Giving Clubs make big community impact with easeJun 29, 2021 12:59PM ● By Jan Weeks
Grand Junction Giving Club members present nearly $19,000 to the club’s May 3 awardee, SummitWest Care.
Opening wallets and hearts
During the pandemic, charitable giving may have been low on the list for people who were out of work, confined to homes, or worried about getting sick and keeping their families safe. One thing the pandemic didn’t do was deter area giving clubs from donating to organizations relying on generosity.
The concept behind the Giving Club and the Guys’ Giving Club in Grand Junction, and the Montrose Giving Club is simple. Members meet once every three months and each commits to writing a $100 check to go into a collection. Members then nominate charities to receive the pot and a vote is taken. Thus, four times a year, different nonprofits receive a substantial gift of money.
The Grand Junction Giving Club started seven years ago with only six members. Now it sits at 190 women. Member Judy Vanderleest said Illene Roggensack inspired the women-only group after reading an article on a similar club in Basalt. She emailed five ladies, asking, “Think we can make this happen?”
A SIMPLE WAY OF GIVING
Despite the craziness of the pandemic, members continued to meet by Zoom in May, August and November 2020 and in February of 2021. Even if members weren’t on Zoom, they could nominate a charity to receive the quarterly pot. Nominations go into a hat and three are randomly chosen. The person who nominated each charity has two minutes to convince the rest to vote for her choice, and the majority rules.
Nonprofits don’t need to account for the money they’re given. The only stipulation for the Grand Junction Giving Club is that the money benefits Mesa County residents. The most recent recipient was Summit Care West, a nonprofit dedicated to providing quality home health care to those in need. Foster Alumni Mentors, The House, and Catholic Outreach have also received around $20,000 in the past.
According to Phoebe Benziger, The Giving Club of Montrose was patterned after the Grand Junction Giving Club, and held its first meeting in February 2017. Benziger is one of the club’s five founding members, along with Sue Hansen, Julee Wolverton, Kristy Barrett and Sarah Fishering. In just four years, membership has grown to over 200 participants.
The group meets quarterly on the first Monday of February, May, August and November at The Bridges Golf Club. However, the upcoming August meeting will be held on the second Monday due to a scheduling conflict at the club. Each woman pays a $10 hospitality fee in addition to a $100 pledge.
“In four years, we’ve donated almost $225,000 and will hit a quarter of a million dollars in donations this year,” said Benziger.
NO COOKIES TO DELIVER
Steve Doyle and Frank Lindemann of Guys' Giving Club present a $10,000 check to Colorado Canyons Association.
Men in Grand Junction and Montrose knew a good thing when they saw it. Thus began the Guys’ Giving Club in Grand Junction and Giving Guys in Montrose.
According to Grand Junction club member Steve Doyle, “We are a bunch of giving guys who like pizza and beer, and we try to keep it very simple: no tickets to sell, no cookies to deliver.”
The Guys’ Giving Club has been around for six years. They’ve awarded a quarter of a million dollars to 28 worthy organizations in the Grand Valley. The most recent beneficiary was the District 51 Foundation, which promotes academic growth, achievement, and outreach for students, as well as professional learning grants for teachers. The only requirement for awardees is that they must have 501(c) nonprofit status. The elected organization sends each member a tax receipt for the donation.
“Our membership peaked at about 110 two years ago and now hovers around 80 members,” said Doyle.
Surprisingly, the pandemic had a positive effect on donations, Doyle found. Since the group wasn’t using the quarterly $25 per member hospitality fee during Zoom meetings, that amount was added to the winning nonprofit’s coffers.
GIVING FEELS GOOD
Three years in, membership for Giving Guys of Montrose currently hovers around 70. Members like Ian Atha would like to see that number grow.
The Giving Guys of Montrose present a $3,800 check to Lighthouse Ministries in 2019.
Clubs are always looking for new members. In addition to socializing and forming friendships, another benefit of belonging to giving clubs is finding out about all the superb, altruistic organizations in the area that are able to keep programs developing and growing. This is thanks in part to the generous members who believe that giving is better than receiving.
The Giving Club
Next meeting: Monday, August 2, 6
p.m. at SpringHill Suites www.gjgivingclub.org
Guys’ Giving Club
Next meeting: Tuesday, August 3,
5:15 p.m. at SpringHill Suites
Call 917-363-3719 or 243-8829
Montrose Giving Club
Next meeting: Monday, August 9, 5:30 p.m. at The Bridges Golf Club [email protected] Call 209-9598
Giving Guys Montrose
Next meeting: July 2021 at Cobble Creek Club House [email protected]