Austin is known as a hub for startups and creativity, and its citizens generally consider themselves a progressive, charitable community. So when the Chronicle of Philanthropy released its annual ranking of charitable giving across the largest U.S. cities back in 2005, it was quite a shock to many Austinites to see that our city ranked 48 out of 50. When your city ranks that low for charitable giving, there’s nowhere to go but up.
The nonprofit sector, especially, was surprised and dismayed to see the community lagging so far behind when it came to individual charitable donations. Mike Levy, the founder and then-publisher of Texas Monthly magazine, decided to take action — and he enlisted the folks at United Way for Greater Austin in his plan.
Levy approached United Way to suggest that the organization run a citywide campaign to support philanthropy in Austin. President David Balch liked the idea, but believed it to be a much bigger issue than United Way alone could tackle. Along with Patsy Woods Martin, the vice president of resource development, Balch recruited Austin Community Foundation, the Junior League of Austin, the local Association of Fundraising Professionals, and Public Strategies as partners in the mission to increase philanthropy in Austin and make it a truly giving city.