Austin drops from #5 to #11 in rate of volunteering

The good news is in 2008 30.7 percent of people in Austin volunteered. That rate puts the city at #11 among large cities in the United States. This is indeed a totally decent ranking.

The bad news is in 2007 35.3 percent of people in Austin volunteered, which put us at #5.

Did I also mention that in 2006 37.9 percent of people in Austin volunteered, which put as at #3?

In just two years we lost 7 percent in our rate of volunteerism. This is not because we don’t need more volunteers.

Why are we sinking? I know there are many people who are trying to figure that out so they can do something about it. All I know is, if we were dropping like this in our ranking of “best places for start-ups” or “best places for tech” more people would be doing some serious scrambling. Where will we rank in volunteerism for 2009?

Kerry Tate inspires dozens of women at GENaustin event last Friday

Kerry Tate of TateAustinHahnGENaustin’s fundraising event enjoyed a full house at the MACC last Friday, thanks to its headliner, Kerry Tate.  Tate is the founder of big-time Austin PR firm, TateAustinHahn.

I Twittered from the event because Tate was throwing out some real gems (see below). But the big takeaway was her “Ann Richards and 5 Things Story,” which she’s probably told before but which was pretty fresh to me. I’ll paraphrase the story here (thereby removing most of the charm, but here it is):

Years ago Tate saw Richards at Las Manitas. They were just acquaintencances at the time, but Richards charismatically demanded (as only Richards could) that Tate sit at her table. In the course of their short, one-sided conversation, Richards said, “Kerry, you need to tell me five things about yourself that you stand for and that make you who you are,” or something to that effect. “And whenever someone asks you to do something, you make sure it aligns with at least four of those five things, and if it doesn’t you say no.”

Tate, nervous and kind of awe-struck, told her she didn’t have those five things. “Well, why not?” demanded Richards. To deflect, Tate asked Richards for her five things, and Richards pulled an envelope  and a pen out of her purse, wrote them down, and handed it to Tate.

“Now Kerry, you need to go home and think about your list of five things. Because if don’t live your list, you’re going to be living somebody else’s.”

“Don’t live someone else’s list.” The “list” in Tate’s world, is her personal brand, and it’s something she said she bears in mind whenever establishing a client’s brand, too. Tate urged us to go out and make out own list. And I will, as soon as I think I could stay awake for the whole exercise.

I hadn’t expected Tate to be such a charming storyteller, but then again, it makes sense that she is. As one of Austin’s best known PR professionals, storytelling has got to be one of her skills. What interested me about Tate was her new venture, Civic Interest. Apparently, that’s what lots of other people were there for, too. Tate described it as a place where people with a civic interest can figure out what to do next. Hmmm. All I know is, they got David Balch, former executive director of United Way Capital Area. I sat next to him at the last Hispanic Quality of Life Initiative forum on the arts, but it wasn’t the right place to ask about it. So it’s still a mystery to me what it’s all about, but I would love to know more .



In the meantime, one of GENaustin’s high school employees certainly held her own. She’s part of the nonprofit’s ClubGEN program, which trains high school girls to be mentors to middle school girls, because who else is a middle school girl going to listen to? She told us about what a great program ClubGEN is, how much fun she has connecting with the other girls, and how great an experience it has been to take on a leadership role. Wish I’d had someone like her when I was in middle school…

If you’re concerned about girls and their problems with body image, self esteem, popularity, teen pregnancy, and other related challenges, GENaustin needs your support. Find out more here.

More of Tate’s gems (from my Tweets):

“Run toward trouble. The opportunities right now are where there’s turmoil, where there’s change.”

“Delight, humor, wonder, authenticity, believability” – When you know your own brand, you have these things.

“PR is doing something good and making sure you get caught.”

“PR is where we spend a lot of time and someone else’s money to tell their story.”