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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Do Good ~ Have Fun ~ Raise Money

Do Good ~ Have Fun ~ Raise Money

By Ann Barczay Sloan, Women’s Networking Editor
Ann's Bio Email article RSS feed Share on facebook

Introducing Anne Newell

Creator / Founder of

Chicks with Checks

Transforming social networking and charitable giving one happy hour at a time.

My introduction to Anne Newell

I was referred to Anne by a Networking insider: Sian Lindemann, our TNNW Arts and Entertainment Editor. I was immediately taken by the "Chicks for Checks” name, so I figured it would be fun to get acquainted with the Founder of such a unique enterprise and learn more about their unique approach to charitable giving.

Anne speedily responded to my request for an interview. I posed her my favorite starter question:

How would you briefly describe what Chicks with Checks do? What’s your elevator speech?

Do Good - Have Fun - Raise Money

"… That’s fundamentally it!" Anne smiled.

I laughed, and Anne just continued on.

"When you go to our brand new web site, on the landing page you’ll see some powerful questions:

  • Are you tired of the rigid rules of most networking groups?
  • Would you like to connect with other caring women?
  • Would you like to support more local charities and community service organizations?
  • Have you noticed how much women get done when they work together?

Let’s put FUN into fundraising!

It so perfectly summarizes - though as a question, not a statement - what we’re all about.”

I laugh again. "It does sound perfect, Anne - sounds so appealing. Makes me eager to know more! So here’s my next question:

What is the primary goal or mission of what you do?

"Well,” says Anne, "here’s a tag line that wraps it all up for me:”

Transforming social networking and charitable giving one happy hour at a time.

Anne Newell

For starters, Anne, let’s walk through your web site so we can understand your various services and benefits.

"Yes – thanks! I’m really happy with our summary write-up on our home page:

Welcome to Chicks with Checks, the place for women to do what comes naturally - do good and have fun while building real relationships and raising money for the organizations on the front lines of our own back yards.

Each month, Chicks with Checks hosts a casual, unhurried, FUN Party with a purpose to raise awareness and funds for a different non-profit whose mission is to improve the lives of local residents. We really get to know these organizations – who they are, what they do, what they need next, and how we can help. In the process, we make real friends, help each other grow and prosper, and make our communities better.

Chicks with Checks members also have access to high quality resources provided by experts from both inside and outside the club. Activities such as book discussions, mentoring programs, travel opportunities, special events, and coaching make Chicks with Checks an invaluable resource whether you are a career woman, stay-at-home mom, or young woman just starting out.

And to wrap it all up...

Network more socially – Give more locally


How exactly do the various elements work together?

"Chicks with Checks benefits everyone involved.

  • The non-profit gets recognition, spreads their message further, meets new potential volunteers, and receives donations.
  • The Chapter Owner creates a revenue stream for herself, gets name recognition for sponsoring this very special event, meets remarkable women, builds her own database, and increases her own personal receiving since what goes around comes around.
  • Our corporate partners advertise in front of one of the most powerful buying groups - smart, caring women.
  • The guests meet other extraordinary women and make a real difference.
  • Our corporate partners advertise in front of one of the most powerful buying groups - smart, caring women.
  • And the people served by the charity receive added help.

Everybody wins!”

Sounds amazingly useful all the way around! Now can you tell me more about the selections on your web site?

"Most of these are pretty self-explanatory regarding the purpose: Find a Member, Become a Member, Find a Chapter, Tell a Friend, Make a Donation.

If you select Start a Chapter, you are asked to submit your name in order to start the application process.

If you go to Become a Beneficiary, here is the message you’ll see:

Women helping women. That’s what it’s all about. Discover how becoming a Chicks with Checks beneficiary can provide superb networking and donations to local non-profits. Fill out our form below to become a beneficiary!

Finally, regarding what I call ‘The Story’, I’ll give you more details as we proceed through this interview. But first, let’s look at how it - our organization - works first.”

How it Works

"As stated on our web site:

Chicks with Checks is comprised of two sister corporations. The mission of the for-profit social networking organization is to raise awareness and funds for local non-profits while providing opportunities for members to grow their business and grow as women. Our non-profit Chicks with Checks Foundation distributes the funds.

And let me point out this invitation, also on our site:

Men can play, too!

  • Donate
  • Share the invitation with all the outstanding women you know
  • Come to the party with a Chick on each arm
  • Put on a skirt and party with the Chicks!

Please describe how you got started on this journey, and how you got to where you are currently.

"Sometime in 2005, I heard a vague story about a little group of women "out there" somewhere who had come up with a delightful concept - instead of getting involved with the usual high profile fund-rising galas, they would host dinner parties, donate what they would have spent on a nice evening out, and give the proceeds to a cause dear to them. It was my first exposure to Giving Circles and I immediately wanted to do something similar.

As a confirmed entrepreneur however, I have never met a wheel I didn’t want to reinvent! I wanted our adaptation to have a higher profile so the charities could reap the benefit of the related publicity. So many of them are flying under the radar and their stories deserve to be told. After all, they have a message to share beyond just needing our financial support. And I wanted to expand my circle of friends and colleagues who share a passion for finding and helping the charities we weren’t hearing about every day who are doing so much good. Chicks would be dedicated to raising awareness, not just money.

I was sharing this concept with my Sales coach over a glass of wine in a local restaurant when two men came in and accidentally knocked my Day Timer to the floor. In the course of the conversation that followed, I shared the idea with them. One excitedly responded ‘You have to meet my girlfriend! She is the Executive Director of a local non-profit you’ve never heard of!’

Soon after, she arrived and we were quickly caught in conversation. After a while she asked ‘So when are you going to start?’’ Without skipping a beat I responded ‘Do you want to go first?’

We held the first party in my home and invited our own friends just to see what the response would be. It was overwhelming! Within a couple of weeks, she had called and asked if I were ready for our next party – and the rest is history. In 2006, we did nine (9) parties in three cities in South Carolina and were soon getting calls and emails from around the country. Yikes! My daughter’s boyfriend designed the lovely logo and put up a quick website, but it was clear I needed a business plan and a robust website!

We re-launched in June 2007 as a membership organization and the new website – think ‘MySpace for giving’ – is going live in January 2008.”

How much of your work is focused specifically toward women?

"Well, that’s easy! Chicks with Checks is primarily a women’s social club or social network that is focused on local giving. We envision becoming a hub for supporting women of all ages, at all stages of career growth, and at all levels of the socio-economic scale. In the time-tested village society, women taught women, helped women, and nurtured women. We aspire to infuse that same village social structure with 21st century technology. By connecting our local chapters through a vibrant virtual community, we can learn more, help more, and interrelate more.”

Now, let me ask: what are some of the ways you promote your enterprise?

"All kinds of ways: Through strategic alliances, affiliate relationships, traditional and internet media, word of mouth, and general marketing.”

Which of your projects are you currently most passionate about?

"Two things: We are starting new chapters around the country and are launching an incredible website. Both will allow us to help many more people and connect with many more great people. As far as the web site, we will be adding features such as a discussion forum, virtual book club, coaching and mentoring, travel, and shopping.”

Chicks enjoying each other at patio party

Sounds like a huge and really exciting project, Anne! At present time, whom or what does your network include? How far does your network extend?

"We currently have chapters from the east coast to Hawaii and are rapidly adding more. And -- we are actively looking for women who would like to start a chapter in their community. Owning a chapter is also a business for the licensee and generates income for her as well as the charities. It’s great - everybody wins.”

What has been the best about building a network: Positive experiences? Benefits, expected and unexpected?

"This has been a marvelous experience! We have met the most wonderful people from so many places. This simple concept has touched the hearts and imaginations of so many people. I can’t imagine having been blessed with meeting many of these people any other way that this -- and am so fortunate to now have them in my life.”

What challenges (if any) have you found in your networking experiences?

"Probably my biggest challenge was that it took off so quickly in ways I never imagined. But what a great problem to have!”

What are your plans and goals for the future?

"My goal is to have at least 10,000 members in local chapters and the virtual community by the end of 2008. We will continue networking both offline and online to achieve this goal and are reaching out to other organizations with large lists with whom we can partner.”

What’s the achievement you’re most proud of at this time, Anne?

"My greatest achievement in life is raising two daughters who have become outstanding young women - my younger daughter is even working for Chicks and both are active in our Charleston, SC chapter. Even after a successful career as a business consultant and personal coach, I am finding tremendous satisfaction from knowing that the work we are doing now has such far-reaching potential to positively affect so many lives.”

Anything else you would like our readers to know?

"This has been one of the most fun and gratifying experiences of my life. One last piece of background information I’d like to share: In the summer of 2002, I experienced two life-changing events. First, I landed the largest single project of my entire career. Second, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Although the surgery, chemo, and radiation went very well, I ended up with some major complications related to medication and a weird infection. Combined, they left me depressed, paranoid, anxious, and panicky and pretty much non-functional for several years. But I was determined and finally beat this part of the illness also. And not just beat it, but re-emerge stronger and better.

The idea for Chicks came out of the questions I was asking myself as I plotted my return to life and to work.

  1. Charleston is a metropolitan area of about a half million people, yet when you go to networking events you always see the same people. Where was everyone else?
  2. My experience had also changed the way I looked at my own giving and I was determined to focus more locally. But where were the grassroots non-profits doing the tough work on the front liens very day? How could I find them and how could I help them? The two questions merged into one idea and Chicks with Checks was born.”

I’m touched by your sharing your personal background story, Anne - I appreciate the deeper insight to the evolution of your organization.

All in all, I’m blown away by the amazingly rapid growth and success of Chicks with Checks. The Universe clearly seems to confirm that what you are doing is very necessary - and soul-satisfying!

"Yes – I appreciate the validation! And on top of everything, we’re so blessed because we have so much fun! Here are a couple of pictures from our events - see for yourself!”

A walk with a purpose

A festive Halloween

Thanks so much, Anne, for giving us these glimpses into the rich experiences you Chicks with Checks are creating for your own growth and for benefit of local charities.

"And now I’d like to thank you,” Anne says, "for this opportunity to spread the word about our organization, our mission, our support for local charities, to a larger circle than ever before! I hope one day you and I will meet up in person and celebrate at one of our Chicks with Checks events.”

Contact information:
Transforming social networking and charitable giving one happy hour at a time.

Anne Newell
295 Seven Farms Drive, Suite C183
Charleston, SC 29492
No one can go back and get a new beginning, but anyone can start now and get a new ending.

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