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!

Walk, run, pledge, volunteer: Austin 5K fundraisers

It’s 5k season, and that means runners, walkers, strollers, dogs, people in costumes, dogs in costumes, people in ambulances, people cheering from sidewalks, and volunteers take over the streets. I’ve done dozens of 5ks, so allow me to share …

Found under "slow" in the dictionary.

“Monica’s Tips for a Fun 5K”:

1. Wake up at least 10 minutes before the run starts.

2. Park right next to the starting line. Everyone thinks they’d never get parking that close, so nobody tries. Plenty of spaces.

3. Line up ahead of the strollers to avoid being clipped by lazy babies.

4. Wait for the starting horn, then walk calmly to the starting line. What’s the rush?

5. Start running when you finally have room, about 10 minutes after the horn. Take every water break.

6. Find a nemesis — I usually choose a woman fitter looking than I am who I want to eat my dust — and pursue that person until you realize you’re finished with the race.

7. After the race, head straight for the car. Stop by “Tacos & Donuts” on HWY 290 on the way home.

Now go!

Water 2 Thrive 5K
Saturday, September 18
Start Time: 8:30 AM, 9:00 AM
Register Online
Location: Hill Country Galleria, Bee Cave, Tex.
Distance: 5k timed run, 5k walk, 1k kids fun run
$28 adults, $12 kids registration fee. “Our current efforts are supporting rural and impoverished communities in Ethiopia and Sierra Leone.”

Colin’s Hope Kids Triathlon
Sunday, September 19
Onsite Registration:
7:00 AM
Start Time: 9:00 AM
Register Online
Location: Lake Pointe Swim Center
Distance: 5k timed run, 5k walk, 1k kids fun run
$30- $35 kids registration fee. There will be multiple age groups from 5 to 15 years old. No team competition. This race is designed to build confidence by allowing each young athlete to complete all three disciplines on their own. We will have participation awards, T-shirts, goody bags, and age-group awards.


CASA Superhero Run
Sunday, September 19
Onsite Registration:
7:00 AM
Start Time: 8:00 AM, 8:45 AM
Register Online
Location: The Domain
Distance: 5K timed run, 5k walk, 1k kids fun run
$25- $30 adults, $15- $20 kids registration fee. Create a personal fundraising page. Superhero costume contest. Photobooth, craft tables, moonwalk. “Because every child needs a hero, but abused children need superheroes.”

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s PurpleStride
Saturday, September 25
Onsite Registration:
7:00 AM
Start Time: 8:00 AM, 8:15 AM
Register Online
Location: Hill Country Galleria, Bee Cave, Tex.
Distance: 5k timed run, 5k walk, 1k fun run
$30 registration fee. Create a personal fundraising page.

NAMI Austin Walk
Saturday, October 2
Onsite Registration
: 8:00 AM
Start Time: 9:00 AM
Register Online
Location: Walk begins and ends at Auditorium Shores Parking Lot at the corner of W. Riverside Drive and S. 1st Street
Distance: 5k
No registration fee. All walkers must register to participate. Walk will take place rain or shine.

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Light the Night Walk
Saturday, October 16
Onsite Registration:
5:00 AM
Start Time: 7:30 AM
Register Online
Location: Lake Park at Mueller
Distance: 5k
No registration fee. Individuals may register alone or as part of a new or existing team. Participants pledge to raise money for LLS.

LIVESTRONG Challenge 5K
Saturday, October 23
Start Time:
8:00 AM
Register Online
Location: South 1st St. Bridge over Lady Bird Lake
Distance: 5k
$35 registration fee. Individuals may register alone or as part of a new or existing team. Participants pledge to raise money for LIVESTRONG.

Dell Children’s 5K and Family Fun Fair
Saturday, October 30
Start Time:
8:00 AM
Register Online
Location: Dell Children’s Medical Center, Mueller
Distance: 5k and 1k
$30 adults, $10 kids registration fee. All money raised for this event, through generous sponsors and participants, will go to help the areas of greatest need at Dell Children’s and to establish the Carl Teel Music Endowment here at the medical center.

Walk to Cure Diabetes
Sunday, October 31
Onsite Registration:
10:00 AM
Start Time: 11:30 AM
Register Online
Location: Walk begins and ends at Auditorium Shores Parking Lot at the corner of W. Riverside Drive and S. 1st Street
Distance: 2 miles
No registration fee. Individuals may register alone or as part of a new or existing team. Participants pledge to raise money for Junior Diabetes Research Foundation.

McCombs MBA students looking to serve on nonprofit boards in Austin

Lauren Blitzer, president of Net Impact McCombs

Austin nonprofits: Consider hosting an MBA Board Fellow this semester.

Lauren Blitzer is president of Net Impact McCombs, a professional club for socially-minded MBA students at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business.  She filled me in on this fantastic idea.

This month, Net Impact McCombs launched a Board Fellows program in which students serve on the board of directors of local nonprofits in a non-voting capacity, attend meetings, serve on committees, and complete a Board-level strategic project.

What MBA students get: MBA students learn about Board governance, the realities of operations of nonprofits, and get to apply their business skills to serve the community.

What the nonprofit gets: The nonprofit benefits from a fresh perspective and gains the business insights of an MBA student.

Here’s a little more information from Blitzer:

“Since the program is new to McCombs, and we want to focus more on the student/organization match than on strict guidelines, we plan to be flexible in our selection and matching process and encourage ALL organizations to apply.  Nonprofits come in all shapes and sizes, and we think this program should reflect that.  Please be assured that a good student match, enthusiasm, and commitment to the program will outweigh these criteria.

  • Nonprofit (501(c)3) status  (STRICTLY REQUIRED)
  • An operating history of at least one year
  • An annual budget of at least $350,000
  • A minimum of 3 full-time staff members
  • Have a board member willing to serve as a mentor (STRICTLY REQUIRED)

As long as you are confident that someone at your organization could be available enough to facilitate a positive student experience (provide mentorship and needed information/data for their project in a timely manner, etc), then we’d love for you to apply. That said, we can’t guarantee you (or any other organization) a Fellow.  We will be working this summer to ensure that the needs of the organizations match with the students’ skills and interests.  If we are unable to match you, please know that it isn’t because of those ‘criteria’; other schools who have done this before have all warned us about the disasters of a bad student/organization match, so we would rather not facilitate a match then force a bad pairing.”

Still interested? Blitzer asks nonprofit to apply by August 15, but if you want a student to start at the beginning of their semester, please apply sooner.

Get more information by sending Blitzer an email or just apply online now.

Hopped up on coffee and ideas

Coffee and meetingsThis morning I hustled up to Genuine Joe’s to meet Matt Kouri, Ann Starr and Haila Yates of Greenlights. Then down to Scholz’s to meet Jason Denny of the Austin Jaycees. Then to Lift to meet Priscilla Cortez and her new daughter, Isabella, of FuturoFund this afternoon. And I am still wide awake and hopped up, man.

It’s great to ramp up GivingCity and soak up all that positive, “be the change” energy again. It reminds me of why I wanted to do this in the first place. I could stay up and work all night! Yes, the caffeine has something to do with it, but what really gets me hopped up are the people.

The fact is, I get to talk to some of the best people in Austin almost every day. Smart, interesting people who care deeply about the city and spend significant time and energy working to make it better. I sit across from them at those tiny coffee shop tables, listen for the clues and put them down in my handy-dandy notebook as fast as I can.

Do you work around smart people who inspire you every day?

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Don’t forget!

  • Greenlights & OneStar team up to bring us the Texas Nonprofit Summit, September 23-24 here in Austin.
  • The last opportunity to become a member of this year’s FuturoFund is to make your pledge by July 31. FF will choose its grant winners this November.

It’s going to be a fun fall.

(Re)Introducing GivingCity Austin

It was almost exactly three years ago that I wrote the first blog post for GivingCity Austin. A few months later I started messing around on Twitter, then we launched our first digital issue, then a Facebook page and suddenly I was calling Evan Smith to write an article for the magazine … as if I had any idea what I was doing.

Luckily, GivingCity had a few guiding principles (and the best designer in Austin) on its side. Among those guiding principles were these:

1. People like stories. Of course, people like infographics, databases, reports, charts, graphs, lists and I hear some weirdos enjoy Excel pivot tables. But nothing inspires, intrigues and connects people like a story does. And thanks to the Internets, there are a million more ways to tell a story.

2. Magazines can support communities. I love the way Tribeza supports the community of Austinites who love fashion; how Edible Austin supports local foodies; how AustinFit supports people who look great in workout clothes. The trick to making a magazine that supports a community is in the editing — or what they call “curating” these days. Curated, targeted and relevant content can foster shared affinities. And again, the wonderful Internets is a great place to grow a magazine.

3. Austinites want to help, it’s just hard for us to fit it into our lives. But I think the same city that can support magazines about fashion, foodies and fitness can also support a magazine about philanthropy. Because as Austinites, we truly have a passion for making our city one of the country’s best places to live.

I’m glad Torquil Dewar felt the same way. He’s a sucker for magazines, like I am, but he has the rare ability to turn a bunch of copy and pictures into an “experience.”  Plus, he’s made more digital magazines than just about any designer in the country. And it helps that he apparently doesn’t sleep.

GivingCity had always been a labor of love. I hate that phrase, but there’s no better way to say it. We put our own personal resources into it and have never seen anywhere near a profit, but that’s not what it was about for us. What kept us going was the creative freedom and, more than that, your support. Unfortunately, between the day jobs, the kids, the other freelance work, we had to stop producing the magazine. On our list of priorities — namely our families and our need for steady incomes — GivingCity just didn’t make the cut.

Now after four issues, hundreds of blog and Facebook posts, thousands of Tweets, and lots and lots of caffeine, we’re very proud to say that GivingCity has found a home.

The Austin Community Foundation has decided to support GivingCity Austin as part of its mission to grow a culture of generosity and philanthropy in Central Texas. The good people there have hired us to produce GivingCity Austin just the way we’ve produced it in the past as a service to the community. GivingCity Austin’s mission won’t change much; it will include stories from all over the community, not just ACF; and we’ll continue to distribute it digitally to our audience, ACF’s audience and whomever else wants it, free. Look for the first issue this fall.

In addition to this, on July 1, I’ll become the Austin Community Foundation’s first ever communications director, which I’m over the moon about. The Austin Community Foundation has a truly amazing story to tell. They are one of the pillars of the philanthropic community in Austin, and it will be my mission to tell more Central Texans about the important services and support it provides.

Seth Godin says we should “delight and overwhelm” our true fans, and that’s what we’re going to aim to do. Yes, GivingCity Austin is about bringing new people to the philanthropy community, but when we make it, we think of you — those of you who are already plugged in and looking for more, those of you who have told us this is exactly what you’ve been looking for, and those of you who’ve emailed, called, commented, friended, liked, re-Tweeted, #FFd and all the other means you’ve used to keep us on the right path.

Thank you so much, a thank you especially to ACF. Look for major improvements in the coming year, and, as always, let us know what you think.

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