AUSTIN (KXAN) - The city of Austin is trying to put another feather in its cap. A new effort aims to make it the most giving city in the United States. Keep Austin Generous is a week-long campaign that will pool money and resources for local non-profits during the holiday season.
The event will take place at various retail stores and coincide with the Trail of Lights Dec. 15-23.
"What a great way to embrace the excitement and community-building aspects of the Trail of Lights, and engage people during the week," said Keep Austin Generous founder Leo Ramirez.
Participating stores are encouraged to donate 1-percent of their sales for the week. Meantime, their customers can add "mini-donations", like rounding up their total spending to the nearest dollar.
"If every one of those purchases was rounded up to the nearest dollar, we calculated that about $5-million would get donated to charity," said Ramirez. "And, that number was too big to ignore."
The Austin Police Department's Operation Blue Santa program increased its fundraising during the Chuy's Children's Parade from 10-percent to 40-percent of its goal. But, issues with the Christmas Bureau this year highlight a problem in Austin. Too many non-profits, and too little money to go around.
According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Austin ranks No. 1 among major U.S. markets in the number of non-profits per capita. But, it ranks No. 33 in the amount of money donated.
Laurie Loew, owner of Give Realty, says it reiterates the need to understand where donations are going.
"Probably people do have a little bit of hesitancy about where their money is going," said Loew. "And you can investigate. Ask questions."
Spent properly, though, Dennis Cavner of Innovation Plus says charitable giving, even in the smallest amounts, can have a huge impact on the community.
"The fact is that the more we give, it produces a really psychic benefit for us," said Cavner. "To do for others when we don't have to do that, is an enormous return."
Cavner and Loew will be part of a Leadership Austin discussion called, "The New Philanthropy: A Fresh Look at Giving in Central Texas" at 8AM Tuesday at the Long Center.
Keep Austin Generous, and Ramirez's company MiniDonations, will pool fundraising from Dec. 15-23 and award $1000 credits to qualifying donors to put toward the charity of their choice.
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