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Little Black Dress events helping local nonprofits

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Shelly Birkelo
April 6, 2013

— There's nothing dark or small about the Little Black Dress Night Out.

Janesville's newest philanthropic effort is shedding light on local nonprofit organizations, and word of its monthly gatherings is spreading quickly.

“It's a happy hour to get together for a good cause,” said Rachael Nimmo, the mind behind the new local fundraising concept.

Nimmo, 30, is a board member of YWCA Rock County, sits on the Badger Animal Fund Committee and also serves as a Forward Janesville ambassador. She learned about the Little Black Dress Night Out through another YWCA affiliate.

“It's connecting the nonprofits with the date and location and sending the invite,” she said.

Events don't cost anything and require just a quick call to a local establishment to make arrangements and then less than five minutes to post the event's time, date and location on Facebook, Nimmo said.

The first Little Black Dress Night Out took place in January. About 40 people attended, donating $500 to the local YWCA's mission of eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

More than a dozen people gathered again Feb. 14 at another local business and donated $150 to Friends of Noah, an all-breed rescue for stray and abandoned animals.

In March, 50 people came together to raise $1,000 for HealthNet of Rock County, which provides primary health care to the uninsured and low-income residents of Rock County.

During events, a collection pot is placed in a visible location, and representatives from local nonprofits provide information and answer questions about their organizations, Nimmo said.

The intent is to spread the word about and wealth among local nonprofits while educating a new demographic of volunteers that the organizations wouldn't normally reach, she said.

Jean Randles, executive director of HealthNet, said that's exactly what happened.

“HealthNet was able to share its story with others, increasing awareness, creating new relationships and raising money,” she said.

Nimmo is pleased with public reaction.

“I had no idea it would take off like this. It's heartwarming to see. I'm so impressed with how this community has responded and got involved. I'm excited for the next gathering,” she said.

That will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 11, at Sneakers Bar and Grill, 1221 Woodman Road.

“It's open to anyone, not just females, and you don't have to wear a black dress,” Nimmo said.

No minimum or maximum cost is required to attend, but donations have ranged from $5 to $50, Nimmo said.

All nonprofit organizations are eligible to take part in the events, Nimmo said, and the nights out will continue as long as interest keeps them going.

The intent is to educate people on the needs of nonprofits and to get them involved.

“So many of my friends want to get involved but don't know where to start,” Nimmo said. “This way, they can learn about how they can.”



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