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Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009

Dining for Women, Helping the World

Food, conversation help charity empower the poor

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Donating your time, money and energy to a good cause is a delicious endeavor if you’re a member of Dining for Women (DFW), a nonprofit group that inspires individuals to make a positive global impact through collective giving. Dining for Women is a monthly dinner party where participants bring a dish to pass, and, using the money they would have spent having dinner at a restaurant, donate to a chosen grassroots program that empowers women living in extreme poverty in Third World countries.

While reports of disreputable charities and misused funds make many potential donors pause before writing the dollar amount on their charitable checks, Dining for Women has a tight selection process for the programs it funds. DFW will only work with groups that operate at the grassroots level, so the donated money makes a larger impact. Selected programs have to operate on a relatively small funding level, have a U.S.-based affiliate through which donations are channeled, and have the ability to directly measure the effects of the funding. Because Dining for Women maintains a close relationship with the organizations it works with, DFW members receive regular updates on the impact their donations are having on the women supported by the group’s efforts.

To improve the quality of life for the women and children living in the poorest regions of the world, Dining for Women supports programs that educate, promote good health, or foster economic self-sufficiency. In September, for example, 100% of the collective dinner donations was given to the Shem Women’s Group, an organization that trains Tibetan women to design, implement and manage local development projects that will give their communities access to basics like water, fuel, electricity, health care and education.

Women on the giving-end aren’t just enjoying food and wine with like-minded ladies. They become agents of change, capable of significantly improving the world as we know it. At these dinners, they learn about world events and important issues affecting women and children in struggling countries. A chapter can be started new, or formed from an existing group that would like to donate to DFW. The format is determined by the group, so if meeting for coffee is more your cup of tea, so be it.

Milwaukee is currently home to two chapters of Dining for Women, but there is always a need for collective giving. Chapters can be formed by submitting an online application and paying a $25 registration fee. DFW brings to the table established nonprofit status and administrative support, as well as program research and selection. Women bring a dish, a donation and a desire to improve the world.

For more information, call (864) 284-6577, write P.O. Box 25633, Greenville, SC 29616 or visit www.DiningForWomen.org/.