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Newmarket-Aurora men 'who give a damn’ unite to pay it forward

The local 100 Men Who Give a Damn chapter is welcoming new members to its gathering Thursday, June 2 at EVENTMRKT

If one man can change the world, then what can 100 achieve?

It’s the idea driving grassroots organization 100 Men Who Give a Damn, a charitable offshoot of 100 Women Who Care that focuses on supporting small, local charities that frequently struggle to raise enough funds to provide critical services in their communities.

By paying an annual membership of $400 — $100 for each quarterly meeting (March, June, September, and December) — members pool their donations to support local charities in the most impactful way possible. With 95 fully paid members in the Newmarket-Aurora chapter, that means more than $38,000 is donated locally each year.

More than 40 local charities, including the Rose of Sharon, Kids Help Phone, Kerry’s Place, Springboard and Woman’s Support Network of York Region, have benefited from the generous efforts of 100 Men Who Give a Damn.

“It’s an opportunity for us to pay it forward, and make good examples to our friends, our neighbours, our children,” said Michael T. Smith, founder of the local 100 Men Who Give a Damn chapter.

Smith founded the Newmarket-Aurora chapter seven years ago, after being inspired by the “facts and spirit” of the organization. Though he already had a long history of supporting major charities like Easter Seals and Southlake Regional Health Centre Foundation, 100 Men Who Give a Damn was an opportunity to give a platform to smaller charities who “fight to keep their lights on.”

“What 100 Men Who Give a Damn spoke about was supporting local, grassroots charities and introducing philanthropy to people who had never been philanthropic before,” said Smith. “What it turned out to be was not only that, but an education for all of us about the charities out there, and how fortunate many of us are.”

To ensure the money goes where its most needed, 100 Men Who Give a Damn vote between three charities that are nominated or drawn randomly by members each quarter. A representative from each organization is invited to speak to members at their quarterly meeting, where they are given five minutes to pitch their charity and “win hearts”. A vote is then taken, and the winning charity receives the bulk of the donation — approximately $10,000 — while the remaining two receive $500 each.

The hour-long meetings are social events and are typically held at local restaurants, with options to join virtually. Nominated charities must be local to York Region, a registered charity, and able to issue tax receipts to members.

As 100 Men Who Give a Damn has no membership or administrative fees, 100 per cent of money raised by members each quarter is donated directly to charity. In the past six years, more than $240,000 has been donated.

Members have also been known to make personal donations to charities above their contribution to the 100 Men Who Give a Damn pool, after being moved by representatives' presentations.

“What this means is that this is a very efficient way of making a difference to charities locally,” said Smith.

The chapter’s goal this year is to increase membership up to 120, so they can increase the non-winning charities’ donations to $1,000 each.

Those interested in joining 100 Men Who Give a Damn can email info@100menwhogiveadamnna.com or reach out via the Newmarket-Aurora chapter’s Facebook page.

The group is holding its next meeting at EVENTMRKT in Newmarket Thursday, June 2 at 7 p.m. and encourages those interested in attending to RSVP via email.

“I want to pay it forward. I’m very blessed… why would I not pay it forward?” said Smith. “I think it’s our responsibility as adults and as business owners.”