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Houston philanthropists use Shark Tank concept to help local charities

The Houston chapter of 100 Men Who Give a Damn allows local non-profits to pitch why they're deserving of a large donation

HOUSTON – In this day and age when everyone is in a rush, one group has found a way to make the most of time and donations, all the while Standing For Houston.

The Houston chapter of 100 Men Who Give a Damn mixes Shark Tank tactics with happy hour, and it works.

In about the time it takes to enjoy a drink at a bar, the group listens to three charities sell their story.

It’s an unlikely name for the club, which meets once a quarter at Ibiza’s near downtown Houston. Each member pledges to donate at least $100 after listening to the charities, and business is typically done in an hour.

“If we create something that’s short with big impact, we could get a lot of folks involved,” said co-founder David Lee.

He was right. About 60 men show up at each event. The evening starts with a little networking and socializing. The non-profits work the room before their official pitches, while last time’s winner gives the men an update on what’s been done with their money.

The charity representatives get no PowerPoints, no videos, no demos. They just talk.

Each member can nominate a charity. Three non-profits are chosen at random to present per meeting.

A la Shark Tank, the clock is ticking. Each pitch gets five minutes. Afterwards, members vote by dropping a poker chip into the appropriate box. The chips are tallied and a winner is announced.

Family Point Resources won at the February meeting. Then and there the men pay up. The money is counted. The tally on this night is more than $6,200.

The charities aren't the only winners. The men learn a lot.

Jenson Kerr says, “Like this Tree Organization and the Houston Marathon Committee. I would never have known about this except for this organization and I lived in Houston my whole life.”

In the past two years they have raised $58,000 for Houston charities. Brad Traywick smiles saying, “The wide variety of different things you can support with just an hour of your time and a little bit of drinking.”

That’s something everyone can toast.

Follow Shern-Min Chow on Twitter.

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