Nova Scotia

Philanthropist group 100 Men Who Give a Damn has finished its work

100 Men Who Give a Damn, a group of philanthropists that started in 2014, will hold its final meeting next week after five years of giving $400,000 in donations to 19 non-profit charities.

Group has donated over $400K to 19 charities in five years

Alex Handyside and Bill VanGorder started the Halifax chapter of 100 Men Who Give a Damn in 2014. The group will hold its final meeting next Tuesday. (CBC)

After five years of giving significant financial boosts to 19 local non-profit charities, the Halifax chapter of 100 Men Who Give a Damn is ending.

"Well, you know all fundraising activities and programs have a life cycle, and we've had a very successful run with this group and raised over $400,000 in the last five years for local charities. It's time to put that aside and have people go on to other things," said Bill VanGorder, who started the group with Alex Handyside in 2014.

"It was a decision that took a lot of discussion and a lot of thought but we really wanted to end on a high note."

The group will hold its final meeting on Tuesday at Saint Mary's University and give out its 20th and last donation to a Halifax charity.

"The idea was to … give them the opportunity to learn about other charities and have an opportunity make a donation themselves that, going together with everybody else's, would make a real impact on that local organization."

By their third meeting, the group drew up to 250 men.

'Find five men who care'

Their concept is simple. Four times a year, 100 men with $100 would be put in a room to listen to three charities explain why they needed financial help. The men would vote on one and give the money to that charity on the spot.

Donations handed out over the years ranged from $10,000 to $28,000.

Six years ago, the leader of the 100 Women Who Care group in Halifax, Colette Robichaud, challenged the two men to "find five men who care" and to start a similar group.

Colette Robichaud, one of the founders of 100 Women Who Care Halifax, dared the men to come up with a similar network. (CBC)

"We decided that we would name our group 100 Men Who Give a Damn. Men Who Care sounded a little soft at that point, and that's how we created the organization," VanGorder recalled.

"The great news out of all of it is we have spawned groups all across the world. There are now 100 Men Who Give a Damn in Dublin, in the Caribbean, in the United States, right across Canada, all of them continuing in the similar pattern."

VanGorder said it was amazing to see the impact the money had on the groups that received them.

"They were able to do things that they just could not do out of their regular budgets, and no single donor had been able to come forward to help them," he said.  

Money for SPCA, Alzheimer Society

For instance, the Nova Scotia SPCA used the $28,250 it was given in 2014 to build heated outdoor kennel runs for their animals at the shelter.

Everything the group did was on a volunteer basis. It had no bank account and no fixed mailing address. Even their meeting space was donated. And 100 per cent of the money contributed went directly to the charity.

With the $9,000 donation it received from the men's group in May, the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia was able to pilot Minds in Motion, an exercise and socialization program where people with early-stage dementia and their caregiver have 45 minutes of exercise tailored to them, followed by 45 minutes of socialization and programming with the society's staff.

The program was able to help about 80 people in Halifax and Dartmouth.

Sarah Lyon is the society's director of philanthropy.

"I was the fortunate person who got to pitch to the 100 Men and was able to tell the story of how exercise can benefit people with dementia and their partner in care to live life well, to be healthy, to have an opportunity to socialize with other people who are on the same journey as they are," she said.

About the Author

Sherri Borden Colley has been a reporter for more than 20 years. Many of the stories she writes are about social justice, race and culture, human rights and the courts. To get in touch with Sherri email sherri.borden.colley@cbc.ca