Three Stories, Thirty Minutes, and $4,500 for Local Charity: Now That’s How It’s Done

Local, with the potential to go big. Immediate. Powerful. Authentic. Free. This is nonprofit marketing at its best; this is an approach that truly generates action. If you’re thinking “well, show me,” you’re right on track.

A local women’s organization based in Northwest Missouri called “Show Me Women Who Care” demonstrates that creating an active, engaged audience base for your nonprofit cause is rewarding, effective and doesn’t have to be overly complex. In the midst of high-tech tools for content marketing, Show Me Women Who Care reminds us that word of mouth and simple story sharing by one passionate advocate continues to go a long, long way.

The organization is similar to a women’s giving circle, and modeled after active giving circles in large cities. Founded by community leader and volunteer Mary George, the premise is simple:  get women together once per quarter for a 30-minute meeting. Allow members to drop a one page form into a box that tells about a nonprofit cause that has captured their passion. Draw three of these forms out at the meeting.

Now, this is where the meeting gets really interesting. Give the floor to the person who brought the form, and give them five minutes or less to share about the organization’s impact and its needs. No computers, no mic – just first-hand experience about the children or adults the organization helps. At the conclusion of all three presentations, members write their choice on a slip of paper. The winning organization goes home with a check from each member, with total gifts per meeting reaching nearly $4,500 in unrestricted cash.

At the next quarterly meeting, the winner gives a five-minute presentation on how the money has impacted local lives. The goal is to raise $10,000 in immediate cash for a local charity each quarter, and the 100-plus members are well on their way. To date, Show Me Women Who Care has raised more than $60,000 for local children, individuals and families in need.

The philosophy is “together we’re stronger,” says founder Mary George. “Members can take their donation and multiply it 50 or 100 times over with other members to make an impact for a local charity that they might not be able to make on their own,” says George. “The women are amazing, and they come willing to share about the basic needs of our neighbors across Buchanan and Andrew Counties. They care about children who are neglected or abused, the elderly, those living with disabilities and those in need of shelter, among so many other areas. They truly become advocates to spread the word.”

The beauty of this process lies in its authenticity. The stories are real. The volunteers, community members or board members who share the story are real. The impacts of the money collected are very real. Members have helped many local charities, such as home upgrades through Habitat for Humanity for a family trying to provide an independent environment for their 16-year old with a disability, or much-needed unrestricted dollars toward a hospice group that helps people live out their last days at home more comfortably. Group members have purchased critical classroom supplies for children living in poverty and disaster relief items for the local Red Cross.

Through the group’s authenticity, members also learn first-hand about numerous local nonprofit organizations who are striving to make a solid difference – such as the YWCA Encore Breast Cancer Awareness Program, the Children’s Advocacy Center and the Andrew County Food Pantry. They take this knowledge to their own peer groups and circles, creating a ripple effect that translates into better awareness community-wide of what the challenges are in our region, and the solutions. New volunteers and potential board members can also be recruited from the seeds sown at Show Me Women Who Care meetings.

Here’s  another key take-home point about the success of Show Me Women Who Care:  it’s built on genuine interest and immediacy, factors that never lose their impact. George says the group is for anyone “interested in learning about what great things are quietly happening in our counties that make a difference in the lives of children, families, the homeless, the dying,” and for “anyone who has 30 minutes to spare to help create real change.”

This type of immediate response to needs, using first-hand storytelling to share passion for a cause, is a great example of what all great marketing strategies are built upon.

The next meeting of Show Me Women Who Care is Monday, Nov. 12, at 5:30 p.m. at the St. Joseph Public Library, East Hills branch. Every woman is invited to attend, and no gift is required at a first meeting. For more information, email showmewomenwhocare@gmail.com.

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