03/12/2012 12:48 pm ET Updated Mar 24, 2012

'Dining For Women' Allocates Dinner Funds To Needy Women, Girls

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

When Marsha Wallace invited 20 friends over for dinner almost a decade ago, the Greenville, S.C., woman didn't know what it would grow into.

She and her friends raised more than $700 that night, which inspired Wallace to start Dining for Women, an organization that gathers friends to "dine in" once a month, donating the money they would have spent "dining out" to different nonprofits that support women and girls, reports.

"The average donation, nationwide, is about $32, so it's not a lot" Cari Class, a member of Dining for Women, told the news source, "but when everybody does that it turns into $42,000."

Dining for Women now has 8,000 members in more than 38 states meeting monthly to raise money for a different grassroots nonprofit.

And as its membership grows, so does its impact: So far the national network has donated $1.5 million to charities -- about $20,000 to $40,000 each month, according to

Organizations in Sudan, Rwanda, Vietnam and Haiti are just a few of the many that have benefitted from these women dining in each month, according to the website, but members might say the empowerment is two-sided.

"I learn a lot," Jennifer Moyen-Logan, a Dining for Women Chapter leader, told the "I learn an incredible amount. It expands my life, that's the thing."

To find a local chapter of Dining for Women, or to start your own, click here.