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Invest in Austin – how giving makes Austin greater

Today, we’re kicking off Amplify Austin, a new giving event to increase philanthropy. Over 300 Central Texas nonprofits have joined together in this effort to raise $1 million in 24 hours. It’s an ambitious goal and I’m grateful that United Way for Greater Austin is participating in this initiative to help Austinites experience the reward of philanthropy.

Amplify Austin is an opportunity to introduce a lot of new individuals to giving that hadn’t previously considered themselves philanthropists. Since 1924, UWATX has been providing our community with this opportunity everyday. We do this because we believe that everyone has the capacity to give and we know it’s going to take every one of us together to make Austin greater and help families break the cycle of poverty.

We believe Austin can be greater and we know it will take a lot. So we ask for your hands, your hearts, and your dollars.

An issue like poverty takes a system of support. At UWATX, while we as staff members don’t always get the satisfaction of holding a child while she holds her first book or shaking the hand of someone who just got the healthcare they need, we do get the satisfaction of knowing that we’re creating a system where a friend, family member, service provider or neighbor gets to do just that. And not just one neighbor, but thousands of them. This work takes UWATX and the community working together as a united front. It also takes a lot of passion, persistence, and a little insanity.

That insanity comes from the urgency the staff at UWATX feels when we study the data for our region. UWATX staff does this research so we know where the community needs are greatest. We bring leaders and experts to meet with our experts and then we work to find solutions. Solutions in hand, we then run all over town, connecting with more than 400 companies and asking people to give back to us and to Austin so we can see these strategies come to life. We believe Austin can be greater and we know it will take a lot. So we ask for your hands, your hearts, and your dollars.

I have a job to support the mission of UWATX and beyond that I have a passion for it. So besides my time, I give my dollars too. And I’m not the only one. UWATX employees joined together and gave over $25,000 in this year’s employee giving campaign. I won’t attempt to speak to why my coworkers are all so generous, but I can share my personal reasons for giving.

I chose to give to UWATX for two reasons: 1) I care about the issues being addressed by our organization and 2) I want to be an owner in the success of our region. I say “owner” because lately I find myself thinking about participating in philanthropy as similar to participating in a co-op.

People buy into a co-op like Austin’s Wheatsville Co-op not just because they care about food, but because they want to be an owner in the store’s success. They want to make sure that their favorite popcorn tofu stays on the shelves and that they’re a contributing member of the store that makes them feel so good about their community. In my mind, giving to a cause you believe in is the same. It’s your decision to not just be a beneficiary of your community’s success, but an investor in seeing that it continues.

I plan to donate during Amplify Austin and I’m sure a lot of other people in our community will too. And even after this event is over, I hope you’ll continue to give to make Austin greater. I hope you’ll feel that certain thrill of owning a piece of something bigger that happens only when you give back. And if you need any help knowing how you can invest further in the continuing success of our region or the impact you can have with your gift, UWATX will be here for you.

Rachel Weiner (the author of this post) is the Director of Grants at United Way for Greater Austin. Prior to coming to UWATX, Rachel worked for Boys and Girls Club of the Austin Area, Columbia College, Chicago Review and The Missouri Review. She has a Masters of Arts in Humanities from the University of Chicago.

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