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.
Through collective giving, Dining for Women inspires, educates and engages people to invest in programs that make a meaningful difference for women and girls living in extreme poverty.
We envision a world where millions of people’s lives have been transformed and extreme poverty has been reduced because Dining for Women connected people in creative, powerful ways that assure gender equality.
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.
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.
*Our Virtual Chapter meets once a month, online via WebEx. Some people attend a Virtual Chapter meeting to find out what it's like, then go on to connect to a chapter in their area or start a new chapter. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact email@example.com.
Five easy steps:
- Fill out and submit the 'Get Involved' Form.
- Read and agree to the Statement of Mutual Commitment by clicking the checkbox on the 'Get Involved' Form.
- Pay the $50 registration fee per instructions on the 'Get Involved' Form.
- Complete the online Chapter Leader Training and submit the course evaluation
- Meet with (in person or by phone) a Dining for Women representative before your first meeting.
The DFW Chapter Resources page (Get Involved/Chapter Resources) gives you the tools to organize your chapter and its meetings.
Our international chapter applications are temporarily on-hold as
we research the legal requirements for the growing demand to expand
What? ME? A Chapter Leader?
New DFW leader in Castro Valley shares her concerns about becoming a DFW chapter leader and what helped her overcome her fears.
Taking the New Chapter Leader Basic Training (linked near the top of the Chapter Resources page) provides all the information, documents and templates you need and is a required step to becoming a Chapter Leader. All of these resources remain available on the Chapter Resources page.
Each month 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 organization’s program. This summarizes the activities of the selected organization and assists leaders in organizing their dinner presentations.
- Food for Thought, an educational tool produced by DFW that provides an in-depth global overview of 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: music, 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 our Founder. Members will receive a general email newsletter monthly, as well.
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.
Our Virtual Chapter meets monthly online via WebEx. Our Virtual Chapter Leader presents program information, interviews, a video, questions and discussion, and an opportunity to make an on-line donation. Some people attend a Virtual Chapter meeting to find out what it's like, then go on to connect to a chapter in their area or start a new chapter. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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*. If you would like to visit a chapter, please fill out the Get Involved form and we'll let you know if there's an open chapter in your area. 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!
If you would like to start a chapter, let us know on the Get Involved form and someone will contact you from your region to get you started.
Another option is joining our Virtual Chapter. The Virtual Chapter meets once a month, online via WebEx. Our Virtual 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 email@example.com. Some people attend a Virtual Chapter meeting to find out what it's like, then go on to connect to a chapter in their area or start a new chapter.
*Our international chapter applications and membership 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. Many members donate what they might have spent dining out at a restaurant. 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. We have a relatively small staff of both part time and full time employees. Where practical we sub-contract several services, for instance payroll processing and a portion of our gift processing. DFW is the fortunate beneficiary of the time and talent of hundreds of volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or see the "Get Involved/Volunteer" page.
Yes, DFW is a 501(c) 3 organization and all donations are tax deductible.
DFW combines all chapters’ monthly donations to provide one Featured Program grant each month. 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. 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 percent of funds are distributed in year one, with the remainder distributed one year later, pending receipt of satisfactory interim progress reports to DFW.
In September 2012 we expanded our grant funding model to support previously funded programs through our Sustained Program Funding. This grant is for programs DFW has featured in the past. Each month (except for June, July, and August when donation receipts are lower) DFW provides a three-year grant for $15,000 each year (total of $45,000) to a former DFW Featured Program. Grantees must submit a regular grant application.
If net donations in any month exceed the Featured and Sustained Program grants, they fund a reserve to ensure we are able to meet future grant obligations in the event of a shortfall. The DFW board determines the minimum reserve that must be carried. When the reserve reaches that minimum, funds in excess will accrue to fund a program selected by member vote. Thus far the level of monthly donations has not reached a level that would allow a Member's Choice grant to be awarded. Based on the current level of donations, we do not envision being able to award a Member's Choice grant in the near future.