New Philanthropists make their own way in Austin

New Philanthropists AustinThe diversity of backgrounds, perspectives and ideas blows me away. But what all our New Philanthropists have in common is a commitment to Austin. They tend to work outside the traditional nonprofit structure, creating their own points of engagement or standing out among their peers for their dedication to their cause.

Some of them left lucrative careers for less lucrative pursuits. Some of them saw connection possibilities where others haven’t, and they worked hard to make them. Some of them applied their experience and skills to the more frustrating field of philanthropy because they saw how great the rewards could be.

We found these 25 people thanks to you. You submitted more than 80 nominations, and had we a bigger budget we’d include them all; their amazing stories are enough to fill the next 8 issues of the magazine. It took a solid week of research and head-scratching to whittle it down to these 25 incredible folks. And we can’t wait for you to meet them.

But I won’t tell you who they are now! How would I sell magazines if I spilled the beans?

Please watch for the next issue of GivingCity Austin, available here on April 5. And mark your calendars for Givers Ball III, our quarterly celebration of Austin’s growing philanthropy community, taking place at the Gibson on April 5. See you then!

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Easy way to help an Austin kid go to college

College tuition varies—from $7,000 per year at a public, four-year college to $27,000 per year at a private four-year college—but no matter what type of college you choose, that amount adds up quickly. For many Austin students, it’s completely unaffordable.

Imagine working hard enough to be accepted for college only to realize you can’t actually afford college. This doesn’t have to happen. You can help!

Volunteers are needed to help families complete financial aid applications at Financial Aid Saturdays, here in Austin.

Volunteers at Financial Aid Saturday events provide personal assistance with filling out the FAFSA. Students and families can also bring other financial aid applications they need help with, including the Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA) and scholarship applications. It is our mission to help students secure the financial aid they need to go to college.

Events take place Saturdays (Feb 5, 12, 19, 26, March 5, 26) from 8:30 am – 12:30 p.m. at schools across Austin. They could sure use your help.

Just think: You could be the final push an Austin kid needs toward his college degree. Wow.

LEARN MORE HERE

Free Thanksgiving Meals in Central Texas, from Food Bank

Thanksgiving Feast of SharingMany of us are making do with less this year. Some of us less than others.

I’ve learned that we get a wide range of people who come across this blog, so we can’t just post “how to help” content without also listing “how to get help” as well.

So I’ve divided this special Thanksgiving post into three categories. Why Help, How to Help, and How to Get Help. Here’s hoping you’re in the middle.

WHY HELP

This one’s easy. The Capital Area Food Bank has created this amazing site called Hunger is Unacceptable. Consider these facts from the site… then think about you’re going to spend your Thanksgiving.

  • 1 in 5 people Austin food bank serves experience the physical pain of hunger.
  • 41% of Austin food bank clients are children.
  • Almost half of Austin food bank clients have at least one working adult at home.

HOW TO HELP

The good news is, this one is hard. Nonprofits tell me that volunteers spots for Thanksgiving meal events fill up by mid-October, so if you haven’t signed up yet, you’re probably too late.

But, of course, there’s a very simple way to redeem your tardiness. Donate. Here. Done. Enjoy your Thanksgiving.

HOW TO GET HELP

Here is a list created by the Capital Area Food Bank of places where anyone can get a free Thanksgiving Meal in and around Austin. Many of these places offer clothing and other items besides food.

11/18/2010 Thursday

Travis County Health and Human Services, NW Rural Community Center
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
(512) 267-3245
18649 FM1431 Ste 6A Jonestown Austin, TX 78645
Open to the Public – Free

City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Montopolis Recreation Center
6:00 p.m.
(512) 385-5931
1200 Montopolis Dr. Austin, TX 78741
Open to the Public – Free

City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Givens Recreation Center
7:00 p.m.
(512) 928-1982
3811 E. 12th St. Austin, TX 78721
Open to the Public – Free

11/19/2010 Friday

Travis County Health and Human Services, EAST RURAL COMMUNITY CENTER
11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
(512) 272-5561 / 278-0414
600 W. Carrie Manor St. Manor Austin, TX 78653
Primarily for Precinct 1 – No one turned away

Southside Community Center
6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.
(512) 392-6694
518 S. Guadalupe St. San Marcos, TX 78666
Open to the Public – Free

11/20/2010 Saturday

Rosewood-Zaragosa Neighborhood Center (sponsored by Mt. Carmel Grand Lodge)
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
(512) 972-6740
2808 Webberville Rd. Austin, TX 78702
Open to the Public – Free

City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, CANTU/PAN AM RECREATION CENTER
11:00 a.m. –2:00 p.m.
(512) 476-9193
2100 E. 3rd Austin, TX 78702
Open to the Public – Free

Helping Hands Center
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
(512) 472-2298
1179 San Bernard St. Austin, TX 78702
Open to the Public – Free. Meal at Olivet Baptist Church

Shoreline Christian Center at East Campus
12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
(512) 983-1048
East 6th and San Marcos St Austin, TX 78702
Open to the Public – Free. Distribution of 1000 sleeping bags, backpacks and socks

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
5:00 p.m.
(512) 251-0698
14311 Wells Port Dr. Austin, TX 78728
Open to the Public – Free

11/21/2010 Sunday

Austin Area Interreligious Ministries (AAIM) at University Baptist Church
Meal follows 3:30 p.m. Service
2130 Guadalupe Austin, TX 78705
Pot Luck served after the service -not a meal

11/22/2010 Monday

Mobile Loaves & Fishes at First Baptist Church
5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
(512) 328-7299
First Baptist Church 901 Trinity St. Austin, TX 78701
Open to the Public – Free

City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Virginia L. Brown Recreation Center
6:00 p.m.
(512) 974-7865
7500 Blessing Ave. Austin TX 78752
Open to the Public – Free

St. John Community Center
5:59 p.m. – Food Gone
(512) 972-5159
7500 Blessing Ave. Austin, TX 78752
Open to the Public – Free

11/23/2010 Tuesday

United Way / HEB Feast of Caring at Palmer Events Center
4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
(512) 421-1000-HEB Public Affairs
900 Barton Springs Rd Austin, TX 78704
Open to the Public – Free

City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Dove Springs Recreation Center
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
(512) 447-5875
5801 Ainez Dr. AustinTX78744
Open to the Public – Free

11/24/2010 Wednesday

City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Parque Zaragosa Recreation Center
9:00 a.m. Service Project/ Lunch to follow
(512) 472-7142
2608 Gonzales St. Austin, TX 78702
Open to the Public – Free. For teens only

Baptist Community Center
1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
(512) 472-7592
2000 E. 2nd St. Austin, TX 78702
Open to the Public – Free

11/25/2010 Thursday

North Austin Christian Church
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
(512) 836-3282
1734 Rutland Dr. Austin, TX 78758
No one turned away – primarily for community around the church.


St. Louis Catholic Church

11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
(512) 454-0384
Wozniak Hall 7601 Burnet Rd Austin, TX 78757
Open to the Public – Free

Bethany United Methodist Church

11:30 a.m.–2:00 p.m.
(512) 258.6017
10010 Anderson Mill Rd. Austin, TX 78750
Open to the Public – Free

St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
Noon – 2:00 p.m.
(512) 476-6757
605 W. 15th St. Austin, TX 78701
Open to the Public – Free


The Salvation Army Social Service Center

Noon – 5:00 p.m.
(512) 476-1111
501 E. 8th St. Austin, TX 78701
Open to the Public – Free

Ministry of Challenge
Noon – 3:00 p.m.
(512) 370-3960
1500 E. 12th Austin, TX 78702
Open to the Public – Free

Santa Cruz Catholic Church, Buda
Noon
(512) 415-4012
1100 Main St. Buda, TX 78610
Must RSVP

St. William’s Catholic Church
Noon – 2:00 p.m.
(512) 255-4473
620 Round Rock West Dr. 78681 Round Rock, TX 78610
Open to the Public – Free

For more information on how to get food, visit www.austinfoodbank.org/get-help/

Give… but don’t give… to help panhandlers. I think…

PERSONAL NOTE: I keep a few dollars in my cupholder to hand out to panhandlers at a red light. I “tip” panhandlers on the street better than I tip the waitstaff when I go out at night. And when I don’t hand out money, I try to smile and say hello. So all this below is my confused — and confusing – attempt to try to understand this “Know Before You Give” campaign. Geez, people!

Today there was a news story about the “Know Before You Give” campaign, which encourages people to give to social service agencies. Great idea! Please do give to social service agencies.

Need a beer sign

You ever hold a sign like this?

And if you feel like giving a few bucks to a panhandler on your way to drink beers with your friends, go ahead. Throw a few at the valet and the bartender, while you’re at it. Why not? Those guys could use a beer, too!

Wait. What I meant to say was, don’t give money to the panhandler, who probably has to sleep under I-35 (and who will probably just spend the money on beer).

The best way to help him is to give to a charity like Front Steps. Front Steps is a nonprofit that operates ARCH, the homeless shelter. The City of Austin provides the building and a grant to Front Steps to operate the shelter.

So if the city’s giving to Front Steps and you’re giving to Front Steps, these poor bar and club owners won’t have to worry about people outside their doors asking for money — and they can get more of your money inside!

Uh, and what I meant by that was that we should support local businesses and work together to keep downtown safe AND help the homeless. (Except that… well, studies have shown that most panhandlers aren’t homeless, and most homeless people don’t panhandle.* Hmmm.)

Anyway! That’s why we’re asking you, Austin partiers and beer drinkers, to take more responsibility. Know Before You Give partners created this campaign, now it’s your turn: Stop feeding the cats! They’ll just keep coming back! If we stop feeding them, maybe they’ll just go away!

Let’s educate ourselves on the importance of not giving to panhandlers. (At the same time, just in case, feel free to brush up on your own panhandling skills.)

* “Contrary to common belief, panhandlers and homeless people are not necessarily one and the same. Many studies have found that only a small percentage of homeless people panhandle, and only a small percentage of panhandlers are homeless.”  (U.S. Dept of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services)

I’m all for slacktivism after all.

Does this guy look like a slacktivist to you?

Oh, haters. I understand you. I am one, too — critical of anything that looks too cool, to0 simple or too clever.

I’m the one who coined the term “slacktivism” in the first place … well, I mean, I used it on this blog about a year ago, before it was cool. (Is it cool, yet?)

Back then I was worried that these acts of slacktivism were replacements for genuine engagement in social issues, and now I know better: They’re not replacements, they’re a part of something bigger.

Let’s take HelpAttack, for example. It’s  a new application that works with your Twitter account. You register with HelpAttack by connecting it with your Twitter account, pledging a penny or 10 cents or a dollar – any amount – per Tweet to any nonprofit organization of your choice. The system estimates how many Tweets you tweet per month and estimates what you might donate to that nonprofit per month, and even lets you set a limit just in case you find yourself in a Tweeting frenzy and wind up pledging your house away.

Simple? Yes. Too simple? Maybe. And your point is…?

“But these people aren’t doing anything! They don’t care about that organization! Why wouldn’t they just donate the money directly to the nonprofit? This makes them feel like they’re doing something — they’re not!”

Here are three reasons I think these actions are worthwhile.

1. Slacktivism is an entry point to philanthropy. For people who have never donated to a cause before, apps like these can be a simple way to start. Philanthropy has offered these types of opportunities for years; think about the Salvation Army’s red bucket or the Jerry Lewis telethon. What’s the point of making it difficult for people to make a donation? Remind me…?

2. Slacktivism is another way for people who already give and care about a cause to give even more. If I’m already a volunteer and I make an annual donation, why not tag on an extra 10 cents per Tweet? It’s simple to do and even kind of fun. Again, remind me why this is bad…?

3. Slacktivist enablers (yes, I just coined that term) bust their asses to bring you these “simple” applications. Have you ever met Alex Winkelman, founder of Charity Bash? She has every opportunity to spend the bulk of her time shopping, but she’s chosen to organize these parties that raise about $5,000 per month for charity. Yes, attendees just have to pay $10 at the door and look hot, but if you’ve ever organized an event with sponsors, entertainment and a beneficiary, you know what a ton of work it can be. Sure Alex is an enabler… an enabler that donates about $75,000 a year to local nonprofits.

And as for HelpAttack… I was actually asked by Dave Neff to serve on the board for HelpAttack, and I have to say I’ve learned more than I’ve given back (as usual). What I’ve learned is how much time, money, sacrifice and long nights it takes to create and launch these applications. Sarah, Dave and Ehren have every right to have ignored their idea for HelpAttack and pursued something sexier — like bringing the world another location-based application. (Yawn.)

But they chose to use their powers for good. In the meantime, they’ve taught themselves how to launch a new business, how to promote cause-oriented applications, how to partner with nonprofits and how to work together as a team. And, by the way, they’ll probably raise thousands of dollars for charity.

Too simple? Hardly. Worthwhile? Totally.

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.

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