There is strength in numbers, especially when armed with checks. 

Building that reserve is the goal of 100+ Who Care in Springfield, a grassroots organization that aims to recruit 100 people to pay $100 each to attend an event at which local nonprofit organizations vie to earn the evening’s proceeds.  Three randomly selected nonprofits have a chance to tell their stories, and the group votes on which organization gets the funds.  This year’s event, intended to raise and award $10,000 in one night in less than 100 minutes, takes place Thursday, Oct. 11 from 5-6:30 p.m. at Illinois Realtors. It is the third annual event for the 100+ group.

According to 100+ board chair Jamie Stout, the group started through a Leadership Springfield community project.  Leadership Springfield is a training program offered through the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce in which participants interact with community leaders and decision makers who share diverse perspectives on significant accomplishments and opportunities within the Springfield community.

Each year, the Leadership Springfield class participants are to reach out to various nonprofits and work on a project to further develop their mission,” said Stout.  “Founding board member of the 100+ Who Care of Springfield, James Koeppe, knew about this concept from a family friend and wanted to start a chapter here in Springfield.   There are hundreds of 100+ Who Care chapters popping up around the nation, with over 29 here in Illinois.  You can see some are just for women, men, or anyone and some are based on youth.  There are even virtual chapters.”

Stout, whose day job is director of membership and annual giving at the Abraham Presidential Library and Museum, has used her nonprofit networking skills to expand awareness of 100+.  That’s included letting nonprofits know of the opportunity and gaining support for the event.

While 100+ has not reached 100 attendees in the past two years’ events, it has been able to provide Compass for Kids more than $6,000 toward making their summer day camp for homeless children a reality, Stout reported. The previous recipient, The James Project, was able to pay on their mortgages and replace some appliances.

Compass for Kids founder and executive director Molly Berendt said 100+ Who Care is a unique group. “They do not have an agenda to serve a nonprofit, but are hoping to spread awareness about many nonprofits and financially support a nonprofit in a way that is easy and helpful,” she explained. “We were striving to make Camp Compass 2018 our biggest and best yet, so their financial support was a blessing. We were able to serve 106 kids and 100 percent of our students maintained or improved in math and in reading.”

Compass for Kids’ mission is to provide academic and social-emotional support to empower at-risk children and families. As a way to say thank you to 100+ for last year’s support of Compass, Berendt joined the 100+ board to help plan the upcoming October event.

Stout explained that people are asked to attend the event by purchasing tickets that night ($100 per person or $150 per couple) or ahead of time online at  Upon arrival, attendees submit their names, along with a favorite local charity.  Three names are drawn, and the person selected (or a designated person) has three to five minutes to tell the audience why that charity deserves the money.  The crowd then votes for their favorite charity, and the agency with the most votes gets 100 percent of the donations. “This is a grassroots fundraiser like none other in Springfield.   Any nonprofit has the chance to walk away with the $10,000 at the end of the night,” said Stout.

We encourage a charity to bring multiple people from their agency, including board members,” said Stout.   “The more potential votes you have in the room, the better your chances are of winning. This is a great networking event to meet new people as well.” 

The event includes food, wine and beer. For more information, visit

Janet Seitz is a local communications professional, writer and artist.  To share your story, contact her at