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  • Impact Austin

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 could offer a valuable 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.

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

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.

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:

Impact Austin website - Past Events and Blogs. Impact Austin's home page will show the 3-4 newest blog posts on the bottom right section called LATEST NEWS

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.


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