Making Philanthropy Accessible: 100 Women Who Care Pinellas Helps Others Through the Power of Numbers

by | Nov 15, 2023 | Civic Engagement, Culture of Caring | 0 comments

Since 2013, 100 Women Who Care Pinellas County has donated over $413,000 to more than 35 local nonprofit organizations.

Founded by Brenda George and Julie Webster, 100 Women Who Care Pinellas County is part of a national alliance of giving circles that demonstrates the power of philanthropy in numbers, making giving easy and impactful.

Every quarter, women throughout Pinellas County get together to dedicate $100 and one hour to learn about a local nonprofit. At the end of the evening, the group of members decides which local nonprofit will receive a donation of more than $10,000.

Giving circles are powerful because they help individuals make a large impact with a small donation. They also foster connection, learning, and discussion as members network and talk about organizations they’d like to support. The donation isn’t limited to money; members can also donate time and talents. Many go on to volunteer with organizations they learn about. Giving circles support accessible philanthropy that is intentional, thoughtful, and strategic.

Throughout 2023, PCF will share stories from local government, higher education, and private businesses that inspire you to lead in caring and empathetic ways. Philanthropy, in all forms, is generosity, and we want to celebrate the examples surrounding us in Pinellas County. In whichever culture you work or lead, be a voice to build or refine it with kindness. #CultureOfCaring

The first 100 Women Who Care giving circle started in Michigan in 2006. Now, there are over 700 groups across the country. While they all share one name, each group decides the details of its specific giving process. Brenda and Julie founded 100 Women Who Care Pinellas County in 2013. Julie attended the Hillsborough chapter, wanting to expand her giving beyond her work with her church. “I had a desire to learn more about my community and start giving even more,” she says. At the meeting, she sat next to Brenda’s best friend, who told her that Brenda was also interested in having a giving circle in Pinellas County. The two connected to discuss starting a new chapter, and as Brenda says, “… we met at Tijuana Flats, and the rest was history.”

In the Pinellas group, members meet for one hour every quarter and donate $100 or join a group of two to four and split the donation. Each member can nominate a nonprofit organization before the meeting. Then, at the meeting, three organizations are chosen at random from the nominations. Each chosen organization gives a five-minute presentation with an additional five minutes for questions. Then, the group democratically votes on the winner, and the charity receives the donation in the weeks following.

The 100 Women Who Care Pinellas County members meet each quarter for an hour to dedicate $100, learn about local nonprofits, and choose a charity to receive a collective donation.

Now in its 11th year, the Pinellas giving circle has seen incredible success since its founding. The group of over 100 women has donated over $418,000 to over 35 charities, with last February’s $13,100 donation being the largest yet. Along with a $5,000 quarterly grant from the Richard M. Schulze Foundation since 2017, the total tops $533,000.

Brenda and Julie are moved by the significant impact the group has made over the years, and they love to see the connection at the meetings. “One of the things that I love about the group is the networking; the women enjoy being together,” says Julie. “It creates a wonderful atmosphere.” At every meeting, the women connect with new charities and each other.

Brenda George and Julie Webster founded 100 Women Who Care Pinellas County in 2013.

When asked why the giving circle model is attractive to women, Brenda and Julie responded that the model addresses common obstacles that keep people from getting into philanthropy. Brenda says people often think, “My little bit won’t make a difference, or I’m not good at that.” Julie adds, “There’s a lot of people that like to do it but maybe are not aware of how to go about it.” The superpower of the giving circle is that it makes giving accessible. “[The women] love it because it’s simple. They can make a big impact in a short amount of time, for four hours a year without any commitment, and that’s what I think people really love.”

Members are also drawn to the positive and supportive environment the founders create through their admiration for each other. They simply love working together and find that they complement each other well. “I think we both have different skills, and she has so much wisdom,” Brenda says regarding Julie, “I’ve learned a lot from her, and I admire [her] so much.”

The two have also bonded greatly over their children. Brenda and Julie both have two sons, and they make it a point to share their work with their kids. Julie’s children have been involved in community projects from a young age, and she has confidence that they will value philanthropy throughout their lives. “They’ll do what they want to do; they know it. It’s within their hearts, and I do know they give back,” says Julie. Showing young people how to give back to the community is a gift that stays with them and helps raise future philanthropists. For Brenda and Julie, their work with 100 Women Who Care helps them give that gift to their children. “I know it’s been instilled in them, and I know that they appreciate that,” says Julie.

100 Women Who Care helps women put their funds, time, and talents together to uplift the community. The group’s incredible impact demonstrates how powerful action can be when working together. Through this experience, women learn the true value of their donation, a lesson to which Brenda thinks more people should be exposed. She says, “I just don’t think people realize how important they are. Each individual person is a piece of the puzzle.” The dedicated members of 100 Women Who Care Pinellas illustrate just how much our individual contributions matter.

Create a Culture of Caring

If your organization is ready to create a more caring culture, Coleen Chaney will be happy to assist you with options.