do something for the common good. Women in Ahwatukee have really embraced this model of giving and we’re looking forward to sharing our concept with many more ladies this year. Our goal is to create a legacy of giving that exceeds $500,000 in five years.

If you are looking for a way to fit philanthropy into your 2017 schedule, attend the group’s first quarter meeting at 5:30 p. m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, at the Foothills Golf Club. The one hour meeting starts promptly at 6:30 pm with social hour and check-in beginning at 5:30 pm.

Information: 100wwcvalleyofthesun.org.

Kim Tarnopolski of Ahwatukee is a member of the executive team of 100+ Women Who Care of the East Valley.

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