Community Gem: Two area groups have donated $1.5M+ in past decade to non-profits

DAYTON —Give $100. Then increase it exponentially by adding it to $100 contributions from dozens of other Dayton-area residents before presenting a local charity with a much larger donation.

That’s the concept behind two local giving circles that meet quarterly and together have donated more than $1.5 million to non-profits since they were founded more than a decade ago.

Every member of the 100+ Women Who Care and the 100+ Men Who Care groups contribute $100 each quarter. The separate groups hold their own one-hour meetings four times each year to choose the charity that receives that group’s donation.

It’s simple, it’s fun and it’s all done without any administrative costs, said Joe Lehman, the volunteer administrator for the men’s group, which has 113 members and has donated $450,000 since 2008. The groups allow philanthropic individuals to combine their resources, with every dollar of their donation going to the chosen charity, he said.

“It’s incredibly rewarding,” said Lehman, 73, of the Wright Dunbar neighborhood.

Kelly Marie Lehman, a member of the women’s group and Joe’s wife, nominated the two giving circles as Dayton Daily News Community Gems. Such large, collaborative donations are a blessing to the charities who are awarded them.

“For a small charity, it can really make a difference,” she said.

The first 100+ giving group was in Michigan, and they have since spread throughout the country. Still, Kelly Marie Lehman often meets people who have never heard of the groups.

The women’s group, which has 250 members, has raised more than $1 million for charities since it began in 2007, said Pam Browning, who is part of the executive board.

The group is inspiring, uplifting and exemplifies the power of the collective, said Browning, 59, of Oakwood.

“It’s just a beautiful, simple way to give back to the community,” she said.

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