Women Who Care — Making a Difference Through Collective Giving

April 2013 View more

N2013_04_01_027NEIGHThe whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This concept, coined by Aristotle, is the premise behind 100(+) Women Who Care, a group of local women whose individual donations, when pooled together, are making a big impact on local charities.

The group was formed in Jackson, Michigan in 2006, and was the brainchild of Karen Dunigan. In 2007, Sally Wiarda, a Wheaton resident, founded the second chapter of 100(+) Women Who Care, after hearing about the group through a relative. “My sister-in-law runs a nonprofit in Michigan. They were the first ever recipient of the group’s donation,” explains Wiarda. “It was such a cool, novel idea to me – so simple and efficient.”

The group exists in name only. There are no office cubicles, board of directors, or fundraising costs that can diminish the power of the donations. Women meet four times a year, determine which charity to support, and write a check to that charity.

“When someone’s $100 check is combined to make a $10,000 gift, they see how it really makes a difference in people’s lives,” said Wiarda. “Women in the group are empowered that their money is pooled together to make a larger donation.”

Making a big impact

Members nominate a local charity when they arrive at the quarterly meeting. Three charities are randomly drawn from a basket. The member who nominated the charity then gives a five-minute speech about the organization.

“Only group members can nominate a charity and present on its behalf,” explains Wiarda. “There are no formal presentations. Members usually speak from the heart.” To be eligible, the charity must be a nonprofit agency serving DuPage County. No national charities are considered. After a brief question and answer session, members vote and the winning charity is announced. Each member then writes a $100 check to the selected charity. “Generally the previous recipient also comes to the meetings to thank our group and let them know how their money is being used,” said Wiarda. Most meetings rarely last longer than 45 minutes.

Women caring about the community

To be a member, women must commit to donating $100 four times a year. “Not all members make every meeting.

Some send in their checks when they can’t make it,” explains Wiarda. The number of members fluctuates in the group. “The majority of our members have been with us since the beginning. We managed to make it through the recession – which was huge.” Members come from all walks of life with different financial backgrounds. “We have members who easily are able to write a $100 check and others who save up to do so,” Wiarda explains.

The DuPage County group has donated an estimated $270,000 to 25 organizations since its inception. “There is just so much need out there. Many charities are closing because they do not have the funds to keep going,” said Wiarda.

Currently, there are about 25 100(+) Women Who Care groups throughout the country, including one started in Naperville by Palma Aikins, and a chapter in Downers Grove. “We are just a group of local women who care about our community,” Wiarda modestly says. “The more members we have, the more people we can help.”

100(+) Women Who Care Meetings

Carol Stream

  • Meetings: Second Tuesdays in February, May, August, November
  • Where: Holiday Inn
  • Website: www.100wwc.weebly.com


  • Meetings: Third Tuesdays in February, May, August, November
  • Where: Superossa Restaurant, Woodridge
  • Website: www.100wwcnaperville.com

Downers Grove

Photo by Robyn Sheldon