Frequently Asked Questions
DFW is a national giving circle dedicated to:
- Empowering women living in the developing world to become economically self-sufficient, and
- Promoting gender equality by funding programs that empower women and girls
A 2001 study by the World Bank argues that gender equality is vital to combat world poverty and yields a double dividend, elevating women, and as a result, their families and communities.
Through the DFW educational program, our members become agents of change, working to alter the face of world poverty. The power of collective giving allows each of us to make a more substantial difference in the world than we could do individually.
Our mission is to empower women and girls living in extreme poverty by funding programs that foster good health, education, and economic self‐sufficiency and to cultivate educational giving circles that inspire individuals to make a positive difference through the power of collective giving.
Our vision is to create a new paradigm for giving – collective giving on an immense scale while maintaining the intimacy of small groups with a focus on education and engaged giving. Involved giving means we encourage members’ participation in the educational process during the meetings, through learning about the selected programs and the issues facing women around the world. We envision small groups forming chapters throughout the world, combining their energies to improve the quality of life for women and girls living in the developing world.
The DFW philanthropic model is anchored in the philosophy that, by informing and educating citizens in more developed nations, like the United States, we create the opportunity for individuals to become inspired to empower women living in the direst, most impoverished circumstances. The members in each chapter meet monthly, or at least four times a year, to share potluck meals, and learn about pre-selected organizations, which have been carefully researched to ensure they meet specific funding criteria. (To read more about DFW criteria, see FAQ "How are programs selected?").
The members donate the money that they would normally spend for a meal at a restaurant. Each member’s donation is combined with other chapters’ donations, thus making more of an impact than through individual gifts. The DFW model works at a grassroots level on both sides of the giving-receiving equation.
In the fall of 2002, Marsha Wallace, a former nurse and mother of four from Greenville, SC, read an article about a group of friends who got together for potluck dinners and made donations to needy families by using the money that they would have otherwise spent in restaurants. Marsha was struck by the thought of using dining out dollars to support women and girls in developing countries. And she and her friends pooled their donations to support Women for Women International.
The first official Dining for Women gathering was in 2003. DFW attained nonprofit status in 2004. For us, tremendous growth occurred after being included in a 2005 New Ventures In Philanthropy study on giving circles. Since then, DFW has received unsolicited national media attention, having been featured in the New York Times, Woman’s Day Magazine, Real Simple, MORE, Quick & Simple, Guide Post, the Delta Sky magazine and on Good Morning America and the Today Show.
Having started out as one group, meeting in Greenville, South Carolina, DFW has grown to more than 400 diverse chapters throughout the United States and around the world.
Since 75 percent of the world’s 1.3 billion people living in extreme poverty are women and children who live in developing nations, it makes sense that if we are to change the level of poverty worldwide we do it through the empowerment of these women.
Also, 85 percent of money Americans donate to charitable purposes stays in the United States. Of the 15 percent that is donated internationally, private foundations rather than individuals give the majority of funds donated. Here are some startling statistics:
- 70 percent of the world’s 1.3 billion poor are women living on less than $1 a day.
- Women do 60 percent of the world’s work and earn 10 percent of the world’s income.
- Women spend 50-70 percent of time men do on paid work and still do 200 percent of unpaid work in comparison to men.
- Women produce 70-75 percent of the world’s food crops.
- One year of schooling for the mother reduces child mortality by about 10 percent.
- Women cultivate, plow, and harvest more than half of all the food in the world.
As Nicholas Kristof, NY Times Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and co-author of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide states,
"The oppression of women worldwide is the human rights cause of our time. And their liberation could help solve many of the world's problems, from poverty to child mortality to terrorism."
Sources: United Nations, CIA Fact Sheet, World Bank, Inter Press Service, and The Feminization of Poverty by Richard Robbins.
Please read all about this in the Apply for a Grant website page.
DFW selects non-governmental organizations with programs fostering economic independence and self-sufficiency. Selected programs focus on various issues, including vocational training, educational opportunities, health and nutrition, and human rights awareness.
Through the Program Selection Committee and careful investigation, organizations are vetted and selected. The organizations or projects within an organization we choose, must meet the following criteria:
- Support women and/or girls who face extreme challenges in developing countries
- Promote self-sufficiency, economic independence and/or good health for women and girls being supported
- Tie funding to direct impact on individuals’ lives
- Provide evidence of long-term sustainability and program success
- Provide prompt and specific reporting about DFW-funded program
- Effectively manage a variable DFW grant that could range from $20,000 - $50,000 and be distributed over a two-year period, if requested.
- Direct a minimum of 75 percent of expenses to programs
- Be a public charity 501(c)(3) US nonprofit organization or foreign organization operating with a US nonprofit sponsor
- Operate independent of religious or political affiliation
- Provide informative organization web site in English
- Provide relevant educational resources; includes providing and sending an educational DVD to all DFW-registered chapter leaders
Dining for Women’s mission as an educational giving circle means that our featured programs vary every month, explore different regions of the world, address diverse issues, and emphasize our support of Millennium Development Goals.
A DFW Chapter is a group of people who:
- Meet at least four times a year in a wide variety of formats (the format may vary from that of other DFW groups), i.e., lunch meetings, dinner meetings, getting together for coffee, or via workplace, high school, church, service, campus, or other chapters, etc.
- Learn about the most urgent issues affecting women and girls living in extreme poverty worldwide, including illiteracy, health care, sex trafficking, water and food security, education, human rights, economic self-sufficiency, and many other challenges.
- Donate to the DFW- designated monthly organizations that address these urgent issues, knowing our collaborative gifts make more of an impact than our individual gifts. Ninety percent of all contributions go directly to our selected international programs, with 10 percent allocated to DFW.
Five easy steps:
- Simply fill out and submit the Membership Interest Form. Be sure to answer the questions near the bottom for new Chapter Leaders, as well as the rest of the form!
- (Our international chapter applications are temporarily on-hold as we research the legal requirements for the growing demand to expand globally.)
- Read and agree to the Statement of Mutual Commitment by clicking the checkbox on the Membership Interest Form.
- Submit the $50 registration fee either through Paypal by using a Paypal account or credit card, or mail a check to: Dining for Women, PO Box 25633, Greenville, SC 29616
- Complete the online Chapter Leader Training and submit the course evaluation
- Meet with (in person or by phone) a Dining for Women representative.
That's it! Welcome to Dining for Women!
Ready to plan your first meeting? Download the documents in the DFW Chapter Resources page, (see Get Involved/Chapter Resources) which gives you the tools to organize your chapter and its meetings.
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To help you start a chapter, the “Chapter Resources” web page provides all the documents and templates you need! This includes: Easy Steps to Hosting a Meeting, Sample Invitation, First Meeting Attendance Sheet, and Tips for Collecting Donations. See the web page under “Get Involved/Chapter Resources” for detailed information.
Each month meeting on-line resources are available to present the featured program, accessed through the “Programs” web page. Available resources include:
- A Program Fact Sheet as a guide to the featured recipient organization’s program. This summarizes the activities of the selected recipient organization and assists leaders in organizing their dinner presentations.
- Food for Thought, an in-depth educational tool, produced by DFW, providing a glimpse into the issues affecting the women and girls we are supporting through the featured program.
- A link to a program video, though chapter leaders have the option to receive a DVD to view during their meeting instead.
- Recipes from the current program's country to add to the richness of your DFW dining experience.
- Information may also be provided about: women’s international art forms, book and movie recommendations, and fair trade shopping suggestions that emphasize social responsibility.
- Additional material, if available, such as brochures, videos, and stories of women involved in their efforts.
Chapter Leaders also receive an email newsletter each month with in-depth information about DFW, monthly featured program, meeting ideas, program follow-up reports, DFW in the news, upcoming events, donation impact by month and a message from the Executive Director. Members will receive a general email newsletter each quarter, as well as a monthly program update. Both are also available on the Newsletters webpage. To sign up to receive these publications, click here: http://diningforwomen.org/Newsletters
Many of our chapters meet monthly. We require our chapters to meet at least four times a year. However, we encourage our members to support our featured programs even when they are not able to attend a meeting.
Plus, if you choose not to join or form an official Dining for Women chapter, you can still support DFW and its mission by becoming a “Friend of DFW.” Friends of DFW come together for special events, from birthdays to anniversaries, and raise awareness and funds to support our work.
Chapters are located throughout the United States in more than 36 states, and more are forming internationally, from Canada to Europe, Mexico to Dubai. The DFW home office is in Greenville, South Carolina. For a map showing all chapter locations, go to the web page “Get Involved/Find a Chapter.”
If you would like to start a chapter, or if you don't see a chapter close to you, or one that fits your schedule and location, fill out the Membership Interest Form, and someone will contact you from your region to get you started. Also, although we will make our best effort to connect you with a local chapter, in the event one is not available, we encourage you to start your own chapter--it’s easy!
Another option is joining our Virtual Chapter. The Virtual Chapter meets once a month, online via Webex. Our chapter leader presents program information, interviews, a video, questions and discussion, and an opportunity to make an on-line donation. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our international chapter applications are temporarily on-hold as we research the legal requirements for the growing demand to expand globally.
Contributions are voluntary, and no designated amount is expected of the members. Donations can be made by credit card, check, automated payments, or on-line donations. See our “Donate” web page for more information.
Our unique fundraising model is based on educated collective giving, in which chapters hold monthly potluck dinners and combine dining out dollars to give to a predetermined charity. All chapter donations are pooled every month, allowing our individual gifts to have the greatest possible impact upon the programs we fund.
As part of DFW’s program acceptance process, the organizations commit to providing Dining for Women with multiple follow-up reports, detailing how donations were spent, number of women and girls impacted, success stories and challenges faced while implementing the program. Follow-up reports are posted on the Programs/Follow-up Reports webpage and in the monthly newsletters.
The Dining for Women organization does not affiliate or align itself with any religious or political organization, and no programs that are funded by Dining for Women are sponsored by or are a part of a religious or political organization. However, Dining for Women welcomes anyone, from all religious and political beliefs, to join together in our mission of improving the lives of women through the power of collective giving.
Yes, DFW hired an Executive Director in October 2010, and there are two full- time administrative employees responsible for preparing our monthly education publications, newsletters, financial reports, and donation processing. DFW has developed Standard Operating Procedures to guarantee a high level of integrity and effectiveness in all aspects of the organization. We also have many members who are very generous with their time and talent. If you are interested in volunteering, contact us at email@example.com, or see the "Get Involved/Volunteer" page on the DFW website.
Yes, DFW is a 501(c) 3 organization and all donations are tax deductible.
How has DFW’s program funding model changed?
Based on DFW members' feedback, we have expanded our grant funding model to support previously funded programs through our Sustained Program Funding, while continuing to fund new programs as we expand our knowledge of global issues affecting women and girls. By keeping our maximum grant size to $50,000 for our Featured Programs we can fund small grassroots programs, yet still make a substantial impact. In addition, members will have an opportunity to select a program to fund from one of three vetted grant applicants through the Member Choice Funding.
What type of grant is the Sustained Program Funding?
This grant is for programs DFW has featured in the past. Each month, except for June, July, and August, DFW will provide a 3-year grant for $15,000 each year (total of $45,000) to a former DFW featured program. Grantees must submit a regular grant application and will be vetted by the Program Selection Team.
How will the Member Choice Funding work?
As reserve funds accumulate after fulfilling the Featured Program and Sustained Program Funding grants each month, members will have an opportunity to vote and award grant funding to one of three vetted and highly rated programs. Our first vote, for a grant amount up to $30,000, is anticipated in 2013. Information will be posted on the DFW website, Facebook, Twitter, and in the monthly Program Update newsletters.
What if our net donations in a month are greater than the total of the Featured Program grant and the Sustained Funding Program grant for that month?
Donations exceeding the grant obligations for a month will be accrued to ensure future grant obligations are met. The DFW board will determine the amount of reserve that will be carried to meet obligations. When enough funds have been accrued beyond the reserve goal, a Member Choice Funding vote will occur for a grant amount of up to $30,000.
What if our net donations in a months’ donations is less than the committed grant amount for that month? For example, November’s net donations equal $50,000, but combined Featured Program and Sustained Program Funding grant obligations equal $55,000, creating a shortfall of $5,000.
Starting in July 2012, all net program donations above the committed grant amounts are reserved to ensure that future monthly grant commitments are met. In the example above, reserve funds would be used to meet a portion or the entire remaining grant obligation amount.
Can I designate my monthly donation to the featured program only? Or to the sustained program funding only?
DFW will use your net program donations to fund the grant commitments made according to the board approved published grant funding model. DFW does not accept donations restricted to specific grantees.
Will any of my donations be used for anything other than program grants (for example for DFW operations expenses)?
Dining for Women designates 15% of your program donations to fund general management and administrative costs that are critical to processing donations and effectively supporting our members.
What program education information should chapters present each month to their members?
Chapters should continue to present detailed Featured Program information each month, by using the educational materials provided on the DFW website as well as the quarterly program DVDs shipped to chapter leaders. Chapter leaders should also announce the Sustained Program Funding grantee each month as well as share program summary information from the DFW website as meeting time allows.
When DFW provides a grant to an organization, are the funds restricted? Can they only be used for the program we’re supporting?
Yes, all DFW grants are restricted to the grantees’ approved proposal, therefore our collective donations provide a substantial impact directly to the women and girls we serve. Any subsequent changes to grant budgets must be approved by the DFW Program Team.
What is the process for selecting programs for DFW grants?
DFW has a detailed and comprehensive review process for all grant applications submitted which involves assessing grant proposals and budgets, organization structure, two years of financial documents (if available), annual reports, website, social media as well as donor and work reference letters. For details see: Apply for a Grant
Our volunteer program selection team of 12-14 people scrutinizes all applicant documents and meets over the phone and in person (at volunteers’ expense) to discuss and select grantees. Two grant selection cycles occur every six months for funding beginning in 12 months.
Programs are carefully selected based on issue area, program objective, potential impact and region of the world in alliance with UN Millennium Development Goals.
Do applicants apply for a specific grant type (Featured Program Funding, Sustained Program Funding or Member Choice Funding)?
DFW determines which grant type applicants will be awarded based on our mission as an educational giving circle. That means that our grantees vary every month, exploring different regions of the world, addressing diverse issues and program objectives, and emphasizing our support of the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Additionally, some Featured Program grantees receive their grant funds distributed over a two year period versus a lump sum distribution. In this case, all of the grantee funds are raised during one month and 50% of funds are distributed in year one, with the remainder distributed one year later, pending receipt of satisfactory interim progress reports to DFW. Occasionally, DFW will recommend a two year grant distribution for small grassroots organizations.
How will Sustained Program Funding grants be supported?
Sustained Funding grants will be funded each year, for three years. Funds will come from monthly net donations. For example, our September Sustained Program Funding grantee, INMED, received a grant for $15,000 from net donations in September of 2012, and will receive a $15,000 grant from net donations in September of 2013 and again in September of 2014.
Where will information about the Sustained Program Funding grantees be available?
Each Sustained Program Funding grantee has a webpage that includes program information, as well as a link to their previous DFW grant webpage, and a link to the organization’s web site. We encourage members to read more about the programs we are sustaining.
What happens if a Sustained Program Funding grantee status changes negatively during the three year grant period? Will we continue to send them funds?
DFW monitors grantees and reserves the right to approve minor modifications to the funded programs, or to withdraw funding if we conclude that the grantee has not complied with the conditions of the grant, or that the grantee's situation has changed adversely or is different than as presented in its grant application.
How do you select Member Choice Funding organizations? Are they previously funded programs?
Member Choice Funding organizations have submitted applications and been thoroughly vetted by the Program Team, just like all DFW grant recipients. Typically, Member Choice organizations are new to DFW and have been rated very highly during our selection process. These organizations may not have been selected as a Featured Program due to program location or issue area, as DFW always aims for a balance across issue areas and geography.
Why can’t we divide the Member Choice Funding grant into 3 grants so that all of the programs are funded at some level?
Dividing the grant amount of up to $30,000 into three smaller grants is not as impactful for grantees, and more costly to manage for DFW (administrative processing, grant agreements, monitoring and evaluation).
How and when will the Member Choice Funding take place? How will I find out about the Member Choice Funding vote?
We anticipate our first Member Choice Funding vote to occur in 2013, for a grant of up to $30,000. The vote will be announced to members through email, Facebook, Twitter, and on the DFW website; actual voting process is yet to be determined. The timing of the vote is based on DFW accruing enough funds beyond our grant obligations for Featured and Sustained Program Funding, as well as the board-approved reserve fund. Each potential Member Choice Funding grantee will have a webpage on our website for members to review prior to voting.
When will the next grant cycle open? Can I recommend an organization for funding?
Our grant cycles typically open in April and October. Watch our Apply for a Grant webpage for more information. We encourage our members to research organizations that meet DFW criteria posted on Apply for a Grant and recommend that they apply for a grant.