12 Things for New Members to Know
1) How often and where do you meet?
We meet four times a year on the second Tuesday of February, May, August and November. Members are expected to commit $100 each quarter or $400/year.
- The meetings last one hour from 7-8PM.
- At in-person meetings, many members arrive early to dine and socialize. In-person meetings are also streamed live on Zoom and members may observe, ask questions through chat, and vote.
- We meet virtually-only on Zoom for the February and August meetings, and in-person for the May and November meetings. Locations for in-person meetings are always in the northern suburbs.
2) Can I invite other people?
Definitely! We are always happy to have new members and have found that word of mouth from our existing members is the best way to find new members. Our meetings are open, and your friends and family don’t need to be members to observe, but they won’t be able to vote or nominate a charity for presentation until they become members.
3) How do I submit my favorite charity for nomination?
Submitting a charity is easy!
- First, check our pre-qualified list (click HERE) to see if it’s already been vetted.
- If it is NOT on that list, fill out THIS FORM and we’ll get it vetted for you.
- Once the charity is vetted and put on the pre-qualified list, you can submit it for presentation at the meeting prior to the one at which you want to present.
- If the prior meeting is a Zoom meeting (February and August), you should email Laurie the name of the charity you want to nominate in advance of the meeting because we choose the charities to be presented at the end of the Zoom meeting.
- If the prior meeting is an in-person meeting, you can email Laurie ahead of time OR submit the name of the charity at the meeting itself.
- If your name is picked as one of the three presenters or two alternates, you will know the next day.
4) Are there rules for what kind of charities can and can’t be presented?
Yes, there are a few rules:
- It must be a registered 501(c)3 for at least one year.
- It must allocate the majority of its funds in Lake or north suburban Cook counties.
- It must agree to keep our members names off of future solicitations and not share them with third parties.
- A representative from the charity must agree to attend our next meeting to talk about how our donation was or will be used.
- While non-profits that have a clear religious or political orientation are not allowed, religion-based charities that support anyone in need are permissible. Our Steering Committee reserves the right to reject any charities that are too religious, political or otherwise inappropriate.
5) How and when do you actually choose the three charities each quarter?
We literally put all of the nominated charities into a bowl at the end of a meeting, and the first three chosen are presented at the following quarter’s meeting.
- Every member who wants to present writes their name and their nominated charity on a piece of paper which goes into a bowl. When the meeting is over, the pieces of paper are randomly and blindly pulled out of the bowl. A volunteer member from the group observes this process.
- Every name in the bowl is pulled out and recorded in the order in which it was revealed.
- The next day, we notify the three members whose names were pulled out of the bowl first, second and third that they are the next quarter’s presenters, and we also notify the members picked fourth and fifth that they are alternates in case one of the top three can’t present at the next meeting.
- This advance notice helps our members feel comfortable putting themselves out there to present;
- Giving our members time to prepare their presentations improves the quality and accuracy of the information they are able to share with the group; and
- It also allows our members the option of enlisting a representative from the charity or a recipient of its services to help with the presentation.
6) When a charity is chosen to be presented, does the person who submitted it have to be the presenter?
Yes, but they have the choice of doing the presentation by themselves or enlisting the help of a representative from the charity or a recipient of the charity’s services.
- At a minimum, the members whose names were pulled out of the bowl have to introduce their charity and say a few words about why they nominated it. Beyond that, they can do the whole presentation themselves or they can have a representative from the charity or a recipient of the charity’s services do part of the presentation.
- A member who has been chosen to present CANNOT hand over the responsibility of presenting to another member.
- A member who is chosen to present at a May or November meeting MUST appear in person at the meeting to present.
7) Can you tell me which charities are presenting ahead of time?
No, we don’t announce the charities or presenters ahead of time to either the members or the other presenters. We believe that keeping the presentations a surprise has the following advantages:
- The presenters are less likely to become nervous or discouraged based upon their “competition”;
- It’s more fun for the entire group to find out at the meeting;
- Members cannot choose whether to attend a particular meeting based on knowledge and pre-judgments about the charities being presented; and
- It honors our commitment to the non-presenting members that their involvement is limited to the one-hour meeting by requiring the presenters to provide all the essential information about the charities so the non-presenting members do not have to do any advance preparation.
8) What happens at the meeting?
- After hellos and housekeeping details are shared, the prior quarter’s award recipient speaks for 5 minutes or less about how they have spent or plan to spend the award dollars they received from us.
- Each presenter gives a 5-minute presentation about their charity, followed by a 5-minute Q&A.
- The group votes by written or QR code ballot at in-person meetings, or a real-time Zoom poll in virtual meetings.
- Votes are tallied, results are announced, and the meeting concludes within one hour of when it started.
You have the right to vote after you have made one quarterly donation through our group.
- To vote at virtual meetings, you must be present, and voting is done via a live Zoom poll immediately following the three presentations.
- To vote at in-person meetings, voting is done via written ballot or QR code ballot, or if you can’t attend the meeting, you can watch the presentations streamed live via Zoom and vote via a live Zoom poll in real time.
10) How is the donation money allocated?
The charity that gets the most votes gets all of the funds collected, less a $500 award to each of the other two charities presented.
- The winning charity is ineligible for another award for three years.
- The other two charities cannot present in the following quarter, but are eligible any quarter after
that. Accordingly, none of the presenting charities can put their names in the hat on the night of their presentation.
Yes. The rationale for our collective giving model is that together we can do more, so by combining our dollars, we can make a more substantial and impactful contribution. When you join our group, you agree to support the charity that is chosen by the will of the group even if it’s not your first choice.
12) How do I make the donation?
You can make your donation online via credit card or bank transfer, or manually via check. We do NOT accept cash donations.
- We prefer that you make a credit card or bank withdrawal donation on the Grapevine platform. You will be invited by email to set up an account. Once you have an account, you can manage it HERE.
- You have the choice of making a one-time payment each quarter, or you can set up a recurring donation which will charge every quarter until you stop it.
- Grapevine is a 501(c)3 and will give you a tax donation receipt.
- Alternatively, you can write a $100 check made out to the charity we have chosen.
- For virtual meetings, please send the check to Laurie Richter at 1040 N Lake Shore Dr., 19c, Chicago, IL 60611.
- For in-person meetings, you can write the check at the meeting or send the check to Laurie at the above address.
- You are always free to include a donation to either of the other two charities and we will make sure it gets to them.
- Everyone (check or credit card) will receive a tax donation letter from the charity as well.