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Austin Community Foundation blog


State of the Foundation
By Mike Nellis / June 21, 2016 /   Loading Disqus...
As Central Texas settles into summer, it’s a great time to take stock of the work we are doing together in our community. In the 18 months since I became CEO, we have accomplished a lot. 

We continue to do what we do well: connecting people with the causes they care about, fostering an encosystem of philanthropy, making grants to change-making organizations and investing for the long term.

We are now offering our community of givers more opportunities to learn and give. We have introduced new charitable solutions, new ways for people to connect with nonprofit needs and new ways to learn about emerging opportunities to give. 

We’ve also hosted local and national thought leaders to inspire and educate our community.

Most importantly, we are making a bigger impact than ever before. 

  • Last year we granted $2.2 million in Community Grantmaking to help local nonprofits with current needs for their change-making work—that’s more than ever before. This increase is thanks to fundholders who became our giving partners.
  • We launched a multi-million dollar impact investing fund, investing a small portion of our unrestricted assets in local projects. We’ll soon announce our first round of investments in local enterprises seeking to expand their proven model of service.
  • And our Women’s Fund of Central Texas awarded $136,000 in grants to improve the status of women and children.

Recently, we asked our fundholders how we are doing. I’m delighted that 92% of those who responded said they’d recommend our most popular charitable solution, our Donor Advised Fund, to a friend. Donors report that what they value most about their fund is being part of our community of givers (70%). 

We also learned that donors enjoy having easy 24/7 online access to their fund (55%) and the personalized service (53%) they receive—not a 1-800 number in another time zone.

Donors also value the practical benefit of getting an immediate charitable tax deduction by giving to their Donor Advised Fund (36%). They also appreciate the recommendation they received from their financial advisor or estate attorney to use our charitable solutions for their giving.

Yet we know there are obstacles to meeting philanthropic goals. Many donors are uncertain which nonprofits are most effective (56%) or feel overwhelmed by needs in our community (44%). Others feel there isn’t enough information about local needs (24%). Some aren’t sure they’re making a difference (24%).

In the coming months we’ll announce some new programs that will address donors’ needs to know more about how to give effectively in our community.

I believe the Foundation has a unique role to play to leverage our city’s prosperity to meet growing needs—the community foundation has always connected across boundaries for the common good. We have a great board, a great staff and we are fortunate to have a great community. If you’d like to learn more about any of these offerings, just give me a call.
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