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.

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