Why Austin needs Goodwill now

Thanks to your donations, Goodwill continues to change lives in Central Texas.

As Goodwill prepares for its Hall of Honor awards tonight, I thought it would be fitting to run the story we did about them in GivingCity Issue #3 (opens PDF).

Tonight they’ll honor clients who have overcome several obstacles to change their – and their families’ – lives for the better.

Congratulations to the Hall of Honor recipients!

FROM GIVINGCITY AUSTIN ISSSUE #3

For the past 14 years, Central Texas Goodwill has put people to work … but it’s not just the people who work in the stores.

“It’s important for people to understand what we contribute to the community,” says Gerald Davis, president of the Central Texas Goodwill, “and what we do is make people self-sufficient.”

Take Latisha Fisher, a young mother who didn’t have a driver’s license, worked nights, and had a second child on the way. And Willie Johnson who, after 20 years of working in the tech industry, found himself homeless, struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues. And James Fowler who lost his job and then had trouble finding another employer who could accept his disabilities.

Thanks to Goodwill, Fisher is now a heath specialist at a shortterm psychiatric facility, Johnson a custodian, and Fowler a busser at Luby’s.

Depending on each person’s situation, Goodwill’s case workers collaborate with area nonprofits, agencies, and employers to put their clients on the right paths.

First, case workers help them resolve some of their survival challenges like food, shelter, transportation, or child care. Next a case worker starts the client on training for job placement; things like interviewing, resume writing, and soft skills like how to deal with coworkers.

A client may need Goodwill’s services for a couple of months or a couple of years to gain that foothold.

“At any given time, we’re working with about 200 employers,” says Davis. “Where we place them depends on what the client wants.” Only a small percentage of clients wind up working at the stores.

Here’s how your donations help:

When you drop off your bags of stuff, workers inside the stores hustle to get the merchandise out on the floor to be sold, usually, within 24 hours of being donated. Goodwill takes the money from those sales to pay case managers, trainers, and other services that get people jobs.

“It’s a system that’s worked for more than 100 years,” says Gerald Davis, president of the Central Texas Goodwill. “The best we can do in our stories is offer good customer service.”

There at 18 donations centers across Austin. Click here to find a drop-off center near you.

Top 3 mistakes non-video people make when making videos – learn more at VideoCamp Austin!

This Saturday, David Neff is once again bringing one of his signature events – combining video, marketing, good causes and how-to, hands-on information – to the masses.

The event is VideoCamp Austin, and it’s for anyone with a small budget and lots to say and who wants to learn or perfect how they use video to say it.

I asked Dave for some details about VCA (if I should be so bold as to call it that), and got some good stuff….

1. How did VideoCamp come about? What’s the mission?

After I finished up work on Non Profit Bar Camp my good friend Talmadge Boyd approached me about what it would take to do VideoCamp Austin. The rest is history.

Our mission is a simple one. To bring video to the people by holding a day long conference where anyone can come out and learn how to shoot, capture, and edit video as well as make video social.

2. Who’s attending? What can they expect to learn?

Over 250 people from all around Texas. They can expect to learn everything from how to write a grant to get film equipment to how to turn a camera on to how to prepare 3D Video in Final Cut Pro

3. What are the top three mistakes most non-video people make when creating online videos?

They let their Executive Directors talk the whole time, they never show the mission in action, they don’t give a clear action item for the audience.


4. Okay, let’s reverse that: What are the top three mistakes by video-makers when they’re trying to promote their work?

They don’t listen to their audience before they make the film, they don’t respond to their community when it talks back and they don’t repeat the message enough.

5. In the end, what would qualify this event as a success?

If we have over 200 people show up who want to learn and participate!

More about VideoCamp Austin:

The FREE one day ad-hoc gathering of video, public relations, new media, and marketing professionals will offer discussions, demos and interaction from participants, who are the main actors of the event.

When: February 27, 2010 10:00 AM – 4PM
Where: Jesse H. Jones Communication Center – Building B – CMB, 2504 Whitis Avenue, Austin, TX 78705, Studio 4B
Here’s more details and how to sign up: http://www.videocampaustin.com/

A new record for state employees: $2.3 million donated!

We really like follow-up stories like this.

In the last issue of GivingCity Austin (link opens PDF), we ran a story about the Texas State Employees Charitable Campaign and how Central Texans who work for the state donate a phenomenal amount of their paychecks to the local nonprofit community. In 2008, donations from Central Texas state employees were just under $2.2 million.

No one expected the SECC to beat the 2008 number – a record… until 2009. In its most recent campaign, which ended in October, Central Texas state employees committed to almost $2.3 million. Not only that, many more nonprofits are raising their hands to be a part of the campaign.

The SECC organizers – all volunteers and state employees – raised margaritas to themselves last week, congratulating themselves, and all the employees who signed up to donate, for beating the odds in this down economy. Way to go, Tammy, Debbie, Reuben, Gretchen, and the rest of the SECC team!

Central Texas nonprofits interested in being a part of the 2010 campaign should contact Jackie Rogers  (512.225.0378) at United Way Capital Area (which helps administer the campaign) by Friday, April 2, at 5 p.m. There’s an application to complete.

Here’s 3 awesome ideas and resources I had to share

Really nice, enterprising people reach out to me all the time to tell me about an idea or ask for help making connections. Here are a few cool projects from Texas I thought you should know about.

1. MiniDonations

Leo Ramirez is one of the forces behind MiniDonations, for which I propose the following (terrible) tagline: “Don’t take your change, make some change.” Get it?

Well, what Leo’s trying to do is get folks like you and me, nonprofits, retailers and banks to create this system that would allow you to round-up your purchases to the nearest dollar, then take that change and put it toward the nonprofit of your choice. It’s still in development, but they have a great site and Leo’s making great progress.

2. Challenge

This is a social media, goal-oriented application you can use to encourage people and/or groups to, for example, “Volunteer 10 hours this month at a local charity” or “Organize a neighborhood fundraiser.” Using Facebook Connect, participants in the Challenge can invite their friends and post updates and progress to their social profiles.

Challenge is one of the first recipients of the Facebook Developers Fund, so keep an eye on this one. I think they’re interested in engaging nonprofits (though from the site, you may not be able to tell). Use your imagination! How can you enable your audience to use the Challenge app on their Facebook page? Hmmm.

3. Usey Communications

Kim Usey has about a million years of experience in journalism and nonprofit communications, and she just announced that she’s open for business as a consultant. If your nonprofit staff has been struggling with this whole “social media thing,” or just communications in general, Kim can help you come up with a plan, manage it, provide the actual copy for your communications and everything in between. She’s worked for some heavy-hitters, so trust me – Kim can handle your organization’s needs.

Keep them coming!

Buy a sick-cute pet calendar, support a new nonprofit in Austin

I love discovering new Austin nonprofits, so when Brittani Bash contacted me about AustniPetFinder.org, I had to know more.

Plus… I mean, you gotta love this calendar (see below). Ridiculous and sick-cute at the same time.

1. What service do you offer pet owners in our community?

Austin Pet Finder offers pet owners easy access to online pet information in Central Texas. At AustinPetFinder.org you’ll find a growing resource for Central Texas pet owners, animal shelters, rescue organizations and veterinarians. We have a user friendly database for those wanting to post an ad in our lost and found database. We also provide essential information on pet health, Austin dog parks, pet friendly hotels, eateries and more!

2. What inspired the site? What need is it filling?

Austin Pet Finder was founded by Austin native, Katherine Holtry, in the summer of 2009. Katherine is a wife, mother and has been a radio and television personality for over a decade.

Katherine’s true passion is pets. As a child, she was always bringing home stray animals, and even today her household consists of several stray cats and dogs. APF was initiated on Facebook after Katherine rescued a stray kitten from a South Austin strip mall. Thanks to APF, the stray kitten enjoys a wonderful life with her loving adoptive family. Shortly after that time, APF acquired AustinPetFinder.org.

3. What are some ways we can help it grow?

Two ways:

1. In January 2010, APF’s first annual calendar was designed in hopes of taking its cause to the next level, becoming a non-profit organization. Calendars can be purchased online here.

2. We need volunteers. Our organization could not exist without volunteers.

Fundraising – APF is completely dependent on donations. Assist in all aspects of finding individual and business sponsors; develop and assist with fundraising events.

Marketing/PR/Graphic Design – Help educate the public about APF and our mission. Seek out public speaking opportunities; presentations at local fairs and other events; distribute PR materials at events and local businesses. Create a variety of promotional materials including brochures, ads, posters and flyers.

Volunteer Coordination – Assist in all aspects of recruiting, orienting, determining placement of, and coordinating volunteers for APF.

Write – Contribute a variety of marketing materials.

To help, contact Brittani,  Operations Director at 512 413-1064, or bbash@AustinPetFinder.org

Feria Para Aprender: The biggest Austin education event you’ve never heard of

Feria Para Aprender Austin

When I first heard about Feria Para Aprender, I was shocked. How is it that I don’t know about an education fair in Austin attended by 15,000 Spanish-speaking Austinites in its three years?

Am I the only one in Austin who didn’t know about this? Apparently it was brought to Austin Partners in Education by Hispanic leader Sylvia Acevedo, and it caught on like wildfire. Wow. Here’s some background about Feria from their Facebook page: (Become a FAN!)

Overview: Feria Para Aprender is an education fair for Spanish-speaking parents and students in the greater Austin community. This one-day event brings together over 75 non-profit organizations, school district departments and universities to spread the message that education is the key to economic prosperity.

strong>Mission: Over the last 3 years, Feria Para Aprender has reached over 15,000 Spanish-speaking parents and students by providing educational resources and materials entirely in Spanish. Feria Para Aprender has also raised awareness of the need for bilingual staff members in local non-profit organizations.

Feria Para Aprender spreads the “Para Una Buena Vida” message:

1. Graduate from high school and earn $1 million in your lifetime.
2. Graduate from college and earn an additional $1 million in your lifetime.
3. Learning English and Spanish fluently will give you more employment opportunities and higher salaries.

How you can get involved: Feria Para Aprender couldn’t happen without the support of hundreds of volunteers. Volunteers are need throughout the day on Friday, February 5 to help set up activities and equipment as well as sort the thousands of donated books. Spanish-speaking volunteers are encouraged to volunteer at the event to help guide parents and facilitate the numerous activities around the Expo Center grounds.

Please visit www.austinpartners.org/feria-para-aprender to register for as an exhibitor or a volunteer.

For more information, please contact Christin Alvarado at calvarado@austinpartners.org.