What is Your Passion? Finding Your Philanthropy

What do I consider philanthropy?

For me, it is the budgeting of a percentage of my family’s financial resources, donated yearly to nonprofits that are pursuing missions we agree are important and are being done well. My personal time and volunteer efforts may come along with this financial support (statistically, many people do give more to nonprofits where they volunteer), but it is not guaranteed. My husband jokes that I work more hours than he does in his full-time job, but mine are much more variable!

You have limited resources and only you can decide what is the best way to use them!

I started thinking of myself as a philanthropist through my work with Impact Austin. This is a collective giving group that gathers 500 or more women together who donate $1250 ($1000 to grants and $250 to overhead) and cumulatively give out half a million dollars or so a year in high-impact, targeted grants to nonprofits in the Central Texas area. Sounds kind of magical, doesn’t it? Few of us are wealthy, some are budgeting each month to make their yearly commitment, but most of us are in the middle. We can write that check but it definitely takes away from other charitable things we could do.

Why do women choose Impact Austin? Continue reading

Birthday Celebration With a Mission

DSC_9386SmMy husband turned 60 today. He woke at 5 a.m., slipped out of bed without waking me and dressed for his run. Every other day he hits the trail for varying mileage, depending on whether he is training for a half-marathon ( I believe he has done 14…so far!) or just doing his usual workout routine.

We are blessed to reach this time in our lives without serious health issues, and both of us invest time and resources in maintaining our functional fitness. We don’t take these or any of our blessings for granted, and so when my husband realized this milestone birthday was approaching, he said,

“I am thinking about throwing a party.” Continue reading

By Women For Women – Impact Austin


IA Banner 2I am involved with a wonderful collective giving group here in Central Texas, called Impact Austin.

We have just concluded our recruitment season for the coming grant year and I had coffees and lunches with many women over the last few months, telling them my Impact Austin story, and answering any questions they had about becoming a member.

Often, when we share our stories and knowledge with other people, we seem to understand them better ourselves, and that is exactly what happened for me. As I listened and talked, I realized the genius that had gone into designing Impact Austin and its purpose.

The way I expressed this was to say to my new friends, “Impact Austin was designed by women, for women…and so it takes into account the many roles we fill throughout our lives.”

Just think about our twenties, when school or perhaps the beginning of our career or family filled our time. Then our thirties, when some of us were deep into child rearing, PTA and family and others were equally deep into building a successful career. Our forties, when some of us who married and started families young were already looking at empty nests and coming grandchildren and others were just now getting our chicks off to college…and our career women were nearing the top of their career ladders. Then our fifties, sixties and seventies, when some of us found ourselves with time on our hands and others were totally overwhelmed with the combined needs of our families, caring for aging parents, and careers or retirement activities on top of all that. Women do it all, and yet somewhere, there exists the time to give back to our communities in myriad ways. Continue reading

Strategic Planning for Life

2012-DandKMy husband and I are “empty nesters” now, living in a downtown high-rise condo, and contemplating the last third of our lives. We have decided to savor this time together and to avoid getting stuck in ruts, rusting as we rest, or any of those other clichés associated with aging.

How do you do that?  

Just as in any strategic plan in business or management, there is a  logical process involved and here are the bare basics.

  • Determine your mission.
  • Determine your priorities.
  • Brainstorm strategies that can achieve both of those things and discuss until you reach an agreement.
  • Create the action plan that will guide your activities until the next strategic planning session is needed.

Sounds simple, huh? Well, as we always discover in business situations…not so much. You see, people are complex, fascinating creatures, and anytime you have more than one discussing a plan, there will be bumps in the road called emotions.

Discussing the last part of your lives as a strategic plan can take some of the emotion out of that process, but not all; and it shouldn’t. Emotional needs should be part of the priorities you keep in mind.

After all, you do want to be happy as possible, right?

So, let’s look at a sample.

Mission:  To stay active, engaged and madly in love with each other for the rest of our lives. 🙂

Priorities:  Our relationship, our health, our children, enriching experiences, and giving back to our community. Continue reading