If you’re searching for an urbane cadre of Utah philanthropists, look no further than Salt Lake City’s 100 Women Who Care.
Since the group’s inception in 2015, the hundredfold cohort has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to local charities, and, in the process, has converted many new members to the growing coterie of female altruists who share one common aim—helping the community.
So, if you’re a woman, and you can spare $400 dollars, you might consider joining.
(Full disclosure: the night I filed this column my wife sent in her pledge. For details on joining visit www.100womenwhocareslc.com).
Still not sold?
Imagine the TV-show “Shark Tank” joined forces with a secular version of the Latter-day Saint Relief Society.
Of course, rather than having would-be entrepreneurs hawk widgets to bombastic billionaires— à la Shark Tank—at these meetings, local charities vie for the hearts—and purses—of some of Salt Lake’s finest female philanthropists.
The model for giving is simple. The group comes together four times a year to pick one worthy local charity from several nominations. The organization with the most votes walks away with a $100 dollar contribution from each woman, totaling more than $10,000. The runners up also leave with $100 dollars each.
And members frequently give more.
At one meeting, for example, an anonymous donor chipped in an extra $5,000 to support The Other Side Academy, an organization which aims to help felons and addicts lead productive lives.
All funds go directly to the charities. 100 Women Who Care has no overhead costs and meetings are held at Salt Lake City’s historic City-County Building.
The winning charity returns to report on how it spent the money at the next meeting. Everything is timed, and meetings rarely exceed the allotted hour.
“It is all designed for busy women who want to make a meaningful difference in the community and also be able to see the results,” says the founder of the Salt Lake City chapter, Lisa Evans, who is an East High graduate and a Stanford alumna who left Utah only to boomerang back after completing a mission with her husband to Japan for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In 2015, she visited friends in Ohio and stumbled across the organization. She felt God prompting her to bring 100 Women Who Care to Salt Lake City, Utah.
Since then the Salt Lake chapter has swelled well beyond its eponymous 100 members, and today the group includes members of varying ages, religious traditions, and financial backgrounds.
It even inspired an additional chapter in Orange County, California.
Group member Karen Lynn Davidson—a noted scholar and hymnist—recalls the organization’s first meeting in which the group helped a local Boy Scout troop comprised entirely of refugees hoping to attend a jamboree overseas. The trip allowed the boys to visit the refugee camp where many of them once lived.
According to Evans—who also recounted their story—the Boy Scouts went to the refugee camps not knowing if they’d be permitted to enter. But, upon arriving in their Boy Scout uniforms and relaying their story, the guard was moved and remarked “dressed like this you boys can go anywhere.”
At the camp, two brothers in the troop were able to reunite with their grandmother.
Beyond the organization’s impact in Salt Lake City, the tale of 100 Women Who Care is part of a broader story about the burgeoning might and “mite” of female philanthropy in Utah and across America.
Each year the percentage of total assets controlled by women continues to rise. This bodes well for philanthropy. According to research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, women tend to give more—both in terms of time and money—than similarly situated men.
They also tend to “have a greater sense of moral identity, empathy, and inclination to help others.” And, not surprisingly, in light of 100 Women’s work, they “prefer to give to their local community.”
Pulitzer-prize winner Wallace Stegner wrote admiringly about the pioneer founders of Utah, his home state. Though not a Latter-day Saint, Stegner was struck by their “suffering, endurance, discipline, faith,” as well as their “brotherly and sisterly charity.”
Above all else, however, he praised the selfless women. “Their women,“ he wrote, ”were incredible.”
Evidence suggests they still are.