After-School All-Stars provides free, comprehensive after-school programs for middle schoolers to keep children safe and help them succeed in school and life.
Martha’s Table Martha’s Table works to strengthen children, families and community by making healthy food and quality learning more accessible.
National Military Family Association National Military Family Association is committed to strengthening the families of those currently or formerly serving in the military. Some organizations serve just the service member, NMFA serves the entire family.
An Open Letter to Donors, Partners, and Friends of CharityWorks The Executive Committee of CharityWorks has decided that the organization will no longer host major fundraising events like the Dream Ball and 100 Point Vintage Wine Tasting due to Founder, Leah Gansler's recurring health issues. In the past few years, she has managed cancer, a brain aneurysm, esophageal surgery and most recently, worsening heart problems, all while maintaining her commitment to the important efforts of CharityWorks. "From the beginning, Leah has been the driving force behind organizing our volunteers and a tireless fundraiser. Her personal involvement has been a key ingredient in our success, and now it's important that she take care of herself," said Mark Lowham, a member of the CharityWorks Executive Committee.
"All good things come to an end despite the success CharityWorks has had over nearly two decades. The impact of not having the energy and driving force of one of the founders of the organization requires us to rethink our direction", said Jack Davies, also a member of the Executive Committee.
For the past 17 years, CharityWorks has provided funding for transformative change in numerous small local charities in Greater Washington. Over this period, CharityWorks has donated over $13 million to our non-profit partner organizations that focus on improving the lives of the disadvantaged as well as other non-profits in Greater Washington supporting our military community. We are honored to have worked with many of the finest non-profits in the region, and we are grateful to the countless volunteers that made this possible.
CharityWorks was formed in 1999 by Leah Gansler and Marilyn Pedersen. Together, they assembled an extraordinary group of volunteers who volunteered their time and resources to make CharityWorks a success. "One of the things that made CharityWorks unique was the selfless volunteerism of our members" said Leah Gansler. "Our members not only helped identify the final group of charities to be presented to our Advisory Council, but also they spent hundreds of hours helping with the coordination of our fund-raising events and supporting our partners in many other ways.
A Unique Approach
CharityWorks was not formed to just provide contributions to local charities. "CharityWorks is an impact organization" said Fernando Murias, Chairman of the Advisory Board. "By having the charities we support present a plan, demonstrating how they would use a sizeable donation, we helped them move to another level resulting in an even higher impact. The transformative nature of these plans was a big factor in us choosing our partners each year".
Although each partner was significant for us, there are a few partners that highlight the importance of this process. See Forever Foundation/Maya Angelou Schools received two donations from CharityWorks totaling over $1 million. "CharityWorks fully embraced our mission to serve at risk young people and enabled us to complete a major renovation of our new Evans Campus in 2004 and to successfully launch our Young Adult Learning Center in 2015. This would not have been possible without CharityWorks" said David Domenici, Director of See Forever.
Our experience with the Fishing School is another example of how our process provided a higher level of support to our partners. When health issues prevented founder Tom Lewis from driving the program's fund-raising efforts, they faced a big problem. "We reminded the Fishing School that the CharityWorks monies were focused on the intended expansion of the school, not to cover operating expenses," noted Murias. "To help the organization move forward, we placed one of our Board members on their Board, helped them restructure their operations, and ultimately provided the funds they needed for a new program." "They saved my organization" said Tom Lewis, founder of the Fishing School. "Without the involvement of the people at CharityWorks, my organization would not be here today."
CharityWorks has not only supported small local groups like the Orphan Foundation and Higher Achievement, but also partnered with larger national organizations like Teach for America and Fisher House. CharityWorks raised close to $2 million dollars to help build a Fisher House at the Veterans Medical Campus in Washington. "Without the donation from CharityWorks, we would not have been able to open our new facility in this area to help our veterans recover from devastating injuries with their families at their side. CharityWorks is one of the most important and meaningful partnerships we have established" said David Coker, President, Fisher House Foundation. The exposure to the group of donors they provided has led to years of continued contributions, well beyond the fund-raising they coordinated."
An Efficient Model
As a volunteer organization, CharityWorks has very little overhead, and our founder has never taken any compensation for her full time devotion to running the organization. Almost all CharityWorks expenses are directly related to staging the two signature fundraising events. In addition, CharityWorks is not an independent charity (eg. IRC SEC 501 (C)(3)), but rather a fund within the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region (CFNCR). Relying on CFNCR to provide oversight of our contributions and grants, as well as all the filing requirements associated with charitable giving, has allowed CharityWorks to focus on raising money, further minimizing overhead costs.
"We generally selected small local charities that don't have the access to attract the attention of large donors and then we help provide that access," notes Murias. "Although we ask our partners to help support our fundraising efforts, our recurring donor group ends up raising virtually all of the monies we provide to our partners."
A Record of Success
CharityWorks has been widely recognized for its unique events to raise money for their partners, most notably the Dream Ball and the 100 Point Vintage Wine Event. In addition, CharityWorks partnered with WEST*GROUP, GreenSpur, and the region's leading interior designers in 2007/2008 to build the CharityWorks GreenHouse, a demonstration project for sustainable construction and design and the first LEED Platinum residence constructed in Northern Virginia. These unique events consistently attracted some of the most charitable members of our community focused on a common goal. Although the events required significant investment, they were supported by volunteers and donations that helped CharityWorks generate an extremely high per capita net donation rate. As a result, we consistently raised between $500,000-$1,000,000 each year during our first 10 years and between $350,000-$500,000 each year over the last 6 years.
We are grateful for the support of the thousands of volunteers and donors, and we are proud of the impact they have made in the Washington area. Looking ahead, we are confident the benefits of our partnerships will continue for years to come. Without question, our volunteers, donors and supporters will continue to be highly engaged and continue to support those less fortunate in our region for many decades ahead. On behalf of everyone in the CharityWorks Family, thank you for your generosity.