I first met Marsha in 2008 in Washington D.C. when we on a panel for the Giving Circles Network at the National Press Club. Her energy, enthusiasm and vision for Dining for Women (DFW) was contagious. So much so that she has grown the organization from one dinner in 2003 with 20 women attending and $750 raised, to $285,000 raised in 2009 from over 3,000 women in 160 chapters throughout the United States.
Dining for Women vows to “change the world, one dinner at a time.” These potluck dinners are held at women’s homes and the women donate what they would have spent for dinner at a restaurant. The money is then distributed to non-profits in developing countries. Marsha says that most of the members are already giving in their own communities and diversifying their philanthropy through DFW.
In the booklet, Women’s Giving Circles: Reflections from the Founders I wrote last year for the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, I included Marsha and her great story that combines Marsha with a woman from Ethiopia, Oprah Winfrey and the Today Show. You can find the booklet (look for page 23) under research on the Women’s Philanthropy Institute website: http://www.philanthropy.iupui.edu/womensphilanthropyinstitute/.
When asked why DFW give only to women and girls internationally, Marsha points out what Nicholas Kristof, 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."
Check out the Dining for Women website at www.diningforwomen.com and do consider starting a chapter in your city. DFW also sponsors trips to places they have made grants and recently returned from Kenya where they visited one of the nonprofits they had funded.