If people are the happiest when they give, then it could be said the Giving Club of Montrose is dedicated to spreading happiness.
The Giving Club, started by five women with a great idea, celebrated its fifth anniversary of giving in February.
“Our mission is to give back to the community,” Giving Club Founder Phoebe Benziger said.
“It’s a very simple process; We have over 100 women who meet quarterly and they all bring $100 to the meeting or send it in.”
The $100 buy-in qualifies a new member to nominate an organization or business for a drawing, where three names are placed into a hat.
The three representatives then make a presentation, where they are given the opportunity to share their messages and why they need the financial help.
Once all of the organizations present, everyone at the meeting votes and then the “winner takes all.”
The Giving Club of Montrose has given $211,000 over the past four years.
Each in-person meeting averages around $15,000 per meeting.
“The past year has experienced COVID complications, but we have still done well,” Benziger said.
“We’ve averaged about $10,000. We’re anxious to get back, we miss seeing our members a lot, and I think they miss seeing each other. It’s a very social, feel good time.”
Despite COVID, people are still eager to join and donate.
“That says a lot that they want to be a part of it. It’s everybody—young and old,” said Benziger.
The Giving Club also offers an equal playing field when entering the giving community.
Everyone is required to give the same amount of money at each meeting, so the pressure to give more is eliminated because the Giving Club won’t take any more than the $100 buy-in.
Co-founder Sue Hanson described the Giving Club as a club for anyone.
“Any nonprofit can benefit from this money. It really comes down to the message you give when you stand up and give a presentation and how well you talk about what you’re going to do with the money.”
The founders have discovered that many organizations throughout Montrose have gone under the radar, finding that many people don’t realize they exist until they are presented to the group.
“They get board members and volunteers this way; they get exposure through these meetings,” Benziger explained.
“It’s multi-faceted. It’s more than just taking home money; you make friends as well.”
Oftentimes, this unbudgeted money can keep a business’ doors open.
The five women were inspired to start the club when they heard about the Giving Club in Grand Junction.
Co-founder Kristy Barrett explained that the club stood out from nonprofits in that the money held no restrictions.
“It’s a really easy way to come together and do great things for the community. If you think about a non-profit, they often have to get grants, and they’re restricted by their grants. If you get a check from the Giving Club, it’s not restricted. You can spend it on payroll, operations, whatever you want.”
The mission behind the club is to “do good things.”
The best part about the Giving Club is that the public can come together for a short meeting and then go out for dinner after as friends, said Hansen.
“It’s been a very heartwarming experience,” said Barrett.
At the end of the day, the women said this club belongs to everyone. They were just the facilitators.
While the founders are excited to eventually meet in person again, they said they would love to see more members join.
“I’d like to see us break a quarter of a million dollars if we get back in public. We should be able to do that this year. That’s a big impact,” said Benziger.
Barrett hopes to see more of a younger demographic of women join.
“We’ve met some super talented, innovative women that do a lot of good things,” Benziger said.
“I’ve been here 40 years and we’re just learning about all of these good deeds that are done on a daily basis. There’s been tears and a lot of laughter. There’s nothing I would do differently. It’s made me more appreciative, and we’re all so glad we can do what we do.”
The women are not in it for the credit, but are grateful for the opportunity to facilitate a community of giving.
“It’s magic how it comes together,” said Benziger.