Greet the giver: Power of an hour

New nonprofit raises funds for local philanthropies

Sheila Gea, co-founder

100+ Women Who Care in Southwest Florida

Website: www.100womensouthwestflorida.com

Email: 100wwcswfl@gmail.com

100+ Women Who Care of Southwest Florida is a non-profit organization focused on raising funds for local charities in a time-efficient, stress-free manner. The group was co-founded by Barbara Wolfort and Sheila Gea of Naples, and Anita Siegal and Debbie Laites of Bonita Springs.

Prior to helping found 100+ Women Who Care of Southwest Florida, Gea worked with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the American Cancer Society, and Big Sisters Little Sisters. Through her volunteer work, Gea was well-acquainted with the valuable but time-consuming nature of organizing fundraisers such as galas, auctions and golf tournaments. Wolfort, who was affliliated with the Cleveland, Ohio branch of 100+ Women Who Care, pitched the group’s concept to Gea, who knew immediately that the program would take off.

The fundraising begins when women who attend commit to donate $100 three times per year to the charity selected. The charities in consideration must be local nonprofit organizations.

The charities to be considered are submitted by the attendees themselves. Three of the submitted charities are selected at random. The women must then choose the charity they’d like the money to be donated to and prepare a five-minute presentation on that organization. Each presentation is followed up by a five-minute Q&A session. At the end, the women vote, and the selected charity receives 100 percent of the donations pledged at that meeting.

On March 19, 100+ Women held their first and only meeting of 2013. In one hour, the group raised $7,300 for the local charity WINGS (Women in Naples Giving Support).

100+ Women is in the process of planning meetings for January, February and March of 2014.

1. If you could gather the community and tell them one thing about your charity, what would it be?

We get our fundraising done in one hour. We support only local non-profit organizations. We have the ability to raise $10,000 or more in just one hour.

2. What is unique about having a charity in Southwest Florida?

I think people are excited to raise that much money for our local charities because we have so many good charities in Southwest Florida.

We’re going to be getting together in a couple months to set our schedule for next January, February and March. Being in Southwest Florida, fundraising is so seasonal. We decided to hold our meetings in just those three months to best take advantage of the area’s influx of people.

3. What surprises you the most about working with this charity?

The excitement and the buzz about our organization is surprising. It’s something new that we’ve brought into Southwest Florida. There are other branches of this organization throughout the country. It’s been great to receive so much positive attention now that we’ve brought this kind of fundraising to Southwest Florida.

4. Why did you choose to devote your time to this cause over others?

The ability to make an impact in one hour is what drew me. I’ve worked on charities where you spend a year running around, selecting silent auction items, organizing golf events or dinners. You spend hours and hours and you can only raise maybe between $4,000 and $6,000. Here, at our first kick-off meeting, which we had on March 19 of this year, we raised $7,300 for WINGS. Because of the way our charities are selected and presented, it also gives you a chance to learn a little about the charities in Southwest Florida, and I think that’s great.

5. How does working for your charity make you feel?

It really makes me feel good about doing something worthwhile for these people who are in need.

100+ Women Who Care of Southwest Florida will hold their next meeting in January 2014. The meeting time and place will be announced on the group’s website when it is determined.

To sign up to be part of 100+ Women Who Care of Southwest Florida and make the commitment to donate, visit www.100womensouthwestflorida.com.

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