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New organization strives to make a big impact each quarter to local nonprofits

When Brandi Ebner attended a 100 Women Who Care meeting in Bend with a friend recently, she was amazed.

"They give over $27,000 a quarter in Bend to a nonprofit," Ebner said. "I told my friend that this is a really cool concept. I think it could work, but I don't know if individuals necessarily have it in Prineville, but what I do know is that there seems to be a lot of small business people that I've talked to who are consistently hit up for donations."

She researched the worldwide 100 Who Care Alliance. The idea is to combine donations from contributing individuals and businesses and make quarterly donations to nonprofit organizations.

"If we got 100 businesses to step up with $100, which is the concept of 100 Who Care, they could contribute $40,000 a year just to nonprofits in Prineville," Ebner told her business acquaintance Brett Nelson.

The two joined forces and formulated a plan.

They created 100 Businesses Who Care in Crook County and launched the program last week.

Here's how it works.

Crook County businesses pledge to donate $100 each quarter, which is $400 a calendar year.

Nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations, or groups sponsored by a nonprofit, fill out an application, describing their funding needs.

Three weeks before each quarterly meeting, the 100 Businesses Who Care steering committee members will draw three random applications.

Representatives from those three nonprofits will present during the meeting, sharing their plans for how they would use the money.

Contributing business members who are present at the meeting will vote on their favorite nonprofit project.

Votes will be tallied, and pledging businesses will write $100 tax-deductible checks to the winner at the conclusion of the meeting.

The winning nonprofit will then keep the donors updated on their projects, with photos and quarterly updates.

Ebner and Nelson have taken it upon themselves to create and facilitate this program – which is not a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization nor an incorporated business. They are simply volunteers who are dedicated to making a difference in the community.

Ebner also serves as the executive director of the Crook County Foundation.

"This is not a foundation program, but in my involvement in the community, I've seen a need for something like this, and a huge piece of that is because of my role at the foundation," she said.

Likewise, Nelson calls himself a community-related guy. He founded and moderates the Prineville, Crook County – Your Voice Our Community Facebook page, which has nearly 6,000 members.

Both Ebner and Nelson plan to launch the dynamics of the 100 Businesses Who Care in conjunction with social media platforms.

Ebner recounted how she has heard from numerous local business owners who frequently get requests for donations, sponsorships and tickets, but they wish they knew whether or not their contributions made a difference.

"The thought process is, how can we make a major impact to one organization every single quarter — something that would alleviate that group from having to do 10 little fundraisers and just be able to walk away and know their project is going to be taken care of," Ebner said.

Nelson pointed out that most businesses donate to local causes multiple times a year, but this program would have more of an impact on four organizations each year.

"It's not a huge amount of money — 100 bucks every three months is not that big for most businesses — and that could be their give," Ebner said. "It also gives them a way to not have to give to everything in the world but be able to say, 'I support this program. You should go apply for it.'"

Additionally, the quarterly meeting is an opportunity for the three nonprofit representatives to network with local business people, perhaps garnering additional support.

"It's putting people shoulder-to-shoulder that usually wouldn't sit together," Nelson said.

The 100 Businesses Who Care in Crook County founders will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 7 at the library.

"The ribbon cutting is really just to announce it to the chamber membership and get businesses interested," Ebner said.

Nelson said that although no businesses have officially pledged, several have shown an interest.

The goal is 100 business pledges totaling $10,000 per quarter, but the organizers say it could grow. They'd be happy if at least 50 businesses pledged by the first meeting, scheduled for 5 to 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14 at the Crook County Library.

"Between now and then, what we really have to do is try to get businesses on board to pledge that they'll support this," Ebner said.

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100 Businesses Who Care in Crook County

Founders: Brandi Ebner and Brett Nelson

Facebook: 100 Businesses Who Care in Crook County

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