Celebrating Philanthropy in Austin



On Feb. 9th, Austin celebrated its nonprofit community in style at the Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon hosted by the Greater Austin Chapter of the Association for Fundraising Professionals. The event honored philanthropic professionals and volunteers and I was inspired by the stories I heard, thanks in great part to the adept storytelling of Master of Ceremonies Steven Tomlinson. For example:

• Outstanding Small Philanthropic Corporation Give Realty demonstrated what it means to be a values-centric organization and highlighted an exciting new initiative called ChangeMyTown to help other small businesses do the same;

• Outstanding Large Philanthropic Corporation National Instruments spoke about the difficulty of saying “no” to so many worthy nonprofits in their dedication STEM initiatives, but it was clear those many no’s make their few yes’s incredibly impactful;

• The Junior League of Austin was recognized as the Outstanding Philanthropic Organization not for a specific cause, but for cultivating a culture of philanthropy in Austin, which is particularly important in our young city;

• Outstanding Fundraising Professional Lisa Lee of the Austin Children’s Museum acknowledged others for her success and, like a great fundraiser, ended her witty speech with a savvy ask for support;

• Outstanding Philanthropic Youth Mark Harris, a student at Concordia University Texas, showed how age is no limit to our ability to give through his work with theService Learning Program;

• Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Lew Aldridge inspired me with his outlook that Austin holds boundless potential to give and we must simply find the right way to harness it;

• Outstanding Philanthropists Jeff & Deanna Serra gave me a vision for the role I’d like to play in the Austin community a few decades from now; and

• Sandra Martin of the Center for Child Protection shared my favorite quote of the day: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. It will be enough.”

Austin will only thrive and prosper if we have a philanthropic community that can support our growth and care for the needs of our citizens. I’m grateful to all of those on the stage – and the hundreds in the audience – who do that important work every day. Thank you for making Austin a great place to live and work!