What happened when a small group of women set an audacious goal to grow their group to 100 women who would each give $1,000 to charity every year? Eight years later, they’ve refined their processes and have given a million away!
Years ago, JoAnne Daudt was introduced to the concept of giving circles. She was intrigued by how these collaborative groups pool their money, decide together where to give, and learn about their community at the same time. Together, these groups have a greater impact on causes they care about. The idea intrigued her, but she filed it away for another day.
Fast-forward about 10 years, when JoAnne attended an event which featured Women Doing Well (WDW), an organization that activates women of influence to live lives shaped by generosity. The topic of giving circles surfaced, and a lightbulb went off that led JoAnne and three others to found the first Christian women’s giving circle in South Florida.
Constructing the circle
From the first meeting, the founders agreed to use the powerful force of generosity to give toward immediate impact. Hence the name: StrikeForce421. The “421” not only represents the date the founders first met, but the multiplying effect of a God-sized return on investment (1+1 = 2, 2+2 = 4, etc.).
Their mission of radical life-changing generosity is not meant for just the grant recipients. The members of the group (which they call “partners” ) are seeing their lives changed too. They’re discovering causes they’re passionate about, volunteering for ministries they’ve met through StrikeForce421, joining boards.
This was the vision for the giving circle:
- 100+ women
- Giving $1,000 or more per year
- Awarding $100,000+ in grants every year
Their initial goal was to give a million dollars over 10 years to ministries in the communities they represent. Once they had that North Star, the women chased after it. But God gave them an even bigger goal – to give away a million dollars to charities each year!
How StrikeForce421 works
The group starts fresh each year, with no money and no partners on board. While many giving circles require a three- to five-year commitment, StrikeForce421 partners re-up annually. This offers more flexibility in a mobile community like South Florida. And it has paid off. New partners are joining often.
About 20 women have been longstanding partners and have advocated for the group. They call these ladies “ambassadors.” The circle also welcomes men. Husbands, business leaders, and board members of the ministries StrikeForce421 serves appreciate the impact the giving circle has on the community. These men often become “patrons,” blessing StrikeForce421 with financial gifts, even though they aren’t partners in the giving circle.
This pool of partners, ambassadors, and patrons keeps StrikeForce421 giving. Working with its board members, they help determine where the year’s donations will go. The entire process is covered in prayer.
NCF South Florida handles all the donations and reporting, and 100 percent of what is awarded goes to ministries that proclaim the gospel in their local communities. To be considered for a grant, an organization must share the gospel and express the love of Jesus, either through relationship or as part of their program or curriculum. This, too, sets StrikeForce421 apart from other giving circles.
Each funding year begins with a grant application process. StrikeForce421 usually receives 20–25 applications from local ministries. They must be an approved 501(c)(3) organization. This list gets narrowed down to a more manageable size, and then the board interviews potential grantees.
Those who make it through the interview process are invited to a breakfast in the fall to tell their stories to everyone in the giving circle. After that, semi-finalists are selected and site visits are made to see their work in action. Any partner can opt in to visit and learn more about the charity, help the board evaluate the charities, and select the winners.
“Throughout Scripture, we see stories of God’s love continually multiplying,” JoAnne says. “And we believe that is happening here in our giving circle as well.” At an event in the spring, the group celebrates and announces the winning grant recipients. “The evening when we give all the money away is so exciting!”
Consider the impact on just one organization – ēma ministries, which works in South Florida to prevent family separation by helping mothers in crisis. The young ministry applied for a $25,000 StrikeForce grant. For a young ministry, that amount of money was substantial. It not only helped with operating costs. It enabled them to pay for their first program location and assist young single moms in their inner-city location. “For us, the StrikeForce grant didn’t just give us money to operate. It really expanded and furthered our vision,” founder Charlee Tchividjian, says.
Watching God work and giving into the future
Each year, we’re eager to see what God will do. In 2021, StrikeForce421 had a record year of firsts. One of them came three weeks prior to their spring event. An ambassador asked how much money was needed to fully fund all the grants the circle had planned. On the spot, she wrote a check to cover the remaining $12,000. The StrikeForce421 partners were so excited to see what God did in her heart and to watch how her gift impacted the ministries they supported.
Since StrikeForce421 began, we have helped others start giving circles in Tampa and Miami. JoAnne aspires to see StrikeForce421 expand overseas. I shared the story of StrikeForce421 with a group of givers in Switzerland who have recently established a new generosity foundation.
As the group looks to the future, they give God all the glory. They also remember the initial inspiration and encouragement from Women Doing Well. StrikeForce421 offers community that women are hungry for, and WDW offers that in an ongoing manner, offering support through pathways for growing in community.
The Bible tells us to be joyful givers, and StrikeForce421 members become this as they give together. Jesus set an example of generosity for his followers, giving all he had for us. StrikeForce421 is striving to show that same radical kind of generosity. They want to further the gospel and bring people closer to Jesus through the ministries they support.