GROWTH AND CHANGE: Our Commitment to Philanthropy Education
In celebration of our 20th year, Impact Austin looks back on challenges and opportunities that helped us to grow and mature as a circle of women philanthropists and a collective giving grantmaker in Central Texas.
Why philanthropy education? From Impact Austin's earliest days, our leaders were driven to create "an army of informed philanthropists" from the membership. Making grants was important, yes. Empowering hundreds, then thousands, of women to apply Impact Austin training to their personal philanthropy a valued ripple effect. Thus our members would be exposed to a trifecta of learning opportunities: grant review training, exposure to the nonprofit sector, and events dedicated to philanthropy education.
Discovery Day launches. When she visited the Washington Women's Foundation in order to draw best practices from that giving circle, Impact Austin's founder Rebecca Powers brought home the idea for an educational series that was adapted and named Impact Austin Discovery Day. The goal was to provide a day of learning for members right before the grant review committees would start their work. Our first Discovery Day was in Jan 2007; presentations covered affordable housing, water quality, arts education, and primary/preventative health care. For the next 10 years, speakers presented a range of topics directly or indirectly tied to our grant focus areas. Topics included, but were not limited to: economic trends vis a vis philanthropy; growing enrollment among disadvantaged children; an expanding elderly population; demographic trends; school dropout rates; medical research; Austin as a magnet for arts and culture; changes in the Texas labor market; environmental sustainability; water and wildlife; and more.
Impact Austin added a flow of learning opportunities that supplemented Discovery Day.
Sep 2007 - Private presentation by Mayor Wynn on global warming
FY 2008 - "Grant Recipient Forum" that included our 10 Community Partners
Oct 2008 - Fall Speaker Series: Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money
Oct 2009 - Fall Speaker Series: various presenters discussing life plans altered midstream
Oct 2010 - Fall Speaker Series: Kevin Salwen, author of The Power of Half: One Family's Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back
Fall 2011 - Fall Speaker Series: Musicians Craig Hella Johnson and Eliza Gilkyson
2012 - "On the Move" field trips to visit Community Partners, all in one day
2012 - Fall Speaker Series: Kathy LeMay, author of Voice, Activism and Money: Women Creating the World We Know is Possible
2013 - Impact Austin Book Club - Creating Change through Family Philanthropy by Allison Goldberg, Karen Pittelman, and Resource Generation
By 2014, Impact Austin even dedicated a board position to Philanthropic Education; Val Colbourn first led that effort. In Fall 2014, Impact Austin launched a new initiative called IMPACT-edu. Its first topic was Impactful Social Media, taught by member Kali' Rourke. Between 2014-2017, topics included: how to be more strategic with personal giving; Nonprofit Financials 101; how to read a Form 990; and a lunch-and-learn with Impact Austin's Kitchen Table Six. The 2016 Annual Meeting even asked members to answer "What I wish I knew about philanthropy." While IMPACT-edu ceased to exist by that name after 2017, philanthropy education continued in other forms.
Until 2017, Impact Austin Town Hall Meetings were focused on our organization's internal matters - how to engage as a volunteer, how to get involved with grant review, how to join the Board of Directors, how to be a financially viable nonprofit, etc. But the 2017 Town Hall Meeting changed that pattern, bringing inspiration and philanthropy education to that fall Signature Event through 2020.
2017 Town Hall introduced Caroline Miller, author of Getting Grit: The Evidence-Based Approach to Cultivating Passion, Perseverance, and Purpose
2018 Town Hall brought in Jessica Honegger, founder of Noonday Collection and author of Imperfect Courage: Live a Life of Purpose by Leaving Comfort and Going Scared
2019 Town Hall was themed "The Changing Face of Philanthropy" and featured nationally-renowned experts on women's giving, Dianne Chips Bailey (Bank of America) and Andrea Pactor (Women's Philanthropy Institute)
2020 virtual Town Hall included nationally-recognized leaders in Trust-Based Philanthropy, Pia Infante and Dimple Abichandani
By 2018, Discovery Day expanded beyond grant-related issues to add content about philanthropy education. Then Discovery Day became Days, offering more content than ever.
2018 topics - Teaching children about philanthropy and making giving fun; how companies can incorporate philanthropy into their business models; finding professional advisors who care about philanthropy. James Werner, Amanda Brown Irving, Yvette Boatwright and Kimberly Theodore Sidey were featured presenters/panelists.
2019 topics - DEI in philanthropy; implicit bias; data analysis in grantmaking; impacting equity in Austin, how to build an anti-racist culture within an organization. Presenters included Toya Cirica Bell, Ellie Haggerty Coplin, Virginia Potter, Susan Dawson, Laura Donnelly, Shaleiah Fox, and Catrina Salinas
2020 topics - "DEI and Philanthropy" by Impact Austin DEI presenters; and "Thinking, Creating and Connecting: To Make Our Communities Even Better" by keynote speaker Dr. Edward Burger, CEO of the St. David’s Foundation. That event recap is here.
2021 - In that year, Discovery Day became Days, with an ambitious virtual array of six information sessions and three additional days of Impact Austin-specific content. In addition to presentations about local issues and community needs, philanthropy education topics included: a history of race, racism and philanthropy in Central Texas; DEIB in action; corporate social responsibility; and strengths-based investment in low-income communities.
2022 - Three days of content included two focused on philanthropy education. All sessions were virtual. A conversation on trust-based philanthropy included Shaady Salehi and Tyeshia Wilson. Presenters discussing the funding landscape in Central Texas included representatives from Leadership Austin, Girls Empowerment Network, St. David's Foundation, H-E-B, and Georgetown Health Foundation. Find a recap and recording here.
From the COVID pandemic came opportunity. With the COVID shutdown, Impact Austin's events were restricted to online gatherings. Annual Meeting, Town Hall, Discovery Days, even membership information sessions and Zones Social Activities were held by Zoom or Facebook Live. But this very phenomenon meant we could also generate and record an array of philanthropy education content. During this time Impact Austin's DEIB Committee launched a series of Equity and DEIB webinars as well. Impact Austin's YouTube channel, Blogs, and Past Events became repositories for our philanthropy education recordings and recaps.
Aug 2020 - The Art of Impactful Giving: Strategic Planning with Passion and Purpose - Impact Austin panel of financial professionals
Sep 2020 - Talking to Kids About Race and Racism - Austin Child Guidance Center
Oct 2020 - The City of Austin's Reponse to COVID - panel led by Alison Alter
Oct 2020 - National Trends in Women's Philanthropy - Jeannie Sager of the Women's Philanthropy Institute, Indiana University
Oct 2020 - Investing Through a Gender Lens - Mary Jovanovich and Suzanne Wheeler
Oct 2020 - Women Leaders from MEASURE, CASA of Travis County, and LifeWorks
Dec 2020 - Collective Giving Tuesday - Impact Austin panel
Apr 2021 - Exploring Equity in the Disability World - panel presentation
Apr 2021 - Calling All Sheroes - panel on endowments including Impact Austin and Washington Women's Foundation
May 2021 - National Trends in Collective Giving - Marsha Morgan
Jun 2021 - Bite-Size Learning with Impact Austin + IBM
Jul 2021 - Exploring and Overcoming Generational Biases - Anna Liotta
Sep 2021 - Women Leaders from Black Mamas ATX and Austin Child Guidance Center
Oct 2021 - Insights on LGBTQ+ Equity in Philanthropy - panel presentation
Nov 2021 - The Power of Collective Giving in Texas - panel of TX giving circles
Nov 2022 - Collective Giving Tuesday - panel presentation by TX giving circles
Apr 2023 - DEIB Webinar: Texas Legislative Update: Exploring Nonprofit Impact - panel presentation both in-person and virtual
Impact Austin connects members to external sources of philanthropy education, too.
We recognize the important work being done by others and endeavor to connect our members to it. Our social media includes #PhilanthropyFriday posts that often link to research in the field: philanthropic trends, annual giving data, women's philanthropy, the giving circle movement, trust-based philanthropy, personal giving strategies, and more. These posts show up most often on Facebook and LinkedIn. Impact Austin also promotes or participates with events offered by partners and colleagues like Philanos, I Live Here, I Give Here, Philanthropy Together, Nonprofit Austin at ACC, SVP Austin, Mission Capital, PEAK Grantmaking, and the Women's Philanthropy Institute. These external opportunities are potentially beneficial to both members and our nonprofit partners.
Here's how to find the meaningful content we've collected:
Social media - Find us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
YouTube - Our channel is conveniently divided into playlists, including Philanthropy Education, About Impact Austin, Grant Outcomes, Girls Giving Grants, and Signature Events. At the time of this writing, the Philanthropy Education playlist included 50+ videos.