Amplify Austin aims to raise one million for more than 300 local nonprofits

Klarissa Fitzpatrick

Austin ranks highly both in the amount of time citizens volunteer at nonprofits and in the amount of money donated, something local nonprofit I Live Here, I Give Here is attempting to capitalize on with the event Amplify Austin.

“It’s about raising the level of personal philanthropy across Texas. We decided last year to use this tool of online giving,” said Patsy Woods Martin, founder and executive director of I Live Here, I Give Here. “Mainly because [Austin’s] average age is 32, and we’re used to being online.” 

Martin said I Live Here, I Give Here also helped the nonprofits better their online presence by increasing their social media practices and developing options for online donations.

The event began with a kickoff party at the Long Center for Performing Arts, where local musicians and food trucks functioned to involve the community.

“This giving day model is in line with other giving day models in larger metropolitan areas,” said Blaire Kniffin, the assistant director of nonprofit relations of I Live Here, I Give Here. “A study came out in 2007 that put Austin at 48 out of 52 in metropolitan areas in the amount that we give. We as an organization have tapped into that.”

The donation window opened at 7 p.m. on Monday and will last through Tuesday night. Donations will mainly be accepted online and will be distributed to more than 300 local nonprofits, including Susan G. Komen and Special Olympics. Amplify Austin hopes to raise $1 million.

I Live Here, I Give Here partnered with the University Federal Credit Union, which contributed $100,000 in addition to $60,000 of existing donations.

“[Austin] is still small, so I think Amplify Austin just fits into the whole Austin vibe, keeping things local and giving back,” marketing director Corinne Watts said. “Because we’re locally owned ourselves, it seemed like a good fit for us to be involved.”

Jason Miller, the program director for the Special Olympics’ Central Texas chapter, said funds from Amplify Austin will help host events for the 19 sports they feature each year, ranging from basketball to figure skating. 

Miller said the Special Olympics can transform participants by helping them learn social skills. One athlete, when first joining the program, barely spoke. But after participating in several events, he improved his people skills and now works as a global ambassador for the program.

“After a basketball game, one of the guys once came up to me and said ‘Special Olympics is like a burrito: It’s all the good stuff rolled into one,’” Miller said. “That’s a real quote. I can’t make that stuff up.”

Printed on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 as: Locals amplify Austin donations