CHARITY 1: One sign of good health among Austin nonprofits: Benefits that grow swiftly and surely. In charity years, Pink, which helps out Komen Austin, is a mere toddler. Its better known Race for the Cure is a known quantity. Pink, however, started modestly if energetically at Shoal Creek Crossing just a few years ago. Last week, it moved into the large Zilker Banquet Room at the Hyatt Regency Austin under the tutelage of two seasoned fundraisers, Karen Shultz, who doubles as the breast cancer group’s interim director, and Jennifer Stevens, the infinitely energetic “un-lobbyist” behind Mack, Jack & McConauhey. They started the evening with a little social mixing, followed by a cappella singing from One Note Stand, wry remarks from radio’s Ed Clements, Pink Diamond Awards, dinner, a speech from Dr. Powel Brown from Houston’s M.D. Anderson Center, an auction called by Heath Hale Auctioneers and an after-party. It won’t net the $1 million-plus that MJ&M brought in — no official totals for that giant party yet — but already Pink is peachy.
CHARITY 2: The $5 billion-a-year good news is worth repeating. Annual revenues for Travis County’s almost 6,000 nonprofits almost doubled between 2004 and 2014. That, according to a study by the supremely reliable Greenlights group. Ever precise, CEO Matt Kouri and crack researcher Marisa Zappone tell me that “total revenue for nonprofits in Travis County in 2004 was $2,421,132,885 and in 2014 it was $4,716,095,440.” Almost $5 billion a year is pretty darn good considering that Austin usually gets dinged in the Chronicle of Philanthropy rankings, which tallies itemized claims from income tax returns. That method leaves out three huge factors: Our young demographics (giving usually increases with age, as do itemized tax claims), lack of multi-generational wealth (the first big fortunes were made here in the 1990s, not the 1890s) and the high rates of valued volunteerism (Greenlights also found that only 15 percent of those 6,000 nonprofits can claim paid staff, which means a lot is being done by volunteers).
SCHOOL: The musicals live in San Marcos. For the past few years, Texas State University has flourished as a regional leader for training musical theater artists. The level of talent is astounding, as witnessed recently in the company of Suzie Harriman, Robert Faires and Barbara Chisholm, among others who made the trip for a Sunday matinee. So even when the dynamic husband-and-wife duo of Kaitlin Hopkins and Jim Price are not the captains of a particular production, we go assured of a good time. Cassie Abate choreographed and directed the current, glorious production of Cole Porter‘s “Kiss Me Kate,” while Emily Goldman did the musical direction. They didn’t shy away from some uncomfortable material and the cast is superb.