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  • Impact Austin

Lunch & Learn with Impact Austin's Founders

By Diane Sandlin

“Riveting, inspiring, passionate, awesome” – These are all words used to describe the out-of-the-ballpark panel discussion at the IMPACT-edu event at which the organization’s founders shared their inspirations on philanthropy.  Led by moderator Susan Palombo, the near-capacity audience was riveted by the experience of Impact Austin’s founder, Rebecca Powers and three of the original board members – Phylis Donelson, Jane Nolden and Nancy Word.

A chance reading of a People magazine article highlighting a Cincinnati women’s-only collective giving organization (122-strong) during a late air flight on 1/21/03 launched Rebecca Powers into action. Realizing there was much to learn about Austin nonprofits, she set out to remedy the gap and gathered friends to join the endeavor. 

The “Kitchen Table Six” (the panel plus two others) literally hammered out the framework that exists today for Impact Austin around a kitchen table. Each member stepped up to responsibilities and grew the organization. Read more about Impact Austin’s history. There was no holding back this group of determined women and at the end of the first year there were 126 members – enough for the first grant and besting Cincinnati. Central to the thought process was to give a hefty sum that would truly have a long-lasting impact on the selected nonprofit – living up to the chosen name for the organization. 

The IMPACT-edu discussion moved to the transformational impact of giving on the early founders. None of them had donated extensively before envisioning Impact Austin and that experience opened their eyes to the needs right in our backyard. Now, each of them has a life-long involvement in charitable gifts, a trait which spilled over to their families, including children and for some, grandchildren. Rebecca’s teenage daughter, Claire, followed in her mom’s footsteps by forming Girls Giving Grants (g3), Impact Austin’s youth initiative, founded and run by girls in grades 8-12 who give $100 each. 

Rebecca was highly impacted by The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist and as she held high her well-read volume, she recommended it for all who are interested in their own legacy and that of our community. The audience was encouraged to embrace Austin nonprofits, help with grant selection, make site visits, vote at the annual meeting in June and introduce Impact Austin to friends and colleagues. 

The rapt audience was given a rare view of Impact Austin’s founding, right from those who were involved in the process. To hear more from Impact Austin leadership and our Community Partners, check out our YouTube channel.


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