100+Men Who Care in the news

100+ Men and Women Who Care groups have big impact in Corridor

A different kind of giving

By Alison Gowans, The Gazette

NOVEMBER 16, 2014 | 4:28 PM

CEDAR RAPIDS — In under two hours at a meeting earlier this year, a group of 150 men in Cedar Rapids almost doubled the yearly fundraising income of the Hawkeye Area Down syndrome Association with a check for $15,000.

It wasn’t the first $15,000 check they had written that year. The Johnson Elementary School Parent Teacher Association and the Kids First Law Center were earlier beneficiaries.

It’s a different kind of giving with a simple concept — leveraging individual donations into something bigger.

This is the philanthropic wizardry of the 100+ Corridor Men Who Care in action. Without planning elaborate fundraisers, they are leveraging large chunks of money for area non-profits. They’re not alone — a women’s group and similar groups in Johnson County are doing the same thing.

Here’s how it works: The groups meet four times a year. Each member commits to writing a $100 check to a local non-profit at each meeting, which the group will choose when they meet. With 100 to 300 members participating in each group, those checks quickly add up.

Meetings start with 30 to 45 minutes for socializing and networking. Members can submit a local nonprofit’s name, written on a slip of paper. The paper is collected, and three names are drawn at random.

Members representing those three groups then have five minutes to present why their group deserves that evening’s donation. The members vote, and the winning group receives that night’s donations.

“It’s very dramatic for an organization like ours that is run by a small group,” says Susan Pfeiler-Todd, administrative coordinator at the Hawkeye Area Down syndrome Association (HADSA). “Really, the board was just absolutely floored they could do something like this.”

HADSA works to raise awareness and support families touched by Down syndrome. Normally, the group has one major fundraiser a year, which brings in between $20,000 and $25,000. That fundraiser takes month to organize, unlike the Men Who Care donation, which came together in a single evening.

“There’s no red tape, no lag, no divvying up part of the profits. It really is very efficient for an organization like ours,” Pfeiler-Todd says. “It takes thousands of hours of volunteer time to get our fundraiser off the ground every year.”

Jen Neumann, a board member for the 100+ Corridor Women Who Care, says she loves the dynamic of the meetings.

“It leads to an environment that’s kind of high energy,” she says. “To get up and pitch for five minutes for $10,000 — that’s kind of exciting.”

She says it is gratifying to see what the group’s members can accomplish by focusing their donations.

“You can have more of an effect on that organization when you pool that money together,” she says. “I can write a check for $100 in my living room for four different organizations, but this is a way to make a very sudden and sometimes unexpected impact on an organization.”

Cedar Rapids and Iowa City aren’t the only places with such groups. There are 100+ people who care groups across the United States, Canada and as far away as London.

The idea came to the Corridor in 2011 when former Cedar Rapids mayor Lee Clancey, along with Leah Rodenberg and Diane Ramsey, started the 100+ Corridor Women Who Care based on a similar group in Des Moines. Another group, 100+ Ladies for a Cause, started around the same time.

This year, the concept has spread. The Corridor men’s chapter formed this year, along with Hawkeye chapters for both men and women in Johnson County.

Together, the five groups have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to dozens of community organizations.

For Corridor Women Who Care member Hilery Livengood, of Cedar Rapids, the meetings are a way not just to do good but to learn about good causes in the area. Though only one group is chosen at each meeting, the other two that present often see a jump in donations as well.

“I’ve had meetings where I’ve written three checks,” she says. “It’s very hard to pick.”

For David Sorg, board member for the 100+ Corridor Men Who Care, the meetings have a different dynamic than other charitable events he’s attended.

“It’s the energy that comes out of what transpires in these meetings and the immediate impact,” he says. “Those that have been able to attend feel very good when they leave, knowing what they have been able to accomplish with a $100 check leveraged into a $15,000 donation.”


Get involved

Linn County

• 100+ Corridor Men Who Care website

• 100+ Corridor Women Who Care Facebook page

• Next meeting: 5:30 p.m. Feb. 6, Cedar Rapids Country Club.

• 100+ Ladies for a Cause website

Next meeting: 5:30 p.m. Nov. 18, Ramsey’s, 1120 Seventh Ave., Marion

Johnson County

• 100 + Men Who Care Hawkeye Chapter Facebook page

• Next meeting is 5:30 p.m. Nov. 20, Holiday Inn, 1220 First Ave., Coralville.

• 100+ Women Who Care Hawkeye Chapter Facebook page