The idea of increasing the level of charitable donations coupled with creating a business recognition program came as a result of a Central Texas leadership best practices trip to Minneapolis-St. Paul in 2010.
The 100+ delegation from Central Texas learned about the Keystone Program, the Twin Cities’ business philanthropy recognition program, which had been in existence for more than 30 years. This program found that the key element of increasing overall giving was to annually recognize businesses that contribute a minimum designated percentage of earnings to community based charitable organizations.
Knowing that Austinites too, can be very philanthropic, we wanted to incent and encourage Austin businesses to be generous in their support of our community. Thanks to support from Eric Webber of McGarrah Jessee, we surveyed local Austin businesses and, based on their responses, developed the Austin version of Keystone. Austin Gives was formed through a collaboration among the following community minded organizations:
Each of these organizations plays a unique role in our local philanthropy. Austin Gives’ focus, in particular, is recognition and honor of business philanthropy.
Leadership Team for Austin Gives
The current leadership team is made up of eight community leaders:
Debbie Johnson – Director, Austin Gives and Principal, Successful Giving
“Business philanthropy does so many things: attracts and retains employees, builds company reputation and brand, develops employee skills, increases revenues … but as importantly, it improves the community so that we ALL have a better place to live.” www.successfulgiving.com
Bobby Jenkins – President, ABC Home and Commercial Services and past chair of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce
Austin Gives Board Chair
“Our business thrives because of the wonderful community that is Austin and I can’t think of anything more gratifying than being able to give back to the community so that it’s a great place to live for everyone.” www.abchomeandcommercial.com
Mike Rollins – President, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce
“Business philanthropy is a barometer that resonates among communities of the future that attract knowledge-based businesses, highly talented workforces and families. Austin area businesses have a tradition of giving back to our community and Austin Gives is the program that allows us to celebrate our community’s unsung business philanthropists.” www.austinchamber.com
Eugene Sepulveda – Chief Executive Officer, Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas
“ ‘Business philanthropy,’ I’m not sure it isn’t better called investing in our markets. Whether we’re talking about labor, suppliers, customers or other stakeholders . . . we optimize profits by investing in the quality of available labor, the economic health of our markets, the quality of technology & innovation where we do business. Sure, it’s philanthropic . . . and there’s a quantifiable, tangible ROI.” www.AmplifyAustin.org
Beth Krueger – Director, Business Development, United Way for Greater Austin
“It’s so simple: philanthropy is a key to rooting people in a community. As business leaders we want the employees we recruit and invest in to be rooted in our community and proud of being a part of our business; we want the customers, vendors and industries we do business with to be rooted in our community and to share a comparable dedication to that community and we need the people of our community to know we are committed to the success of the entire community. Austin Gives helps us demonstrate that we are rooted in this community.” www.uwatx.org
Steve Visser - President, Workplace Resource
Austin Gives Board Chair-Elect
“Workplace Resource believes business should have purpose. Having a positive impact on the communities in which we live is integral to our purpose as an organization. We support the non-profits who provide invaluable and much needed services. Simply put, giving matters!” www.hmwrasa.com
Kerry Ugarte - Trusts & Estates Attorney, Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody
“My firm’s generous charitable gift matching program encourages philanthropy at every level and promotes our culture of giving back to the community that we are proud to call home.” www.gdhm.com
Chelsea Holden - Director of Marketing, Harden Healthcare
“Austinites helping Austinites make our city special. Businesses that support giving and giving back are role models for our entire community.” www.hardenhealthcare.com