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.)

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