Many years ago, attorney JoAnne Daudt came across the notion of giving circles. These collaborative groups of givers pool their money, decide together where to donate it, and learn about their community at the same time. By giving together, these groups have a greater impact on causes they care about. The idea intrigued her, and she filed it away for another day.
Fast-forward about 10 years. JoAnne was working at the National Christian Foundation of South Florida (NCF) and one of NCF’s events featured Women Doing Well (WDW). The topic of giving circles surfaced, the lightbulb went off and that was the impetus to start the first Christian women’s giving circle in South Florida.
In 2014, StrikeForce 421 held its first event. Since then, the group has given away over $860,000 in grant money to deserving nonprofits. JoAnne continues at the helm as President of our Board of Trustees. We are working board with no paid staff – each of the seven trustees has a role to play.
Constructing the Circle
From the first meeting on April 21, the founders agreed to use the powerful force of generosity to give toward immediate impact. Hence the name: StrikeForce421. The ‘421’ not only represents the date that the founders met but also the multiple effect of a God-sized return on investment.
I joined just before StrikeForce421 officially organized. With a mission of radical life-changing generosity not just for the grant recipients but for the givers as well, we penned our vision of
100+ women giving $1,000 or more, awarding $100,000+ in grants every year. Our goal was to give a $1 million dollars to ministries in our local communities in 10 years. Once we had that north star, we ran after it and God gave us an even bigger goal – to give away $1,000,000 a year!
How StrikeForce421 Works
We start fresh each year. No money in the coffers, no partners onboard.
Our pledge partners re-up annually even though other giving circles require a 3 or 5 year commitment. We intentionally set it up that way to offer more flexibility in a mobile community like South Florida and it’s paid off – we always have new partners joining!
We have a core group of about 20 women that have been longstanding partners and advocates, we call them our Ambassadors. We also welcome men – husbands, business leaders and Board members of the ministries we serve love the impact StrikeForce421 has on the community and give as patrons of the organization.
This pool of partners, ambassadors and patrons makes up StrikeForce421. Working with our board members, they help determine where the year’s donations will go. Everything is covered in PRAYER.
Each funding year begins with a grant application process where we get twenty to twenty-five applications. This list gets cut to a more manageable size before the board interviews potential grantees.
Those that make it through the interview process are invited to a fall partner breakfast to tell their stories to our giving circle. After that, we set up site visits with the semi-finalists – anyone can opt in to learn more about the charity, fill out an evaluation and help the board select the winners. We then host a second event in the spring to celebrate and announce the winners. It’s an exciting evening when we give all the money away!
Watching God Work
We’re always eager to see what God does. And He always has a plan.
This past year, we had a record year of ‘firsts’ with one being three weeks prior to our spring event. An ambassador asked how much money was needed to fully fund all grants. On the spot, she cut a check to cover the entire $12,000 gap! It was so exciting to see what God did in her heart and to watch how her gift impacted those ministries we supported.
The Bible tells us to be joyful givers. Our Savior set an example for us in generosity, giving all He had for us. At StrikeForce421, we strive to show that same generosity in an effort to further the Gospel and bring people closer to Jesus. 100% of our donations are awarded to ministries proclaiming the gospel in our local communities – that sets us apart from other giving circles.
Giving into the Future
While we hoped to give away $1 million in a decade, we expect God to get us there in 2022 – two years early! The God-sized goal of giving $1 million a year doesn’t seem so outlandish any longer. And this is just the beginning.
We have helped plant giving circles in Tampa, Miami and are working on Palm Beach. JoAnne has aspirations of StrikeForce421 in Paris. I’ve shared our story in Switzerland, where a Generosity Foundation has just formed.
As we look to the future, we point back to God who gets all the glory for what we do and also to where we began: Women Doing Well. StrikeForce421 offers community that women are hungry for, and WDW offers that in an ongoing manner. A number of our partners joined WDW Ignite groups for that purpose.
These women are business owners and professionals. They’re actively engaged in the community. They’re passionate about blanketing our community with the love of Jesus. And they want to continue learning about their purpose, passion, and plan. With WDW, they can do that.
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