More than 200 children go to the Boys & Girls Club of Franklin every day after school, taking part in everything from after-school sports to arts and crafts to science and technology experiments.

In order to survive, the club relies on the generosity of donors and sponsors.

So when the local philanthropist group 100+ Women Who Care offered an $8,800 gift, with no strings attached and no lengthy grant process to go through, it was huge.

“We are constantly begging and borrowing and reaching out to people for their support. That’s one thing, I’ve been in Franklin a long time, and there’s a lot of support for the not-for-profits that are here,” said Teresa McClure, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club.

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In the 18 months since forming in Johnson County, 100+ Women Who Care has given out more than $50,000 to local nonprofit groups and agencies. The group has focused on bestowing no-strings-attached grants to help community organizations with anything from special programs to utility costs to improvements to their buildings.

The philanthropic organization has added nearly 70 new members over the course of the last year, which speaks to both the group’s mission as well as the desire to do good locally.

“There are many women in Johnson County who appreciate the causes they support. It says a lot when a group of 100 women agree to support causes in Johnson County they may not have even known about until they attend the meeting,” said Gail Richards, president and CEO of the Johnson County Community Foundation and one of the founding members of the group. “If you increase accessibility to services in the county, you raise the quality of life for everyone.”

100+ Women Who Care is part of a national effort allowing individual communities to help the nonprofits affecting change in their own cities and towns. The first chapter was formed in Michigan, and since then, branches have spread throughout the U.S., Canada and beyond.

More than 490 chapters have been founded, including 11 in Indiana. The concept includes women-only and men-only clubs, co-ed chapters and clubs for children.

Locally, the organization was founded by Carol Phipps, manager of the Interchurch Food Pantry, who was part of a chapter in Illinois. She presented it to a small group of other leaders in the community, including Cheryl Morphew, president of CRMorphew Consulting; Dorcas Abplanalp and Richards.

“We knew there were women in the county who wanted to do good things but didn’t want to spend a lot of time overthinking the decisions,” Richards said. “We knew there were women with disposable income who could make a decision in an hour and give the organizations the money with no strings attached — probably helping with their operating costs that most funders do not want to do.”

That group started reaching out to others in the community, advocating for the organization and signing people up.

Rowana Umbarger, a Bargersville resident who was a charter member of the group, saw it as a chance to make a major impact with a minimal time commitment.

“It’s exciting. You can see the energy in the room,” she said. “We give them the money, and they can spend it where they need it.”

Women who join are asked to pledge $500 during the course of the year. The first $100 of that will go to a fund set up at the Johnson County Community Foundation, which will eventually be endowed to let the group tackle larger projects or donations as the chapter decides.

The remaining $400 is split up, with $100 contributed by each member to distribute to a local charity that provides services or program for the good of Johnson County. The recipient of the grant is determined by a special vote at meetings every three months.

Each woman is allowed to nominate an organization to receive the money. Three organization names are chosen at random. Whoever nominated that agency is asked to give a five-minute speech about why they should get the money.

After all three advocates have spoken, it’s up to a winner-take-all vote.

Probably the most attractive aspect of 100+ Women Who Care is the streamlined meetings. In the span of an hour, the group has nominated three potential benefactors, learned about each one and voted to distribute the money.

“So often, you go to meeting after meeting and spend two or three hours talking about it, then you walk out and wonder if you really accomplished anything,” Umbarger said. “But you walk out after these giving events, you really feel like you’ve accomplished something.”

Barbara Dunn-Stear, a Greenwood resident, joined the group in late 2016. She attended a meeting as a guest in November, then formally made her $500 contribution to become a member.

She knew many of the organization’s members as leaders in the Johnson County community. But she also met new people who shared her commitment to philanthropy and service.

“It’s nice to be around a group of like-minded people. I really admired their mission,” she said.

The group’s first giving meeting was in February 2016, when 48 women came together to provide a grant for $4,800 to the Interchurch Food Pantry. Since that time, organizations such as Esperanza Ministries, Haven Sanctuary for Women and the United Way of Johnson County’s No Place to Call Home initiative have all received funds.

When the Boys & Girls Club received their grant on Dec. 2, officials used it to help buy equipment. The money went to buy board and video games for the facility’s game room, to pay for athletic equipment and to provide incentives for positive behavior for kids.

In order to ensure that the club’s programs are available to every youth, the cost to participate is low, McClure said. The annual cost for the after-school program is only $35.

“That’s quite a difference between what you bring in and what you have to spend, in terms of having staff to work with them, or having the materials and supplies and equipment then need to have a good time here,” McClure said.

And as membership has grown to 118 people, so have the contributions that 100+ Women Who Care have given. On June 2, a check was awarded to KIC-IT, which helps teens and young adults struggling with homelessness. The grant totaled $11,800.

“There are so many charitable organizations out there trying to do good in our community, but they don’t have the resources,” Umbarger said. “That’s one area where 100+ Women Who Care can fill that void.”

At a glance

100+ Women Who Care

What: A group of local women participating in a giving circle to donate money to support a variety of charitable causes that directly impact Johnson County residents.

Who: Open to any woman who is interested in making a difference by making a financial commitment to support Johnson County charities.

Commitment: Members make a $100 contribution to the organization’s endowment fund and agree to write a $100 check each quarter to a charity that is selected by majority vote of women members at their quarterly meeting. The total annual commitment is $500.

Remaining 2017 meetings: Aug. 3, Nov. 2

How to join: Membership forms are available at jccf.org or facebook.com/100WomenWhoCareJCIN

More information: E-mail 100womenjc@gmail.com

100+ Women Who Care Recipients

Since forming in late 2015, the philanthropic organization 100+ Women Who Care has given out $51,000 to local charities and nonprofit groups. Here are who has benefited from them:

February 2016: Interchurch Food Pantry, $4,800

June 2016: Esperanza Ministries, $7,000

August 2016: Haven Sanctuary for Women, $8,600

December 2016: The Boys & Girls Club of Franklin, $8,800

March 2017: No Place to Call Home, $10,000

June 2017: KIC-IT, $11,800

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.