GoodCause Logo: What do you think?

Nice, huh? Positive. Clean. Modern.

Torquil did this, of course. He’s got this whole idea of how the covers should look, but … we don’t want to give everything away.

But it helps us visualize the magazine to have little (HUGE) things like the logo to look at. It can set the tone for the whole look-and-feel of the magazine. And I think he’s pretty close to being right on the money with this one.

Not that we’re not open to change!

Coffee with Patsy Woods Martin

One big thing I forgot to mention in my last post was that after reading that article in ABJ, I called up the executive director of the campaign to ask for a meeting. Ballsy, huh?

(I’m not a salesperson but, as a writer who’s interviewed at least 100 people on everything from their brother’s death to nanotechnology to ice cream, I can make a cold call once in a while and ask for stuff.)

Anyway, she said yes! So we met the next week at Central Market for coffee.

She had had an incredible week, having just launched the I Live Here, I Give Here campaign two days ago at City Hall. So she was still jazzed about the effort and very impressive in her commitment to it. She’s the E.D., yes, but lord knows anyone – especially at that point in the campaign – would have had some burnout.

I learned a lot from her about the state of Austin philanthropy. And the great thing is, she was very hopeful about it all. She gave me the impression that local giving in Austin will only get better, bit that the whole idea of it needed to be “sold” to people, probably in the same way the whole “live music capital of the world” thing was sold.

I also got to present to her my little presentation about GoodCause magazine. I love talking about it, but mostly I love hearing people’s reaction to it. The good news is, it’s mostly positive. And even when they ask tough questions, it helps me go back and rethink parts of the magazine – which makes it so much better.

I think the I Live Here, I Give Here campaign and GoodCause would be a good fit. Both efforts are about the same thing – to raise awareness about the issues and encourage local volunteerism and charitable giving.

But we have lots of work to do to figure out the business plan stuff – figuring out costs and predicting profit. Not my core strengths at all. But it’s worth it for me to make the effort.

ABJ Story about the I Live Here, I Give Here campaign

I read an article in the Austin Business Journal a couple of Thursdays ago, late one afternoon at work, about a new campaign to increase charitable giving locally. The campaign is called I Live Here, I Give Here, and its focus is to increase the amount of charitable giving Austinites do every year.

How are they going to do this? By raising awareness about local issues and needs. And by implementing a grassroots campaign to train connected people to share this information with their contacts, friends, coworkers, fellow church members… everyone they know. This approach – having Austinites encouraged to give by their trusted friends – is the absolute best way to increase philanthropy in Austin.

But how do you measure this? Tough to do. The campaign will mark where we are now in philanthropic giving and mark again a few years later. Not the most scientific metrics, but it can show growth.

The hardest part for the campaign will be in maintaing momentum. The project’s off to a strong start – at least everyone I’ve talked to has heard about it. But how to you maintain and even grow this? I’ll be very interested to see how this goes.

Statesman’s Story About Why Austin Doesn’t Give

“When the nation’s top 50 cities are ranked for charitable giving, Austin ranks 48th.”

This from the Austin American-Statesman referring to research conducted by The Chronicle of Philanthropy in 2003, which found that, of the 50 largest cities in the United States, Austin ranked 48th in the percentage of discretionary income Austinites donate to local charities.

48th in giving, 3rd in volunteering, according to a separate study, results released earlier this year.

Is it that Austinites don’t want to part with their money? That we’d rather show up and pack grocery bags or bring cupcakes then take out our checkbooks?

“One theory is that Austin doesn’t give because it isn’t used to it.”

The article reports the median age of Austin is 28.5, which is really young, when you think about it. At 28.5 years old, I sure wasn’t making enough to give much to charity. I probably ran five charity 5K races a year, gave $25 to some breast cancer charity, threw singles and fives in the basket at church… that’s about it. But I was volunteering at adult literacy classes, helping students with their work a couple of hours a week. So this makes sense to me.

And the idea that charitable giving has to be part of a city’s culture makes sense, also. The article refers to other big Texas cities like Dallas and Houston (and I believe it’s true of San Antonio, too) where long-time philanthropists lead the way. We have so few people like that here in Austin. At least I don’t hear about them.

I can think of the Dells, Lance Armstrong, the Longs…. but these people don’t run in my circles. I can’t think of any one of my friends or colleagues who makes a habit of giving big. Again, I never hear about it.

Which is the paradox of charitable giving, I guess. Maybe I do have contemporaries that give big and give locally, but they’re certainly not talking about it. That would be rude and bragging, and typically people with big hearts and big wallets don’t toot their own horns much.

WHICH IS WHY I love the idea of GoodCause magazine. Let us toot your horn, Austin.