When Karen Dunigan attended an executive leadership lunch for the Center for Family Health in 2006, she didn’t intend to create a new way of giving. She wanted to solve an immediate problem in her community. New mothers needed portable cribs. Many brought their babies home to sleep in unsafe conditions because they couldn‘t afford cribs. As a result, babies were dying.

The Center for Family Health could make a dent in this problem with $10,000. This money would buy cribs, mattresses, and blankets, ensuring that more babies had a safe place to sleep and saving babies’ lives.

Once she was aware of this problem, Karen went to work.

She could have called ten generous donors who would have pledged $1,000 each to reach their financial goal. Karen didn’t do that. Instead, she made over 100 calls to women she thought would be willing to donate $100 to this cause. Karen set a meeting, the women gathered, and after she explained the immediate need for cribs, women wrote their checks. In one hour, she raised over $12,000 for her cause.

Karen knew she was on to something—a simple, meaningful, powerful, and efficient philanthropic model. She refined and nurtured this concept, founding 100+ Women Who Care, which has grown to 900 chapters nationwide since that fateful lunch meeting in 2006.

The rules of this giving circle are simple. Any member who attends an event can nominate a local non-profit that is addressing a need in the community. The community need must be immediate. Any money raised on the night of the event stays in the community. All of this happens in one hour.

In 2011, when Dana Bensinger took over as the Executive Director of the OCF (Otsego Community Foundation), she envisioned bringing this fund-raising concept to our community. She was a busy working mom without surplus time or energy to devote to philanthropic events, yet the desire was there. The idea of a no-frills, one-hour event that raised money that stayed in the immediate community was the kind of event she could get behind. “I fell in love with this concept that removes some common barriers associated with typical fundraising events. Also, this event allows for local voices to share their love for the community.”

The OCF didn’t have the organizational capacity back then to make an event like this happen. It wasn’t until 2016 that the OCF hosted its first 100+ WWC fundraiser. “It had been on our wish list of things to do, and finally, we just said, let’s do it. I will never forget the momentum of the first event. 152 squished into the Grand Event Center for one hour, generating $15,200! The energy in the room was priceless. “

Since then, the OCF 100+ WWC events have raised a total of $108,000 in 7 hours. Half of that money was awarded to local non-profits, and the other half went to The Community Fund. Quite a testament to what happens when women get together to solve a problem!

This year’s 100+ WWC event is on May 9, 2023, from 6-7 pm in the Oak Room at Treetops Resort. Doors open at 5 pm, which gives attendees a chance to meet the local non-profit organizations that have been nominated. Participants can also enjoy paraffin wax treatments and chair massages courtesy of Treetops Spa from 5-6 pm. Our 2023 Corporate Sponsor is Kat Steinbrecher Family of Restaurants, which includes Mary’s Stein Haus, Abi’s Bistro, Porter Haus, and Kane’s Lobster Pot & Bourbon Bar.

 We are grateful for their generosity.

 When the event starts at 6 pm, four nominees will be randomly drawn. If your nomination form is drawn, that is your opportunity to address the crowd and let them know how and why this non-profit addresses a need in our community. After everyone has had a chance to speak, the voting begins. Depending on the number of attendees, one or two grants will be awarded to the organizations with the most votes. The other half of the evening’s proceeds go to The Community Fund of the OCF. Not only is this event a wonderful opportunity to spend time with friends and amplify your giving, but it allows you to learn about your community and its organizations in a meaningful way. You will get insight into the powerful work that your neighbors are carrying out.

Last year, a $5,000 grant was awarded to Gaylord’s Last Resort, and a $3,000 grant was given to the 1st Congregational Church Community Meal Program.

We’d love to see you at the May 9 event. If there is a local organization that is addressing an immediate need in the community and has not received an award from the 100+ WWC in the last two years, consider registering for the event and nominating that organization. Get 10 of your friends to register and nominate as well. The more nominations, the better the chances of being awarded a grant. The following nonprofits have received grants within the last two years. They are ineligible to be nominated:  The Karing Home Youth Project and New Life Pregnancy Center, Gaylord Last Resort, and 1st Congregational Church Community Meal Program.

Your words may bring attention to a pressing need in the community just as an offhand comment about cribs did for Karen Dunigan seventeen years ago. Why not try?

Registration is open. Please click here to register and nominate a worthy nonprofit. We look forward to seeing you on May 9th!

Link to Registration: https://give.otsegofoundation.org/100WWC

Past 100+ Women Who Care Grant Recipients 2016-2022