When was the last time you attended a business luncheon with speeches that brought tears to your eyes?
Last year’s Austin Gives luncheon honoring local business philanthropists surprised many with its inspiring and emotional stories at the mic. From John Paul deJoria’s keynote speech in which he talked about how he shares his wealth to support causes across the world, to an acceptance speech from Greg Pierce of Zuma Office Supply that brought a standing ovation for this small business’s generosity, the stories of why these businesses give back were more moving than you’d expect from an awards program in just its second year.
Which is why you really shouldn’t miss this year’s Austin Gives GeneroCity Awards on Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, at the Hilton Austin. Austin Gives is a community program committed to encouraging and recognizing business philanthropy. The GeneroCity Awards recognize businesses that have pledged one or more percent of pre-tax earnings toward annual giving through financial contributions; donated products, services or volunteering; and have served as exemplary corporate philanthropists in the Austin community.
“We are thrilled that Austin Gives has reached nearly 300 members in just three years and has actively encouraged the overall growth of business philanthropy in the Austin community,” says Bobby Jenkins, president of ABC Home & Commercial Services and founding member of Austin Gives.
“This year’s finalists have made amazing efforts to make Austin a better city by giving back in so many unique ways, and we look forward to honoring all of our members and the winning organizations at the 2015 event.”
Nominations were whittled down to the following businesses finalists, with the winners of each category announced at the luncheon. Check out some of the creative and important ways that business large and small are giving back.
Bold Givers (large businesses of 150 plus employees)
3M: 3M targets contributions in education toward programs that encourage lifelong learning and stimulate curiosity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, by funding hands-on programs like “Project Lead the Way”. In 2014, 3M will award more than $1 million to local organizations. Both employees and retirees of 3M provide thousands of hours of volunteer work in the Austin community. Last year, 3M employees volunteered their services at a value of $18,500 to Central Texas organizations.
Silicon Labs: Silicon Labs has donated more than a half million dollars for Central Texas and supported more than 30 nonprofit organizations, each year for the past six years. The company’s passion for education has led them to sponsor KLRU-TV for eight years to promote family science programs. They have also sponsored special events in the community, including the Zilker Kite Festival, the Austin Trail of Lights, Save our Springs Festival and many more. Their support for the community extends to the funding of programs like Habitat for Humanity, Safe Place and Lifeworks.
Wells Fargo: Through the efforts of its enthusiastic team member-volunteers and financial contributions, Wells Fargo shares its success by giving back to non-profits and educational institutions that address vital community needs and issues, such as community development, education and human services. In Austin, Wells Fargo supported nonprofits and schools through corporate and foundation giving last year. Also, this year its Employee Giving campaign raised $224,152 for the United Way and other nonprofits. In addition, their team also volunteered 8,500 hours in Austin.
Big Hearts (medium businesses of 26 to 150 employees)
Oxford Commercial: The Oxford Giving Committee is a program encourages staff and brokers to determine the allocation of charity dollars and volunteer activities for employees. In 2012, Oxford Commercial donated to more than 20 local nonprofits and provided over 100 hours of volunteer work from their 30 volunteers.
Sabre Commercial: Sabre Commercial has donated pre-construction services for both Mobile Loaves and Fishes and Caritas. Some of their sponsorships for this year include the Camp for Kids BBQ Fundraiser, the Seton Fund’s annual fundraiser, The American Heart Association’s Heart Ball and Boy Scouts of America Capitol Area Council.
Yellow Cab Austin: Over the last year, Yellow Cab has donated cash and in-kind support to local nonprofits, schools, after school programs, police/firefighter/military and charitable organizations throughout Central Texas. Its Access-A-Ride program allows Capital Metro Access customers — many of whom are disabled — extended service. Their community involvement for this year includes partnering with Dress for Success and E3 Alliance, providing free delivery service for Meals on Wheels and monthly participation at charitable events around the city.
Charitable Champions (small businesses of under 26 employees)
Vintage IT Services: Giving is a combination of sponsorships, financial donations, authorized discounts and in-kind donations. It provides free promotional signage for 20 nonprofits annually via a 15-foot sign that 40,000 cars pass daily, providing discounted rates for IT services for nonprofits and sponsoring special events for The Contemporary Austin, AIDS Services of Austin, Skillpoint Alliance and more.
South Texas Money Management, Ltd.: South Texas Money Management is a major financial sponsor of many Austin-area nonprofits, including the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the Long Center for the Performing Arts and Impact Austin. In 2015, they will sponsor an educational event in February for Austin nonprofit leaders, in partnership with Greenlights for Nonprofits.
Agents for Change Real Estate: Ten percent of Agents for Change Real Estate’s net agent fees will be donated to a (501(c)(3))organization of their choice at the closing of each client’s property. Since beginning this giving model, Agents for Change Real Estate has helped raise money for various local nonprofits.