Mobile Loaves & Fishes to go on 3rd IKE relief trip this weekend

Wow. For the past two weekends, Alan Graham has taken a team of volunteers and TONS of food down to the coast to help victims of Hurricane Ike, and they’ll be at it again this weekend. Here’s more from the Alangram:

Alan here. I just got back from the 2nd trip down to the Texas Gulf Coast for Hurricane Ike relief, and let me tell you something, I had a total blast!

The short version? We managed to serve over 900 burgers and dogs from the grill, 200 breakfast tacos from the “kitchen,” and 1200 meals from the trucks before we left Sunday. Even though my “dogs were barkin'” pretty loud by the end of the trip, I wouldn’t trade one second of the awesome fellowship for anything.

There is just a great feeling down there – everyone is full of gratitude and had already gotten to work fixin what Hurricane Ike broke. Everywhere I looked people were doing whatever they could to get back on their feet. I guess Hurricane Ike wasn’t familiar with a little saying we have where I’m from – DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS!

Want to help? They need volunteers to help shop, load ice, make sandwiches, or load the trucks – and that’s all here in Austin. Or you can sign up to go with them. They stay at a church, which will offer shelter and showers, but you’ll need your own bedding. Oh, and they’ll also take money, of course.

See the details and sign up here.

Progress report on I Live Here, I Give Here

This article will appear in the first issue of GivingCity Austin magazine. Watch the blog for information about the free download.

Is Austin Getting the Message?

It’s been almost a year since the Campaign for Philanthropy was launched with its goal of “boosting local philanthropy.” So how’s it doing? Folks behind the campaign, otherwise known as “I Live Here, I Give Here,” point to numbers that show more people are aware of the campaign, attending its events, and getting the ILHIGH message. But has that translated into more donations to local charities?

The campaign has a built-in means for determining its impact on local giving: Every nonprofit that participates gets a link posted on the ILHIGH Web site; in exchange, the nonprofit must agree to report its donation income when it joins and report it again a few years later. Admittedly, you can’t make a direct connection, but the data might illustrate a trend if all other participating nonprofits show a bump, too.

This summer ILHIGH hired local nonprofit think-tank, the RGK Center, to conduct surveys of the ILHIGH audience. People who’ve attended a past event, come to the Web site, or otherwise shared their information with the campaign have begun to receive invitations to participate in the surveys.

Aside from data, campaign director Patsy Woods Martin reports there’s anecdotal evidence, too. Take their May 2008 event, the “See Jane Give” round table, which offered women a chance to hear from other women about their personal philanthropy. Martin said they had hoped to get at least 100 women to show up, but a few days before the event, there were so mny RSVPs they had to cap attendance at 150. In the end, they wound up with 180 seated, and had to turn people away. “See Jane Give” sparked a follow-up event this summer.

“That told us that we have women who care and intend to make a difference,” said Martin. “A woman who attended the ‘See Jane Give’ event told me it inspired her to double her gift to the March of Dimes.”

In some ways, the “See Jane Give” event was preaching to the choir. Some of the attendees were women who were already active in the nonprofit community. Still, it doesn’t hurt to sermonize if it turns them into missionaries who can help spread the word.

“Any time you start something new, I suppose you wonder whether it’s going to work,” said Martin. “But we’re taking baby steps. And we are very clear that we are not finished.”


GivingCity conducted a somewhat unscientific and amateur survey of its own to find out how many people had heard of the “I Live Here, I Give Here” campaign. Of the 85 people who responded, 40 had heard of it, 32 had not, and 13 said it rang a bell. Here’s more:

Of the 50 biggest cities in the country, where do you think Austin ranks in volunteering?
Number one . . . . . 1%
In the top 5 . . . 27%
In the middle . . . . . . . 56%
In the bottom 5 . … 16%
(According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, Austin ranked 5th of 50 for rate of
volunteerism in 2007.)

Of the 50 biggest cities in the country, where do you think Austin ranks in charitable donations?
Number one . . . 0%
In the top 5 . . 12%
In the middle . . . . . . . 56%
In the bottom 5 … 33%
(According the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Austin ranked 48th of 50 for local charitable giving in 2003.)

Letter from Editor: How do we go from a city that cares to a city that gives?

This is the first letter from the editor in the first issue of GivingCity Austin magazine. Watch the blog for the free download of this new magazine about philanthropy and volunteering in Central Texas.

I believe in Austin. In the 10 years that I’ve been here, I’ve seen people who genuinely care about each other and want to see each other succeed. I’ve also seen people who are ready to invest now in order to ensure austin’s ongoing viability, growth, and vitality.

So what’s the next step? How do we go from a city that cares to a city that gives? I think there’s only one way to build a culture of giving in Austin: one connection at a time.

Research in philanthropy repeatedly shows that nothing motivates people to give time or money more than a request from someone they know. What is it about that personal request that is so hard to turn down? First, I think it’s the relationship between you and another person; the cause may not even matter. Second, it’s the invitation, which contains specific instructions on how to help. They’re not asking you to “care,” they’re asking you to write a check, help clean up a park, hand out food, or take on another specific task.

Without the personal request for help, we’re left to our own devices. Think how you feel after reading a story in the newspaper about injustice, poverty, or need. No one has asked you to help, but you feel something
should be done by someone. You might consider doing it yourself, but you’re not sure what or how. Then time passes, you get caught up in your own situation, and you don’t think of it again.

While the newspaper and other media do a great job of demonstrating the needs in Central Texas, we want to be your guide for taking the next step. We want to demonstrate how even a small donation can go a long way, and how sharing even a short amount of time can have a positive impact on the people you’re helping – and also on you.

GivingCity magazine is about helping you get one step closer to giving, and if you already give, helping you give more effectively and thoughtfully. We hope to inform, inspire, and introduce you to other people and ideas through compelling stories and first-hand accounts from people who make philanthropy a part of their lives.

As I tell my preschooler, sharing has its rewards. Austin is still so young, but I think we’re ready to own our responsibility toward this city’s future. I hope you’ll consider the voices in this magazine as personal request to help; more importantly, I hope it inspires you to make that personal request of someone else and keep making those connections.

SAT 9/27: Electronics recycling event perfect time to dump that old CRT TV

So you got one of them fancy, widescreen, flat panel “displays” (what we used to call in my day a TV set). And now you’ve got a perfectly good – if hideous – TV hosting spiders in your garage. Don’t wait for bit-item pick-up day. Take them to the Norwood Park Goodwill this Saturday from 9 am – 2 pm. See the map below for directions.

But don’t just stop at your old TV. Get rid of all your electronics in one big load! Items accepted include…
VCRs/DVD players
Circuit Boards
Mobile Phones
Fax Machines (Seriously, it’s time. Have you heard of e-mail?)
Networking Equipment
Testing Equipment

Get lots more information from the City of Austin.

Four Austin women who want to help cure cancer

You don’t take the decision to serve on a board lightly. You’ve gotta be committed. That’s why it’s exciting when a person comes on board – it can be tough to fill that role.

So it’s especially exciting for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Austin affiliate, which recently added four new board members, each of them with a direct connection to breast cancer.

Ashley Doran, director of marketing for Cenpatico Behavioral Health, began her involvement with Komen in Fort Worth, where she helped organize teams for the Race for the Cure. She has served as a volunteer for over 10 years, including five years with the Austin Affiliate. Doran was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She plans to use her experience fighting the disease to inspire Austin area women to beat breast cancer.

Kenya J. Johnson, customer service coordinator, Center for Consumer and External Affairs, Texas Department of State Health, is a Chicago native who has lived in Austin for the past nine years. She previously worked at Huston-Tillotson University as the Associate Dean of Student Affairs and with the American Cancer Society as the Regional Director of Health Initiatives. Johnson has been a volunteer with the Austin Affiliate since 2000. On July 14, 2003, she lost her mother to breast cancer. Since then, Johnson has been dedicated to educating women about the Komen cause.  Her driving mission is to help African-American women understand the importance of routine mammography screenings.

Juanita Salinas, program coordinator, Texas Comprehensive Cancer Control Program, Texas Department of State Health, has lived in Austin for 16 years and became involved with the local Affiliate while participating in the Race for the Cure during the past ten years. Salinas is a seven year breast cancer survivor. She chose to become a board member because she wants to help minimize the pain and suffering the disease causes and ultimately help find a cure. Her vision is to increase awareness of early detection and advanced treatment methods.
Shelia Bailey Taylor, a State of Texas retiree, is new to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Austin Affiliate. She is a licensed attorney and recent retiree. Prior to her retirement, she served for 12 years as Chief Administrative Law Judge for the State Office of Administrative Hearings. Taylor has lived in Austin for 30 years and has seen co-workers, friends and members of her church struggle with breast cancer. After losing a close friend to breast cancer, Taylor realized the disease can strike anyone regardless of their social status, family history or health. As a board member, her hope is to raise awareness and research funding.

NOTICE THAT EACH of these new board members has either a direct connection to the cause, direct experience supporting the cause, or both. If you’re wondering how you can join a local nonprofit board, connecting with the cause on a personal level is a great first step.

United Way Cap Area’s new video reveals some scary data about Central Texas

Yes, some of the data about Central Texas is scary. But Austin has some of the best nonprofit agencies around with lots of dedicated and talented people working behind the scenes to make things better. This new video introduces you to some of them, as well as highlights some of the programs UWCA supports this year. The video makes a case for why it changed last year, and it also offers three ways you can help: by giving, by advocating, and by volunteering.

“Advocating” sounds ambiguous, but it’s probably something a lot of people do every day. What it means, I think, is educating yourself about the needs in Central Texas and then talking about them with people you know. It may not seem like a lot, but in Austin it actually is.

It can be tough to go against the grain and not buy in to the idea that Austin is so enlightened. We have some real problems here, and they’re not going to get better if we focus too much on keeping it weird. We make progress when we start to talk about it. And all you have to do is get the facts.

Watch the video here for more information.

Oct 24: The costume planning begins now

Cool attendee of 2007 Goodwill Ghoulwill Ball

Cool attendee of 2007 Goodwill Ghoulwill Ball

The best part about having kids? I’m not going to lie to you. It’s Halloween.

Halloween is the one holiday I actually enjoyed as a kid – way less stress than Christmas and way more fun than Easter with its fancy clothes, Valentine’s with its mushy stuff, or Thanksgiving with its somber meal eaten at the dinky baby table. Halloween only became sad when people started saying stuff like, “Aren’t you a little old to be trick-or-treating?” and “Hey, let the little kids go first.”

So when I became a grown-up, I could finally go all-out with the costume and candy, but it was a little bit the “all dressed up and no place to go” situation. Most grown ups I knew were way too cool for Halloween.

Thank goodness for my children. Even though Halloween is still a month away, my son has made plans for our little family to go as the Jungle Fury Power Rangers, with me being the Yellow Ranger. How cool is that?

Wait! I found something cooler!

Goodwill’s Ghoulwill Ball at The Driskill. Why am I just now hearing about this? This event combines the best of all possible worlds – costumes, philanthropy, live dancing music, and an open bar. Make sure the check the dance floor for Yellow Ranger, the one with all the moves.

You are invited to Austin’s premiere Halloween party –

the Second Annual Ghoulwill Ball.

When:   Friday, October 24, 2008
Where:  The Driskill Hotel – the most haunted place in Austin
Time:    VIP Hour 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Ghoulwill Ball Begins 8:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.

It’s gruesome fun for a good cause. Proceeds benefit Goodwill’s job-related programs and services with a simple mission of helping put people to work.

Important editorial note: Please check out the photos from last year’s first annual Ghouwill Ball. Amazing costumes. Now you ask, “But where will I find a great costume like that?” Duh, Goodwill, of course. But you’d better get shopping now as all the cool kids clear the place out early.