The Power of 100


The 100 Who Care movement originated in Jackson, Mich., when (late) founder Karen Dunigan, who was working with the Center for Family Health in the city, learned it would cost about $10,000 to provide a number of new mothers with proper cribs. Dunigan knew she could call 10 people and ask them to write $1,000 checks, but she also figured she knew 100 women who could each give $100. She began making phone calls and scheduled a meeting. At that first meeting, in one hour, a group of Dunigan’s friends heard the story and wrote checks to the Center for Family Health, resulting in a $12,800 donation, more than requested. From there, the idea blossomed.

The concept is simple: Gather 100 people and have each one bring $100 to donate to a worthy nonprofit organization; invite three to five eligible nonprofits (selected by a steering committee) to present at the meeting; each nonprofit provides a one person, four- to five-minute oral presentation without props like audio recordings, video, or other graphics; each attending member of the giving group has one vote and must provide their $100 donation regardless of what organization wins; the nonprofit that secures the most votes is gifted the entire amount raised.

Today, there are more than 400 chapters, primarily in the United States and Canada, but also in other places around the world including the Caribbean, Australia, Ireland, Singapore and Mexico. There are currently four chapters in the North Bay: 100 Women Who Care about Napa County, 100 Men Who Give a Damn about Napa County, 100Marin and 100 Sonoma. 

Karen Calhoun is development and marketing director of NEWS – Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Services, which provides counseling and support; she’s also administrator for 100 Women Who Care about Napa County and 100 Men Who Give a Damn about Napa County. “While the funds distributed to the winning nonprofit organizations make a huge impact on their operational viability, and the ‘feel good’ for the donating members of the giving club are really important, the most gratifying aspect of the donation is the feeling of being part of a community and knowing you’re making it a better place to live in for all of us,” she says. “It’s the feeling of a group impact and knowing that every dollar donated goes directly to the recipients that need it. There’s little or no donated amount going toward operational overhead for the 100 group and the efficiency of the giving effort is unheard of,” says Calhoun.

She goes on to say, “It’s such an easy and quick process for the giving members, they just show up with their $100 check, listen to the presentations and vote. No obligatory silent auction or dressing up for a fancy gala dinner—just show up, listen and feel good about helping someone in need.”

The sentiment is repeated by Jonathan Leidy, principal of Portico Wealth in Larkspur and founding member of 100Marin, who says, “The giving circle concept is really just a certain type of ‘crowdfunding.’ We’re simply providing a platform, online or otherwise, to facilitate the collective giving of local individuals. Raising awareness about he tremendous work being done by Marin nonprofits isn’t only beneficial for these organizations, but also for the community at large. The feeling of inclusiveness that our members and attendees experience is very powerful. Helping to create a major impact gift, even though you ‘only’ contributed $100, makes you feel like you’re part of something much bigger—and you are.”  

Anthy O’Brien, president and CEO of Top Speed Data Communication in Petaluma, and Mariah Shields, principal of Arrow Benefits Group in Petaluma, who double as co-administrators of 100 Sonoma, add, “If you attend the annual event, you’ll walk away so much more fulfilled than you ever thought possible, and perhaps with a tear or two in your eyes. The nonprofit organizations we have in our community are so passionate about their missions and so deserving of all the funding they can get. And the $100 per member adds up to a very significant portion of many of these nonprofit organizations’ annual budgets.” 

If the number of members exceeds 100 per chapter, and the frequency of meetings goes up, that’s an added bonus.

How it works

While the core values and principles of the four North Bay Giving Circles are very similar, there are some minor variations to how the giving is manifested. Commonalities include: 100 percent of member donations go directly to the winners; the giving groups only consider candidate organizations with 501(c)(3) nonprofit status; the nonprofit nominees must reside and disburse the winning funds within the county of the giving group; the nonprofits must (with some variations) serve children, families and/or health services organizations.

Though all donors are individuals, businesses are encouraged to participate by hosting events; volunteering time to cover administrative costs (such as maintaining the member rosters and websites; providing newsletters and notifications; and collecting, processing and distributing funds. This allows all member donations to benefit the chosen nonprofit. Such business-provided contributions are mostly realized by allowing employees to volunteer time as steering committee members or other administrators of the groups. Businesses can also provide indirect support by supplying raffle items, catering and other services for the giving events (with the intent of promoting maximum member participation).

At the time of the giving meeting events and voting, there have been several instances where individuals or businesses have gone above and beyond expectations and awarded consolation donations to the runners-up and/or additional funds to the winners. However, doing so is entirely on the individuals’ or businesses’ own initiative and outside of the scope and governance of the four North Bay ‘100 Giving’ organizations.

The Giving Circle movement started only 10 years ago, and the four ‘100 Giving’ organizations here in the North Bay are all relatively young. When asked about their aspirations going forward and perceived challenges, 100Marin’s Leidy says, “100Marin currently has more than 250 members and a host of additional local enthusiasts. Ultimately, we’d like to grow the group to 1,000 strong with a corresponding $100,000 donation to the winners. One of the challenges with that sort of growth will be securing large enough venues to host the events. Another goal of 100Marin is to find a single sponsor—likely a larger local business—that’s willing to cover the administrative costs, including all the ‘day of’ expenses.”

Karen Calhoun of 100 Napa (women and men) concurs that venues can be a challenge, saying, “we’re fortunate to have Lucky Penny Community Art Center available to fill in when we can’t find an available venue.

“In addition to finding venues for eight events per year here in Napa, we’re focused on ‘back-filling’ our membership groups,” she says. “While our goal isn’t necessarily to significantly grow the groups’ size, the composition of the groups is constantly fluctuating. We’re looking into ways to attract more millennial members.”

The recipients

A great example is Wednesday’s Gift, which received 100Marin’s winning amount of $36,000 last year. The all-volunteer organization provides immediate, basic necessities to Marin County residents on a one-time basis. Cully Fredricksen, president of Office Evolution Marin and founding member of Wednesday’s Gift, explains that, before its association with 100Marin, the nonprofit’s annual income was about $25,000—and that was only if certain fundraising efforts were successful. In March 2016, 100Marin awarded Wednesday’s Gift $36,000, and another $60,000 was subsequently donated from other parties.

“The other donations were a direct result of the publicity we received by winning the 100Marin award. They put us on the map and we’re so very appreciative for that,” says Fredricksen. “As a result of the 100Marin gift and subsequent donations, we’ve had to tighten up our processes and become more organized and efficient. With so many requests coming in, our vetting process improved; the gift committee has expanded to handle the increased workload. As we’re an all-volunteer organization, we needed to develop a system to efficiently meet the new demand. We thank 100Marin for this. Before being chosen, we received about five to six requests per month. Afterward, that number has increased to about 10 requests per week,” says Fredrickson.

One recent example of how Wednesday’s Gift is making an impact in its community was when a father who was caught up in unfortunate circumstances, had to give up his three young children (ages 2, 4 and 8). The father’s parents were able to house the children in their mobile home but didn’t have the means to provide some of the basics. Wednesday’s Gift was able to buy beds for the children, as well as provide gift cards to purchase other necessities. Fredricksen says, “While the money we received is such an wonderful boost, I believe the real currency at play is love. Love propels the giving, and 100Marin and its members demonstrate the power of love.”

Another powerful story involves 100 Women Who Care About Napa County and its donation to Girls on the Run Napa & Solano, which uses life-skill curriculum, experiential activities, discussions and running to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy, caring and confident. “The 100 Women Who Care About Napa County became our number one donor in five minutes, and its donation covered the participation of low-income girls for the fall 2015 and spring 2016 programs. In Napa, we had a 9 percent increase, with 491 girls participating at 26 schools. The donation covered the participation of more than 100 girls in need,” says Janet Todd, executive director of Girls on the Run Napa & Solano.

One parent’s online feedback shows the impact that the program has had on her daughter, “[She] isn’t very athletic and doesn’t really want to play any sports, but with Girls on the Run, she’s keeping active and having fun at the same time. It also gives her the opportunity to make new friends and be a role model to younger girls. Thank you, Girls on the Run, for helping my daughter become a better human being.”

“With the support of 100 Women Who Care About Napa County, Girls on the Run is providing young girls with the life skills and tools to choose movement over being sedentary, healthy relationships over destructive relationships, joy over sorrow, empathy over fear and positive self-talk over negative self-image. These early acquired lessons last a lifetime,” says Todd.

The donation from 100 Women Who Care About Napa County also funded a new parent education program that includes topics on positive body talk and healthy expression of emotions to reinforce lifestyle changes at home and help the community change the conversation on what it means to be a girl. Todd says, “My dream is that the third woman president of the United States will be a Girls on the Run alumna.”

Share the wealth

The concept of collective giving is rapidly spreading, even within the nominated nonprofits. The winner of the 2016 100 Sonoma event was Lily’s Legacy Senior Dog Sanctuary, which was awarded $13,000. Upon being declared winner, Alice Mayn, who runs the organization, graciously accepted $11,000 of the donation and gave the remaining balance to the other contending nonprofit nominees.

“We’re overwhelmed with gratitude at being the recipient of the grand prize at 100 Sonoma’s first event,” says Mayn. “The prize makes a huge impact on our ability to provide much-needed medical and daily care for our senior pups. It lets us focus on finding adoptive families with hearts for these wonderful dogs—senior, large breed dogs who find themselves homeless and who’ve suffered from trauma of one kind or another. We’re privileged, with the help of 100 Sonoma, to help as many of these pups as we can to find a safe and loving haven in which to live out their lives.” 

It’s just another example of how the Giving Circle will continue to grow. Hopefully we can all play a part in this evolution.  


Jonathan Leidy, principal of Portico Wealth Advisors, serves as a lead on the steering committee for 100Marin, which was established in January 2015. CORE, the group of local business professionals tat founded 100Marin, has 17 members in total; the 100Marin giving circle has approximately 260 members. 100Marin events happen twice annually, with everyone (both ongoing giving circle members and one-time giving guests) making a $100 donation to attend. The nonprofit candidates, which are nominated by giving circle members, must have been in operation for at least one year prior to presenting at the giving meeting and must target health and human services; animals and the environment; arts, culture or the humanities; children and education; or public benefits. The total donated to winning nonprofits to-date is more than $145,000.

Napa’s 100 x 2

Karen Calhoun, development and marketing director of NEWS – Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Services in Napa, is the administrative leader of 100 Women Who Care about Napa County, which was founded in 2014, and 100 Men Who Give a Damn about Napa County, which followed in 2015.

The women’s group (250 members) is led by a steering committee of five. It hosts four one-hour giving meetings per year, with a $100 donation required per member per meeting. It focuses on charitable organizations in Napa serving women, children and families (no religious, political or animal organizations). Nominated organizations must have an annual budget of $100,000 and must have been established for at least three years. The total of 10 winning nonprofits to date is $170,000 donated.

The men’s group is led by a steering committee of five men and includes 200 members. It hosts four one-hour giving meetings per year, with a $100 donation required per member per meeting. Nonprofits must serve the people of Napa (no religious or political organizations at present time), have an annual budget of $100,000 and have been established for at least three years. The total of six winning nonprofits to-date is $90,000 donated.



100 Sonoma

Anthy O’Brien, president/CEO of Top Speed Data Communication, and Mariah Shields, principal of Arrow Benefits Group, are co-administrative leaders of 100 Sonoma, which was established in 2016. The group consists of nine founding/core individuals and a total membership of 125 (and it’s expanding rapidly). 100 Sonoma asks that each of its nine core members bring 10 nonmember guests to each event; guests are also expected to provide a $100 donation, which is pooled with all other attendees’ donations and gifted that night to the member-voted winning nonprofit. 100 Sonoma currently hosts one giving event per year but plans to expand to two meetings (Petaluma and Santa Rosa) soon, with a $100 donation required per member per meeting.

There are more than 300 qualifying nonprofits in Sonoma County, but the focus is currently on smaller, not highly funded organizations in the categories of senior services, arts and sciences, animal welfare, environmental stewardship, and family and children (educational institutions are not considered, unless they hold a 501(c)(3) status). Candidate organizations must have been in operation for at least one year.

At the inaugural event, the winner was awarded $13,000. Since they had only been promised $10,000, it generously gave back the overage, which was then distributed among the four runners-up, adding to their $500 guarantee for participating. The next giving event will take place February 28 at Hotel Petaluma. For more information, contact Mariah Shields at (415) 493-4953 or

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