They came together to study the Bible and stayed to study world religion, philosophy, science and more. They have assisted one another, and they’ve joined hands to assist others in need. They say they’ve become a single being with a single heart. That’s why they call themselves the Organism.
“We felt we had one purse, and we felt we had one tongue,” says Fannie Linder, the retired psychotherapist who in 1977 founded the Bible study group that became the Organism.
Through the decades, the women of the Organism have helped some of their number pay for medical care, comforted the ones who lost husbands and nursed three members through their last days.
Each member already devoted one-tenth of her income to philanthropy. Over the years, they decided to combine their tithes to help friends, relatives and others in the community. The group has bought computers, clothing, windows, orthodonture work and once even a home. “It wasn’t very expensive, but it was a home that someone who had less could call their own,” Fannie says.
As a former member and chair of the board of the Stewart W. and Willma C. Hoyt Foundation, Fannie saw the Community Foundation take shape during its early years. In 2003 the Organism established the Linder Boy Scout Outreach Fund as a designated fund of the Community Foundation. The fund helps boys who want to participate in Boy Scouting, but whose families can’t afford to pay for uniforms, retreats or other expenses.
Aiming to build a $50,000 endowment in five years, members pooled their resources in true Organism style, each making a monthly contribution. “We just looked at it as tithing,” Fannie says. On top of her portion, each member added extra gifts as she could.
When they reached their goal, even the members were a bit stunned to see how much they could raise together, Fannie says.
Giving circles, groups of people who combine their funds to support good causes, are an old tradition, and they’ve grown more popular in recent years. The Organism’s members don’t call themselves a giving circle, but they abide by the same principle, that like-minded philanthropists can achieve more together than they can alone.
Many people have philanthropic hearts but think that because their resources are limited, they can’t make a major impact, Fannie says. “It just hasn’t occurred to them how much good they can do.”
But when those philanthropic hearts beat together, givers may surprise themselves with the power they gain.