CHARITY: In the past, charity luncheons provided a safe option for Austin nonprofit leaders. Maybe a dozen such events were spread out over the fall and spring social seasons, so not much competition. Lunches are less expensive to stage than evening galas and are less likely to get out of hand, since ice tea is the drink of choice. True, lunches don’t gross $1.5 million like the recent Dell Children’s Gala. Yet the right kind of luncheon has long been an efficient, effective way to raise a few thousand bucks while allowing folks to bond with a nonprofit and, incidentally, to wear slightly dressy attire in the middle of they day.
Well, word is out. Two giant luncheons, Power of the Purse and Philanthropy Day, competed back to back with two other midday fundraisers this week. The first filled the Four Seasons Hotel banquet room and, so I hear, the garage, which turned away guests. The next day, the second event packed the much larger Hyatt Regency Austin Zilker Banquet Room and also produced a spillover parking situation. (Since I walked to both, my report on parking is hearsay.)
Power of the Purse toasts the Women’s Fund of Central Texas, a giving group assembled by the Austin Community Foundation. Philanthropy Day is an international event sponsored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals‘s Greater Austin chapter. The first gives out grants to area charities in denominations of $10,000 or $15,000. The second recognizes leaders in the philanthropic community. Both programs are entertaining and enlightening. Ace lawyer Mindy Montford emceed the Power of the Purse event and giving-group powerhouse Rebecca Powers did the honors for Philanthropy Day.
At the first, I sat with the folks from St. Louise House, about which, before the lunch, I knew nothing. It provides affordable housing and services for homeless women and children. At the second, I had the privilege of sitting between David Smith, interim chief at the Thinkery, and Andrew Watt, president and CEO of the AFP’s international umbrella group. He told me that each local chapter does P-Day differently, but some of the most moving are to be found in Central America. Watt also announced from the dais that AFP members shepherd something like $100 billion in donations a year.
If you follow me on Twitter (@outandabout), you already know that the Women’s Fund picked for their generosity this year St. Louise House, Breakthrough Austin, Girls Scouts, Peoples Community Clinic, Wonder and Worries, Hope Alliance, CASA of Travis County andKids Vision for Life. All these charities focus on the needs of women and children.
Meanwhile, Philanthropy Day recognized Erika Herndon, Whole Foods Market, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Austin American-Statesman’s Season for Caring campaign, Pediatric Dental Professionals, Arlene Miller, Emily Moreland and the dynamic young trio of Claire Labry, Karlie Franke and Bridget Black.
Mazel to all. (More photos to come.)