Imagine turning a $100 charitable donation into more than $16,000 in a single night –all with a vote for the most deserving recipient.
That’s the idea behind Marin’s “100 People Who Care,” a membership group of budding philanthropists who hosted the 100MARIN inaugural event Jan. 29 at the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross.
A mere three weeks ago, a small group of 10 business professionals gathered to share their passion for Marin County and its nonprofit community. Collectively known as CORE, the group is very aware that nonprofits must continuously raise funds or run the risk of evaporating, along with the benefits they bring.
The group had heard about “giving circles” and was excited by the concept.
“I was immediately taken with the simplicity and efficiency of the 100 People giving model,” CORE Vice President Johnathan Leidy said. “Tonight, five deserving nonprofits share their unique and concise messages, attendees meet other philanthropically minded individuals, and many small-yet-generous donations are instantly transformed into a major impact gift for the top vote-getter.”
However, the “100 People” model is not new. Giving circles have cropped up all over the nation, following the founding of 100 Women Who Care in Jackson, Mich., in 2006.
The premise is tantalizing: Members commit to give $100 at a presentation where five pre-selected nonprofits give the group a timed four-minute “pitch” about themselves and how they would use the money if awarded.
Members then vote, and the winner takes all. Nonprofits that do not attain the top spot benefit by informing attendees about their cause and mingling with future donors.
After the evening’s presentations, ballots were collected and votes were tallied in the back room while attendees feasted on gourmet raviolis and salad under the watchful eye of David Haydon of Il Davide. Prosecco, Chardonnay, Cabernets and more were poured by sponsoring wineries including Starry Night, Taft and Bruce Walker.
The excitement built when Leidy stood at the podium and announced North Bay Children’s Center would receive a check of more than $16,000.
“I was a nervous wreck making the presentation,” declared NBCC Executive Director Susan Gilmore. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to have been chosen the winning recipient…This gift will reinstate our Garden of Eatin’ Nutritional Education Program, a solid investment in the future of our kids. Every dollar spent on high-quality early education saves seven dollars of future remedial spending.”
The other presenting nonprofits were WildCare, Ritter Center, Art Works Downtown and Agricultural Institute of Marin. And although the giving circle is intended to be a winner-takes-all format, Melissa Prandi of Prandi Property Management stepped up and pledged a $1,000 gift to each of the four runners-up.
Spread by word-of-mouth and email networks, 100MARIN had more than 200 people in attendance – doubling their goal. The next gathering of 100MARIN is being planned for July. For membership information, contact Jonathan Leidy at (415) 509-4668 or firstname.lastname@example.org.