Episode 43: Carolyn Dun on Generosity

business you Nov 30, 2021
Carolyn Dun knows Generosity

Carolyn Dun is the founder of Community Purse and knows first hand that giving is as much a blessing as receiving.  She has a lot to share about why this is true as well as sharing how to be more impactful with our generosity.

Connect with Carolyn on Facebook or the Community Purse website (and find out how to start a local chapter of Community Purse where you are!)

Links for the resources mentioned in todays episode:
 
National Christian Foundation https://www.ncfgiving.com/
Crown Financial Ministries https://www.crown.org/
 
Carolyn's favorite time saving tool is the donor advised fund National Christian Foundation, but she also loves her fitbit!

Hear it:

Watch it:

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This is a transcript of the This Mom Knows Podcast - Episode - 43

Jennifer Uren
Carolyn Dun is someone you should know. She and her husband currently live in the northern suburbs of Chicago from where they launched their now adult son and daughter. Carolyn is a connector extraordinare and saw a gap between small locally focused nonprofits and the abundance of resources in the communities around her. So she started community purse, a giving circle that is fast approaching half a million dollars being donated to community organizations. I'm excited for you to learn all about this today. So welcome, Carolyn.

Carolyn Dun
Thank you, Jenn. Happy to be here.

Jennifer Uren
Oh, I'm so glad. So we we learned a little bit about of you there in that bio. But why don't you tell us a little bit about maybe where you grew up, maybe a little bit more about your family how you ended up in the Chicago area?

Carolyn Dun
Sure. So I grew up in the Rockford, Illinois area, which is about 90 miles northwest of Chicago. And I went to a high school that was the home of the Vikings. So that tells you a little bit about who settled our town. I went to college at the University of Michigan. And then I got a job in the management training program at Marshall Fields. So that brought me back to Chicago. And I then was recruited to Spiegel catalog, if you remember

Jennifer Uren
Yes..

Carolyn Dun
you know those catalog days. And I did a lot of international travel. And I absolutely loved it. I met my husband in Chicago, he was finishing up an MBA. And then we married and moved to St. Louis, had two children moved to Orlando. And then we moved to Dallas. And I said, you know, "I feel like I'm not getting any traction with all of these moves. So why don't we move back to Chicago? And then you can change jobs, and we can stay one place." And we have been here 20 years.

Jennifer Uren
Wow. Oh, that's great. Oh, I love it.

Unknown Speaker
So we've been married 32 years. And both of my kids got married last year. So I have I'm welcoming a wonderful my daughter and my wonderful son-in-law and my son and a wonderful daughter-in-law. And I have three grand dogs.

Jennifer Uren
Okay - dogs. Soon, hopefully to be children in a, in a few years, but... Well, today we're going to talk about something that you know a lot about, which is generosity. So maybe we should just start with the basics. How do you define generosity?

Carolyn Dun
You know, that's such a good question. I start I looked in Webster's, I was kind of checking out the dictionaries. But you know, I think my overall holistic generosity definition would be the habit of giving freely with expecting nothing in return. And you know, it's an open handedness, which is part of our community purse logo. It's an abundance, not a scarcity, approach to life. And, you know, the Bible has a lot to say about generosity, and especially as a virtue. So in John 3:16, we learned that God's love so much that He gave, and, of course, Jesus said, it's more blessed to give, than to receive. And so the other thing to I think it's important about generosity, it's it can look, it can come in many forms. It can be hospitality, it can be giving blood or part of an organ, you know, it can be, of course, money and possessions. So generosity, it can be friendship, it can look a lot of different ways.

Jennifer Uren
Yes, yes. When I worked for nonprofit, we often said you can give of your time, your skills or your money, and you can be generous in all those things.

Carolyn Dun
Absolutely.

Jennifer Uren
So yeah, that's wonderful. When did you kind of start to notice that there was this, this need this gap between people who wanted to be generous, could be generous, and the people who really needed to be the recipients of that generosity? When did you notice that and how did you dream up Community Purse?

Carolyn Dun
Well, my husband and I have been doing biblical stewardship studies. Facilitating them at our church we did Crown Financial Ministries was a good one, we did Financial Peace University, which is Dave Ramsey, which is another and we both went through a journey of generosity, which is hosted by generous giving. And all of those helped us understand that money and possessions are important things to steward, and that we wanted to manage our resources well, and we did notice that incomes were going trending up, but giving seemed to be trending down. And part of that was just understanding stewardship and managing resources well, so I didn't dream up Community Purse. I read about it in the news. paper about a giving circle. And I thought, "Wow, what a great idea. I love that." Yeah, nothing happened a year went by. And then I saw on Facebook, a friend had posted about her giving circle. And I thought, oh, there's that great idea again. And I I had a great little group of Bible study friends, and we would go to lunch regularly. And so I just said a prayer, "Lord, you know, this is meant to be I'll present it to the group at lunch, and I'll see what they think. And if we have a team, great, and if not, then I'll assume that that's, you want me to do something different." And so I did mention it to them. And they all loved it. That was August, and we launched our, our giving circle in February of 2015.

Jennifer Uren
That's fabulous. Yeah. Oh, so tell us how it works. Because it's a brilliantly simple model. It's so elegant.

Carolyn Dun
It's simple. And that's part of what attracted me as well. So the idea, and it works really well with busy women like ourselves and like your audience. So basically, you we meet quarterly. And the idea is that everyone commits to giving $100. And we pool our resources together. Members nominate the nonprofits, three of them present at each of our meetings, the membership votes, and we give the grant to a local nonprofit. And the beauty of that is, you know, we have 110 members. And we have four chapters now, but just talking about our Lake County Chapter, we have 110 members. So if everyone contributes $100, that's an $11,000 grant. And as you know, Jenn working in nonprofits previously, there, they love to get $100 grant right $100 gift or donation. But when you can pool it and it's an $11,000 grant, then it's a program, it can be part time help, it can be something more substantial. So it's a good use of our time. And it's a good use of our resources, because we have more impact.

Jennifer Uren
Absolutely. And and on both sides. I mean, by the time I could give $11,000 $100 at a time, it would be a long time. But to know that, you know, with these other women, you can, you know, give this big grant, it's it's very impactful on both sides.

Carolyn Dun
Great point. Yeah.

Jennifer Uren
So we're in a culture, though, that tells us to work hard, save your money, build wealth, enjoy it. And you know, I know you have a lot of thoughts on this. But how does being generous actually make all of those things better?

Carolyn Dun
Well, good question. I love that question. The message of generosity can be very countercultural, because we are told that happiness is an accumulation of things. But I was recently reading a study. And I - it struck me because accumulating things can be very stressful. It can raise your blood pressure, it can cause a lot of strife in a family. However, generosity, not so. So this Cleveland Clinic study, and maybe we can put it in the show notes. Yeah. It says the giving can actually boost your physical and mental health. And what they noticed, is lower blood pressure, increased self esteem, less depression, lower stress levels, longer life, greater happiness and satisfaction. So that's the caught countercultural message of what to pursue and what generosity can do.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah. That's wonderful. Because you mentioned this earlier, this scarcity, mindset versus abundance. And you can have a lot of stuff. But when you hold on tightly, you're still living from a scarcity perspective. But when you give freely, I mean, it just opens up that abundance of sharing and, and learning to receive also.

Carolyn Dun
It does and as Todd Harper, who's one of the founders of generous giving noise says, "I have yet to run into an unhappy generous person."

Jennifer Uren
Yes, yes. Well, that's great. So have you had any objections from like, potential members, like maybe misconceptions, like when you say, hey, come do this, and they're like, I can't be generous, or I don't have enough yet to share. Things like that. Have you had any objections from people?

Carolyn Dun
We do sometimes. I think it's good to challenge people to think about that, because $100 does sound like a lot at one time, but you have to realize we meet quarterly. We meet in February, May, August, and November and all four chapters pretty much follow that calendar. And that's three months. So it's just a little more than $1 a day and almost any of us can find that in our budgets. And so and and you know, really there's a flexibility with what women give. Some women are able to give $100 to each nonprofit at each meeting. So it's, it's what, what you feel called to give. But most women we know, are able to find that just a little more than $1 a day and then have the joy of contributing to something impactful.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah. So you really facilitated the ability to be generous in a big way, even if you don't have a lot or be generous in a big way, when you have a lot

Carolyn Dun
Correct.

Jennifer Uren
By pulling everyone together.

Carolyn Dun
That's exactly right.

Jennifer Uren
Oh, that's great. Well, what what's the typical nonprofit? What kind of nonprofits have you heard from and are there any that are more memorable than others that are more unique?

Carolyn Dun
You know, Jen, they're all memorable. And I'll tell you, we have four chapters, and the members nominate them. So it's a real range. And that's one of the beauties of our group as well, is we we don't just give to women, or just a job or specific categories we give across the board. And over the years, because we are in our seventh finishing up our seventh year, we've supported women through pregnancy and domestic violence nonprofits, we support children with after school programs. A really unique nonprofit that helps kids with uniforms, music lessons, you know, even even on a micro level, helping helping them. We supported veterans through a food pantry through buying a van to help them make deliveries. We've supported mental health in our community with counseling centers, and we've done two grief centers. And we support the disabled, from children from camps all the way to enrichment programs for adults. And we've helped with gang intervention. So it's really broad based.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah,

Carolyn Dun
based on the membership,

Jennifer Uren
okay. And the only You said you don't have limitations as far as who but the one limitation that you do have set up is geographic, right? Your theLake County Chapter, so it's Lake County, in your case,

Carolyn Dun
Right

Jennifer Uren
nonprofits

Carolyn Dun
So each chapter gives themselves a county name. So we want to be community based. We do that the nonprofits, we checked our 990s and their ein numbers, we checked our websites, sometimes we go in person. So each. You know, sometimes they are directed through a church and we said, you know, no, they have to be an independent 501c3. So we do have vetting procedures. But by and large, they're just outstanding nonprofits that the members are often connected with in some way.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah, yeah. I know. Because I am part of your chapter in the Lake County Chapter here. And I know every time I come, I learn about somebody I never knew about before, and I wouldn't of know about.

Carolyn Dun
Me, too. That's part of the joy of it.

Jennifer Uren
Yes, yes. So this episode is actually airing on Giving Tuesday. And on that day, we're in it, a lot of us are inundated with emails and requests from money for really good nonprofits. But when it comes to at Community Purse, who is granted, gifted the grant, what do you find? Is that difference between a good ask, and a great ask?

Carolyn Dun
Okay, well, you know, it's interesting, we hear from 12 a year. And it's seven years. So we have heard a lot of nonprofit presentations. And they're all good. And each one is addressing something and you know, what I love is you leave the meeting, feeling so uplifted and encouraged at all the good work that is out there. So, and with the negative media that we're all exposed to, it's nice to have a counterbalance. So I would encourage your listeners to all lean in to find the the nonprofit to support, and is giving Tuesday and to serve to give and to be connected, you'll meet great people, and you'll make a difference in your community. And it's hard to beat that. But what we have noticed is, you know, we tried to be good stewards of time, treasure, and talent, Jenn, and we just have a one hour meeting. We limit our nonprofit presentations to five minutes, and then it's immediately followed with a three minute question and answer period. So they do have to hone their message but what we have found is a good presentation versus a great one is really good visuals, a clear mission and oftentimes, a compelling client testimonial.

Jennifer Uren
Yes, stories sell.

Carolyn Dun
Stories sell. For example, we recently had a presentation for where a young teen mom was, you know, finishing her college degree, talked about her experience. And she she was - the whole story was so hopeful and impactful that they won the grant.

Jennifer Uren
Yes, yes. Yes. And I remember that one, because their presentation was good. But really, she was the one it was her transformation story is what did it because now it was exciting to say I want to be part of that.

Carolyn Dun
Exactly.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah. So um, I know that nonprofits have embraced Community Purse, and, you know, have been excited to find members who can nominate them. Have the churches received this idea well, or have you even talked with churches in the community about it?

Carolyn Dun
You know, we're very ecumenical. And the way we started is, each of our four chapters has a team of four to five women. And each woman invites friends. And then they invite friends so that we've always grown organically, and we represent lots of denominations and parishes. So that's one of the beauties, however, we did just develop a video that explains our story. And our team and our boards, our overall Board for Community Purse, have been talking about ways to use the video to connect with churches and let women in churches know more about us.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah, I think that's great, whether they plug into Community Purse, or they actually, if they're a larger church created a giving circle of their own. I think that could be a really cool way to you know, engage with the community without overextending a budget, you know?

Carolyn Dun
Absolutely. And we do have information about that on our website, which is community purse.org. Okay.

Jennifer Uren
Well, because community purse is that bridge between the nonprofits and the donors, what were some of the challenges that you faced in making sure that, you know, there was this healthy balance when it came to the needs of each side? You know, particularly maybe so that your members weren't now inundated with being on all sorts of mailing lists from from nonprofits that they heard from.

Carolyn Dun
When we make our grant presentation, we always include a letter to let them know that to keep our members out of their database. And the reason we do that is we remind them that they have already presented to our community. And the women know about them, they we give them links to the website through our email communication. Of course, there's the in person presentation. And those women, you know, what you find, like you said, there's so many you didn't even know about.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah.

Carolyn Dun
We each have certain areas of passion that we connect with. And so they will be in touch with you. So we ask that they don't put the women in the database. We do allow them to bring materials to our meetings. So women pick up all the contact information, they sign up on volunteer list, they find out about upcoming gala events. But we ask that they not do it, because we think they will be innundated and I think it's a waste of their resources.

Jennifer Uren
Yes, yes. Yeah. No, I think that's a good point. And, and it, there is something about the fact that you did get to present all these people, you are now on the radar of somebody who...

Carolyn Dun
definitely

Jennifer Uren
can refer or connected another door.

Carolyn Dun
We have them all listed by each chapter on our website. So our members can always connect with them.

Jennifer Uren
Yes. So you are giving the nonprofit a lot of visibility and publicity really in a way that, you know, they wouldn't have had if they hadn't been nominated to present. So that's great. Well, we touched on this, but one of the things I do love about Community Purse is how intentional time is used from the quarterly meetings to the fact that they are one hour long. Is that the model that you had read about or is that something you came up with doing?

Carolyn Dun
You know, that is part of many giving circles, I did read about it. Some of the giving circles have their members present about nonprofits, some of them have the nonprofit present. So our team observed a local one and decided how we wanted to do it. We wanted to specifically be Christian because we wanted the opportunity to have Christian organizations present. And so that was another thing that was distinctive about ours. But we do have a lot of busy women and they're all ages and we hear all the time how much they appreciate just a one hour meeting. For those that have more time they come early. and talk with their friends or they stay after and talk with their friends. They have dinner beforehand, sometimes and then come to the meeting. So you can make it as social as you want. Or you can be quickly to the meeting and out.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah,

Carolyn Dun
so we all have different schedules. And that's just part of our stewarding of time well, and just being respectful of people's time,

Jennifer Uren
I love that. Well, I know there is a woman listening thinking, "Well, I wish we had this in our area." And you've said she can find the information on the website. But what what is the basic steps involved with starting a chapter of Community Purse?

Carolyn Dun
Well, I was that woman. And I decided I wanted to create something that was more turnkey, than having to do everything from scratch, like we did with a team. So we do have resources on our website, if you contact us, the board has put together some things our team has put together things, we have them all in a Dropbox. So there are marketing materials, there are time lists, there are name badge, things, all kinds of things to help you get started. So there are resources, just contact us at CommunityPurse.org. And there's a tab that says start a chapter, and it'll start taking you through.

Jennifer Uren
Okay, and you're in Illinois, but you would be happy to have chapters in all 50 states, right?

Carolyn Dun
Absolutely.

Jennifer Uren
Okay. That's our goal. Okay.

Carolyn Dun
We have two in Wisconsin and 2 in Illinois.

Jennifer Uren
Excellent. Well, what's next for community PERS, either the local chapter or this this entity of the forest, as you look to grow? What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

Carolyn Dun
You know, we've done a lot of dreaming, the teams have and the board has, and really what we hope is to grow the membership at each of our current chapters. And we're always thinking of ways to do that. And to grow the chapters themselves and take this idea to other communities, because it really does bless each community.

Jennifer Uren
Yes, yes. I love it. Well, our, our time is coming to a close quickly, it goes fast.

Carolyn Dun
It does

Jennifer Uren
Yeah, so I have some fun questions I asked. And one fun question I asked everybody, which has nothing to do it all with giving. But what is your favorite time saving gadget, system, or tool?

Carolyn Dun
Okay, so I am going to do one that's giving. So that was our theme. And I love my donor advised fund, it is a huge time saver. Mine is through the National Christian Foundation, and what you can do is you can fund it with any with cash with stocks with whatever. So you have a giving fund. So it helps you be more strategic, more intentional about giving and all I have to do, Jenn, is go online, click a few buttons, and I've made a grant to a nonprofit. So it's absolutely wonderful. And I guess the other thing I really love is my Fitbit. That's great. I like the challenge of knowing how many steps I've taken, oh, there's my heart rate, you know, a little reminder to get up and walk around, you know, so so it's not exactly time saving. But probably my other favorite gadget, rightnow.

Jennifer Uren
Well, hey, it's gonna keep you healthy and keep you doing community person longer. So you know. Yeah, there's the time saving, right? Yeah. So well, and let's say it again, but how can people connect with you with community partners? Is it just the website? Or do you have social media accounts as well?

Carolyn Dun
We do. Each chapter has a Facebook social media account, where you can find a sunny LinkedIn. And we're also of course, our website, CommunityPurse.org.

Jennifer Uren
And I will have links to that in the show notes for sure. But well, Carolyn, thank you so much for joining us today. And thank you for starting Community Purse and having the impact that you know, letting God use you to impact the givers and the non, excuse me, the nonprofits in the way that that they have been.

Carolyn Dun
Thanks, Jen. And thanks for being a member of community purse and your wonderful podcast. I love listening to it. I do that with my Fitbit when I'm walking

Jennifer Uren
well. Yay, there's a good

Carolyn Dun
I love your podcasts

Jennifer Uren
a good combination

Carolyn Dun
and we just love having you as a member.

Jennifer Uren
Thank you

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