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  • Impact Austin

Ten Takeaways from our 2020 Town Hall

1. Virtual events deliver in a big way!

Our 2020 Town Hall had it all: the joy of gathering; the intellectual satisfaction in learning something new - Trust-Based Philanthropy; the pride in goals exceeded by committees and Community Partners; the suspense of who would win the 2020 SIG; the fulfillment in growing our community impact by another $40,000. And then - the emotional pang – when Christina Gorczynski observed, “This will always be the year that we were closest – while being apart.”

Kudos to Christina, Nicole Genovese, Lauren Lewis and C2C Media for choreographing a

beautiful event. And thanks to all who contributed as speakers.

Discovery Days come next - and WOW. We've transformed the "day of learning." Our signature event is reimagined and expanded to multiple sessions and multiple tracks on multiple days. The details will follow. For now, remember: virtual events can really deliver!

2. Event sponsors are everything.

And so a huge thank you goes to Robertson Stephens, our Title Sponsor, and Pam Friedman, CFP®, CDFA®, Managing Director and Principal of their wealth management firm. Hear from Pam how her philanthropic journey led her to Impact Austin and Town Hall. A round of applause to all of our other sponsors, including Premium Sponsors C2C Media (member Deanna Dehaven), Dochen Realtors (members Carol and Katie Dochen), Enoch Kever (members including Melissa Lorber and Katherine Mudge), and Google Fiber; Leadership Sponsor Bank of America (member Lillian Diaz Gray); and Philanthropy Sponsors Susan and John Palombo. Sponsorship opportunities are available for Discovery Days – don’t miss out!

3. Trust-based philanthropy strengthens partnerships.

Meeta Kothare, Impact Austin member Managing Director of the Sustainability & Social Innovation Initiative at UT’s McCombs School of Business, led a fascinating conversation with Pia Infante, Co-Executive Director of The Whitman Institute, and Dimple Abichandani, Executive Director of General Service Foundation. Both leaders spoke about how they incorporate trust-based philanthropy within their organizations. “Our default grant is for general operating support to give them the power over how and when to use those funds,” Dimple said. Pia discussed her organization’s method of proactive grantmaking, identifying potential partners with a front lens around equity and doing their homework before approaching them, rather than having an open grant process, which can waste time and resources of nonprofits. Both spoke of multi-year funding, a "spirit of service" as a grantmaker, and a value around partnership with grantees. They suggested that philanthropists and funders become learners and listeners, that the wisdom and leadership for making change should center on the grantee and those being impacted.

4. Grants Leadership deserves our standing ovation.

Christina Gorczynski cited Grants Leadership as the Committee of the Year! The honor is well-deserved! Remember the pivot they engineered in the spring, responding to COVID-19 challenges to the nonprofit sector? And they followed that will an overhaul of our grantmaking program. The results? Applications are standardized and less demanding of nonprofit leaders. Grant terms are more flexible. Double the number of Community Partners. A more trust-based approach, allowing Community Partners to specify exactly how their grant dollars would be best spent to best serve our Central Texas neighbors. A broader equity lens for grant review. And yet another result? Two seasons of GRC opportunities for members, giving us greater flexibility in participation. Hear more details from Grants and Strategic Partnerships Chair Becky Austen, or check out our September blog.

5. We love to give grants.

After months of research, site-visits, and evaluation, choosing a grant recipient and awarding the grant is the culmination of our membership. With the new change to two grant cycles each year, we will now look forward to two annual events where where grants are awarded. Remember, all members will have full grant participation privileges as soon as your yearly payment is made or your monthly payments are initiated. Don’t miss out on serving on a Grant Review Committee (GRC) this spring: signs ups start on January 11.

6. 2019 Social Innovation Grant defines high-impact.

Meme Styles, Founder and President of Measure, and leader of the 2019 SIG collaborative to launch The Innocence Initiative, joined Town Hall and shared the deliverables from our $110,000 grant. WOW. Meme outlined several accomplishments, many overwhelmingly exceeding the stated objectives in their grant application. Impact Austin is so impressed with their work that a Case Study was developed. That study, and Meme’s video segment from Town Hall, will be shared with members in early December. For now, learn more here.

7. Manor, Texas has many reasons to celebrate.

You could feel–and see–the excitement in the Zoom chat room as Meme Styles passed the baton to our newest Social Innovation Grant Community Partner. Meme announced that the second SIG would support Black Mamas REACH Manor, a collaboration led by Black Mamas ATX and includes Austin Regional Clinic, People’s Community Clinic, and Manor ISD. The SIG grant is awarded to a collaboration focusing on advancing equity for women and/or girls of color in the greater Austin area. Given that Manor has the highest black population in Central Texas but no OB/GYN clinics, and Central Texas has the highest Black maternal mortality rate in Texas, this program will provide support groups, doula services, midwifery clinic services, and remote/online case management and psychotherapy services for about 40 women, with many services being provided for up to 18 months. REACH stands for Racial Equity and Access to Collaborative Healthcare.

8. There’s still a Spark in the air.

This year’s other SIG finalist, The Spark Change Project, showed us the power of synergistic organizations uniting around an important purpose. A collaboration between Girls Empowerment Network (GEN) and the Excellence and Advancement Foundation (EAF), the Spark Change Project aims to train girls of color to be peer leaders and political activists and advocates. EAF Founder Dr. Courtney Robinson spoke about the importance of this initiative and we learned about two incredible organizations working to empower girls of color. While not funded by Impact Austin, this collaboration will use other resources to move forward with The Spark Change Project. Congratulations!

9. We love our volunteers.

Volunteering within Impact Austin has never been easier. A new Volunteer Form on our website invites members to share skills and talents and/or indicate areas or committees that are of interest. Members will then be contacted to potentially pair up with appropriate opportunities. Some members appreciate affiliation with a specific committee, while others might prefer to assist on an irregular basis, sharing a talent like event planning or photography, or occasionally lending a hand with Salesforce or PR. If you are unsure exactly how you want to be involved; submit the Volunteer Form and you'll be contacted by a coordinator to discuss your interests. You have multiple opportunities to be involved - even virtually - and to share your skill or even develop new talents.

Each year Impact Austin recognizes one volunteer whose contribution of time and talent fundamentally and substantially strengthens and improves the organization. A huge shout out to Marketing Co-Chair, Social Media Manager, and Hero-to-All Judi McCarthy, this year's "Val Kirk Above and Beyond" Award recipient!

Judi McCarthy, Marketing Co-Chair, Class of 2017

10. It's always a good time to #JoinImpactAustin!

Changes to membership policies and practices

have trickled out since September. And they’re all beneficial – to members, to potential members, and to our nonprofit community. To sum up..... We actively and warmly recruit members all year. Member dues can now be paid in monthly installments or as one lump sum. Members have full privileges, including the right to vote on grants or serve on a GRC, when first payment is initiated. So join, renew, and invite a friend or colleague to consider membership.


View the full 2020 Town Hall Meeting event below:


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